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“Today's Neighbour - Yesterday's Subject”: The Balkans between the Ottoman Empire and Europe from the Perspective of Ottoman Travellers, 1870-1918

Leyla von Mende

In the course of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all its European provinces. Suddenly “yesterday’s subjects” became new neighbours and also competitors in the process of retaining the Empire and of asserting its position against Europe. The dissertation project aims to analyse the Ottoman perception of the new independent Balkan states on the basis of travelogues. How did the travellers view the new situation and the results of the independence of the Balkan states? Without a doubt, their perception was influenced by the fact that, prior to their independence, these new states had been Ottoman provinces. This triggered reactions varying from trivialisation or even disregard of certain developments to astonishment and sometimes admiration. As a second step, the dissertation seeks to examine the extent to which Ottoman travellers deemed themselves able to learn something from these new Balkan states about their perceived progress towards the standards of metropolitan Europe. Therefore, the goal is to shed light on the networks of relations among the Ottoman Empire, the Balkans and Europe and to clarify the Ottomans’ self-location within this newly established arrangement.