“Bulgarian Horrors” Revisited: the Many-Layered Manifestations of the Orientalist Discourse in Victorian Political Construction of the External, Intimate and Internal Other
Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences
Keywords: Orientalism, Ottoman Empire, Balkans, Bulgarian Crisis of 1876, Gladstone, Disraeli
This study largely drawing upon the established conceptual framework of Orientalism in Saidian terms shall analyse the British perceptions and representations of the Bulgarian Crisis of 1876, a salient feature of the Eastern Question, as they appeared in British parliamentary debates. It will also make occasional yet instructive references to the coverage of the Crisis as well as the image of the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans which were organic parts of the Crisis, in some influential periodicals of the era such as the Times and the Contemporary Review in order to better contextualize the debates in the parliament. The main point this article shall make is that the Bulgarian Crisis worked as a catalyst in reinforcing the hegemony of the Orientalist discourse in the political construction of the Ottoman Empire as an absolute external Other in Britain at the time. It shall also delve into the construction of the Balkans as an "intimate other" whose Oriental and European features were alternately accentuated during the Crisis with a view to enlist the British public in either supporting or denouncing the Bulgarian uprising. All in all, it will suggest that the Orientalist rhetoric was embedded at the very core of the Victorian British elites' cognitive map, and was also unsparingly employed in negating the domestic political opponents swamping them with negative Orientalist stereotypes.