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The Nation in the Balkan Village: National Politicization in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Thrace

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The paper tackles the issue of national politicization in late Ottoman Thrace through the case study of Stenimahos (İstanimaka, Stanimaka), a large mountainous village in Northern Thrace, whose Greek-speaking inhabitants initiated during the 1860s a long tradition of anti-Ottoman nationalist militancy and a close relation to independent Greece. The rapid national politicization and radicalization of the Stenimahiote Greeks was triggered by a severe reproduction crisis of the local economy in the context of mounting incorporation of the Ottoman empire into the world economy. Ensuing conflicts in local society were successively articulated into the unstable ‘post-Crimean war’ regional, imperial and international contexts. Last but not least, the analysis of the ‘amphibious’ emigration movement of the Stenimahiotes to Greece which followed the crisis reveals the agency of the non-elite subjects and challenges idealist and ‘top-bottom’ approaches to the process to nation formation in the late Ottoman Balkans.

Affiliations: 1: Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens and Institute for Mediterranean Studies/FORTH, Rethymno


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