By Gregory Jusdanis
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Additional info for Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature
The first stage of this process would be the invention of tales that would allow Greek Orthodox Christians to imagine themselves as a united people rather than as subjects of an unjust empire. The discourse of these stories was to varying degrees orientalist. The situation under the Ottomans was, according to Adamantios Korais, one of tyranny, ignorance, and enslavement ( 1970: 172). This was not inherent in the Greeks, he argued, but imposed by Ottoman occupation. He pointed to the islanders of Chios, who by seeking the "protection of some magnate in the empire" have solved their most pressing problem: "how to lead a life most devoid of oppression under an arbitrary government" (172-73).
It is important to emphasize that the uprisings in 1821 did not constitute a bourgeois revolution for the simple reason that a powerful bourgeoisie, eager to establish a new civil society, had not yet formed (Filias 1974; Kaklamanis 1989). The diaspora on the whole functioned as the Greek middle class. Notions of individual rights, private property, and a free market therefore did not figure prominently in the struggle for independence (Pollis 1987: 149). The oligarchs sought not the overthrow of feudal bonds but their continuation.
The identity formation of the millet system, insofar as it encompassed many ethnic groups, was not national but religious. The empire itself, a multiethnic entity, contradicted the concept of an independent state. Indeed, only at the end of the nineteenth century did the Ottoman Empire come increasingly to be associated with the dominant ethnic group, the Turks. The state, defined by a single ethnicity at the expense of the minorities, undermined and eventually destroyed both the millet system and the empire.
Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature by Gregory Jusdanis