Muslim Modernity as Local and Translocal Practice: Transimperial Entanglements of Modernisation Discourses between Russia, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire
The study of Muslim modernities often focuses on leading figures in the cultural centres of the Islamic World. This project adopts a different perspective. It investigates modernisation discourses of European Muslims before World War I as transimperial processes of communication. Focusing on Russian Crimea and Habsburg Bosnia, it discusses the example of two regions that, unlike other areas of post-Ottoman Europe, were not affected by a process of radical de-Ottomanisation. Both Bosnian Muslims and Crimean Tatars maintained cultural and emotional bonds to other regions of the Ottoman Empire and to the old metropole Istanbul. This holds especially true for members of the elite, whose biographies were often marked by a high degree of mobility. The continuing transimperial networks played an important role in processes of cultural and social modernisation, during which patterns of modernity were not only taken over from the Imperial Russian or Habsburg rulers but transferred from the Ottoman Empire as well. Moreover, the analysis of the Bosnian Muslim and Crimean Tatar press before World War I demonstrates a keen interest in and a close observation of the Muslim brethren in other former borderlands of the Ottoman Empire. In some cases, research can even reconstruct direct processes of communication between Bosnian Muslims and Crimean Tatars. This project will concentrate on such processes. It asks how key concepts of the Muslim modernisation discourse were first negotiated in translocal communication processes and then translated into local contexts in order to get popularised. Interpreting the negotiation of modernity as a complex entanglement of communication, the project seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the making of Muslim modernities in general.