- What’s On
Phanariots were a group of elite Orthodox Christian, Greek-speaking functionaries whose ascendancy was made possible by the circumstances of Ottoman governance in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In an era when many of the operations of governance were improvised, Phanariots, whose power was based in the Istanbul quarter of Phanar, where the Ecumenical Patriarchate was also based, achieved the curious position of brokers, power-holders, and agents of governance in a system that was not designed to accommodate them.
In this talk, Christine Philliou will explore this ascendancy of Greek Orthodox Christians, focusing on one particular case, that of Stephanos Vogorides, who chose to remain loyal to the Sultan and the empire through the crisis and transformation precipitated by the Greek Revolution (1821-1828) and the establishment of the independent Kingdom of Greece (1832).
This “prehistory” of the Tanzimat sheds light on the ways Ottoman governance operated before the centralizing, “Westernizing” reforms, and on the void that was left by Phanariots in the wake of the Greek Revolution; a void that was filled by a new generation of Muslim bureaucrats, statesmen, and liberal reformers that would put the empire on a new course for the final decades of its existence.
Christine Philliou is a Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. Her talk focuses on her first book, Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution (2010), which told the story of Phanariots, and the larger crisis and transformation precipitated by the Greek Revolution, from the perspective of Phanariots. She has published several articles in journals such as Comparative Studies of Society and History, Middle Eastern Studies, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She directs the Program in Turkish and Ottoman Studies at the Center for Middle East Studies, and the Modern Greek and Hellenic Studies Program at the Institute for European Studies at Berkeley. She also teaches classes on Ottoman, Middle East, Modern Turkish, and Modern Greek and Balkan History.