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Ottomanism with a Greek Face: An Interview with Vangelis Kechriotis

[Image via Ottoman History Podcast.] [Image via Ottoman History Podcast.]

“Ottomanism with a Greek Face”: Vangelis Kechriotis coined this term in one of his recent articles to describe a particular cultural and political phenomenon of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, namely a vision of a future for Greek Orthodox Christians within the Ottoman Empire embraced by a number of Greek intellectuals and politicians. In defiance of both Greek and Turkish nationalisms, this ideology developed an alternative understanding of Greek identity, one that combined cultural Hellenism with political loyalty to the Ottoman state.

Not surprisingly, among chief ideologues of this vision were Karamanlis, Christians from the region of Cappadocia who spoke Turkish as their mother tongue but wrote it using the Greek alphabet. Stressing their profound connection to Anatolia, many of them identified as Christians of Anatolia rather than Greek or Turkish.

With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the ultimate triumph of nation states, the vision of Helleno-Ottomanism became history. Its advocates were written out of the nationalist annals. In his latest works, however, Vangelis Kechriotis has begun to uncover these forgotten stories and shed light on dramatic political predicaments in which these individuals found themselves.

In Episode #194 of Ottoman History Podcast, Dr. Kechriotis shares his findings and discusses their wider implications for Ottoman history by focusing on the career of one of the protagonists of his articles, Pavlos Karolidis, a native of a village in Cappadocia who became not only a distinguished historian and a professor in Greece, but had also been a deputy in the Ottoman parliament.

Participant Bios

Vangelis Kechriotis is Assistant Professor of History at Boğaziçi University. He specializes in the history of non-Muslims in the late Ottoman Empire, particularly the Greek Orthodox. His PhD dissertation, completed at the University of Leiden, examined the history of the Greek community of Izmir. His latest work focuses on the history of the complex cultural and political identities of Cappadocian Greeks.

Polina Ivanova is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University, studying the history of medieval Anatolia.

Nir Shafir is a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Los Angeles, focusing on the history of knowledge and science in the early modern Middle East. He also runs the website HAZİNE, which profiles different archives, libraries, and museums that house sources on the Islamic world. 

Additional Credits

Editing and Production by Chris Gratien
Musical excerpts from Istanbul'dan Ayva Gelir Nar Gelir - Azize Tozem & Sari Recep / Nazmiye by Rizeli Sadik

Stream via Soundcloud (preferred / US)

Stream via Hipcast (Turkey / Türkiye)

[NOTE: Soundcloud has been blocked in Turkey, and so a parallel feed for Turkish audiences has been provided.]

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The photography page aims to provide a space for reflection on photography in its various forms and uses in the Middle East. We showcase the work of photographers active in the region and cultivate critical thinking about photographic practices, representations, and history. The page publishes photo essays, articles, interviews, reviews and more. It also provides information on photographic archives, agencies, and institutions, exhibits, events, and publications.