"Sick man of Europe" or "Japan of the near east"?: Constructing Ottoman modernity in the Hamidian and young Turk eras

Worringer, Renée (2004) "Sick man of Europe" or "Japan of the near east"?: Constructing Ottoman modernity in the Hamidian and young Turk eras. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 36 2: 207-230. doi:10.1017/S0020743804362033


Author Worringer, Renée
Title "Sick man of Europe" or "Japan of the near east"?: Constructing Ottoman modernity in the Hamidian and young Turk eras
Formatted title
“Sick man of Europe” or “Japan of the near east”?: Constructing Ottoman modernity in the Hamidian and young Turk eras
Journal name International Journal of Middle East Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0020-7438
1471-6380
Publication date 2004-05
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1017/S0020743804362033
Volume 36
Issue 2
Start page 207
End page 230
Total pages 24
Editor J. Cole
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2004
Language eng
Subject C1
780199 Other
2103 Historical Studies
430100 Historical Studies
430109 History - Middle Eastern
430000 History and Archaeology
Formatted abstract
I question how and why individuals or groups in the Ottoman Empire were so vigorous in their desire to connect themselves to such an unlikely and alien alternative model for development—that is, that of Japan, a non–Muslim nation remotely tucked away in East Asia and about which little had been known or considered in decades (centuries even) prior to the 20th century. What purposes did it serve to associate Ottoman with Japanese, to refigure the empire, labeled the “Sick Man of Europe” by Western powers, into what a few Young Turks boldly called the “Japan of the Near East” in 1908? How sincere and realistic was the Ottoman embrace of Pan-Asian solidarity? What did it indicate about the Ottoman worldview in the last thirty years of the empire? A deconstruction of this Japanese historical analogy as it appears in the literature yields a clearer understanding of how various sectors of Ottoman society perceived themselves and their empire in the emerging world order, as well as how individuals and groups within the Ottoman Empire viewed their place in the domestic communal arrangement. I argue in the following pages that the Ottoman preoccupation with modern Japan at the turn of the century was a consequence of the self-preservationist desire among several sectors of Ottoman society to seek an alternative to Western-dictated norms of modernization, though the empire ultimately was not able to reject Europe as the underlying standard by which to measure progress. Sustained history in and with Europe is precisely what prevented many Ottomans from severing themselves from the West; this attachment affected the Ottomans’ recognition of their marginality in the late-19th-century world and caused the conjuring up of an Ottoman self-view that incorporated a temporary orientation toward Japan to exteriorize Western imperial and intellectual hegemony.
© 2004 Cambridge University Press
Keyword Area Studies
Asia
Hegemony
Modernity
Ottoman empire
Political history
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2005 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 03:13:20 EST