HIST Seminar: “Between Two Passports: The Formation of Ottoman Nationality and the Greek Population Question, 1830-1875″, Berke Torunoğlu, 4:30PM December 1 (EN)

“Between Two Passports: The Formation of Ottoman Nationality and the Greek Population Question, 1830-1875” organized by the Department of History.

Date: 01.12.2020
Time: 16.30 (Ankara Time Zone)

Speaker: Berke Torunoğlu, Ph.D

Zoom Meeting
To request the event link, please contact to the department.


Dr. Torunoğlu argues through the example of the Ottoman plans for the deportation of Greeks in 1869, that the Ottoman Naturalization Law of 1869 did not intend to create a more inclusive imperial identity; rather it aimed to establish and maintain the control of the state over the subject peoples, by facilitating expatriation, displacement, naturalization, and the loss of subjecthood. In their attempts to modernize sociopolitical orders that had come to seem backward by mid-century, Ottoman bureaucrats tried to adopt models regarded as successful in the West. To this end, they decoupled subjecthood from older ascriptive categories—i.e., ethnic, social, or confessional status— replacing them with more universal civic definitions.

Through examination of individual cases as well as bureaucratic and diplomatic correspondence, this lecture explores the practical ramifications of the Ottoman Naturalization Law for the “Neo- Hellene” population of the Empire. This new law sought to identify, and ultimately expel, select ethno-religious communities deemed to be “undesirable.” In the 1860s, the Ottoman state faced a constant threat of separatism from non-Muslim populations, and reacted by creating an exclusivist imperial nationality and denaturalizing those populations. Most importantly, this denaturalization process would entail the deportation (tebʿid) of significant portions of the native Ottoman population, most of whom were Greeks by nationality. My paper contextualizes this “Neo-Hellene” problem of the Ottoman state beginning in the 1830s, and provides a detailed analysis of the expulsion plans of 1868, outlined in hundreds of pages of commission reports prepared by Ottoman officials.

Bio – Berke Torunoğlu :

Berke Torunoglu is a historian specializing in the social and political history of the modern Middle East, with a particular focus on the history of the Ottoman Empire.
His first book, Murder in Salonika 1876: A Tale of Apostasy and International Crisis (Gorgias Press, 2012) was a study focusing on the events surrounding the murder of French and German consuls at Salonika in May 1876, and the following international crisis.

His current book project, tentatively titled Estranged Subjects of the State Neo-Hellenes and Neo-Russians in the Ottoman Empire 1830-1876, examines the formation of Ottoman nationality during the Tanzimat era. It argues that Ottoman nationality developed through an iterative process aimed at the containment and retention of individual subjects of the state, whose adopted nationalities posed a problem to the state’s control.
He holds a PhD in Modern Middle East History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, he is teaching courses on Ottoman, Middle Eastern, and World histories. Before coming to Knoxville, Berke Torunoglu was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton University.