World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


The New Tax Regime in the 19th-Century Ottoman Empire: New Practices and Conflicts over the Assessment and Collection of Urban and Rural Taxes (182) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: WED 21, 9.00-11.00 am

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Bogazici University of Istanbul (Turkey)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Yucel Terzibasoglu

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:
This panel will contextualise and analyse issues of tax assessment, valuation and tax collection in the 19th-century Ottoman empire, both in the urban and rural areas. Contextualisation will involve the analysis of the provisioning policies of the old regime and their change towards a new logic based on financing of urban services through individual taxation, the identification of the fiscal aims of the new tax regime, the new property surveys, new definitions of taxable income, types and categories of data generated by the surveys, the intended use of such data by the Ottoman administration, and the introduction of new methods and means for tax collection. Essential for this contextualisation will be the elaboration of the types of urban and rural property (in terms of legal status such as private, public, religious endowment, and in terms of use such as agricultural activities, forest resources, urban property, etc.), categories which were the subject of intense state efforts for re-definition and therefore severely contested by a multiplicity of groups within the context of the urban and rural political economy of the empire in the 19th century.

The analysis will then draw on new research by panel participants and will involve the results of these contestations in terms of their impact on agrarian relations and on urban political economy, which had long-lasting consequences not only in shaping the new fiscal regime itself but also on the social relations in the empire in general. Some major issues the panel will address are: what were the effects of the changing provisioning policies of the Ottoman government upon the population of the capital city (especially in the supply of grain to the capital), what new institutions and actors were involved, and how different urban actors responded to this changing regulatory framework (Yildirim and Agir); how property values and revenues were assessed in the Istanbul cadastre of 1874 for financing the provisioning of urban services, what was the correspondence between the assessed value and market value, and what implications followed for the urban property market in Istanbul (Terzibasoglu); what new methods of tax collection were introduced and what new sources became taxable income in the context of the new tax regime in the late 19th century, and specifically how forests came to be defined as a taxable revenue source; what resistance did this engender among the local populations, how customary practices of rural populations came to be criminalised as tax offences (Dursun).

Chair: Eyup Ozveren, Middle East Technical University, Ankara.

Paper Presenter: Yucel Terzibasoglu, Bogazici University, Istanbul. "Fiscal Assessment and the Question of Value in the Istanbul Cadastre of 1874"

Paper Presenter:Selcuk Dursun, Department of History, METU, Ankara, Turkey. "Forest Ownership and Tax Evasion in the Ottoman Empire, 1870-1914"

Paper Presenter: Seven Agir & Onur Yildirim (Middle East Technical University) "Bread and Empire: Grain Provisioning of Istanbul in a Time of Change"