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Islam ex situ: The 'Othering' of the Ottoman at and after the great exhibition, 1851-1901

This thesis takes a material culture approach to one aspect of Anglo-Ottoman relations, that of the ‘othering’ of the Ottoman by the Anglo-Christian observer. I analyse how Ottoman objects were assembled, ordered, exhibited, and interpreted at the Great Exhibition. The Sublime Porte sent 3380 articles to be exhibited at the Crystal Palace. I examine what messaging their classification and exhibition gave to Anglo-Christian audiences regarding Islam and ‘the Turk’—both a religious and racial ‘other.’ Part I surveys the exhibitionary complex, beginning with the Great Exhibition (the material dimension); and Part II deals with the ways Anglo-Christian commentators characterised Ottoman Turks between 1851 and 1901 (the social dimension). The conclusion I have drawn is that a material dimension reflected and served to reinforce the social dimension to historical Anglo-Ottoman relations. Although some turcophile observers during the mid-to-late nineteenth century sought a sincerer, more empathetic engagement with Turkey and her empire, tropes that cast Ottoman Turks as ‘barbarous’ and ‘lustful’ persisted and were manifested at the Crystal Palace—itself a structure that physicalised binaries between east and west, crescent and cross, ‘other’ and ‘self.’ Ottoman objects ex situ were read with reference to an existing canon of tropes/types. This research shows how Islam and the Ottoman Empire have been conceptualised, materialised, and ‘othered’ since the Great Exhibition by way of object, text, and space.
Type of thesis
Jennings, K. L. (2018). Islam ex situ: The ‘Othering’ of the Ottoman at and after the great exhibition, 1851-1901 (Thesis, Master of Philosophy (MPhil)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12098
The University of Waikato
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