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Imperial Classroom: Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman Empire

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Drawing on a wide array of primary material, ranging from archival reports to textbooks and classroom maps, Benjamin C. Fortna provides a detailed scholarly analysis of the Ottoman educational endeavour, revealing its fascinating mix of Western and indigenous influences. Focusing on such key areas as curricular change, daily life, geography, and Islamic morality, Fortna pr Drawing on a wide array of primary material, ranging from archival reports to textbooks and classroom maps, Benjamin C. Fortna provides a detailed scholarly analysis of the Ottoman educational endeavour, revealing its fascinating mix of Western and indigenous influences. Focusing on such key areas as curricular change, daily life, geography, and Islamic morality, Fortna presents new evidence about schooling in the late Ottoman Empire and offers a new interpretation of its place in the history of the modern Middle East.


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Drawing on a wide array of primary material, ranging from archival reports to textbooks and classroom maps, Benjamin C. Fortna provides a detailed scholarly analysis of the Ottoman educational endeavour, revealing its fascinating mix of Western and indigenous influences. Focusing on such key areas as curricular change, daily life, geography, and Islamic morality, Fortna pr Drawing on a wide array of primary material, ranging from archival reports to textbooks and classroom maps, Benjamin C. Fortna provides a detailed scholarly analysis of the Ottoman educational endeavour, revealing its fascinating mix of Western and indigenous influences. Focusing on such key areas as curricular change, daily life, geography, and Islamic morality, Fortna presents new evidence about schooling in the late Ottoman Empire and offers a new interpretation of its place in the history of the modern Middle East.

36 review for Imperial Classroom: Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman Empire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justin Michael James Dell

    Fortna's text is a valuable corrective to one of the dominant views in the historiography of the late Ottoman Empire, which is that the Empire was the passive vessel of infusions of Western knowledge and modernizing initiatives before its final collapse. This, as Fortna points out, is based on a teleological narrative of history that is informed at a basic level by the axioms of Modernization Theory, and which bifurcates the history of education into a rigidly "religious" and "secular" dualism. Fortna's text is a valuable corrective to one of the dominant views in the historiography of the late Ottoman Empire, which is that the Empire was the passive vessel of infusions of Western knowledge and modernizing initiatives before its final collapse. This, as Fortna points out, is based on a teleological narrative of history that is informed at a basic level by the axioms of Modernization Theory, and which bifurcates the history of education into a rigidly "religious" and "secular" dualism. The truth is much more nuanced. The Ottoman Empire, particularly under Abdulhamid II, did not just ape Western institutions and ideas; it modulated them according to the exigencies of the 'present moment' and syncretized Western knowhow and wherewithal with putatively Eastern moral (read Islamic) and cultural sensitivities. Surrounded by land-hungy European competitors on the outside, and beset with internal religious and ethnic subversives on the inside, the Ottoman Empire had only one last card to play to stave off its ultimate demise: education policy. This forms the case study of Fortna's book, one that puts a level of agency back in the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the historiography of its final days. It is certainly worth a read. I think this text is valuable for elucidating the perspective and point of view of the Ottoman imperial leadership on the matter of education policy in the Empire, namely the Sultan's trepidation over the existential crisis of his domain, the perception by the Ottomans of the need to discover the 'secret' of Western power by emulating its methods, and the concerns of the Sublime Porte that downloading European institutions and methods might include a virus of insidious Western ideas ultimately destabilizing to the Ottoman imperial structure. However, I do not think Fortna really goes deeply enough in demonstrating how the Ottoman regime reasserted - at the quotidian level - the primacy of Islam and Ottoman values in the education system, and in society as a whole. One gets the sense from Fortna's text that the Ottoman reactionary efforts amounted to little more than the production of tendentious maps of the Empire in school textbooks and the distribution of candy to students during the Prophet Muhammad's birthday. From a literary point of view, Fortna has a tendency to repeat himself a lot in his work, but this is not an unqualified negative as it does assist the reader in internalizing the important points of the work.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rehenuma

    At first I didnt really like this book, but once I discussed it with my professor it regained some intellectual appeal. The writing is not amazing, the reason for my original dislike, but his main idea is one that should be read by those who constantly try to make the Eastern world into copycats ofWestern "modernity".. as if people didnt have brains to figure out how to modernize, but had to borrow everything from Europe and the West. This book uses the example of the Ottoman empire to show the At first I didnt really like this book, but once I discussed it with my professor it regained some intellectual appeal. The writing is not amazing, the reason for my original dislike, but his main idea is one that should be read by those who constantly try to make the Eastern world into copycats ofWestern "modernity".. as if people didnt have brains to figure out how to modernize, but had to borrow everything from Europe and the West. This book uses the example of the Ottoman empire to show the creation of state education as a means of creating national identity and strengthening the state. It also shows how Islam has always played a central role in this constant figuring and refiguring of what is education, secular or Islamic or both?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Zain Malik

    ggg

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mayar Kotb

  5. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Anderson

  7. 4 out of 5

    Flâneuse

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ghafiqi

  9. 4 out of 5

    İbrahim

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yousuf

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pinar Ozyurek

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mehri

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abdelrahman Mahmoud

  14. 5 out of 5

    Derya Gocer

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

  16. 5 out of 5

    Javahir S.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Büşra

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sayed

  21. 4 out of 5

    Conor

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jati Joy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Minela Radusic

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rawal Riaz

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pusik

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  27. 4 out of 5

    jordan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marilu Lucescu

  29. 5 out of 5

    Talal

  30. 4 out of 5

    .

  31. 4 out of 5

    David Calderwood

  32. 4 out of 5

    ehk2

  33. 5 out of 5

    Nazlı

  34. 5 out of 5

    Burcu Topcu

  35. 4 out of 5

    Books

  36. 4 out of 5

    Alice

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