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Ruler Visibility and Popular Belonging in the Ottoman Empire, 1808-1908

Darin Stephanov

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A comprehensive narrative of nineteenth-century Ottoman cultural history

This book argues that the periodic ceremonial intrusion into the everyday lives of people across the Ottoman Empire, which the annual royal birthday and accession-day celebrations constituted, had multiple, far-reaching and largely unexplored consequences. On the one hand, it brought ordinary subjects into symbolic contact with the monarch and forged lasting vertical ties of loyalty to him, irrespective of language, location, creed or class. On the other hand, the rounds of royal celebration played a key role in the creation of new types of horizontal ties and ethnic group consciousness that crystallized into national movements and, after the empire’s demise, national monarchies.

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List of Abbreviations                                                                                         
Chapter 1: The First Shift in (Modern) Ruler Visibility: The Reign of Mahmud II (1808-1839)                   
Chapter 2: The Trope of Love, Its Variations, and Manifestations: The Reign of Abdülmecid (1839-1861)        
Chapter 3: Further Stimuli for and Patterns of Millet Accentuation and Differentiation: The Reign of Abdülaziz (1861-1876)                                                   
Chapter 4: The Second Shift in (Modern) Ruler Visibility: The Reign of Abdülhamid II (1876-1908)      

About the Author

Darin Stephanov is a Postdoctoral Researcher and Marie Curie COFUND Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark. He has published articles in the Journal of Ottoman Studies and the Journal of Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association and has contributed several chapters to edited collections.


This original study provides much food for thought on the ‘unintended consequences’ of a variety of ethno-nationalisms, including the ubiquitous personality cult within and outside the Ottoman/post-Ottoman orbit. Thus, this book will interest readers who are concerned about the growing prevalence of ethno-nationalism in the post-Cold War world and who hope to devise countervailing solutions before it is too late.

- Suraiya Faroqhi, Ibn Haldun University

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