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Tocqueville in the Ottoman Empire: Rival Paths to the Modern State

This volume explores the transition from the old regime to modern forms of sovereignty in the Middle East. By rereading Tocqueville's classic, The Old Régime and the French Revolution, through an Ottoman prism this study probes the unresolved paradoxes in his analysis of institutional change while documenting an old regime that has remained in the shadows of modern history. Each section of the book explores a specific dimension of Ottoman sovereignty – space, hierarchy, and vernacular governance – through a detailed examination of a particular 18th century document. An Ottoman perspective on the eighteenth century not only furnishes critical pieces of the old-regime puzzle. It also illustrates how an uncritical reception of Tocqueville's model of modernization has obscured the ongoing interaction between the “Eurasian” and Westphalian state systems and parallel processes of sociopolitical change.

Department of History, Queen's University

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Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.