GEM – Gendered Illnesses of the ‘Sick Man’: Modernisation in the late Ottoman Empire

Gendered Illnesses of the ‘Sick Man’: Modernisation in the late Ottoman Empire

Presented by Demet Gülçiçek (University of Warwick)

The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham

5:15 PM 22nd November 2017


Modernisation in the context of Ottoman Empire was mostly considered as curing the ‘sick man’. The Ottoman Empire was sick, the cure was in Europe; but the ways to reach the cure was the main discussion. In relation to these discussions, modernisation took different forms under different regimes in the Ottoman Empire but gender was always one of the main constitutive elements during these processes. I will try to show how the discourse of the sickness, the cure and reaching the cure – modernisation in general – was produced through gendered discourses.

‘Wrong’ modernisation (also called Westernisation) debates within the intellectual circles of the time (late 19th century and early 20th century) is a good case to understand the complexity between modernisation and gender. Wrong modernisation was seen as a deviation from an ‘essence’ which might refer to different notions such as Ottoman, Muslim, Turkish based on the context. But in any case, mentioning to wrong modernisation was possible through constitutions of femininities and masculinities. As an example, I will be focusing on two characters from two different novels (Felatun Bey and Rakim Efendi by Ahmet Mithat and Ask-i Memnu by Halit Ziya). Through these novels, I will try to show how too-modernised male figure was feminised and how too-modernised woman figure was presented as immoral.

22217990_10213045134419753_1276024878_oMithat Kutlar, “Osmanlı Kadın Dergileri içinde Erkekler Dünyası Dergisi,” Fe Dergi 2, sayı 2 (2010):1-15.


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