Modern Muslim Cosmopolitanism Between the Logics of Race and Empire



This chapter explores the alliances, tensions, and synergies among imperial, racial, and religious visions of cosmopolitan Muslimness from 1815 to 1878. The experience of Muslim cosmopolitanism in modern times are often seen in terms of an inevitable process of clash and separation with requirements of faith and national identities. Nationalism in Muslim societies from Turkey to Pakistan was seen as a tragic end to the earlier forms of cosmopolitan political experience in Ottoman, Mughal and British empires. At the same time, pan-Islamism of the late 19th century is seen as a rejection of imperial cosmopolitanism, often in alliance with nationalism. Contrary to common assumptions, however, nineteenth-century imperial globalization confirmed and enriched the cosmopolitan political imagination in various Muslim societies. While reformist self-strengthening empires such as the Ottomans tried to reinvent a cosmopolitan notion of citizenship, racialization of European empires coupled with globalization of transportation and communication technologies raised awareness about intra-Muslim cosmopolitan diversity and led to a vision of global alliance of colored races. At the centre of global racial consciousness was the idea of the Muslim world, even though the political map of the world was determined by the primacy of empires from 1815 to the 1880s. Far from being a precursor of twentieth-century nationalism, the ideas of the Muslim world sustained both the intra-imperial and trans-imperial forms of cosmopolitanism.


Ottoman empire Mughal empire Muslim cosmopolitanism Global history Global political thought Muslim world Persian empire Pan-Islamism Race Transatlantic history 



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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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