Byzantium between “east” and “west”: perceptions and architectural historiography of the Byzantine heritage

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2013
Kılıç Yıldız, Şule
This thesis explores the perceptions and historiography of Byzantium during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries focusing on late Ottoman Turkey. It examines the ways in which the cultural and architectural heritage of Byzantium was represented and described in historical writings within the context of the entangled relationships between nationalism, orientalism and historiography. The investigation is based on a close reading of the historical writings of influential scholars who played an important role in the production and dissemination of knowledge regarding the Byzantine heritage during the period under scrutiny. This thesis also attempts a parallel examination of perceptions of the Byzantine legacy both in Europe and the Ottoman world within the specific comparative historical contexts in which similar approaches to the Byzantine heritage can be traced. Such a study of perceptions and historiography of Byzantium focusing on the interactions between Ottoman and European scholars provides valuable insights into not only late Ottoman/Turkish authors’ stance specifically towards the Byzantine heritage, but also to their selective “appropriation” of established European discourse regarding Byzantium. By studying these earlier contributions to Byzantine scholarship, with a special emphasis on their ideological and historiographical impacts on later studies and the origins of continued negative perceptions and images of Byzantium, this study aims to contribute to Byzantine Studies and also to the more general growing body of literature on relationships between nationalism and nation-state building, orientalism, and historiography, by providing a case study of Turkey.