Critical theory enables us to engage with historic power relations of colonizer and colonized, but the inclination to do so should not obfuscate the fact that many narratives that were once in opposition to the empires of the past are now the dominant—and often rewritten— narratives of particular authoritative nation-states. Amid ongoing efforts to author singular metanarratives of the history of the Wahhabi movement of Arabia, alternative histories from the Ottoman perspective are often overlooked or simply dismissed. While the result tends to be the sort of linear history that favors the modern nation-state of Saudi Arabia, it is also a product that omits not only the Ottoman imperial voice but also the many voices and collective memories of those who might be said to have been marginalized and/or victimized by the early Wahhabi movement as it attacked Shiites and others in Karbala and elsewhere. Focusing on the Ottoman histories of Ahmed Cevdet Paşa, Evered’s article summarizes and analyzes the first efforts to depict the movement in Ottoman historiography. In doing so, it also considers how imperial histories may be read today as alternative narratives in the modern nation-state era.

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