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Of Half-Lives and Double-Lives: “Renegades” in the Ottoman Empire and Their Pre-Conversion Ties, ca. 1580–1610

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Chapter Summary

If one excludes the intervention of supernatural powers, death is both terminal and irreversible, and in addition to being a biological event, death also has legal, cultural, and social dimensions. In fact, it is possible for a person to die legally, culturally, and socially, without perishing biologically. Such a form of death was often part of religious conversion, for example in the case of Hindus converting to Christianity in India under British rule. This chapter examines the ties which new Muslims of Christian-European origins forged, maintained, and in some cases even revived after having "turned Turk", as contemporaries called this combined process of religious conversion and acculturation. It argues that while conversion was indeed a fundamentally life-changing experience, many such renegades were part of social networks in which their origins continued to matter. Ultimately, they were not merely inhabitants of "well-connected domains", their ties were constitutive of this well-connectedness itself.

Keywords: Christianity; Islam; Ottoman Empire; religious conversion; Turkish



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