Sufism and Governmentality in the Late Ottoman Empire
- Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
- Duke University Press
- Volume 29, Number 2, 2009
- pp. 171-185
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This article examines transformations in Sufi orders and in the status of Sufis in the late Ottoman Empire and argues that their increasing bureaucratization was an extension of increased rationalization of Ottoman administration and the normalization of the objects of governance into the Islamic sphere. The characteristically modern modes of power that Michel Foucault identified as governmentality and the particular kinds of knowledge and subjectivities associated with them were profoundly rearticulating the nature of Sufism in Ottoman lands by the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The article shows that changes in Sufi discourse and practice reflected the context of broader debates about Islamic traditions, institutions, and society at large in the late Ottoman Empire. This reevaluation of the experiences of Sufis in the later empire is important to an adequate interpretation of the relationship between Sufism and reform and of the concrete circumstances in which the orders were eventually proscribed by the republic in 1925.