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The Balkanization of Ottoman rule: premodern origins of the modern international system in Southeastern Europe

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 17:33 authored by Clemens Hoffmann
The term Balkanization has found entry in the social sciences vocabulary as a metaphor for diversity at best, social and political instability for the most part, and genocidal war at worst. And yet it is precisely the emergence of a variety of national states and the Ottoman Empires disintegration that are frequently portrayed as processes of modernizing as well as naturalizing the international system of the Balkans and the Middle East. By offering a historical sociological re-construction of early modern Ottoman history up to the Greek Revolt in 1821, I argue in this article that the national secessions were not synonymous with the creation of a modern international system in southeastern Europe. National independence cannot therefore be understood as a functional derivate of an expanding European Modernity mediated through global capitalism or geopolitical competition. Rather, the various secessions were the result of a series of conservative reactions to the modernization efforts of the Ottoman central administration. National state formation and Ottoman disintegration, on the one hand, and capitalist development and modern sovereignty on the other, have thus to be seen rather as having historically and socially distinct origins than as representing two sides of the same coin of a totalizing form of European international modernity.


Publication status

  • Published


Cooperation and Conflict




SAGE Publications





Page range

373 - 396

Department affiliated with

  • International Relations Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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