Architecture and the Late Ottoman Historical Imaginary: Reconfiguring the Architectural Past in a Modernizing Empire, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Architecture and the Late Ottoman Historical Imaginary

Reconfiguring the Architectural Past in a Modernizing Empire, 1st Edition

By Ahmet A. Ersoy


334 pages

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pub: 2019-09-11
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While European eclecticism is examined as a critical and experimental moment in western art history, little research has been conducted to provide an intellectual depth of field to the historicist pursuits of late Ottoman architects as they maneuvered through the nineteenth century’s vast inventory of available styles and embarked on a revivalist/Orientalist program they identified as the ’Ottoman Renaissance.’ Ahmet A. Ersoy’s book examines the complex historicist discourse underlying this belated ’renaissance’ through a close reading of a text conceived as the movement’s canonizing manifesto: the Usul-i Mi’mari-i ’Osmani [The Fundamentals of Ottoman Architecture] (Istanbul, 1873). In its translocal, cross-disciplinary scope, Ersoy’s work explores the creative ways in which the Ottoman authors straddled the art-historical mainstream and their new, self-orientalizing aesthetics of locality. The study reveals how Orientalism was embraced by its very objects, the self-styled ’Orientals’ of the modern world, as a marker of authenticity, and a strategically located aesthetic tool to project universally recognizable images of cultural difference. Rejecting the lesser, subsidiary status ascribed to non-western Orientalisms, Ersoy’s work contributes to recent, post-Saidian directions in the study of cultural representation that resituate the field of Orientalism beyond its polaristic core, recognizing its cross-cultural potential as a polyvalent discourse.


'Critical historiography at its best … This refreshing account of the art, architecture and culture of Tanzimat takes issue with traditional frameworks of analysis and thrives on attention to nuance, contingency, ambivalence, syncretism and cultural reciprocity in explaining late Ottoman Empire’s engagement with Europe … A timely contribution to Ottoman/Turkish studies as well as to broader theoretical debates on orientalism, historicism, revivalism, authenticity, cultural difference and identity formation in the modern world… Above all, a much-needed cosmopolitan perspective to counteract the nationist neo-orientalism of political Islam in Turkey today.'

-- Sibel Bozdogan, Harvard University, USA

'Ersoy proves himself to be a perceptive historian who recognizes both the aspirations and ingenuity of his actors and the tenuousness of their political, economic, and cultural position on the world stage. On the whole, I would recommend this book as an invaluable addition to the libraries of not just those interested in the history of the Late Ottoman Empire, but to anyone who seeks a thoughtful reading of the polyvalent, multi-local, and mutually transformative aspects of modernization processes.'

-- CAA Reviews

Table of Contents

Table of Contents to come.

About the Author

Ahmet A. Ersoy is Associate Professor at the History Department at Bogaziçi University, Istanbul. He is the co-author, with Vangelis Kechriotis and Maciej Gorny, of Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeastern Europe (1775-1945): Texts and Commentaries, Vol. III / I (2010).

About the Series

Studies in Art Historiography

Studies in Art Historiography
The aim of this series is to support and promote the study of the history and practice of art historical writing focussing on its institutional and conceptual foundations, from the past to the present day in all areas and all periods. Besides addressing the major innovators of the past it also encourages re-thinking ways in which the subject may be written in the future. It ignores the disciplinary boundaries imposed by the Anglophone expression 'art history' and allows and encourages the full range of enquiry that encompasses the visual arts in its broadest sense as well as topics falling within archaeology, anthropology, ethnography and other specialist disciplines and approaches. It welcomes contributions from young and established scholars and is aimed at building an expanded audience for what has hitherto been a much specialised topic of investigation. It complements the work of the Journal of Art Historiography.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / History / General
ART / History / General
ART / History / Romanticism