Historians and historical thought in an Ottoman world: biographical writing in 16th and 17th century Syria/Bilad Al-Sham
Abou Hussein, Tarek Abdulrahim (2010) Historians and historical thought in an Ottoman world: biographical writing in 16th and 17th century Syria/Bilad Al-Sham. [Thesis]
Official URL: http://192.168.1.20/record=b1304449 (Table of Contents)
I have separated my work into two parts. In the first part, I investigate the nature of biographical writing and historical thinking in Ottoman Syria. My second part addresses the question of identity in Syria during the 16th and 17th centuries, with a specific focus of locating the Syrian intellectual elite in an Ottoman world. I made a distinction between two models of historical writing, Aleppo's tradition of local historiography, and Damascus's more universalist approach. I also discussed the development of intellectual networks in both cities, and concluded that Damascus had a unique tradition of historiography during the Ottoman period in all Muslim lands. In the second part of my study, I examined perceptions of the Ottoman Sultan and state in the biographical literature, arguing that the image of the Sultanate was quickly transformed from its initial representation as a spatially and spiritually restricted entity to one that held universal Muslim appeal. I also investigated the question of ethnic awareness and prejudice in Ottoman Syria, concluding that Damascene scholars had a greater consciousness of being part of an Arabic-speaking world in the cultural and territorial sense. Expressions of ethnic prejudice exist, but they are few and exclusive to Damascus. In the next section, I argue that, although there was considerable intellectual contact between Arabic-speaking and Turkish-speaking scholars in the Ottoman realms, both groups did not always consciously recognize that they were part of the same, unitary Ottoman world. Finally, I suggest a comparative approach to the study of Arab history under Ottoman rule.
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