The Reflections of Protestant British Identity in Selected Works from the Nineteenth-Century British Travel Writing on Asia Minor
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Asia Minor, or Anatolia, was an attractive geography for many British travellers from the beginning to the end of the nineteenth century. Although British travellers put forward a different reason for their journeys depending on their professions and interests, it is true that the imperial rivalry between Russia and Britain, also known as the Great Game, rendered Anatolia (the centre of the Ottoman Empire) more attractive. Asia Minor which was rich in terms of ethnic and religious minorities enabled British travellers to make various observations. In this context, the comments the British travellers make on the Christian minorities in the above mentioned region are of importance because British travellers, who were aware of their Protestant identity and believed in its privilege, did not abstain from using othering statements against the Christian minorities. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to show how the British travellers’ observations about the Anatolian Christian minorities of Anatolia as well as Britain’s imperial rival, the Russians, and their actions are utilized in reflecting Protestant British identity in Robert Curzon’s Armenia: A Year in Erzeroom, and on the Frontiers of Russia, Turkey, and Persia (1854), Frederick Gustavus Burnaby’s On Horseback through Asia Minor (1877), John Hartley’s Researches in Greece and the Levant (1831) and Alicia Blackwood’s A Narrative of Personal Experiences and Impressions during a Residence on the Bosphorus throughout the Crimean War (1881). In the Introduction of this study, the place of Protestantism in the British imperial identity is explained after a brief history of Christianity, and it is stated that Protestantism, which was originated in the fifteenth century and affected the English society in depth, played an active role in this identity even in the nineteenth century. At the end of the introductory part, some theoretical concepts are mentioned in order to explain the process of identity construction and reinforcement. In the first chapter of the thesis, the othering comments of the travellers concerning the Armenians who mainly lived in Eastern Asia Minor are analysed in Robert Curzon’s Armenia: A Year in Erzeroom, and on the Frontiers of Russia, Turkey, and Persia (1854) and Frederick Gustavus Burnaby’s On Horseback through Asia Minor (1877). In the second chapter, John Hartley’s Researches in Greece and the Levant (1831) and Alicia Blackwood’s A Narrative of Personal Experiences and Impressions during a Residence on the Bosphorus throughout the Crimean War (1881) are analysed in the framework of the travellers’ attitude towards the Greek minorities of western Asia Minor. In addition, the travellers’ political and religious comments on their imperial rival, Russia, are mentioned in both chapters. In conclusion, it is stated that the British travellers reflected their Protestant identity by making statements on both the Russians and the Christian minorities of Asia Minor. More importantly, it is concluded that a dichotomy, similar to the long-standing Muslim/Christian dichotomy that has been the subject of many scholarly studies, can be found even within the same religion, and the concept of the Other should be re-considered from this perspective.