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Reading Clocks, Alla TurcaTime and Society in the Late Ottoman Empire$
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Avner Wishnitzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226257723

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226257860.001.0001

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No Time to Lose

No Time to Lose

(p.151) 6 No Time to Lose
Reading Clocks, Alla Turca

Avner Wishnitzer

University of Chicago Press

The concurrent use of the Ottoman and European hour systems down to the end of the Hamidian era (1876-1908) was emblematic of the effort made by the palace and many of the leading intellectuals of the time to patch together foreign and indigenous elements in search of a distinctly Ottoman route of ‘progress.’ While the use of mean time widened, the new discourse of ‘progress through time-thrift’ was promoted relying on the indigenous hour system, which maintained its hegemony throughout the period. The political opposition to the Hamidian order, inherited the ideology of progress, and the related emphasis on time-thrift and punctuality. However, they were much more impatient. Especially within the circles of the Committee of Union and Progress, history was perceived as a race between nations. In order to become ‘fully modern,’ in order to win the race, they had to break the chains of tradition and lose the burden of the past. It was in this context that they sought to do away with the old hour system. But the efforts made to marginalize the indigenous hour system dialectically created its opposition and the abolition of the alaturka system emerged as a thoroughly political question.

Keywords:   time, Ottoman, clocks, Hamidian Era, Young Turks, modernity, progress, mean time, Alaturka

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