Dr. Stephanov Darin

129600 €

Ruler Visibility, Public Space/Sphere, and Collective Identities in the Late Russian and Ottoman Empires – a Finnish-Bulgarian Comparison

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Kolmivuotinen

This project tests the hypothesis that multiplying and escalating public ruler celebrations across the Romanov and Ottoman Empires in the nineteenth century not only forged strong vertical ties of subject loyalty to each respective emperor in the short run, but also, and more importantly, stimulated the rise of the horizontal ties of (macro) group consciousness and ethnonational belonging in the long run. In particular, it traces the public outreach efforts of each ruler aimed at those among his subjects who belonged to a different faith or denomination. In the Romanov case, the community of Lutheran Finns serves as the point of focus, whereas in the Ottoman case, the same role is taken up by the Orthodox Christian Bulgars. The basis for comparison lies not in any pre-existing connections between these two communities, but rather in the comparable contemporary sets of cultural stimuli originating from the Russian and Ottoman monarchs to which ordinary Finns and Bulgars, respectively, were exposed, leading, over time, to cycles of symbolic interaction between the ruler and the ruled. First, the project proceeds on a periodic basis – by evaluating welcoming ceremonies and local cultural production inspired by imperial visits to the Grand Duchy of Finland (1812-1891) vs. their equivalent (sultanic) visits to the Bulgar-populated lands in Ottoman Rumelia (1837-1867). Second, it does so on an annual basis – by analyzing the popular involvement with the annual royal celebrations in the Grand Duchy and Rumelia. Third, where extant evidence allows it, the project studies the ‘ruler’-‘ruled’ symbolic connection on a weekly or daily basis – via texts of prayers, sermons, poems, and songs performed in schools and churches. It employs elements of micro and macro history, subaltern studies and elite history. It engages sociological frameworks such as core-and-periphery and triadic-nexus analysis in novel and insightful ways – by applying techniques of close textual analysis.