The dissertation is an analysis of the Russian relationship to Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire during the second half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. As a methodological approach, it uses the concepts of irredentism, Orientalism, and multiple modernities. The dissertation focuses on the debate around the Bulgarian Church Question in Russia and Greek lands. The discussion developed among intellectuals, ecclesiastics, and diplomats from the Crimean War to the First Balkan War (1856-1912) and inspired several visions of a supranational cultural and political union of Russia and its "unredeemed" populations in the Near East.
The study argues that in the period under consideration traditional Pan-Orthodox irredentism had to compete with the more modern ethnic-based Pan-Slavism. Based on those examples, the dissertation suggests that irredentism is a discourse of both similarity and difference. It helps consolidate the national identity of the core group by mobilizing it for the cause conveniently situated abroad. In line with Orientalist hallmarks, irredentism others and genders the unredeemed as helpless victims. In contrast to Orientalism, irredentist discourse others the purported Self and leaves more room for the agency of the unredeemed.
The three responses to the Bulgarian Church Question can be broadly defined as "Pan-Slavism," "Pan-Orthodoxy," and "Greco-Slavic world/cultural type" theory as a synthesis of the first two. These visions sought to resolve tensions between ethnic and religious elements in the identity of significant segments of the educated Russian society. All three visions were examples of Orientalist production of knowledge connected with political power. They ultimately aimed at creating a non-Western civilization based on shared culture and centered on Russia. The existing scholarly literature considers the proponents of these visions as conservative, neotraditional, and "anti-modern" on the assumption that there can only be one liberal Western model of modernity. The dissertation uses the concept of multiple modernities to situate Russian responses to the Bulgarian Church Question within the broader context of "the invention of tradition" in fin-de-siecle Europe. It suggests the strength and evolution of traditional religious and dynastic identities and institutions on the eve of the First World War.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2008. Major: History. Advisor: Stavrou, Theofanis G. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 357 pages.
Vovchenko, Denis Vladimirovich.
Containing Balkan nationalism: Imperial Russia and Ottoman Christians (1856--1912).
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