History Department
History Department

Ph.D. student Mehmet Çelik's "Reforms in the Balkans" to be reprinted in 2nd edition

Mon, April 8, 2013
Ph.D. student Mehmet Çelik's
Mehmet Çelik, and "Reforms in the Balkans" cover (Libra)

The History department is pleased to announce that Mehmet Çelik, History Ph.D. student under the supervision of Professor Mary Neuburger, will have his first book, Balkanlar’da Tanzimat: Midhat Paşa’nın Tuna Vilayeti Valiliği, 1864-1868 (Reforms in the Balkans: Midhat Pasha's Governorship in the Danube Province, 1864-1868), reprinted in a second edition. Turkish publisher Libra decided to reprint the book because it drew particular attention from scholars in the field.

The book examines the governorship of Midhat Pasha, a progressive Muslim-Ottoman statesman, in the Danube Province, which was created in 1864 as a “pilot region” for new and experimental Ottoman reforms known as Tanzimat. Until the early 1860s, Ottoman statesmen had primarily focused reform efforts on the center of the empire rather than the periphery. Significantly, it was Ottoman minority populations, as much as “outside enemies” that provoked the focus of Ottoman reform on the Danube region in this period. Ottoman statesmen were intent on keeping this intimate and entangled core province within the empire’s confines and enacted a number of reforms to bring stability and try to better integrate different ethnic and religious groups, in particular Bulgarian-Christians. Reforms in the Balkans investigates the ways in which the reforms were applied and to what extent they were successful.

Professor Abraham Marcus, Associate Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at UT Austin, has praised the book, noting that “the heroic effort of the Ottoman Empire to modernize its society and institutions during the nineteenth century is today a central theme in Ottoman historiography. Mehmet Çelik’s book captures the dynamics of this enterprise as they played out in an important Ottoman province under the leadership of the fascinating reformer Midhat Pasha. It illustrates in detail how an imaginative governor was able to initiate projects that reflected his bold vision of modernity, and how obstacles were thrown in his path, including by the government he served. Based on careful archival research, the book represents an important case study of the complex process of Ottoman modernization and the forces that shaped it.”

Çelik’s book is based on his M.A. research, which he conducted from 2004-2007 at Bilkent University in Turkey and during which time he did extensive research in the Ottoman archives in Istanbul. Çelik noted this archival research during his M.A. “provided a firm foundation for the more in-depth research that I pursued for my dissertation project.” He prepared his manuscript for publication during his first two years at The University of Texas's History Department and the book first came out in 2010.  

Currently Çelik is writing his dissertation, entitled "Ottoman Reform and Urban Change: Christians, Muslims and Jews in Danubian Ruse, 1839-1885," which examines the complex process of urban change in the city of Ruse, now in northern Bulgaria, between 1839 and 1885. He is particularly interested in the Ottoman management of diversity, changing interactions and the shared or separate everyday experiences of ethno-religious groups. His project has been funded by the Fulbright-Hays DDRA Program, American Research Center in Sofia, and the UT History Department.

The History department is thrilled to congratulate Çelik on his outstanding achievement.

More info:

Reforms in the Balkans publisher book page (in Turkish):

Mehmet Çelik's profile page:

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