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Many a Standard at a Time

The Ottomans' Leverage with Imperial Studies

Marc Aymes

This article aims to explore the consequences of including Ottoman studies in the larger field of imperial studies. It strives to combine a close reading of the Ottoman imperial epithets with considerations of how the Ottomans may contribute to theorizing empire as a model. In particular, the article engages in a discussion of whether the "sublime sultanate" developed into a colonial pattern of empire over its final century of existence. As it turns out, the Ottoman practice of administration did not come down to a simulacrum of European colonialism; the article points instead to a semiotics of empire that took its cue from a multidimensional logic of governmentality. Accordingly, archival idiosyncrasies are taken to imply the contrary of an Ottoman exceptionalism. They serve rather to highlight that concepts carry with them a vast repertoire of meanings to be activated in practice.