Bulgarian Historiography on Ot

This article provides a general review and analysis of the Bulgarian scholarship in the field of Ottoman cultural history, and Ottoman written culture in particular. The author outlines three major periods in the development of Bulgarian historiography: 1) the period between the 1877-78 Ottoman-Russian war and the beginning of the communist regime in the late 1940s when the nationalistic approach to history prevailed; 2) the communist regime between late 1940s and late 1980s, when the nationalistic approach was intermingled with the ideological one; 3) from early 1990s up to the present, when ideological chains were broken and the nationalistic approach abandoned. The author emphasizes that the Bulgarian scholars tend, on the one hand, to consider the local Ottoman and Muslim culture more or less a specific Balkan (peripheral) version of the high imperial culture developed in the leading Ottoman centers with a lot of sub-variants on local level; and, on the other hand, to restrict the scope of research to a given particular topic (provincial Ottoman libraries and their survived collections, for instance), neglecting their relation to and correlation with other Ottoman cultural and social institutions such as the Ottoman theological schools (medrese) and their curriculum. Both approaches could lead to overestimation of the local specifics and a misunderstanding of the relation between the so-called high culture and low culture. The author draws the conclusion that previous and current Bulgarian scholarship in the field of Ottoman written culture in Bulgaria has contributed to a better understanding of Ottoman and Muslim cultures in Bulgaria. ORLİN SABEV

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