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The Ottoman Identity: Turkish, Muslim or Rum?

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It is awkward for historians to depict a clear-cut portrayal of Ottoman identity. Scholarly analyses by and large lay emphasis on the Islamic and Turkish character of the Ottoman Empire. However, it would be reductionist to evaluate an empire that lasted for six centuries, on three different continents, with solely monolithic ethno-religious tools. A new approach around the term Rum may help to get rid of this reductionism and to understand the sui generis structure of the Ottoman identity. Instead of focusing on ethnic and religious aspects, this novel approach would add both a territorial dimension of Ottoman hegemony and also a social component regarding the relations between the rulers and the ruled. The Rum, with a meaning above Orthodoxy, Greek or Roman Empire, can highlight the ingredients of Ottoman identity and help to overcome the influence of modern nationalist discourses in historical readings.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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