Course Descriptions

01:013:324 Ottoman Africa

From the early sixteenth century until its end, the Ottoman Empire was present in Africa, from Egypt to Algeria, Tunisia to Libya, with later contacts with South, East and West Africa. But in the second half of the nineteenth century the Ottoman presence in Africa assumed a form that it had never had before. Government buildings were erected, roads were paved. Accompanied by the Ottoman flag Ottoman missionaries began to travel from one African country to another to preach the true religion of Islam, reporting back to the Sublime Port about the need to colonize these lands. The Port commissioned books on colonialism to understand better what was to be done with the African lands to the south of Libya. Meanwhile, along with the Ottoman banners, it was the Caliph himself, simultaneously the Ottoman sultan, who became more and more visible across Africa through the novel iconography of the buildings, uniforms and flags. It is this particular transformation that raises a number of questions that we will address in this seminar. What is the difference between the forms of Ottoman presence in Africa before, during and after the nineteenth century colonial struggle for the natural resources of Africa, i.e. the Scramble for Africa? Can we compare these different forms of presence to European colonial presence in Africa? More significantly: What exactly is the relationship between religion and this colonial setting? And theoretically: What exactly is the relationship between the image (visibility, publicity, imperial iconography) and colonialism? While enabling us to unearth an Africa that has long been lost, i.e. the Ottoman Africa, addressing these questions will also make room for a fresh, critical engagement with some of the major issues of contemporary political thought.