Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Kent Schull

Committee Member

Daniel Unowsky

Committee Member

Andrei Znamenski


This dissertation traces the evolution of the modern public image of the late Ottoman ruler through stages of elitist projection and popular reception between the accession of sultan Mahmud II in 1808 and the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. It does so through the prism of the ever growing institutionalized annual celebrations of the Sultan's birthday and accession day in the Ottoman capital, the provinces and abroad. This dissertation demonstrates that the escalating cycle of ceremonial intrusion into the everyday lives of people across the empire had significant short- and long-term effects. In the short term, it brought ordinary subjects into symbolic contact with the center and forged vertical ties of loyalty to the monarch, which were quite successful. In the long term, the rounds of royal celebration affected directly the creation of new, modern/national types of horizontal ties and group consciousness, which then crystallized in national movements and, after the empire's demise, national monarchies. The argument is based on techniques of close textual analysis and visibility studies. The sources include a wide range of Ottoman archival documents (reports, directives and internal communications), artistic production including architectural designs of fountains and clock towers, poems, songs, prayers and eulogies, as well as newspaper articles, memoirs and personal correspondence in Ottoman and modern Turkish, Bulgarian, Hebrew, English, French, and German. By weaving together elements of micro and macro history, subaltern studies and elite history, this dissertation provides a template for studying the complex syncretic modernity of late imperial regimes, which engaged in fascinating acts of ceremonial experimentation, but also exhibited many ominous sides of the looming modern state, with its unparalleled abilities to censor, discipline and control.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.