Lessons in Empire: Ottoman Educational Policies and the Politics of Ethno-Religious Pluralism, 1850-1918
Emine Evered

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Michigan State University

Primary Discipline

This project examines questions of diversity and pluralism in late Ottoman educational politics. Though ethno-nationalist ideologies and foreign rivalries are cited often for causing imperial collapse, such claims fail to recognize roles played by the state itself in promoting – albeit unwittingly – the politicization of such identity constructs. Through an analysis of late-Ottoman educational records, it is evident that educational policies intended to contain, manipulate, or otherwise affect the conduct of ethno-religious minorities’ identities actually promoted their particularization. This individualization of ethno-religious identities in a pluralistic society like the Ottoman Empire thus exacerbated problems of resistance, fragmentation, and secession. Based upon extensive archival research and previously untapped historical documents, this study includes previously unheard voices and considers how educational policies in those societies that did not maintain the nation-state as the ultimate ideal – and the nation as the ultimate sovereign, eventually failed. Also employing GIS to research and present historical data, this study creates a year-to-year mapping of late-Ottoman schooling in order to spatially analyze distributions of expenditures and schools, school types, the numbers and identities of students and teachers, relevant socio-economic patterns and processes, and the many geopolitical and territorial changes of the late-Ottoman era. In sum, this project is the first ever attempt to move beyond just the voice of the imperial state in order to understand the center-periphery dynamics involving Ottoman education policies as they were applied and reacted to in the empire’s many ethno-religious minority communities.
About Emine Evered

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