“What Is and What Was: The Ottoman Empire According to a 19th Century American Diplomat” is an intellectual history of David Porter, a navy officer turned diplomat, during the early years of his post to the Ottoman Empire. This research analyzes Porter’s writings to ascertain what influenced his perceptions of the Ottoman Empire and its people. To a greater extent, this project seeks to understand the construction of “the Other” and whether or not Porter understood the empire as such. Ultimately, this research would argue that the common understanding of how American’s viewed the Middle East at this time was far more complex, and requires a reevaluation.



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