World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


OTTOMAN PERSPECTIVES - 4/4. Rule, Policies, and Social-Economic Consequences (468) - Panel

· Date: FRI, 23 / 2.30 - 4.30 pm

· Language: English

· Description:
Paper presenter: Mustafa Ozturk (Professor - Dr. Firat University, Turkey), “The Ottoman Rule of the Effects of Economic and Social Structure in the Middle East”
One of the most important reasons for the development of economic life, peace in that region, security and unity is provided. Regions in which do not have union, the security of life and property, economic activities can not be expected to develop. Throughout history, economic development and social peace are closely related to the rule of great powers. The great powers have combined the political geography of the region, so they have over the existing tariff barriers which have been set by the small states. At the same time a great power and capital of the central authorities, large consumers because of the environmental status of agriculture and industry are in the market. The Ottoman Empire with the Middle East domination in the 16th Century, economic integration was achieved in the region, economic activities were secured. The great power domination of the Ottoman Empire in the region over the centuries has preserved from external attacks and occupations. The most important qualifications of the Ottoman economic and social order, dominated regions do not make a distinction. There was no difference between Ottoman rule of Yemen and the Ionian, Basra and Bursa, Trabzon and Trablusgarp. The empire was so sincere on this issue that the 1876 Constitutional Assembly have been elected deputies to the region. In this regard the civil service under the terms of the time, to each side has been taken. In the 16-18th Century, needs of the people more in roads, water and education was at the field. Public house, bath, bazaar and educational institutions, were being made by foundations' hand. In the 19th Century the state government services are being constructed by themselves. Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Beirut, Aleppo, Baghdad, at all levels in cities such as schools (first-ibtidaî-High School and Junior High School) opened. In 1903 the Medical School and Hospital was founded in Damascus. In the same period, Military Collage was opened again in Damascus. Damascus-Aleppo, Damascus-Beirut, Jerusalem-Sayda-Sur-Akka macadams were opened to transportation routes. Activities were done in Egypt, the great public works that the most important of them, canals, railways and telegraph is a lines. At the end of the 19th Century from Egypt to Istanbul, post and telegraph business activities went into operation. At the beginning of the 20th Century the railway skirt along from Istanbul to Medina and Baghdad. Another important attribute of the Ottoman rule also, does not make distinction between the people of religion, nationality, color and gender and does not allow to establish domination of one over the other. In the classical period with a person's state resources for enrichment and transfer wealth to heirs was not allowed. Rebellion against the state, will undermine the social order except for religious movements, the state would not intervene in anyone's life styles. That is because of this understanding, the region's religious, ethnic and social structure so far has maintained the original assets.

Paper Presenter: Fatih Ermis (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Erfurt, Max-Weber-Kolleg, Germany), “Ottoman Economic Thinking in the Light of the Humour Theory of the State”
How did the Ottomans interpret economic issues? The answer to this question lies in the integrality of economic relations in the whole social structure. The application of the humour theory to the social context, first by Katib Çelebi and then by Naima, helps us to understand this holistic view. In this theory, which is in its origin a medical theory, the state is depicted as an organic creature. We may in fact speak of a general tendency in Middle Eastern traditions to see states like organic creatures. The most notable representative of this approach is Ibn Khaldun. The humour theory of the state is an enhancement of this approach a few steps forward. It is based on an analogy between the four humours of human body (blood, yellow bile, black bile, phlegm) and the four groups of a society (scholars, merchants, peasants, bureaucrats).Within the framework of the humour theory, the main pillar of the social order appears to be a balance between the above mentioned four groups. The concept of balance is also closely related with the perception of justice and also with the idea of the circle of justice. The underlying idea of the above mentioned analogy is that as the health of the body depends upon the balance of the four humours, the ‘health’ of a society depends similarly on the balance of the four constituting groups of the society. A one-to-one correspondence is constructed between scholars ‘blood, merchants ‘yellow bile, peasants’ black bile, bureaucrats ‘phlegm in this analogy. And for each institution or structure of society too a functionally corresponding organ or characteristic of human body is mentioned: Treasury ‘stomach, money ‘food, money-changers ‘astes, finance officers ‘attraction, bookkeepers ‘ability of digest ‘etc. Our concern in this paper will be to shed some light on the interpretation of economic relations by the Ottoman intellectuals between different layers of society departing from the humour theory.

Paper Presenter: Fulya Ozkan (Teaching Assistant, Binghamton University, USA), “Rethinking Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Modernization in the Context of the Reconstruction Process of the Trabzon-Erzurum Road”
This paper will explore the reconstruction process of the Trabzon-Erzurum road in north-eastern Anatolia in the late 19th century with regards to its implications concerning the so-called modernization process of the Ottoman Empire. Starting in mid-1850s, the Ottoman state engaged in an effort to reform its existing road network throughout the empire and also added some new routes to the already existing ones. One of the major goals of the Ottoman state was to increase its security with a better road network and make far away provinces more accessible to the imperial centre. In other words, roads were seen by the state as an instrument or as a venue to bring safety to provinces. The state was also willing to facilitate agriculture and commerce and thus obtain a more advantageous position in response to growing foreign economic competition. Based on these official concerns, the existing literature identifies the Ottoman state’s renewed interest in roads as a part of the Ottoman modernization efforts. In contrast, my paper will argue that the Ottoman state’s policies concerning road haulage were not necessarily shaped by elitist ‘modernizing’ ideals but also by local and social demands. This emphasis on the productive capacity of local and social demands may help us to reconsider the modernization paradigm -which dominates the existing literature on the 19th century Ottoman Empire- by highlighting the dynamic and social aspects of modern states. Moreover, a social history of roads may also shed a new light on the Ottoman state-society relations in which the ‘masses’ did not necessarily play a passive or negative role -by either obeying or resisting governmental agendas-, but also a positive and contributory part by shaping state policies. As its main source material, this paper will use the documents that the author has found in the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archives in Istanbul, Turkey.