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The Muslim Bonaparte

The Muslim Bonaparte: Diplomacy and Orientalism in Ali Pasha's Greece

K. E. Fleming
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 218
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvj7v
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  • Book Info
    The Muslim Bonaparte
    Book Description:

    Ali Pasha of Ioannina (?1750-1822), the Ottoman-appointed governor of the northern mainland of Greece, was a towering figure in Ottoman, Greek, and European history. Based on an array of literatures, paintings, and musical scores, this is the first English-language critical biography about him in recent decades. K. E. Fleming shows that the British and French diplomatic experience of Ali was at odds with the "orientalist" literatures that he inspired. Dubbed by Byron the "Muslim Bonaparte," Ali enjoyed a position of diplomatic strength in the eastern Adriatic; in his attempt to secede from the Ottoman state, he cleverly took advantage of the diplomatic relations of Britain, Russia, France, and Venice. As he reached the peak of his powers, however, European accounts of him portrayed him in ever more "orientalist" terms--as irrational, despotic, cruel, and undependable.

    Fleming focuses on the tension between these two experiences of Ali--the diplomatic and the cultural. She also places the history of modern Greece in the context of European history, as well as that of Ottoman decline, and demonstrates the ways in which contemporary European visions of Greece, particularly those generated by Romanticist philhellenism, contributed to a unique form of "orientalism" in the south Balkans. Greece, a territory never formally colonized by Western Europe, was subject instead to a surrogate form of colonial control--one in which the country's history and culture, rather than its actual land, was annexed, invaded, and colonized.

    Originally published in 1999.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6497-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. ONE INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-17)

    I first learned of Ali Pasha when I was a teenager, while on a now-distant family holiday to Greece. In the course of our mapless meanderings, I went to Ioannina, in Epiros, and saw the remnants of the city as it was in Ali's day, with its defensive walls and semipreserved old quarter. Many sites seemed to be under reconstruction, but they were being worked on at such a desultory pace that it was difficult to determine whether buildings were in the process of being demolished or revivified. At a local mosque we found a lone workman sitting amid great...

  6. TWO HISTORIOGRAPHY, HISTORICAL CONTEXT, SOURCES, AND A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 18-35)

    Ali pasha of Ioannina (1750?–1822) was indeed both hated and feared, not just by his subject populations but by the powers of Europe as well. The copious European literatures generated by the governor, however, focus far more attention on their hate and revulsion for Ali than they do on the fear which he inspired.

    During the decades surrounding the turn of the eighteenth century, Britain and France found themselves confused, insecure, and fearful in their dealings with the eastern Adriatic. Such feelings were the result not simply of concerns that the Ottoman Empire might collapse but also of the...

  7. THREE ALI AND THE ECONOMY OF IOANNINA
    (pp. 36-56)

    One of the few areas regarding Ali in which there is a paucity of primary material is the economy of his lands. Ottoman cadastral surveys are unavailable for the region in this period, and as a result most of what can be known about Ali’s role in the economy of his region must perforce come from less satisfactory sources, such as travelers' writings.¹

    What is by all accounts clear is that Albania and the surrounding territories enjoyed a reputation for economic strength throughout much of the Ottoman period. There were several trade centers in the region, most influential of which...

  8. FOUR ETHNICITY, LANGUAGE, AND RELIGION: THE BASES FOR NATIONALISM WITHIN ALI’S BORDERS
    (pp. 57-69)

    Any work on the later centuries of the Ottoman Empire is, of necessity, concerned with the foundations of nationalism in the Otto-oman state. The process that brought about the shift from a feudal system, marked by social estates, to one characterized by variegated economic classes in the modern sense of the term saw a parallel transition, similarly structural, from a system of religious states (millets) to modern nation-states. Both transitions, the result of gradual internal and external pressures spanning the course of several centuries, came to a climax in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when widespread nationalistic uprisings,...

  9. FIVE THE EUROPEAN CONTEXT: AN OVERVIEW
    (pp. 70-77)

    The transformation of the domestic economy of the western Ottoman provinces and the gradual nationalization of Ali’s subject peoples took place within the broader context of international affairs. Ali’s rise to power in mainland Greece coincided with a period of heightened European interest in the region, complicated and shifting alliances between the European powers and the Ottoman government, and major political upheavals that definitively changed the face of Europe. Ioannina’s territories, which encompassed almost the entire Greek mainland, included or bordered on some of the most politically and economically strategic regions of the day. Particularly central to the interests of...

  10. SIX INITIAL CONTACT WITH THE FRENCH
    (pp. 78-94)

    The half century spanned by Ali’s career saw him shift first beyond the confines of Albanian bandit culture to a solidly elite Ottoman milieu, then cast off Ottoman imperial ideology in favor of a form of pseudonationalist statism heavily influenced by the French Revolution and its leaders. Accounts by numerous European travelers who visited Ali in Ioannina, however, portray him in static terms. According to these texts, Ali’s methods of governance remained basically unchanged from the time of his brigand activities in adolescence to the final decades of his life, when he controlled a vast territory, maintained independent diplomatic ties...

  11. SEVEN THE RUSSO-TURKISH ALLIANCE, THE SEPTINSULAR REPUBLIC, AND THE BRITISH
    (pp. 95-117)

    The early decision over whether to participate at Vidin was only the first dilemma with which Ali had to contend. Just as the battle with Pasvan Oğlu was winding down, he faced a second situation that forced him to choose between his hopes for an alliance with the French and his continued loyalty to the Ottoman Porte. These subsequent events further illustrate his relative insecurity as an independent ruler in the 1790s and pave the way for his ultimate break with the Porte early in the following century.

    In 1798 the French invasion of Egypt led to the Porte’s declaration...

  12. EIGHT ORIENTALIST STRATEGIES
    (pp. 118-134)

    In his gradual shift away from the political framework of the Ottoman imperium, Ali deliberately and consciously styled himself on Western patterns of statecraft and politics. The development of his diplomatic contacts in the period 1797–1811 marks a pivotal point in the process whereby Ali dissociated himself from the Ottoman Empire and its mechanisms of power and turned instead to a more Western model based on the principles of statism and nationalism.

    As pasha of Ioannina, Ali had risen to the highest possible position within the Ottoman provincial hierarchy. As his career progressed, he became ever more dissatisfied with...

  13. NINE ORIENTALIST THEMES
    (pp. 135-155)

    Just as contemporary Western accounts of Ali are linked by a stance of authorial open-mindedness and a belief in a readily identifiable, quasi-genetic Ottoman “type,” so too are they joined by the fact that they all share a number of themes or tropes repeated with near formulaic predictability. These themes are developed through the endless repetition of various key vignettes in Ali’s life, episodes that may not be significant from a purely narrative, biographical point of view but that are essential in creating a general mood, in fleshing out the basic realities that are understood to undergird Ali’s life and...

  14. TEN ALI’S MANIPULATION OF THE ORIENTALIST IMAGE
    (pp. 156-180)

    Diplomatic materials dating from the height of Ali’s career demonstrate that he was in a position of relative strength vis-à-vis both the French and the British; yet the question of this strategic, and political relationship is ignored in favor of anecdotal accounts describing his childhood, his idiosyncrasies, and his treacheries. And just as the Orientalizing features of the literature on Ali overlook or elide his military and diplomatic successes, so too do they attempt to do away with other manifestations of his growth and self-conscious evolution as a ruler. As Ali attempted, through military and diplomatic strategy, to gain the...

  15. ELEVEN CONCLUSION
    (pp. 181-186)

    The case of ali and his interactions with Europe indicates that by the late eighteenth century the assumptions of Orientalism were familiar not just to the Western writers who employed them but also to the Orientals whom they were used to describe. This bears significant implications not just for the specific history of Ali and the European powers but also for post-Saidian theories pertaining to study of the non-Western other.

    Since the 1978 publication of Said’sOrientalism, historians of all stripes, particularly of the Islamic Middle East and India, have produced countless works on the mechanisms of power in the...

  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 187-200)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 201-206)