This vividly detailed revisionist history opens a new vista on the great Ottoman Empire in the early nineteenth century, a key period often seen as the eve of Tanzimat westernizing reforms and the beginning of three distinct histories-ethnic nationalism in the Balkans, imperial modernization from Istanbul, and European colonialism in the Middle East. Christine Philliou brilliantly shines a new light on imperial crisis and change in the 1820s and 1830s by unearthing the life of one man. Stephanos Vogorides (1780-1859) was part of a network of Christian elites known phanariots, institutionally excluded from power yet intimately bound up with Ottoman governance. By tracing the contours of the wide-ranging networks-crossing ethnic, religious, and institutional boundaries-in which the phanariots moved, Philliou provides a unique view of Ottoman power and, ultimately, of the Ottoman legacies in the Middle East and Balkans today. What emerges is a wide-angled analysis of governance as a lived experience at a moment in which there was no clear blueprint for power.
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