In this article, we discuss the pitfalls and benefits of conceptual history as an approach to Ottoman studies. While Ottoman studies is blossoming and using a wider set of tools to study the Ottoman past, Ottoman intellectual history is still resigned to a life-and-works approach. This absence of synthesizing attempts has left intellectual history in the margins. In addition to the lack of new, theoretically sophisticated accounts of how Ottoman intellectual and political changes were intertwined, the old Orientalist works still hold canonical status in the field. Drawing on recent developments in social and political history, conceptual history may be a good way of doing self-reflective longue durée intellectual history. Ottoman conceptual history may also offer nonspecialists more sophisticated bases for comparison with non-Ottoman cases.
Alp Eren Topal is Guest Researcher in the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Einar Wigen is Associate Professor of Turkish Studies in the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo. Email: email@example.com