Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, and the Dönme in Ottoman Salonica and Turkish Istanbul

Introduction: Cosmopolitanism and the Dönme

Nazmi Efendi settled into a chair at his favorite café at the quay. While sipping his coffee he watched the ships entering and exiting the harbor. Most were merchant vessels. Horse carts carrying goods to the customs office buzzed by him. This was his world. Since the time he had been Director of the Customs Office he had become familiar with the goods and people of this city. How lively was Salonica’s harbor![1]

To this very day the followers of the old Sebi, known as Donmah, live in Salonica and play an important part in the commercial life of the city; on the other hand, they live among themselves, marry among themselves, and keep to their own private customs, although publicly and openly they say they are Turks or Mohammedans. They are very rich and form among themselves a kind of Ghetto into which no outsider has yet been allowed to enter.[2]

You are sponging parasites who do not consider sacrificing even an insignificant part of your blood, wealth, or riches for the country [Turkey] or nation [Turks]…. Do you imagine living as a sponging parasite as in former times, maintaining your old traditions and ambitions? Do you imagine living in prosperity and affluence without objections arising from any direction?[3]

Statements such as these, the first two concerning the economic role of the Dönme religious community in imperial Ottoman Salonica and the third in nationalist Turkish Istanbul, usually do not make it into debates on the “global city.” I intend to show why they have a place there, and why taking seriously the roles that religious actors living in the past deserves our attention when thinking about the links between cities and the flows that make cosmopolitan culture. This article provides a narrative of the rise and fall of two global cities, the experience of a marginal religious group in both cities, and the interrupted trajectories of indigenous globalization. It argues that more than a century ago indigenous religious groups with transregional connections created alternate nodes of globalization in marginal spaces at the fringes of empire, such as Salonica, but that nation-states limited their abilities by controlling the flow of finance and people, making their resources useless even in global cities, such as Istanbul. After World War II, transnational corporations and not formerly well-connected families and religious groups played the leading role in globalization.

In the mid-to-late nineteenth century, Ottoman Salonica was converted from sleepy borderland Macedonian town to major cosmopolitan port.[4] Yet abruptly in 1913 the city returned to provincial mode. The second city, Turkish Istanbul, went through similar transformations at the turn of the twentieth century, but also witnessed provincialization following World War I. The relatively unknown group thatlinks these two cities together, and whose modern history illustrates other globalizations either forgotten or unrecognized, is known as the Dönme, descendants of seventeenth-century Jewish converts to Islam who were a peculiar group of Muslims. The Dönme played the key role in promoting global cosmopolitanism in Salonica. Yet the emergence of modern nation-states led to the demise of globalizing trends in the city and the disappearance of the Dönme from the historical record. When the Dönme were expelled by the Greek government and sent to Istanbul, secular nationalism erected roadblocks to their recreating a familiar cultural space in their adopted city, whose links to the global economy were cut, which points to an unnoticed trend in the literature on global cities: namely, the rise and fall of indigenous globalization led by unrecognized groups in marginal zones of the world.

The Dönme and the Historian

The Dönme trace their origins to the messianic rabbi Shabtai Tzvi, who converted to Islam rather than become a martyr before the Ottoman sultan Mehmed IV in 1666.[5] Unlike other Muslims, the Dönme maintained a belief that Shabtai Tzvi was the messiah, practiced kabbalistic rituals, and recited prayers in Ladino, the language of Ottoman Jewry. But the Dönme also ostensibly followed the requirements of Islam, including fasting at Ramadan and praying in mosques, one of which they built. The “Eighteen Commandments,” ordinances articulated by Shabtai Tzvi, were observed by the Dönme as late as the early twentieth century and served as the basis for the group’s organization.[6] The commandments ordered the Dönme to “be scrupulous in their observance of some of the precepts of the Muslims,” and to observe “those things which are exposed to the Muslims’ view.”[7] The Dönme were to perform all public Muslim customs and rituals so other Muslims saw them carrying them out, and would consider them pious Muslims. The commandments admonished the Dönme not to have any relations with other Muslims and to only marry among themselves. In practice, they also avoided relations with Jews. The Dönme actively maintained their separate identity, keeping detailed genealogies and burying their dead in distinct cemeteries walled off from others.[8] Muslims also never forgot the origins of this group, and for this reason they labeled them the “Dönme,” Turkish for “those who turn or convert” from Judaism to Islam.

Despite the fact that the Shabbatean movement emerged in the Ottoman Empire and the Dönme formed a new religion and lived as a distinct group with a corporate identity and unique beliefs and practices, scholarship on Shabtai Tzvi and his movement is mainly based on Hebrew and European language sources, considers the Dönme “secret” Jews, and analyzes their religious practices and history within the framework of Jewish history alone.[9] Although contemporary rabbis did not consider them Jews, it is remarkable how modern scholars writing within the divergent paradigms of Greek, Jewish, Turkish, and Zionist historiography tend to be unwilling to accept that the Dönme were not simply Jews. The Dönme have not been the subject of a major academic study concerning turn-of-the-twentieth-century Ottoman society.

One of the reasons scholars have overlooked the Dönme experience is because members of this group are not easy to locate in Ottoman and Turkish historical sources. Dönme were officially considered Muslim and thus are not distinguishable from other Muslims in the Ottoman archival record, available in Salonica and Istanbul. To compensate for the difficulty of studying this group, whose identity was an open if not openly recorded secret, a historian has to draw from a number of architectural, epigraphic, oral, archival, literary, and official sources that do not explicitly state that the people in question are Dönme; only by combining sources can one determine who belonged to the group. To investigate the Dönme invisible in the nineteenth century, one must first find them in the twentieth century, when major shifts in historical processes made them visible, and then work backward.

First I had to locate and make contact with descendants of Dönme in Istanbul and the United States who would be willing to discuss their family histories. Information culled from these oral histories, supplemented with family trees, allowed me to trace a number of families back several generations and to locate the handful of Dönme cemeteries in Istanbul. Next I surveyed inscriptions on tombstones at the main Dönme cemeteries of Istanbul (those in Salonica no longer exist) that contain the graves of hundreds of Dönme who were mainly born in Salonica around 1880 and buried in Istanbul in the 1930s, which allowed me to learn the names of Dönme prior to the adoption of surnames in 1937. Once I developed a database of confirmed Dönme and information on their social and economic position and family links in Salonica from the tombstones written in Ottoman Turkish and modern Turkish, I then turned to the Ottoman archives. I mainly examined the official Ottoman Yearbook of the Province of Salonica, published between 1885 and 1908, to gather more information on Dönme individuals and Dönme schools to corroborate what I had already found and to determine who the Dönme were, what type of society they promoted, and what diverse elements they emphasized and brought together in Salonica. The Yearbook provided extensive information on the economic, cultural, and political role of leading Dönme in Salonica, which allowed me to chart their social and financial links and networks and map their spatial presence and impact in the city. Several visits to Salonica afforded me an opportunity to investigate the few traces that remain of the Dönme in the city, namely the design and layout of Dönme buildings such as the Dönme New Mosque dedicated in 1904 and seaside villas. Final sources include memoirs and histories of Dönme schools published in Turkey. This difficult process of sleuthing together the Dönme past allowed me to recover the history of this group and the transformations they wrought in the modern world, which causes us to imagine the history of globalization in a different way.

The Dönme and the Rise of Global Cities

I have found that this religious group, whose conversion was never forgotten, stood out from all others, transforming Salonica from a quiet town to one of the largest cities in the Ottoman Empire and a major node in the global economy. The Dönme made up an estimated one-third of the Muslim population of the city, a minority within a minority since most inhabitants of Salonica were Jewish. They settled throughout the Ottoman Empire and western Europe, owing to their global trade and finance networks, and played an active role in diffusing different ways of thinking and being in the world. They were fit for this position because they were an eclectic, cosmopolitan, yet endogamous group. Current discussions of cosmopolitanism predominantly emerge from an interest in creating an oppositional, alternative politics in the face of two connected processes in the postmodern period at the turn of the twenty-first century, neoliberalism and the US invasion and occupation of Middle Eastern nations.[10] The Dönme do not fit this usage of cosmopolitanism because they were an important social group a century ago, but not today, and also because their sense of political radicalism—deposing the sultan and reinstating a liberal constitution and parliament—cannot be mapped onto today’s politics. Other current understandings of cosmopolitanism are more useful. In this article I deploy the concept of cosmopolitanism to denote a type of positionality available to people during the modern period; the Dönme were cosmopolitan in the sense that they were rooted in and had connections to several places, not one place.[11] Acting like a bounded diasporic ethnic group that acts across territorial boundaries, they had multiple affiliations and attachments and overlapping allegiances, inhabiting a vast universe of a community that stretched beyond political borders.[12] It is not that the Dönme belonged everywhere, displaying a detachment or rootlessness, for they belonged to several somewheres as they embodied local cultures and global networks. The Dönme were found not only in southeastern Europe in Ottoman Salonica, Macedonia, Greece, and Bulgaria, but also throughout the major cities of the Ottoman Empire, including Istanbul and Izmir, and western and central Europe in London, Brussels, Paris, and Berlin. Being on the religious margins of society, maintaining endogamy, the Dönme were able to network among their own diaspora, and because they were also officially recognized as Muslims, they were able to easily rise in the administration and military. As military men, bureaucrats, and traders dispersed throughout the Ottoman Empire and the rest of Europe, they were the people best able to shape and channel transregional flows of capital, technology, and knowledge.

Scholars have discussed the political and socioeconomic aspects of the great transformation from a plural, religious Ottoman Empire to a homogenized, secular Turkish Republic. Historians have argued that “Westernization” dropped as a bundle of goods and ideas from the sky and was immediately imitated without adjustment as it was imposed from outside upon the Ottoman Empire, a project of intellectual elites diffusing European ideas to the Middle East,[13] or that much of the impetus for radical change came from high-level officials of the central state, who were seeking to adapt and react to the rise of Western power,[14] or revolutionary groups that aimed to overthrow the sultan in order to save the empire.[15] The most recent scholarship has investigated the previously overlooked yet crucial role that gender played in the modernizing project of the state,[16] but the role of the Dönme as a religious group that effected great cultural change within the Ottoman and Turkish context has been largely ignored. One Turkish scholar who has recently written about the Dönme during this period correctly notes how they were open to the world, formed a cultural and economic elite in Salonica, and founded progressive schools.[17] Yet imposing a teleological Turkish nationalist approach that equates secularism with modernity, and operating under the assumption that religion is antimodern and does not generate social change, İlber Ortayli simply dismisses separate Dönme religious identity. This allows him to claim contrary to the evidence that the Dönme literary journal and schools were decidedly secular, and that what he imagines to be the secular nationalism of the Dönme helped pave the way for the Turkish Republic.[18]

Without being secular or nationalist, the Dönme played a special role for several reasons. According to the material I have collected, Ottoman “Westernization” started in the European provinces of the empire, particularly where most Dönme resided. “Westernization” was stimulated by local Dönme, not imported from outside nor imposed top down by the Ottoman state. A community that combined both “Western” (Jewish) and “Eastern” (Muslim) aspects was behind the process. Thus it cannot be considered “Westernization,” but an early, overlooked globalization, and the Dönme were perfectly situated to play the major role because they were a transcultural group whose cultural location placed them in a unique position to promote modern change. “Westernization” did not move uniformly from “West” to “Islam,” but globalization was produced by local global connections, or in Arjun Appadurai’s phrase, by promoters of “glocal” cultural flows. The Dönme spread their own religiously inflected version of globalization that combined foreign outlooks with their own views. Christians and Jews from Western Europe and Ottoman imperial officials attempted to transform Salonica, but so did internal intermediaries who had their own interests. Their role in making Salonican society modern and global preceded the efforts of the central state.

The transregional religious group of quintessential outsiders known as Dönme formed a group in Salonica that was open to creating new beliefs and practices and became active proponents of modern views and cultural habits and leading advocates and practitioners of radical social projects. At the turn of the twentieth century, Dönme international trading networks, educational methods, literary and architectural tastes, and revolutionary politics illustrate their cosmopolitan and global vision and vanguard role in formulating and implementing new ideas, lifestyles, social mores, and identities that left a major imprint on the urban texture. Similar to Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, the Dönme sought to provide for the well-being of their group, and, like the centralizing Ottoman state, they aimed to modernize Salonican life. However, the Dönme were not proponents of cultural or political nationalism. In an era in which the subject peoples of the Ottoman Empire began to imagine themselves as members of nations that had a right to rule themselves within bounded territories, the Dönme were cosmopolitan in the sense that they promoted a new society that reflected their identity of a cultural multiplicity antithetical to nationalism, combining elements of Western European and Ottoman culture infused with Dönme religious meaning. Yet while other globalizations were facilitated through the connections of indigenous groups in the imperial era, they came to a halt when postimperial state nationalism hindered transnational circuits.

Globalizing Salonica

As Ottoman Salonica was transformed from quiet Macedonian town to global port, the face of the city was dramatically altered: ancient walls were knocked down, suburbs emerged beyond the city’s Byzantine core, and wide, rectilinear, tree-lined, paved avenues were built.[19] The harbor and port were expanded to handle steamships, and the city’s port was linked to a railway grid connecting western Europe and the Ottoman Empire. After Istanbul, Beirut, and Izmir, Salonica became the fourth leading port city in the Ottoman Mediterranean, a terminus for steamships and railways, a significant manufacturing and commercial center, and the most industrialized city in the empire.[20] Salonica possessed “a strategic position that made it a node for continental transportation, a harbor that could be made to accommodate deep-sea vessels, a productive hinterland that could be exploited for its cash crops and markets, and a political and economic potential that attracted capital, exploiters, and workers.”[21] As a result of economic dynamism, immigration, and improvements in public health, Salonica experienced rapid population growth. The city of Salonica was one of the largest cities in the Ottoman Empire: its population tripled in thirty-five years, from 54,000 people in 1878 to 150,000 in 1913.[22] In the mid 1880s the Ottoman state’s official Yearbook of the Province of Salonica listed the city’s population as approximately 90,000 people, including 45,000 Jews, 30,000 Muslims, and at least 13,000 Christians and Europeans, predominantly French.[23] Demographic growth, economic prosperity, and social and professional diversification were aided by the circulation offered by new transportation and communication connections with Istanbul, Mediterranean ports, and western Europe.[24]

Distinguished Dönme bankers and textile and tobacco merchants, who financed their projects from their own pockets and with the backing of western European capital, played a considerable role in the local economy and global trade and finance. They propelled Salonica to become a leading port city in the Ottoman Mediterranean, a significant manufacturing and commercial center as the city became “fully located within specialized global circuits of finance, labor, technology, and capital,”[25] a node for the transregional circulation of people, wealth, goods, and ideas, and the main space of intermediation in the transactional encounter between western Europe and the Ottoman Empire.[26] According to the official Ottoman Yearbook of the Province of Salonica, most Dönme businessmen were based in the European commercial, diplomatic, and residential district of the city. Dönme connections with foreign finance and Dönme in Western Europe allowed them to engage in international trade. Mehmed Kapanci, whose office was located across the street from the French consulate, headed the city’s chamber of commerce, received state honors from the sultan, served on the Assembly for the Administration of the Province, and was one of the leading bankers and merchants, primarily engaged in the textile trade.[27] Mehmed Kapanci had two noteworthy younger brothers engaged in the same pursuits. Yusuf Kapanci, who became wealthy through the textile trade in Ottoman Europe, was considered a famous merchant and was referred to in the Yearbook of the Province of Salonica as one of the city’s eight famous bankers who conducted business in the European quarter.[28] Ahmed Kapanci was considered by the same source one of the city’s famous and great merchants and, like Yusuf Kapanci, earned his wealth through the textile trade in Ottoman Europe.[29] He became a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture and later served as its head.

Along with the textile industry, the tobacco trade, one of the most important staples in Salonica’s new economy, was also a place where the Dönme played a leading role. The Dönme preferred to own their own businesses without partners and to deal only with relatives.[30] Because of the global reach of the tobacco market, branches of Dönme families such as that of Duhani (smoke/tobacco) Hasan Akif, recognized in the Yearbook of the Province of Salonica as another of the great merchants of the city and included in the list of four prominent tobacco merchants,[31] was established in Austria, Belgium, Germany, and England; Hasan Akif exported tobacco as far as North America.[32] It is significant that the Dönme dominated the production, distribution, and sale of the cigarette, which, unlike the pipe, suited the modern city, which had an accelerated pace and a new, dynamic lifestyle.[33] The pipe was too slow a habit; it offered too slow a rhythm. Time had accelerated.

External connectivity contributed to new internal linkages and intersections for the people of Salonica: the construction of the modern port stimulated the proliferation of new places of social exchange in offices, cafés, bars, hotels, and, later, cinemas along the waterfront promenade.[34] Men and women congregated day and night in spacious cafés or luxury hotel restaurants where they sat on Viennese chairs at round marble tables, read Parisian or Istanbul or local newspapers, consumed hors d’oeuvres, cakes, cheese, and alcohol while an orchestra played in the background and other patrons played pool and smoked cigarettes.[35] They shopped at department stores and boutiques in the European quarter; Salonican branches of Parisian, London, and Viennese stores; or at the American or Chinese bazaar.[36] Paris may have been “the capital of modernity,”[37] but Salonicans were not aping Parisians, not merely engaging in mimicry or compensatory activities, but deploying another interpretation of the modern. Salonica was not the Paris of the Ottoman Empire, for it was a distinct city.[38] The copy became original when city fountains gushed forth sour cherry juice, an Ottoman favorite, at opening ceremonies, and passengers on the Belgian tramcars were segregated by sex.[39]

Dönme municipal officials who were part of international networks of finance and who profited from the introduction of new businesses in the city played a crucial role in the city’s transformation. The prevalence of Dönme in municipal offices caused at least one Ottoman governor to take note.[40] The most visible Dönme in local politics was Hamdi Bey, an urban reformist, local official, and cosmopolitan businessman. He was an entrepreneur who became mayor and helped to create a better life in Salonica, exploiting geography, demography, and hygiene for the welfare and productivity of the population.[41] Hamdi Bey “transferred his business acumen and experience to the affairs of the city, running it like a profitable enterprise: borrowing, building, selling, increasing revenue and investing it, advertising his product.”[42] Between 1888 and 1900, his municipality, allied with the private companies he established, which received some of their financing from western Europe, provided services such as public hospitals and a fire department, paving and sweeping streets, construction of public toilets to ameliorate public health, horse-drawn and later electric tramways to improve urban transportation, gas lighting for domestic and public spaces, and running water to homes to improve the quality of life.[43] Hamdi Bey hired Italian architect Vitaliano Poselli to plan and build most of the new public buildings in Salonica, including the neoclassical army barracks, government house, and municipal hospital.[44] Hamdi Bey, the mayor responsible for the fountain that delivered sour cherry juice, also built a public fish market on the waterfront that was Islamic and modern: customers entered the clean and hygienic market through the building’s façade, which contained numerous Islamic architectural features.[45]

Dönme mayor Hamdi Bey erected modern public buildings and also opened a school for educating Dönme youth.[46] While Hamdi Bey’s school did not last long, other leading Dönme financiers including Mehmed, Yusuf, and Ahmed Kapanci and Hasan Akif Efendi funded the construction of schools, which demonstrated how the Dönme adopted a modern view equating religion with morals and using education to effect social and cultural change before the central state became involved in modern education. Dönme schools were the first in the empire to teach French while emphasizing Islamic morality. The Dönme utilized French to further their international business relations and continued to teach and practice Dönme religious rituals; at the same time, another aim of the schools was for Dönme youth to only befriend and socialize with other Dönme.[47]

Although Dönme schools were private and not connected with the state, they were established on the same foundation upon which the state would later establish its modern system of schools: a combination of European pedagogical techniques and science with religious and moral education. Scholars have overlooked the qualitative significance of the Dönme schools, which, like state schools, aimed to satisfy the demands of the modern age.[48] This entailed ensuring that Dönme were educated in their own religion in addition to being well placed financially and politically. To inculcate new ideas in their youth, the Dönme did not use Islamic teaching methods, but adopted the latest pedagogic techniques, including critical thinking rather than rote memorization. Among the devotees of the new practices was �emsi Efendi (1852–1917), a respected Dönme religious leader.[49] In 1873 a group of Dönme intellectuals established the �emsi Efendi primary school, which taught French, Turkish, and Islam. It was the first private Muslim school to allow girls to continue their education, and it established close relations with administrators and teachers from French schools, using the example of French textbooks to establish lesson plans and curricula.[50] Two other Dönme secondary schools were soon founded. The first was Terakki (Progress), established in 1879.[51] The founders of the school chose the same term, terakki (progress, renewal), as the revolutionary Committee of Union and Progress (�ttihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti) to express their belief that humans could influence the process of natural human progression and improvement. The second was Feyziye (Excellence), founded in 1883–1884. Graduates of Dönme schools possessed local knowledge and were prepared to function in an international environment, retaining the morals and ethics of their people since, as the Yearbook of the Province of Salonica records, Dönme religious leader �emsi Efendi taught religion.[52]

Because they were concerned with modern forms of education and knowledge, it is not surprising that Dönme conceptions of cosmopolitanism were also evident outside the classroom. Educated Dönme were on the cutting edge in the literary scene of Salonica as Dönme produced The Rosebud of Literature[53] in the 1880s, a journal dedicated to science and literature that also devoted space to mystical spirituality and attracted a wide and diverse audience of readers mainly composed of individuals who also shared in disseminating the new forms of culture. Teachers and students from Terakki and Feyziye and Dönme civil servants and intellectuals contributed to this extraordinary literary journal that, like the curriculum in Terakki and Feyziye, combined science and religion, French and Ottoman.[54]

Those who played a role in crafting the new culture in the late Ottoman Empire formed the bulk of the journal’s writers and audience: intellectuals, students, teachers, and school administrators, civil servants, professionals, and military officers. One important writer was the Dönme intellectual Fazli Necip (1863–1932). These various writers covered a diverse array of literary, philosophical, scientific, and religious topics. Displaying their knowledge of French and European thought, writers for the journal translated French literature, philosophy, and social science research. In keeping with the needs of the age, the rapid transformation of Salonica, and the introduction of new technologies into everyday life, the journal was filled with scientific articles. Yet contrary to the statement of a secular Turkish historian, the authors did not refrain from writing about religion.[55] Necip wrote “A Couple of Words about Customs,” in which he defines which religious customs are acceptable and which should be despised since they are not “modern.”[56] In addition, the journal carried pieces concerning Islamic themes and morality. For example, “The Unity of God,” a core principle in Judaism, Islam, and Dönme religion, as manifested in the first commandment of Shabtai Tzvi,[57] was written by a gendarme commander.[58] Trained in the latest military tactics and technology, and employed as a disciplinary agent of the modern imperial state, this military man composed and interpreted a poem expressing the complex concept of unity in multiplicity and multiplicity in unity. For military officers and civil servants, religion was an integral component of being modern. Thus, the articles in The Rosebud of Literature display the writers’ and readers’ purposeful mixing of morality, spirituality, science, and technology in their lives.

Modern Dönme tastes were not only expressed in words and wordplays, but inscribed in the buildings the Dönme constructed, which were as eclectic as the education in Dönme schools and the literature in their journal.[59] Dönme architecture displayed an experimental boldness and synthesis of western European and Ottoman forms. The Dönme chose to build their seaside mansions, mosques, and schools in the new suburb of Hamidiye, the first district of the city to be built outside the original Byzantine walls. Hamidiye was a religiously diverse neighborhood containing wide boulevards, parks, ornate mansions, and cafés and was built as a planned district connected to the old city by tramway.[60] Dönme who built family homes in the suburb scented with jasmine, frangipani, and roses created a “family neighbourhood” as adjacent homes tended to be occupied by relatives.[61] As I observed on several visits to Salonica, Ahmed Kapanci’s villa contains Corinthian capitals, Moorish arches, bands of multicolored Spanish tile, and Baroque touches; the monogram “AK” is prominently etched in Latin letters on the front of the building. Mehmed Kapanci hired architect Pierro Arigoni to design his art nouveau villa with neo-Gothic and neo-Moorish elements in 1900. It was named “Mon Bonheur.”

The public servants who endowed the New Mosque four years later hired another Italian architect, Hamdi Bey’s municipal builder Poselli, to build a Muslim house of worship like no other. The mosque, endowed by a Third Army field marshall, with later contributions by the director of an imperial military prep school and a former director general of the post and telegraph, is strikingly innovative.[62] Its design is considered the peak of daring architectural eclecticism in the city, bringing together Baroque and Ottoman mosque styles, Moorish flourishes, and the modern decorative arts.[63] Its Corinthian columns, referring to the Greco-Byzantine locality, hold up Alhambric-style Andalusian arches, referencing Islam, above which prominent bands of six-pointed stars in marble wrapping are inscribed on the building’s interior and exterior, which conjures comparisons with Italian synagogues. Above the entrance, a large six-pointed star is embedded within an ornate arabesque. Finally, clocks on the front of the building remind one of the acceleration of time during that era.[64] Because it is a fascinating mélange, the distinctive mosque serves as a metaphor for the cosmopolitanism promoted by the Dönme.

The Dönme took on more importance when students and educators at Dönme schools, the writers and audience of a Dönme literary journal, those who endowed Dönme buildings, and civil servants who shared in Dönme visions of the new Ottoman society turned from local to larger concerns and entered imperial politics. Writing in The Rosebud of Literature, Fazli Necip had composed a comparison of justice and oppression in which he concludes, “let us carry out justice, let us be free of oppression and we will always be happy and fortunate,” a veiled message to the sultan.[65] Salonica was a site of great political fermentation as it was the cradle of the Young Turk revolutionary movement, socialist organizations, and a center of Masonic activity.[66] It was one of the Ottoman cities best supplied with schools and army headquarters both of which were open to new currents of thought. Professionals and civil servants who shared the Dönme outlook, especially employees of the post and telegraph and members of the Third Army, made up the bulk of the revolutionaries.

The Young Turks established the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in the mid 1890s to depose Sultan Abdülhamid II, reinstate the constitution and parliament suspended in 1876, and unite the fracturing ethnic, religious, and national groups that made up the empire by promoting an overarching Ottoman identity. Dönme played an important founding and supporting role in the revolutionary movement. Banker, textile merchant, and head of the chamber of commerce Mehmed Kapanci used his wealth to fund the organization. Some Dönme became so committed to political ideas discussed behind closed doors at the city’s ubiquitous French, Italian, and Ottoman Mason lodges that they were considered “the vanguard of the army of civilization,” propagating “the ideas of justice and progress.”[67] The main newspaper of the CUP noted how critical the Dönme role was when it proclaimed that the Dönme, whom it labeled one of the most “modern” groups in the empire, was “the only group working in the movement” in the city.[68] Fazli Necip, member of the French rite Mason lodge Veritas, became a leading CUP activist and publicist and during the revolution of 1908 was put in charge of organizing and coordinating all the movement’s propaganda activities in Salonica.[69]

When the sultan was informed that the Dönme made up a large segment of the movement working to topple him, he sought information on Shabtai Tzvi.[70] After learning of the rabbi’s conversion to Islam, the sultan called the man “a friend of God” and decided to no longer concern himself with the Dönme. Perhaps the sultan should have taken heed, since the CUP would eventually topple him; in 1909 he was placed under house arrest in architect Poselli’s Allatini Villa in Salonica. Of several Dönme government ministers who came to power after the sultan was deposed, the most influential was the Mason, former Feyziye principal and instructor, and director of a Dönme commerce school Mehmed Cavid Bey.[71] He was an influential minister of finance for most of the decade the CUP held power. The Dönme role in the revolutionary movement alerts us to their subsequent historical significance. Decisions by the CUP and actions taken by Mehmed Cavid Bey and others set in motion a chain of events that led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and its replacement by the Republic of Turkey.

The man who led the empire’s successor state was Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), a radical modernizer and former student at �emsi Efendi’s school. In 1922, Atatürk was interviewed by Dönme journalist Ahmed Emin Yalman. The future leader of Turkey noted that “The first thing I remember from my childhood is the problem of entering school. Because of this there was a severe clash between my mother and father concerning this. My mother wanted me to begin my education by enrolling in the neighborhood’s religious school with chanting of the appropriate religious hymns. But my father, who was a clerk at the customs office, was in favor of sending me to �emsi Efendi’s newly opened school and of my getting the new type of education.”[72]

Provincializing Istanbul

If I were to end the narrative of the Dönme experience at the end of the last section, the reader would have the impression that globalization follows an inevitable path and that the author appears to proudly boast of the success of one of the key groups making it happen. One could imagine that Atatürk’s reform efforts built upon the foundation previously forged by the Dönme in Salonica and in which he was instructed as a young boy while a student of �emsi Efendi. Yet Atatürk and other founders of the Turkish Republic emphasized radical secularism (laicism) and nationalism in the new nation-state. The cosmopolitan Dönme incorporated religion in their conception of modernity and expressed no manifestations of nationalism. During the revolution of 1908, Dönme in Salonica had proclaimed, “We want brotherhood among all peoples of the empire. We are all one without distinction according to religion or sect. Long live the fatherland, long live freedom. There are no Greeks, Jews, or Bulgarians. There are only Ottomans.”[73] Yet the Dönme had contributed to a revolution that was ultimately nationalized. Accordingly, the transregional impact of the transcultural Dönme, which extended as far as Paris and Berlin, ran into a wall after Salonica fell to Greece in 1912 and was Hellenized, and the Turkish Republic replaced the Ottoman Empire ten years later. Because they were proponents of and represented eclectic cosmopolitanism, the Dönme had no place in the nation-states of Greece and Turkey.[74] Turn-of-the-century globalizing processes were disjunctive with other region-making processes, particularly the formation of nation-states in the wake of empire.

Globalization did not follow an inevitable, triumphalist developmental trajectory; its movement was more along the lines of a start-and-stop pattern. The Athens government provincialized Salonica through such measures as prohibiting the exportation of tobacco, and redirected its economy away from traditional markets, such as Istanbul, and toward the Greek national economy.[75] Uncomfortable with the fact that Greeks were a minority in Salonica, the same government also refused to allow the Dönme to remain in Greece, in part because it wanted to be rid of a significant non-Greek economic element. Greek authorities aimed to prevent wealthy Dönme (and by extension, Turkey) from profiting by selling their goods and properties before they left for Istanbul, so it disallowed the sale of property, promising to safeguard it.[76] The estimated ten to fifteen thousand Dönme were compelled to abandon their native city as part of the “population exchange” between Greece and Turkey. In Greece, the “population exchange” was referred to as the “catastrophe,” which literally means “a sudden ending,” a fitting expression for the fate of the Dönme and globalization in Salonica. Salonica’s Muslim inhabitants, who had formed almost one-third of the population when Greece took control of the city in 1912, were all deported, their place taken by a massive in migration of Orthodox Christians, a group whose proportion of the population rose from a mere quarter to four-fifths of city residents by 1926.[77]

The Dönme tried to re-create their Salonican lives in Turkey and establish a new center for their culture strengthened by all the institutions and businesses they left behind on the other side of the sea. Relatives settled together in several neighborhoods in Istanbul, such as Ni�anta�i, where they continued to faithfully observe the feasts, fasts, and festivals that Shabtai Tzvi had established and buried their dead in distinct cemeteries.[78]�emsi Efendi, members of the Kapanci family, and teachers and graduates of Terakki and Feyziye were buried in the main Dönme cemetery of Bülbüldere in Üsküdar, Istanbul. Dönme served on the board of and sent their children to the originally Salonican Dönme schools relocated in Istanbul, resided in the neighborhood which has at its center a mosque that in some uncanny ways calls to mind the mosque they built in Salonica, and most importantly, attempted to maintain their textile, timber, and tobacco businesses.[79] Yet the international financial ties of the Dönme became a liability in the nation-state, which aimed to limit the boundaries of the nation. The Turkish Republic attempted through expropriations and exorbitant taxation to facilitate the rise of a Muslim Turkish bourgeoisie at the expense of such “foreign” groups as the Dönme. Influential Dönme faced state violence: Mehmed Cavid Bey was executed following his alleged role in an apparent assassination attempt on Atatürk.[80]

The Republic turned its back not only on Dönme revolutionaries but on the global economic ties, cosmopolitanism, religious modernity, and eclectic cultural outlook exemplified by Dönme-influenced Salonica. The republic did not favor the global city of Istanbul, but invested in dusty Ankara, a small provincial town on the steppe famous only for its mohair.[81] Istanbul had been the center of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires for more than 1,500 years, a residence of ruling dynasties, the seat of the religious authorities, and a city that housed armies of military men and bureaucrats, and it had attracted artisans, scholars, and above all else, merchants.[82] The city boasted the largest market in the Mediterranean, was an importing and consuming colossus, and was the largest city in Europe. In the late nineteenth century, Istanbul, whose population was mainly Christian, was a crucial node in the circulation of persons, money, commodities, and ideas. It witnessed the construction of bank buildings in the international style, monumental foreign embassies, and “Parisian and Italianate art nouveau architecture preferred by the global bourgeoisie of the period.”[83] The city’s bankers, merchants, and new residents “built for themselves mansions, apartment buildings, hotels, clubs, restaurants, and cafés, as well as less reputable locales for entertainment” in the district known as Pera, where foreigners and upwardly mobile Christians and Jews lived, a district separated from the “Old City” by the Golden Horn.[84] This part of the city benefited from urban planning and renewal, like the waterfront districts of Salonica, and received paved roads and sidewalks, gas lamps, and electric trolleys.

By World War I the city had one million inhabitants, one-tenth of whom were foreign subjects, and less than one-half was non-Muslim. But foreign occupation and state policy stopped the globalization of the city dead in its tracks; first came the occupation of the British, French, and Italians from the end of World War I to 1922, and then the willful isolation of the city by the new Turkish Republic, which saw it as corrupt, amoral, and foreign. Owing to war and colonial occupation, the city lost its financial capital with the closing of seaborne connections to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and had to abandon its cultural and political capital as well. It was no longer the center of an empire that stretched from central Europe to central Asia, North Africa to Iran. Neither Christians nor Muslims could look to it as the center of the world, a borderland bridge between continents and cultural zones, the conductor of international flows of goods and capital. The symbol of a great plural empire was to the Turkish revolutionaries the emblem of antinational and obscurantist religious forces that had to be destroyed. The elements leading its global modernity, whether foreign, Levantine, non-Muslim, or Muslim “compradors” who were middlemen for colonial capital like the Dönme, were considered inauthentic, unwelcome in the nation-state. The Dönme were especially despised, for they were labeled pejoratively “cosmopolitan” in Gramsci’s sense of being detached and disengaged, hindering the development of the national culture and economy, not an organic element that would develop the nation.[85] In the new republic the state was opposed to precisely the kind of intercultural contact, exchange, and trade that the Dönme represented and to the Dönme as well since cosmopolitans, like capital, seem to have no boundaries.[86]

Atatürk declared in 1923 to an assembly of Muslim Turkish craftsmen that sovereignty of the nation must be ensured by sovereignty of the economy: “Your homeland is yours; it is the Turks’ country…. This land was Turkish in history, remained Turkish, is Turkish, and will live forever as Turkish … others have no right here. These blessed places are the native lands of true and genuine Turks.”[87] Accordingly, foreigners and non-Muslims were fired from foreign businesses taken over by Muslims or the state and companies working for the public good, including banks. Private companies on contract with the state and municipalities were forced to expel non-Muslims and foreigners, which affected the communications, transportation, service, and utility sectors. Then the ax fell on bars, hotels, restaurants, and cafés. The municipal government closed establishments that did not ensure that employees were Muslim Turks. Non-Muslims and foreigners were thrown out of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. To turn its back on the global flow of goods, there was an ongoing state effort to encourage the consumption of “local goods” such as by requiring the wearing of clothes made with local textiles. Laws passed by parliament between 1924 and 1928 Turkified the Ottoman Bank, a symbol of non-Muslim economic dominance, and mandated that account books and business records be kept in Turkish, not French, the language of international commerce, and that employees in state service and directors and accountants in industry had to be Turks—shorthand for local Muslims. Non-Muslims and foreigners in Istanbul faced the full brunt of antiglobal and anticolonial economic nationalism.[88] Although the Christians of Istanbul were spared from the “population exchange” of 1923, they still faced great pressure to leave the city. The Christian population declined from 450,000 to 240,000 between 1914 and 1927. The city lost its cosmopolitan character as the total population of the city decreased by almost one-third in the same period.[89]

The Dönme were compelled to resettle in the Turkish Republic, where there was a disjunction between globalization and the nation-forming process, and ended up in Istanbul, which they hoped would continue to be a global city like Salonica. The leaders of the Turkish Republic, however, intended to create a socially cohesive population and a unified economy.[90] The Dönme were rumored to have inordinate financial power, but economic power was to be in the hands of “True Turks” as the state aimed to liberate the economy of non-Muslims and foreigners. The intent of the reforms was to cut citizens off from their plural, transregional Ottoman heritage and redirect them to a secular Turkish future limited to the boundaries of the nation-state. Istanbul was provincialized and cut off from global connections with such cities as Salonica. No longer able to concentrate on diffusing capital, ideas, and connections, the translocal Dönme had to focus on mere survival. They had thrived in an imperial culture marked by the cosmopolitan globalism that they had helped develop, but could not endure when subject to a homogenizing secular culture and economic nationalism, which also illustrates the context in which other globalizations ceased to exist prior to World War II.

Conclusion: Overlooked Historical Agents, Forgotten Processes

Exploring first how the Dönme helped make Salonica a leading Mediterranean port and global city allows us to imagine different time and space trajectories of globalization processes. Global cities which serve as “in-between (or liminal) spaces,” where “elements of different worlds simultaneously coexist and mutate”[91] are not only the product of the current age. Other globalizations—cultural and political as well as economic—pre-date the contemporary era. Global networks and linked cities are beyond the handful of urban areas of the global north that serve as headquarters of international finance, or the major metropolises of the Global South that dominate global cities literature, which is based on a hierarchical model of cultural and economic cores and peripheries, and has not yet considered major transregional areas.[92] These works explain how cities become global, mainly in the period after World War II, and then in the Information Age, positing a linear, teleological, positivist narrative of the emergence of nation-state cities that never were global rather than focus on imperial cities such as Salonica that followed a trajectory from provincial to global to provincial again, or cities that were always world cities but became provincialized, such as Istanbul.[93] Rather than narrating becomings, I am interested in unbecomings; instead of linking contemporary globalization to nationalistic boosterism, this study charts the reverse process: how nationalism ended globalizing processes. Promoting nationalism meant attacking globalizing elements of society, hindering the international ties of cities, and redefining their prevailing cultures.

Researching other cities in other eras helps us understand world city formation, globalization, and the groups that are essential to these processes, which is another overlooked aspect. There are many studies that rank linked cities, conceived of in economic terms,[94] even measuring linkages by the number of airline connections,[95] but not enough of the peoples who connected the cities; many of secular financial communities who set up branches of their businesses and make investments in multiple locations, but not of religious groups who do the same. One might wish to argue that investigating the Dönme does not allow us to study globalization from the bottom up, to investigate the circulation of workers or the poor, and maintains the emphasis in globalization studies on financial and cultural elites. However, what makes this study different is its utilization of the experience of a marginalized religious group during the transition from empire to nation-state to historicize globalization. It looks at an indigenous group creating global networks, which is quite different than studies of globalization today that follow transnational capital flows and corporations. For these reasons the modern history of the Dönme in Salonica, a city that straddled the boundary of the imagined “East” and “West” and then in Istanbul, troubles existing scholarship.

By World War II at the latest, the Dönme had ceased to be a real presence in Greece and Turkey, two of the successor states of the Ottoman Empire, and Salonica and Istanbul had lost their globalized nature. In part because the global cities literature overwhelmingly focuses on the past half-century, there is a silence concerning the Dönme and their contributions to globalization in a previous era. By exploring the fate of a religious group that facilitated global flows between cities and regions at the end of the imperial epoch, I have narrated the processes that put an end to these circuits and the repercussions for those who promoted them. When imperial societies were replaced by nation-state frameworks, it spelled the end of indigenous globalization and imposed a modernity in which groups such as the Dönme no longer had a place, which is evidence of the unpredictable process of globalization. Istanbul would not again become a global city until the 1980s, after the Turkish Republic abandoned the extreme nationalism of the early republican era and again opened its borders to international global capital flows so that foreign companies could invest in the city. These processes occurred long after the disappearance of the Dönme. Contrary to half a century before, the global nature of Istanbul became a source of pride for nationalists, something that would allow Turkey to be on par with Europe, a status to be embraced, not disparaged or expunged. Moreover, in the 1990s descendants of Dönme began publishing works explaining the history and religious beliefs of the group; other descendants of Dönme wrote works presenting Dönme culture, including their culinary tastes.[96] Turkish public interest in the Dönme only became possible when the group had practically disappeared from society, when cultural and religious pluralism could be viewed as a positive feature, and when Turks began to once again imagine connections with the world well beyond the boundaries of the nation-state.

Yet it was Hellenized Salonica, which no one could consider to be a global city today, that was designated a European cultural capital in the late 1990s after city planners and leaders in the former domicile of the Dönme spent decades at best neglecting and at worst erasing almost every trace of its Ottoman past, including its Dönme, Muslim, and Jewish elements. The Dönme mosque was shorn of its minaret and subsequently made into a museum and gallery; the Dönme cemetery disappeared beneath the new concrete skin of the city; the Kapanci villas housed refugees from Anatolia expelled by Turkey for a decade following the foundation of the Turkish Republic; during the Nazi occupation Ahmed Kapanci’s villa became the headquarters of the Gestapo;[97] cosmopolitan Mehmed Kapanci’s villa eventually became the National Bank of Greece’s Cultural Center of Northern Greece; Dönme schools were forced to close in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne, which recognized Turkey’s independence; and the once very visible Dönme presence that marked the city was silenced in the local Greek historical record.[98] Greek letters above the door of the New Mosque, the most modern and last mosque built in the city, announce “Archaeology Museum,” which mars its aesthetic and bears witness to how the modern Dönme presence, if recognized, has been relegated to the ancient past. Yet at the same time, this latest cultural layer marks the building as local. It confines it to a fixed, absolute time and space, not the relational space time of time space compression that connected Dönme from Salonica to many elsewheres, denying the cosmopolitan mobility of the people who built it.[99] In 1997 the mosque became one of the sites chosen to host exhibits celebrating the selection of the city as “Europe’s Cultural Capital.” Today Salonican city maps mark the Dönme mosque as the former municipal art gallery or as an archaeological museum. Tourist maps produced by themunicipality do not mark the building at all; in fact, the keys of these maps do not mark Ottoman buildings. Acknowledgment of the Dönme-built structure reappears only in contemporary tourist maps produced by members of the two religious groups from which the Dönme emerged: Jews and Muslims. A recent version of the Jewish-owned Molho bookstore’s map, “Sites of Jewish Interest,” marks the city’s Jewish museum, community center, holocaust memorial, and Dönme mosque and villas alike with Stars of David, erasing the difference between the Jewish and the Dönme past. The latest map still places a Star of David over Mehmed Kapanci’s villa. The map produced by the Turkish consulate (housed in Atatürk’s first home), denotes the same Dönme buildings as “Turkish” works, which nationalizes the memory of the Dönme and silences the modern Muslim nature of the group.

Whereas nationalism and secularism confronted the Dönme with insurmountable hindrances to maintaining a global role, other diaspora groups successfully managed the transition from empire to nation-state, particularly where modern religion, family structure, and national identity coincided with premodern identities. Engseng Ho examines another Muslim diaspora: mobile trading families of religious Arabs from Hadramawat, Yemenis who set up homes and businesses across the Indian Ocean in East Africa, West India, and the islands of Southeast Asia.[100] By marrying local women, “Hadramis and their offspring became Swahilis, Gujaratis, Malabaris, Malays, Javanese, Filipinos. They became natives everywhere.”[101] At the same time, the Hadramis and their diverse offspring continued to move throughout the Indian Ocean. They were thus local and cosmopolitan. The Dönme did not replicate their model since they had no universalizing religious mission, did not marry local women, and were not polygamous. They were not as local or native “local cosmopolitans” as were the Hadramis. Theirs was a less rooted cosmopolitanism. A contemporary comparison to the Dönme role in modern Salonica can also be made with that of the modern cosmopolitanism of the overseas Chinese, whose wealth was also first developed through diaspora connections and links to European capitalism. The strategies of border-crossing, affluent, mobile Chinese managers and professionals who play a major role in global circuits of capital because of their adaptable positioning on the edge of states have been labeled by Aihwa Ong as “flexible citizenship.”[102] They circumvent, benefit from, and take advantage of different nation-states by selecting different sites for development, investments, and habitation, combining family discipline and flexible strategies of capital accumulation to bypass or exploit citizenship rules as they relocate overseas. Today Asian-Americans see themselves as a “bridge-building minority,” transnational capitalists bridging political boundaries and creating affluence on both sides of the Pacific while maximizing profits to their families.[103] Owing to the antiglobal trajectory of early Turkish Republican Istanbul, however, the Dönme were not able to become such a minority in the first two few decades of the Turkish nation-state because the group all but disappeared as a distinct corporate group. If only the Dönme had been allowed to bridge the bbbbgean and serve as a link between Turkey and Europe, Turkey’s current bid to become a full member of the European Union may not have been so difficult.

A historian is on shaky ground when predicting the future. But there is a link between overlooking the Dönme and missing multiple trajectories of globalization processes. For by piecing together the puzzle of Dönme identity and realizing the nature of Dönme cosmopolitanism, I found the Dönme to be a crucial element globalizing Salonica. When I followed their fate in the nation-state system that replaced the empire, however, an alternative plot of globalization processes became evident that troubles the teleological accounts of much of the globalization literature. This narrative also injects flesh and blood into the history of global cities, focusing not only on the cities, but the cosmopolitan people, even if religious, who inhabit them and make them global.


1 Yildiz Sertel, Annem: Sabiha Sertel Kimdi Neler Yazdi [My Mother: Who Sabiha Sertel Was and What She Wrote] (Istanbul: Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, 1993), pp. 15–16. Nazmi Efendi was Sabiha Sertel’s father, who lived from 1851 to 1920. This passage describes his life in Salonica between 1902 and 1913.

2 “‘The Jews of Turkey,’ A Lecture delivered by N. Mayer, before the Jewish Literary Society, at the Beth Hamidrash, on Saturday, 29 March 1913,” pp. 31–32. N. Mayer was a foreign Jew, most likely English, who owned factories in the Ottoman Empire.

3 Karaka�zade Mehmed Rü�dü, “Bil’umum Selânik Dönmelerine Açik Mektup” [An Open Letter to All Salonican Dönme], Vakit (Istanbul), 7 January 1924.

4 Alexandra Yerolympos and Vassilis Colonas, “Un urbanisme cosmopolite,” in Salonique, 1850–1918: La “ville des Juifs” et le réveil des Balkans, ed. Gilles Veinstein (Paris: Éditions Autrement, 1993), pp. 158–176; and Meropi Anastassiadou, Salonique 1830–1912: Une ville ottomane à l’âge des Réformes (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997).

5 See the seminal work by Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah, 1626–76, trans. R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, Bollingen Series no. 93 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1973).

6 Abraham Danon, “Une secte judéo-musulmane en Turquie,” Revue des études juives 35 (1897): 264–281; and Gershom Scholem, “The Sprouting of the Horn of the Son of David: A New Source from the Beginnings of the Doenme Sect in Salonica,” in In the Time of Harvest: Essays in Honor of Abba Hillel Silver, ed. Daniel Jeremy Silver (New York: Macmillan, 1963), p. 370.

7 Scholem, “Sprouting of the Horn,” p. 385.

8 Anonymous, Dönmeler: Hunyos, Kuvayrus, Sazan [The Dönme: Kunios, Cavalleros, Sazan] (Istanbul: �ems Matbaasi, 1919), p. 15; Avram Galanté, Nouveaux documents sur Sabbetaï Sevi Organisation et us et coutumes de ses adeptes (Istanbul: Société anonyme de papeterie et d’imprimerie [Fratelli Haim], 1935), p. 67; and Nicholas P. Stavroulakis, Salonica: Jews and Dervishes (Athens: Talos Press, 1993).

9 For example, see Gershom Scholem, “The Crypto-Jewish Sect of the Dönmeh (Sabbatians) in Turkey,” in The Messianic Idea in Judaism and Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality (New York: Schocken Books, 1971), pp. 142–166; Yehuda Liebes, Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism, trans. Batya Stein (New York: State University of New York Press, 1993); Jacob Barnai, “Christian Messianism and the Portuguese Marranos: The Emergence of Sabbateanism in Smyrna,” Jewish History 7, no. 2 (Fall 1993): 119–126; idem, “The Outbreak of Sabbateanism—The Eastern European Factor,” Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 4 (1994): 171–183; and Moshe Idel, Messianic Mystics (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998).

10 David Harvey, “Geographical Knowledges/Political Powers” (Wellek Library Lectures, University of California, Irvine, 16–18 May 2005).

11 Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Cosmopolitan Patriots,” in Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation, ed. Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), p. 91.

12 Bruce Robbins, “Introduction Part I: Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism,” in Cheah and Robbins, Cosmopolitics, p. 3.

13 Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798–1939 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962); �erif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought: A Study in the Modernization of Turkish Political Ideas (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1962); Niyazi Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey (Montreal: McGill University Press, 1964); Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968); and Aron Rodrigue, French Jews, Turkish Jews: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Politics of Jewish Schooling in Turkey, 1860–1925 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990).

14 Lewis, Emergence of Modern Turkey; �erif Mardin, “Religion and Secularism in Turkey,” in The Modern Middle East: A Reader, ed. Albert Hourani, Philip S. Khoury, and Mary C. Wilson (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 347–374; Erik Zürcher, Turkey (London: I. B. Tauris, 1995); Selim Deringil, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire, 1876–1909 (London: I. B. Tauris, 1998); and Benjamin C. Fortna, Imperial Classroom: Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

15 M. �ükrü Haniog×lu, The Young Turks in Opposition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); and idem, Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902–1908 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

16 Nilufer Göle, The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996); Deniz Kandiyoti, “Gendering the Modern: On Missing Dimensions in the Study of Turkish Modernity,” in Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey, ed. Sibel Bozdog×an and Re�at Kasaba (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), pp. 113–132; and Ay�e Durakba�a, Halide Edib: Türk Modernle�mesi ve Feminizm [Halide Edib: Turkish Modernity and Feminism] (Istanbul: �leti�im Yayinlari, 2000).

17�lber Ortayli, “Ottoman Modernisation and Sabetaism,” in Alevi Identity: Cultural, Religious and Social Perspectives, Papers read at a Conference Held at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, 25–27 November 1996, ed. Tord Olsson, Elisabeth Özdalga, and Catharina Raudvere (Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, 1998), pp. 97–104.

18 For a discussion of the ways religion has been considered to be antimodern in Turkey, see Andrew Davison, Secularism and Revivalism in Turkey: A Hermeneutic Reconsideration (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998).

19 The best study of this overall process is Anastassiadou, Salonique.

20 Donald Quataert, “Premières fumées d’usines,” in Veinstein, Salonique, 1850–1918, p. 177; and Quataert, “The Age of Reforms, 1812–1914,” in An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, vol. 2, 1600–1914, ed. Halil Inalcik (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 831.

21 May Seikaly, “Haifa at the Crossroads: An Outpost of the New World Order,” in Modernity and Culture: From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, ed. Leila Tarazi Fawaz and C. A. Bayly (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), pp. 96–97.

22 Anastassiadou, Salonique, pp. 94–95.

23Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi [Yearbook of the Province of Salonica] (Selânik: Vilâyet Matbaasi, 1885–1886), p. 122.

24 Anastassiadou, Salonique, pp. 356–359.

25 Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall, “Writing the World from an African Metropolis,” Public Culture 16 (Fall 2004): 349–371, 360.

26 Compare with postmodern Miami: see Edward LiPuma and Thomas Koelble, “Cultures of Circulation and the Urban Imaginary: Miami as Example and Exemplar,” Public Culture 17 (Winter 2005): 153–177.

27Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1885–1886), p. 104; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1889–1890), p. 256; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1894–1895), p. 152; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1902–1903), pp. 134, 419–420; and Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1904–1905), p. 76.

28Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1889–1890), p. 257; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1902–1903), pp. 419–420.

29Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1889–1890), p. 257; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1904–1905), p. 95; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1907–1908), p. 133.

30 Interviews with the great-grandaughter of Hasan Akif, Büyük Ada, Istanbul, summer 2003.

31Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1900–1901), p. 361; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1902–1903), p. 432.

32 Ok�an Özferendeci, “Soyag×aci: Tütüncü Hasan Akif Ailesi” [Family Tree: The Family of Tobacco Merchant Hasan Akif], Albüm (April 1998): 100–109.

33 Relli Shechter, “Selling Luxury: The Rise of the Egyptian Cigarette and the Transformation of the Egyptian Tobacco Market, 1850–1914,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 35 (2003): 53.

34 Anastassiadou, Salonique, pp. 356–359.

35 Ibid., pp. 187–189.

36 Ibid., pp. 192–195.

37 David Harvey, Paris, Capital of Modernity (New York: Routledge, 2002).

38 As I learned at “Global Cities/World Histories,” the 22nd Annual History and Theory Conference at the Department of History, University of California, Irvine, 19 March 2005, boosters in Buenos Aires in the nineteenth century and Shanghai in the twentieth century called their cities the “Paris of the South” and the “Paris of the East,” respectively. Private developers in Sao Paulo have also used the comparison, offering condo buyers “a private Paris.” Adopting a different cultural model, Tel Aviv boosters called their city the “New York of the Eastern Mediterranean” or the “Big Orange.”

39 Anastassiadou, Salonique, p. 14; Yerolympos and Colonas, “Un urbanisme cosmopolite,” p. 162.

40 Ibrahim Alâettin Gövsa, Sabatay Sevi: �zmirli me�hur sahte Mesih hakkinda tarihî ve içtimaî tetkik tecrübesi [Sabetay Sevi: A Historical and Sociological Study of the Famous False Messiah of Izmir] (Istanbul: Lûtfi Kitabevi, 1939), pp. 74–76.

41 Paul Rabinow, French Modern: Norms and Forms of the Social Environment (repr., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), pp. 12–13.

42 Aleka Karadimou-Yerolymbou, “Archaeology and Urban Planning Development in Thessaloniki (19th–20th c.),” in Queen of the Worthy: Thessaloniki, History and Culture, ed. I. K. Hassiotis (Thessaloniki: Paratiritis, 1997), p. 258.

43 Anastassiadou, Salonique, pp. 6, 85, 89–90, 150, 154.

44 Yerolympos and Colonas “Un urbanisme cosmopolite,” pp. 165–167; Anastassiadou, Salonique, pp. 130, 133, 196; and N. C. Moutsopoulos, “Une ville entre deux siècles,” in Veinstein, Salonique, 1850–1918, p. 35.

45 Karadimou-Yerolymbou, “Archaeology and Urban Planning Development,” p. 259.

46 Mehmet Ö. Alkan, �mparatorluk’tan Cumhuriyet’e Selanik’ten �stanbul’a Terakki Vakfi ve Terakki Okullari, 1877–2000 [The Terakki Foundation and Terakki Schools from the Empire to the Republic, from Salonica to Istanbul, 1877–2000] (Istanbul: Terraki Vakfi, 2003), p. 48.

47 “Muallim �emseddin (�emsi) Efendi Mektebi �âkirdânin Sûret-i Harekâti” [Teacher �emsi Efendi School’s Rules of Behavior for Students], in Alkan, Terakki Vakfi ve Terakki Okullari, p. 328.

48 Fortna, Imperial Classroom, p. 32. In an otherwise pathbreaking study, Fortna fails to recognize the significance of the Dönme schools.

49 Ilgaz Zorlu, “Atatürk’ün �lk Ög×retmeni �emsi Efendi Hakkinda Bilinmeyen Birkaç Nokta” [A Few Unknown Points about Atatürk’s First Teacher, �emsi Efendi], Toplumsal Tarih 1 (1994): 59–60.

50 Alkan, Terakki Vakfi ve Terakki Okullari, p. 58.

51 Ibid., pp. 54–61 .

52Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1894–1895), pp. 133–139.

53 The title of the journal, Gonca-i Edeb, also connotes the flower of proper education, learning, and manners.

54Gonca-i Edeb [The Rosebud of Literature] no. 1 (1 March 1883): 1; and Cengiz �i�man, “Gonca-i Edeb’ten �ki ‘Söz'” [Two words from Gonca-i Edeb], Tarih ve Toplum 38, no. 223 (2002): 10–11.

55�lber Ortayli asserts incorrectly that the journal “never mentions religion.” This is not surprising considering he also wrote that in the Dönme schools, “great stress was laid on secular education.” Ortayli, “Ottoman Modernisation and Sabetaism,” p. 101.

56Gonca-i Edeb no. 6 (15 May 1883): 91; and �i�man, “Gonca-i Edeb’ten �ki ‘Söz,'” p.11.

57 Scholem, “Sprouting of the Horn,” p. 383.

58Gonca-i Edeb no. 10 (15 February 1884): 145–146.

59 Anastassiadou, Salonique, p. 131.

60 Ibid., p. 118.

61 Esin Eden and Nicholas Stavroulakis, Salonika: A Family Cookbook (Athens: Talos Press, 1997), p. 22. The book was later published in Turkish, without reference to the Dönme, as Esin Eden, Annemin Yemek Defteri: Selanik, Münih, Brüksel, �stanbul [My Mother’s Cookbook: Salonica, Munich, Brussells, Istanbul] (Og×lak Yayinlari, 2001).

62 Vasili Demetriadou, Topographia tês Thessalonike kata tén Epoche tês Turkokratias, 1430–1912 [A Topography of Thessaloniki under the Turks, 1430–1912] (Thessaloniki: Hetaireia Makedonikön Spudon, 1983), pp. 332–336.

63 Yerolympos and Colonas “Un urbanisme cosmopolite,” pp. 168–169.

64 Marc David Baer, “”Selânik Dönmelerinin Camisi: Ortak Bir Geçmi�in Tek Yadigâri” [The Mosque of the Dönme of Salonica: The Sole Remains of a Shared Past], Tarih ve Toplum 28, no. 168 (1997): 31.

65Gonca-i Edeb no. 8, (15 June 1883): 118.

66 Paul Dumont, “Naissance d’un socialisme ottoman,” in Veinstein, Salonique, 1850–1918, pp. 195–207.

67 François Georgeon, “Selanik musulmane et deunmè,” in Veinstein, Salonique, 1850–1918, p. 118.

68 M. �ükrü Haniog×lu, “Jews in the Young Turk Movement to the 1908 Revolution,” in The Jews of the Ottoman Empire, ed. Avigdor Levy (Princeton, N.J.: Darwin Press, 1994), p. 522.

69 Paul Dumont, “La Franc-Maçonnerie d’obédience française a Salonique au début du XXe siècle,” Turcica 16 (1984): 72.

70 Galanté, Nouveaux documents sur Sabbetaï Sevi, pp. 75–77.

71Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1906–1907), pp. 254, 259; Selânik Vilâyeti Salnamesi (1907–1908), p. 487; Selim �lkin, “Câvid Bey, Mehmed,” �slâm Ansiklopedisi (Istanbul: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfi, 1993), 7:175–176; and Zürcher, Turkey, p. 351.

72 Ahmed Emin Yalman, Yakin Tarihte Gördüklerim ve Geçirdiklerim [What I Saw and What I Experienced in Recent History], ed. Erol �adi Erdinç, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Istanbul: Pera Turizm ve Ticaret A.�, 1997), 1:700–701.

73 Sertel, Annem, p. 46.

74 See Marc David Baer, “The Double Bind of Race and Religion: The Conversion of the Dönme to Turkish Secular Nationalism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 46, no. 4 (October 2004): 678–712.

75 Evangelos A. Hekimoglu, “Thessaloniki, 1912–1940: Economic Developments,” in Hassiotis, Queen of the Worthy, pp. 142–154.

76 Sertel, Annem, p. 69.

77 I. K. Hassiotis, “First After the First and Queen of the Worthy: In Search of Perennial Characteristics and Landmarks in the History of Thessaloniki,” in Queen of the Worthy, p. 28.

78 Interviews with the great-grandaughter of Hasan Akif, Büyük Ada, Istanbul, summer 2003; and Sertel, Annem, pp. 80–81.

79 Today �i�li Terakki high school in Istanbul is the continuation of Terakki of Salonica, and I�ik high school in Istanbul, whose foundation also includes a private university, is the successor of Feyziye of Salonica.

80�lkin, “Câvid Bey, Mehmed,” p. 176.

81Çag�lar Keyder, “The Setting,” in Istanbul: Between the Global and the Local, ed. idem (London: Rowman & Littlefield), p. 3.

82 Ibid.

83 Ibid., p. 6.

84 Ibid.

85 See the discussion of Gramsci in Amanda Anderson, “Cosmopolitanism, Universalism, and the Divided Legacies of Modernity,” in Cheah and Robbins, Cosmopolitics, pp. 270–271.

86 Bruce Robbins, “Comparative Cosmopolitanisms,” in Cheah and Robbins, Cosmopolitics, p. 248.

87 Rifat N. Bali, Cumhuriyet Yillarinda Türkiye Yahudileri: Bir Türkle�tirme Serüveni, 1923–1945 [The Jews of Turkey in the Early Republic: An Adventure in Turkification, 1923–1945] (Istanbul: �leti�im Yayinlari, 1999), p. 205.

88 Ibid., pp. 202–244.

89 Keyder, “The Setting,” p. 10.

90 Zürcher, Turkey, pp. 198–199. Atatürk could also promote French or European culture. Thus ballroom dancing and tango were seen as marks of civilization.

91 Michael Dear and Gustavo Leclerc, preface, in Postborder City: Cultural Spaces of Bajalta California, ed. idem (New York: Routledge, 2003), p. xi.

92 Ashley Dawson and Brent Hayes Edwards, “Introduction: Global Cities of the South,” Social Text 81 (Winter 2004): 1–7; Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo, 2nd ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001); idem, ed., Global Networks, Linked Cities (New York: Routledge, 2002); and Lawrence Herzog, “Global Tijuana: The Seven Ecologies of the Border,” in Dear and Leclerc, Postborder City, p. 119.

93 Or consider the East European and Chinese post- (or almost post-) communist model: from provincial to global, then provincial during the Cold War, finally global again today. Cities that fit this rubric include Berlin and Shanghai.

94 See for example Peter Taylor, World City Network: A Global Urban Analysis (New York: Routledge, 2003), which ranks the connections between cities and their connectivity to the global economy through an analysis of the flows of one hundred business service companies.

95 F. Witlox, L. Vereecken, and B. Derudder, “Mapping the Global Network Economy on the Basis of Air Passenger Transport Flows,” Globalization and World Cities Research Bulletin 157 (2004),

96 See Ilgaz Zorlu, Evet, Ben Selânikliyim: Türkiye Sabetaycilig×i Üstüne Makaleler [Yes, I Am a Salonican: Articles Concerning Sabbateanism in Turkey] (Istanbul: Belge Yayinlari, 1998); Eden and Stavroulakis, Salonika: A Family Cookbook; and Marc David Baer, “Revealing a Hidden Community: Ilgaz Zorlu and the Debate in Turkey Over the Dönme/Sabbateans,” The Turkish Studies Association Bulletin 23, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 68–75.

97 Interview with Maria Lilimpaki, Organization of Thessaloniki, Organization for the Master Plan Implementation and Environmental Protection of Thessaloniki, which currently occupies the building, Salonica, Greece, summer 2003.

98 The lead article in an edited volume published in 1997 to celebrate the history of the city claims that Belgian, British, and French companies invested Western European capital to realize most of the major projects such as the water system and natural gas network carried out in Salonica at the turn of the century. Hassiotis, “First After the First and Queen of the Worthy,” p. 23. Yet as has been pointed out in this article, Dönme invested their own resources to complete these projects and served as the crucial intermediaries which allowed the transformation of the city.

99 These conceptions of time come from Harvey, “Geographical Knowledges/Political Powers.”

100 Engseng Ho, “Empire through Diasporic Eyes: A View from the Other Boat,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 46, no. 2 (April 2004): 210–246.

101 Engseng Ho, “Names Beyond Nations: The Making of Local Cosmopolitans,” Études rurales 163–164 (Juillet–Décembre 2002): 228.

102 Aihwa Ong, “Flexible Citizenship among Chinese Cosmopolitans,” in Cheah and Robbins, Cosmopolitics, p. 136.

103 Ibid., p. 155.







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