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a supranational and protonationalist political principle that stressed patriotism and the group feeling of all ottoman citizens.

Political elites used Ottomanism to achieve consensus among different ethnic and religious communities and foster political and social unanimity in allegiance to the sultan. It originated as a response to foreign encroachments and separatist movements during the Tanzimat period and was sustained by enhanced social and political mobilization. While Ottomanism was sufficiently vague and malleable to serve different political platforms, the territorial indivisibility of Ottoman domains was its constant concern. The administrative principle of centralization was integral to Ottomanist policies.

Ottomanism germinated from the Tanzimat recognition of the notion of citizenship. The Young Ottomans infused Ottomanism with constitution-alist ideas, which Sultan Abdülhamit II supplanted with Islamic symbols and solidarity. The Young Turks subscribed to secular and constitutionalist Ottomanism but were divided about the nature of the underlying administrative framework. The centralist position prevailed after the revolution of 1908. The piecemeal dismemberment and secession of non-Muslim parts of the empire compromised the secularist thrust of Ottomanism. Ottomanism was not a coherent ideology but blunted the growth of particular nationalisms, particularly among the Muslim groups.

see also tanzimat; young ottomans; young turks.


Berkes, Niyazi. The Development of Secularism in Turkey. Montreal: McGill University Press, 1964; reprint, New York: Routledge, 1998.

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