Chapter

The Structural Transformation of the Coffeehouse: Religion, Language, and the Public Sphere in the Modernizing Muslim World

Michiel Leezenberg

in Things

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239450
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239498 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.003.0016

Series: Future of the Religious Past (FUP)

The Structural Transformation of the Coffeehouse: Religion, Language, and the Public Sphere in the Modernizing Muslim World

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This chapter discusses the Ottoman coffeehouse against the backdrop of the understanding that the emergence of the coffee house in seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Western and Central Europe indicates the rise of a modern liberal and secular public sphere. The new institution of the coffeehouse (just like coffee itself) had, after all, been imported from the early modern Ottoman Empire, where it had emerged as early as the sixteenth century, thus well before any substantial European influence. The Ottoman coffeehouse, it is argued, operated as a Foucauldian “heterotopia,” constituting a public and secular counterpart to the mosque. The absence of the outspoken anticlericalism featured by its European counterpart reveals, however, the Eurocentrism of Habermas's rationalist conceptualization of the public sphere.

Keywords: Public sphere; Ottoman Empire; Ottoman coffeehouse; European coffeehouse; Heterotopia; Michel Foucault; Jürgen Habermas

Chapter.  7510 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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