The Cretan Question: The Visual Imagination of Cretan Political Transformations 1897-1913.

Ainsworth, Rachel (2019) The Cretan Question: The Visual Imagination of Cretan Political Transformations 1897-1913. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of Rachel Ainsworth PhD Thesis Final.pdf] PDF
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This thesis concentrates its attention on the political and cultural changes on Crete as the island passed from Ottoman authority, autonomy and then unification with Greece between the years 1897 to 1913. These socio-political transformations on the island were commonly referred to as the Cretan Question, and were related to a larger Eastern Question associated to a weakened Ottoman Empire and the competition between European and Balkan states for Ottoman territories. This thesis particularly investigates how the Cretan Question was understood and imagined within popular European and local Cretan visual perspectives. The first part of the thesis specifically explores how the Cretan Question was discussed and perceived in European illustrated newspapers and in entertainment genres such as political caricatures and cartoons. Within the second half of this thesis, this research examines local Cretan society and the life stories and painted and photographic works of Ioannis Stavrakis and Rahmi Bahaettin Bediz. Both men’s work and personal accounts provide new historical understandings on how the Cretan Question impacted local communities and identities.

The originality of this thesis rests on the use of visual materials in order to shed light on overlooked aspects of Cretan history. Moreover, this thesis recognizes visual media as valuable historic documents that aid in challenging dominant narratives on Crete during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By analysing the Cretan Question through a visual framework and methodology, new sources and accounts are brought forward allowing for unique understandings of how Cretan and Eastern politics were imagined and debated in European and Cretan daily lives. The use of visual materials and methodologies also highlights different cultural engagements to the Cretan Question, specifically how it was understood through different European countries’ and local Cretan politics and moral and social conventions. This thesis contributes to research in visual studies and social histories which in turn delve into topics of conflict, knowledge production and notions of identity within large geopolitical settings and within borderland communities. Finally, this thesis aims to add a different perspective to the Cretan Question, which locates Crete within a larger international political arena, but also investigates how extreme political situations impacted local communities on the fringes of Europe.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2024 14:16
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2024 15:31

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