The Middle East: An International Affairs Survey
Dr. Nathan J. Brown
Caroline E. Jok Don't forget about the age old question of Fermat's last theorem refers to what?
The George Washington University
Class 3 Notes ~ The Ottoman Heritage and Legacy
Concepts and Ideas that are helpful when considering Imperial legacies in general and the Ottoman legacy specifically
• What is a Legacy?
Has roots/presence/general sense dating form the past
o General Sense Legacy:
Prior institutions the previous civilization used
o Institutional Legacy of the Ottomans
• Millet System: System of legal pluralism (communities defined as your religion) ▪ Dimmi status: Muslims, Christians, Jews *Hierarchical towards Muslims (milleti hakim)
▪ Ultimate allegiance to the Sultan
o After effect (positive or negative)
• How can this be measured?/methodology - differentiate between important/cute legacies • Counter Factual
▪ Asks (thought experiment) What if? Don't forget about the age old question of What does multicellularity mean?
• What if Hitler hadn't existed?
• What if there was no Ottoman Empire? If you want to learn more check out Gutenberg press refers to what?
• Perhaps there would be more states?
• Differences in religions/who is in control
• Different population demographics
• Political entity that combines one or more authorities under one institution If you want to learn more check out Where are the receptors of the general senses located?
• Do empire's automatically leave major legacies? (Not particularly - ex: *Polish Lithuanian Common Wealth)
• If there's no Portuguese/Spanish empires in the Middle east, it is thanks to the Ottomans • Legacy of Muslim Majority rule.
• History vs. Historiography
• Schools of knowledge about the facts: Ways of interpreting the Facts
• Ex: asking a Greek National Historian about the Ottoman Legacy (probably a negative view - first of the Christian Millet to break away from the Ottomans)
• Ex: How the story is told
• Trope: cliché (recurring)
▪ Trope of the "Turkish" ottoman Yoke (They took away our autonomy etc. See Reading)
• Why is it hard to answer the question of the Ottoman Legacy? Don't forget about the age old question of What are the foundations of scientific evaluation?
o Because of Historiography - The differing points of views and voices of the story. Don't forget about the age old question of What are the functions of blood?
• The in-group of suffering tends to blame the out-group
• Positive view: Sunni Muslim/Islamist political movements
• Negative View: Christians, Secular Muslim (Turks, Arabs…) political movements • This empire clearly affects things today, some say positively others say negatively • What are other tools to assess the Legacy of the Ottoman Empire?
o Can point to factors that matter
o Ask Where? And in what field?
o Make the question more specific
o Have to consider Time and Place and communities (Subjectivities)
o Homan Islam
• What Role did Islam play in the Empire?
▪ Ideological legitimation
▪ Governance & Legal function
▪ Also very important in the late ottoman period: acted as a counterweight
• Institution as the caliphate as people started to break away.
• Abdul Hamid II diary
• Some of the Sultans/caliph were not particular observant of their beliefs
o Homan Pluralism (millet System and demographics)
• Exception in the early modern period
• On going Kurdish demand for autonomy
o Homan governance
• Strong State tradition
• To what extant is the Ottoman model an autocratic model?
o Homan International Relations
• Way to scare off the British, French, Russians
▪ "Sick man of Europe" - Eastern Question
• Turkey in Europe (currently)
• What role will Turkey Play today (ie as a bridge)
o Legacies for Turkey
Reading Notes ~ The Imperial Legacy: The Ottoman Imprint on the Balkans and the Middle East Introduction:
• Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman: all Mediterranean and all based on wide-ranging and long-lived multinational imperial institutions.
o Ottoman the successor to Byzantines, just as Byzantine was the successor to Rome. • Ottoman Empire represented the fullest flowering of Islamic political institutionalization o Earlier: Umayyad, Abbasid
o 4 great empires (maps don’t indicate loose protectorate/central control)
o 2 other Muslim imperial systems at the same time as the Ottomans:
• Safavid (Iran)
▪ Succeeded by the Qajar dynasty
• Mogul (India)
▪ Fell in the late 18c.
• Latest and most institutionally elaborate of the many West-Asian imperial systems that reach back in time
• The West labels the Ottoman Empire as turkey
• The Arabs view the Ottoman period as one of alien rule
• Generally viewed as a burdensome heritage or as something irrelevant to today's reality • Transcend the tendency to see only the Republic of turkey as successor to the Ottoman legacy Defining terms
• Sir Harry Luke
o Palestinian Arab leaders were shaped by the ottoman political culture but their children weren't. (Ottoman legacy becomes fainter)
o Centuries-old separation between rulers and the ruled
• Transition from Ottoman to post-Ottoman times represents such a sharp break • Best answer: Never total change, never total continuity
• Problem: defining what we mean by Ottoman
o Distinguish from Ottoman or Islamic
• Was the Empire becoming less Ottoman?
• Ottoman: cover all aspects of the culture from the time of the eponym, Uthman in the latter years • Not always true: closer the past age was to the present the stronger the legacy • Remote past may offer more important legacies than later times
o When society formulates its past in service of present values
o People invent a past to justify their present
• Double golden age
o Early Ottoman Empire
o Period of the Prophet Muhammad and the immediately following generations during which the Quran was revealed and the Shari'ah established.
• Changing of the historical record
o Changing importance of the caliphate
o Muhammad did not shy away from borrowing ideas developed by the infidels • Sultan Abdul-Hamid embraced the movement that cam to be called Pan-Islam and presented himself as the leader of all Muslims everywhere, not just those living within Ottoman political boundaries.
• WWI: ottomans joined the central powers and the sultan declared a jihad
o Allied colonial powers w/ Muslim populations felt compelled to react
o Link leading to British negotiations with an Ottoman official ruling in Mecca. o Arab revolt: turning point in modern M.E. history
• Is there a direct line connecting Ottoman-led Pan-Islam and the many strands of political Islam today?
• Arabs currently view the Ottoman era as 4 centuries of alien domination
• End of WWI also end of the Ottoman Empire
o Ataturk's Turkey turning its back on the Arabs
o Alien control: British and French mandates
o Makes sense to rewrite history to construct impeccably Arab nationalist genealogy extending back into the ottoman period
o Arabs have interpreted the ottoman era in Arab nationalist terms
• What if community leaders throughout the Fertile Crescent choose to remember the Ottoman period as one that provided religious, linguistic, and ethnic autonomy within a political framework strong enough to protect life
Part One: Perceptions and Parallels
• The concept f legacy is liable to be both ethnocentric and excessively weighted in terms of the present
• Both nationalist and Marxists see Ottoman influence as negative
• West V. East (negative)
• Illogical to blame Ottoman backwardness (due to European dominance of history) • Characteristics of the Ottoman System influenced developments
o Agrarian social structure based on small peasant family farms (unlike Arab lands) o Ottoman relations with Europe went through different phases
o Ottomans accepted religious minorities/did not press for conversion to Islam o Ottoman kept Arab lands out of European Hands
• Generally accepted Idea; only the Republic of Turkey is successor to the Ottoman Empire o Arabs blame Turks for holding back Arab development
o Turks blame Arabs for treason
Chapter Two: The meaning of Legacy: The Ottoman Case
• Heritage or legacy is expected to trace the contributions of a particular culture to our modern civilization
o We look to the past selectively
Questions Asked about the Ottoman Legacy:
• History can't be adequately written without reference to the Ottomans
• Capital cities of the 20 states that emerged from the disintegration of the empire o Architecture
o Pup culture
o Lifestyles etc.
• Some intellectuals: why has turkey remained so backward? (blame Ottomans) o View as a feudal state
• Society was divided into two principal classes (ruling military elite and masses of dependents with no political/civil rights)
o Those who claim the Empire is Asiatic
• Strong centralist bureaucracy and command economy
• No possibility for change which could lead to economic growth and social evolution • "stagnant" characteristics
▪ State ownership of arable lands (complete control of peasant production and labor)
o Ottoman state's control of agricultural land/peasant labor: factor in failure to change • Is it possible that Ottoman Bureaucrats may have attempted to introduce reforms? o Is the stagnation in the Middle east due to social structure?
o Eastern European/Asian societies cease association with Ottoman heritage being the culprit instate nonwestern traditional societies become the issue.
o "backwardness": subjective/biased
• Ottoman social system:
o Represented an effective adaptation to circumstance
Basic Features of the Ottoman Social and Political System:
• Agrarian social structure it maintained
o Based on small family farms
o Economic and fiscal unit consisting of a peasant household with a farm
o Ottoman bureaucracy eliminated threat of big estates
o Separate societies later formed their own independent national states
• Created almost ideal type of centralist monarchy
o Abolitionist monarchy: eliminated feudal lords, employed only personal retainers • Perfect autocracy
European States System and the Ottomans
• Professed to be the vanguard of the Islamic world
• Distinguished state and religion
• Interesting role with Christian Crusades, how much is true?
• Ottoman power was a necessary component of the European state system
• Aspect of foreign policies/leverage
o Sometimes an obstacle
• 19 c. depended on western Europeans
• Turkey a part o Europe?
• Tanzimat reforms: Ottomans introduce Western inspired reforms
• United Nations: multilateral diplomacy and interstate cooperation
Non-Muslim Communities Under the Ottomans
• Was the culture hostile to Western Cultural traditions?
• Tolerant of Christians and Jews
• Employed Greek/Serbian Christians and Jews as scribes/tax farmers/etc.
• Considerable mix/integration of cultures.
Western Economic Development and the Ottoman
• Cultural borrowing
o Spread of coffee houses in Europe
o Rice cultivation
o Military band
o Weaving and dying techniques were borrowed by Italians and other Westerners from the middle East
o Rise of cotton industries
• Ottoman Empire had a technological advantage
• France and England: how to lower labor costs
• East helped the west
The Arab World and the Ottomans
• Reconquista (book)
• Ottomans tried to limit jihad
• Facilitated trade
• Egypt: administrative/military/finance affairs
• Baghdad: Control Iraq, monitor the Gulf countries
• Rise of certain Arab families due to the Ottoman tax farming systems
• Most important legacy: Turkey