Post-Ottoman trajectories. Marginalities, (Im)Mobilities, and Subjectivities after the Empire

This special issue aims at de-centering the notion of the “Post-Ottoman”. We intend to turn the attention toward the impact of collapsing imperial structures on the life trajectories of marginal(ized) individuals, with a particular focus on the spatial dimension and the representation of the self. 

We invite the contributors to reflect on marginalities from an intersectional perspective that includes notions like anomie, subalternity, exclusion, and segregation. The issue particularly welcomes studies centered on subjectivities of women, ethnic or confessional minorities, and actors targeted by social, political, and sexual discrimination. Apart from that, the special issue also addresses actors from economic classes that have, until now, received comparatively little attention in biographical research, like workers, peasants, or the urban and rural poor. We conceive of marginalization utilizing a twofold approach: marginalization during the post-Ottoman transformations as well as marginalization deriving from historiographical neglect. The goal is to enrich the empirical and conceptual research on biographies by extending it outside the domain of “great men’s” memoirs in a more inclusive conceptual framework. In their case studies, contributors should critically discuss life trajectories by focusing on the meaning, boundaries, and negotiations of marginality as central factors for practices and perceptions. In so doing, we suggest adopting an inclusive look that engages with the question of how these individual trajectories are embedded in changing collectivities and institutions ranging from kinship to informal networks, associations, and even up to state and international institutions.

See CfP Post-Ottoman trajectories

True to the focus of Prisms, we primarily invite contributions situated in post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe: the Balkans, Greece, Anatolia, the Aegean Islands, and Cyprus. Contributions concerning North Africa, the Levant, or the Caucasus will also be considered if they show specific promise from a thematic point of view. Mobility – as well as its absence – represents an important factor for framing marginality in a context of changing borders, conflicts, migration waves, displacement, and trade as results of institutional pressure and/or emancipating strategies. From a temporal point of view, our “post-Ottoman” approach is equally broad:  From the first substantial losses of territory in Southeastern Europe in the early 19th century until the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, a multitude of different and entangled transition processes may be taken into focus. Contributors may use this temporal openness and fluidity to call into question customary periodizations of Ottoman « decline » and juxtapose them with actors’ experiences and subjectivities « on the ground ». The perspectives of later-born generations may also be taken into account, as long as public and private dynamics of “de-Ottomanization” or “re-Ottomanization” still carry tangible meaning for their lives.  

Possible sources range from ego-documents and visual material to institutional sources. In the light of marginal perspectives, we do not aim to construct a dichotomy between history “from below” and history “from above”. Rather, we invite contributors to seek flexible and creative approaches that allow to question this perceived opposition. We encourage authors to reflect on how the subjectivity of the actors emerges both from their practices and from categorization drives on the side of institutions. 

Possible avenues of research include, but are not limited to, the following sets of questions: 


  1. In what ways are marginalized actors mobile or immobile in a post-Ottoman space? Do they perceive the post-Ottoman lands as an integrated space? Which boundaries and frontiers play concrete roles in their lives, and how?
  2. How are mobility practices derived from the post-Ottoman transformation, such as flight, migration and displacement, reflected in biographical accounts?

Networks, Social Order, Contestations:

  1. How did networks and sociability of marginalized actors change and evolve in the post-Ottoman sphere? What collectivities were relevant to them, and how were these groups affected (or bypassed) by the political transformation? Can we identify changing patterns in practices of othering, both within and without the marginalized groups?
  2. How can a study on marginal perspectives enrich our image of the post-Ottoman transformation process, specifically with regards to the experience of war and violence? How can we critically reflect on related expressions of dissent and consent in the sources?

Memory practices:

  1. What role does the memory of the Ottoman past play in marginal, non-mainstream discourses? How can we frame social, cultural and religious practices related to this past in a changing political context?
  2. Is there a post-Ottoman diaspora in Europe or the Americas – a diaspora that is not organized primarily along national designations? How do memory practices in these communities contribute to keeping the Ottoman past present or alive in Western cities?

Researchers interested in contributing a paper are expected to submit an abstract of approximately 200 words until 15 December 2017. Contributors will be informed about the acceptance of their paper proposal until 8 January 2018. Upon acceptance, contributors are expected to submit a paper of 8,000 – 10,000 words until 15 April, 2018.


Andreas Guidi –

Veronika Hager –