SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

An Unexceptional Governmental Tool: The State of Emergency in the Late Ottoman Cities

Dr. NoƩmi Levy-Aksu

Date: 22 May 2017Time: 5:10 PM

Finishes: 22 May 2017Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

Introduced in the Ottoman political and legal system by the 1876 constitution, the state of emergency (idare-i örfiyye) was applied in various localities for different lengths of time under the rule of Abdülhamid II, most often in the absence of war or major disorders. My paper explores the political and social consequences of the implementation of the measure in Ottoman cities, with a specific focus on the Balkan provinces, where the state of emergency was the most frequently applied. It seeks to understand how the proclamation and application of the idare-i örfiyye affected social life and modified the balance between exceptional jurisdictions, current local administrations, and the inhabitants of these places.

Relying on Ottoman archival documents and British consular reports, I argue that the implementation of the state of emergency was shaped by the negotiations and tensions between the various parts involved in or affected by the idare-i örfiyye: the various institutions of central government, the provincial military authorities, the diplomatic missions and, much more rarely, the local notables. While these negotiations paved the way for some degree of flexibility in how martial law applied, the imprecise legal definition of the state of emergency mostly strengthened the arbitrary power of the military staff, who had prime responsibility for implementing it.

Organiser: Derek Mancini-Lander