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Savoir vivre cosmopolite: Ahmed Midhat's "Avrupa Adab-ı Muaşereti Yahut Alafranga" as a source for the modernization of the codes of social behavior in the late nineteenth century

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2009
Çekiç, Can Eyüp
This study aims to reevaluate Ahmed Midhat’s treatises on Ottoman society by revealing his exceptional objectives, which recently have been used in contemporary interdisciplinary studies concerning the 19th century Ottoman social transformation. In view of that, the thesis is formed as a re-reading of Ahmed Midhat’s etiquette book, titled Avrupa Adab-ı Muaşereti yahud Alafranga, according to some recent debates like that of occidentalism, geographic mapping of culture and civilization, the question of cosmopolitanism and elitism, everyday life practices. The most important aim of this thesis study is to expose the ability and the tool-kit of an Ottoman intellectual, who claims himself belong to the Ottoman Nation, making use of the knowledge of the west for domestic politics and arguments in order to propose and create a genuine, self-governing and permanent Ottoman culture. Besides the knowledge of the west, Ahmed Midhat’s Alafranga represents a very significant literary form that demonstrates the modern change in the intellectual production in Europe. In that perspective, exposing his motivations behind writing an etiquette manual, a literary form which is related to the modern idea of creating a mechanism of self-control for the individuals, and at large for the society itself, is significant the ways in which these motivations represent the ideas of a Tanzimat intellectual on the modernization of the Ottoman society, considering his sympathy for the Hamidian worldview and modernization projects.