Comparativ 32 (2022), Vol. 3/4

Comparativ 32 (2022), Vol. 3/4
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The Ottoman Empire and the "Germansphere" in the Age of Imperialism

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Organization name
Comparativ. Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und Vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung
Comparativ Universität Leipzig Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics IPF 348001 Ritterstrasse 24 04109 Leipzig GERMANY e-mail:
Connections Redaktion, Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics, Universität Leipzig

The Ottoman Empire and the "Germansphere" in the Age of Imperialism
Ed. by Elife Biçer-Deveci and Ulrich Brandenburg

Table of contents

Editorial, pp. 321f.

Aufsätze | Articles

Ulrich Brandenburg / Elife Biçer-Deveci
Introduction: The Ottoman Empire and the “Germansphere” in the Age
of Imperialism – Rethinking Transregional Approaches in Ottoman History, pp. 323-332.

Tobias Völker
Two Generations of Mordtmanns in Istanbul. Diplomatic and Scholarly Lives in Times of German and Ottoman Transformations, pp. 333-348.

This article highlights shifts and continuities in Ottoman-Germansphere relations by tracing the professional and intellectual activities of two generations of the Mordtmann family that lived in the Ottoman Empire between 1846 and 1918 and played an influential role in the German-speaking communities there due to their positions as diplomats, doctors, and Orientalist scholars. By comparing the experiences and attitudes of the family members before and after the foundation of the German Reich, the article illustrates how major political transformations were reflected in complex ways in individual life stories, and how they determined and shaped trans-imperial encounters on a diplomatic, academic, and interpersonal level.

Giorgio Ennas
Negotiating Protection: Ottoman-Swiss Relations and the Inclusion of Switzerland into a Diplomatic Germansphere during the First World War, pp. 349-363.

When the Ottoman Empire began to develop its diplomatic network across Bern, Geneva, and Zürich at the end of the nineteenth century, the simultaneous absence of a Swiss representative in Constantinople was interpreted by the Ottomans as an issue of inequality. During the First World War and with the mediation of Germany, the Ottoman government and Switzerland finally negotiated an agreement on diplomatic relations based on international law and reciprocity. Despite the affinity of part of the Swiss population with France, Swiss citizens were temporarily placed under German protection, creating a modus vivendi between the Ottomans and the Swiss. In this way, Swiss interests in the Ottoman Empire were included in a diplomatic system dominated by Germany and its Austrian ally.

Barbara Henning
German-speaking Orientalists with an Interest in Kurdish Studies and their Local Interlocutors: Encounters, Co-Productions, and Entanglements, pp. 364-377.

This paper explores processes of knowledge production in the emerging field of Kurdish studies during the second half of the nineteenth century by examining the entanglements between German-speaking scholars and their various Ottoman-Kurdish interlocutors. The emergence of Kurdish studies is examined as a transregional phenomenon: German-speaking researchers collaborated and competed with their European counterparts, while they also closely interacted with Kurdish-speaking interlocutors in the Ottoman Empire on different levels. Far from being passive providers of information, local informants acted as intermediaries and utilized the encounters to foster their own interests. All of those levels are explored as in constant conversation, mutually reflecting and cross-referencing each other.

Elife Biçer-Deveci
Medicalizing the “Alcohol Problem” in the Ottoman Empire: Expert Networks
and Exchanges between Istanbul, Munich, and Zurich, pp. 378-394.

This article examines debates on alcohol consumption in the late Ottoman Empire, which were shaped by the relationships between three scientific experts: The Ottoman Armenian physician Haçig Boghossian (1875–1955), the Swiss psychiatrist and leading member of the international antialcohol movement Auguste Forel (1848–1931), and the Ottoman Turkish psychiatrist Mazhar Osman (1884–1951). All three were leading activists within the temperance movement at the beginning of the twentieth century. Their memoirs, correspondences and publications shed light on the role of transnational networks of experts in the process of the medicalization of the alcohol discourse in the Ottoman Empire. The study contributes to a better understanding of the exchange processes between the Ottoman Empire, Switzerland, and Germany and their impact on the modernization policy of the Ottoman state and on processes of Othering the Christian population.

Yavuz Köse
“Vienna is a Treasure to Us”: Vienna and the Austro-Hungarian Empire
as Role Models for the Late Ottoman Empire, pp. 394-411.

This paper examines unpublished letters on Vienna by the controversial Turkish nationalist Rıza Nur (1879–1942). After he and other opposition figures were imprisoned for several months and accused of establishing a secret committee to conspire against the CUP government, Rıza Nur travelled to Vienna in 1911 in order to recover from his stay in prison. His “Letters from Vienna” (Viyana Mektūbları), which he wrote during his stay, were presumably planned as a series of articles which, however, has never been published. The contribution focuses on Rıza Nur’s reflections about Austria-Hungary and Vienna as models for the Ottoman Empire and its institutions. Besides the geographical proximity of Austria-Hungary as well as a long-shared history it is above all the fact that Austria represents itself politically and socially as a mosaic, thus showing some parallels to the Ottoman state that make it an exemplary model to emulate.

Umar Ryad
Berlin through Arab-Ottoman Eyes in the Wake of Defeat, pp. 412-431.

In this paper, I will study the unpublished diaries of Zeki Hishmat Bey Kirām (1886–1946), an Arab-Ottoman officer and commander of the Bedouin troops in Sinai during WWI, who had ended up in Berlin after he was injured by British fire in 1916. His ego-documents paint a vivid picture of daily life in the German capital in the last years of the war and the early post-war period. The handwritten diaries in my possession, which Kirām to a large part wrote in the Charité hospital in Berlin, are unique because they do not only make a valuable and moving contribution to the literature of WW I. They also offer a glimpse into his interior world and individual experience as an Arab-Ottoman officer in Berlin, as well as how the city was in these distressful times through his eyes. We shall therefore see how an Arab-Ottoman officer had integrated himself in the German capital after the German-Ottoman defeat in the war.


Harald Kleinschmidt
Ethiopia and India as Neighbours: Notes on the Relevance of Perceptions for Global Historiography, pp. 432-461.

The article examines the changing European perception of the interconnectedness of continents with regard to Africa and Asia. It sets out from the late seventeenth-century criticism of the apparently popular belief that Ethiopia and India were neighbouring areas, and documents that this perception formed part of the legacy of Antiquity. Enshrined in Occidental world maps of the T-O type, the belief in the proximity of Ethiopia and India did not result from confusion or lack of geographical knowledge but was based on the universalist depiction of the inhabitable world as a cohesive and permeable ecumene. The core argument of the article is that this perception became entrenched in the European collective memories far beyond the fundamental transformation of the world picture at the turn of the sixteenth century.

Torsten Konopka
Military Assistance for the Malian Armed Forces by the German Bundeswehr. A Historical Perspective, pp. 462-476.

German-Malian military cooperation has a long-standing tradition. However, Germany’s large contribution to the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has recently drawn academic attention mostly to these multinational participations. Until now, the bilateral military assistance of the German Bundeswehr to the Malian Armed Forces, which started at the end of the 1960s, has been largely neglected. Based on ministerial files from the West German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) as well as the Ministry of Defence (MoD), this article provides a detailed overview of this relation. Upon request by the Malian authorities, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) sent equipment and instructors to Mali in order to train Malian engineers. Hereby, in times of the East-West conflict, the FRG tried to strengthen its influence in a country, in which it was competing especially with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) for political influence.

Rezensionen | Reviews

Martha Chaiklin / Philip Gooding / Gwyn Campbell (eds.): Animal Trade
Histories in the Indian Ocean World, Cham 2020
by Samuël Coghe, pp. 477-479.

David Freeman: A Silver River in a Silver World. Dutch Trade in the
Rio de la Plata, 1648–1678, Cambridge/New York 2020
by Martin Biersack, pp. 480f.

James Livesey: Provincializing Global History. Money, Ideas, and Things
in the Languedoc, 1680–1830, New Haven/London 2020
by Christof Jeggle, pp. 482-485.

Junko Thérèse Takeda: Iran and a French Empire of Trade, 1700–1808.
The Other Persian Letters, Liverpool 2020
by Sven Trakulhun, pp. 486-488.

Sarah Lentz: „Wer helfen kann, der helfe!“ Deutsche SklavereigegnerInnen und die atlantische Abolitionsbewegung, 1780–1860, Göttingen 2020
by Michael Zeuske, pp. 489-491.

Manuel Barcia: The Yellow Demon of Fever: Fighting Disease in the
Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Slave Trade, New Haven, CT 2020
by Thomas Mareite, pp. 492-494.

Jeremy Adelman (ed.): Empire and the Social Sciences: Global Histories
of Knowledge, London/New York 2019
by Matilde Cazzola, pp. 495f.

Florian Bieber: Debating Nationalism. The Global Spread of Nations,
London 2020
by Stefan Berger, pp. 497-499.

Fabian Scheidler: The End of the Megamachine: A Brief History of a
Failing Civilization, Winchester/Washington 2020
by Felipe Fernández-Armesto, pp. 500f.

Maria Todorova: The Lost World of Socialists at Europe’s Margins: Imagining Utopia, 1870s–1920s, London 2020
by Augusta Dimou, pp. 502-503.

Austin Dean: China and the End of Global Silver, 1873–1937, Cornell 2020
by Elisabeth Kaske, pp. 505-507.

Harald Fischer-Tiné / Stefan Huebner / Ian Tyrrell (Hrsg.): Spreading Protestant Modernity: Global Perspectives on the Social Work of the YMCA and YWCA, 1889–1970 (= Perspectives on the Global Past), Honolulu 2021
by Thomas Heinrich, pp. 508-510.

Alfred Schlicht: Das Horn von Afrika. Äthiopien, Dschibuti, Eritrea und Somalia: Geschichte und Politik, Stuttgart 2021
by Ulf Engel, pp. 511-513.

Marie Huber: Developing Heritage – Developing Countries. Ethiopian
Nation-Building and the Origins of UNESCO World Heritage, 1960–1980,
Berlin/Boston 2021
by Andrea Rehling, pp. 514-516.

Daniel Geary / Camilla Schofield / Jennifer Sutton (eds.): Global White
Nationalism. From Apartheid to Trump, Manchester 2020
by Paul S. Landau, pp. 517f.

Johanna Meyer-Lenz / Jochen Weil: Kinderkardiologie(n) in Berlin, Erlangen,Hannover, London, Minneapolis, München und Tübingen 1950–2000: DieEntwicklung der Kinderkardiologie als neue Spezialdisziplin in der medizinisch-technischen Revolution des 20. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig 2021
by Norbert Finzsch, pp. 519-522.

Annotationen | Annotations

Trevor Burnard: The Atlantic in World History, 1490–1830, London 2020
by Megan Maruschke, p. 523.

Jürgen Erfurt: Transkulturalität – Prozesse und Perspektiven, Tübingen 2021
by Antje Dietze, p. 524.

Autorinnen und Autoren | Authors, p. 525.