Tra una patria e l’altra
Le élites nordcaucasiche e la fine dell’Impero ottomano
Hundreds of thousands of North Caucasians (collectively referred to as ‘Circassians’) fled their native homelands to the Ottoman Empire as a result of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the nineteenth century. These displaced groups were often resettled in the peripheral areas of the Empire as they were seen by Ottoman policymakers as reliable actors of agricultural development and political stability. At a time when the empire was transformed by modernization attempts, institutional reorganization, and centrifugal tensions, several North Caucasian officers, bureaucrats, and intellectuals rose to leading positions. This article highlights how the North Caucasian diaspora in the Ottoman Empire, and its political and intellectual elites in particular, tried to adapt, reinvent, and finely tune its identity in a context of sweeping political and cultural transition, and specially in the wake of end of the empire itself. Concepts of ‘honor’ and ‘loyalty’, as much as practical considerations of economic and political viability, informed a complex and dynamic interplay of notions and ideas of ‘homeland’ and ‘land of exile’, of the Self and the Other.