Europeanness as Masquerade
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I have tried to establish in the previous chapter that in the Ottoman/Turkish intellectual imagination, Europe became not only an ego-ideal, an object of identification, but also an object of desire.1 We can now try to demonstrate that, apart from the fact that this duality created a discernible split bordering on the psychotic, each side of this equation, although in apparent conflict with the other, also made the other a precondition for itself: in order to reach for the (European) object of desire (‘the immense accumulation of commodities’), the Ottoman intellectual had to become, or at least look European, so that he would be perceived to be entitled to this object.2 The reverse, however, is also true: in order to be able to be or look European, he needed to lay his hands on all these cultural artefacts that make up the image of ‘the European’. It went without saying that the Ottoman intellectual was hampered in this task by historical, cultural and especially religious differences from the start, but that was not all: the seemingly superficial or ‘cosmetic’ alteration3 in the body image of not only the intelligentsia but also the entire Ottoman people was also indicative (and/or consequential) for a fundamental change in the social structure of the Empire in toto, in how the social classes and the ethnic and religious social strata were positioned vis-à-vis each other and the absolute ruler.
KeywordsMasculine Ideal Turkish Republic Absolute Ruler Ancient Bond Military Uniform
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