chapter  14
15 Pages

Between universalistic claims and reality: Ottoman frontiers in the early modern period: Dariusz Kotodziejczyk

When studying the borders of any empire that claims to be universal, one must differentiate between its imaginary territorial ambitions, often encompassing the whole universe, and the real limit of influence, dictated by geopolitical as well as ecological concerns. In their best-selling neo-Marxist book Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri stress the crucial importance of borders in the making of any empire: ‘the sovereignty of Empire itself is realized at the margins, where borders are flexible and identities are hybrid and fluid. It would be difficult to say which is more important to Empire, the center or the margins’.1 The belief that a border is indispensable for any empire or civilization is also shared by a Polish author who can hardly be suspected of Marxist sympathies. In his essay on the eastern frontiers of Europe, Jan Kieniewicz writes: ‘a border first reveals the extent of rule, designates the reach of strivings for hegemony, and is a necessary part of an empire. On the other hand, a border is the consequence of an axiological process of spatial identification’.2