[P4859] Rethinking Pastoralists and Pastoral Nomadism in the Ottoman Empire

Created by Samuel Dolbee
Monday, 11/20/17 8:00am


For centuries, arid and semi-arid ecological zones of the Middle East have been inhabited by pastoralists and their animals. Despite the forceful sedentarization policies of the Ottoman and Safavid Empires and their nation-state successors, millions of people from Algeria in the west to Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Anatolia, Iraq, and Iran in the east still live as pastoral nomads and depend on their millions of animals.

Although pastoral nomads played vital roles in the social, economic, political, and ecological lives of the regions they inhabited, their history has often been written from the perspective of imperial authorities. In the historiography of the Middle East, as well, pastoralists frequently have appeared when imperial states attempted to forcibly settle them or applied civilizing policies towards “wandering” and “savage” communities. Such studies underlined the actions of imperial states and their administrators rather than those of pastoralists and their herds. Their crucial roles in the ecology, economy, and politics of the provincial areas, therefore, has been understudied in national and imperial histories.

This panel responds to these state-centric formations of history by foregrounding pastoralists within the ecological and political structures they actively managed and manipulated. How did pastoralists adapt to environmental and legal conditions in the regions that they inhabited? What sorts of relationships did they form with the state and settled communities? This panel explores these questions across Ottoman space, with papers dealing with different parts of the Empire, from Bursa on the shores of the Sea of Marmara to Kurdistan to Mosul and southern Syria. In doing so, it offers both fresh perspectives and geographic breadth to shed new light on the lives of pastoralists as actors in the ecological, economic, and political formations of the modern Middle East.





Sabri Ates

(Southern Methodist University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

Zozan Pehlivan

(McGill University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;

Samuel Dolbee

(New York University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Elcin Arabaci

(Georgetown University)
Ph.D candidate, Georgetown University, History. Currently I am writing a dissertation entitled “Cocoons of Modernity: The Metamorphoses of Civil Society and Violence in Late Ottoman Bursa (1860-1914)”. My research interests include urban social...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Nora Barakat

(New York University, Abu Dhabi)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Matthew Ghazarian

(Columbia University)
Matthew Ghazarian is a Ph.D. student in Columbia University's Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, African Studies. His research focuses on the intersections of sectarianism, humanitarianism, and political economy in central and eastern Anatolia...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;