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Abstract

Ancestral connections to the Ottoman legacy underpin a spate of political concerns in Libya. As the surviving descendants of Ottoman imperial servants, a group of Libyan tribes known as al-Karaghla point to something we might call Ottomanness as an (ambiguous) ethnic legacy. Analyzing social media debates among Karaghla and their compatriots, I argue that these Libyans engage in a rhetorical politics of descent to define the content of the Ottoman legacy and, in turn, enact competing discourses of minority rights, nationalism, and sovereignty. In doing so, I situate Karaghla at the intersection of of regional practices of genealogical claims-making and a wider universe of genealogical and ethnic (especially Turkic) politics in the post-Ottoman world.

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