The description is submitted to:


Session R4727 (Defining Early Modernity in Ottoman History), 2017
I am guilty of the “relative vagueness and flexibility” of Ottoman “early modern” periodization. In 1999, I published “Locating the Ottomans in Early Modern Europe” in what was then the new Journal of Early Modern History. My intention was to investigate how the imperatives of manpower mobilization, conquest and settlement were handled in each of the three great land-based empires of the Romanovs, the Habsburgs and the Ottomans in the period 1600-1800. I confessed then, as I have ever since, that I am comparing apples, pears and oranges. Since that time, I have more or less abandoned dates and refer to the era as the “not so early” which sits in between the “early” and the “even later” Ottoman Empire, obfuscating even further the specificity we wish to interrogate. I still refer to myself as a Middle East historian, though in fact I have joined the dark side under the influence of the late C.A. Bayly who reputedly said we are all global historians whether we know it or not. Fred Cooper and Jane Burbank, of like mind, in Empires in History, have set out an agenda for the study of negotiation and contestation of power among rulers and their elites. For this discussion, I would like to return to the question of “tolerance” in the Ottoman context, the most anachronistic and vexed topic in our field, and explore if it is possible to perceive change in our early modern era.