[P4747] Negotiating Gender and Morality in the Ottoman First World War

Created by Kate Dannies
Monday, 11/20/17 1:00pm


During the First World War in the Ottoman Empire, gender issues—in particular how to sustain total war in a society grappling with a radical threat to the traditional male-headed family and economic structure as a result of mass conscription—emerged as a key focus in Ottoman state policies, elite interests, and individual experiences. The resulting negotiations over gender and morality taking place in the context of total war provide a way to trace currents of social and institutional continuity and change, providing insights that move beyond the generalities frequently used to describe the war’s significance for Ottoman society. The four papers included in the panel explore the interactions between wartime, gender, and morality from state and society perspectives, using a wide range of sources such as petitions to the Ottoman state, police records, Sharia court records, US consular records, the press, and ego documents in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, English and French. The first paper analyzes the particular impact of wartime conditions on women, the relationship between subsistence and monetary aid and maintaining morality during the conflict, and the transnational strategies women pursued to survive. The second paper traces war moralities and tensions between Islamists and the occupation government over the question of licensing Muslim female prostitutes. The third paper examines community reactions and state responses to the issue of sexual violence against women and children by Russian soldiers, Ottoman deserters, and male civilians on the Ottoman homefront in Eastern Anatolia. The fourth paper analyzes how wartime anxieties over morality and gender were codified in the Ottoman Law of Family Rights of 1917, exploring how this legislation allowed the state to exert greater control over Ottoman gender relations during wartime. Together, these papers provide a broad and deep analysis of how anxieties over morality interacted with gendered social experiences and state policies in different areas of the Ottoman Empire, from rural eastern Anatolia to Mount Lebanon, and the key urban centers of Istanbul and Beirut. As Middle East historians continue to probe the importance of the First World War in shaping Late Ottoman and modern Middle East history from a variety of perspectives, this panel demonstrates some of the ways in which gender analysis can suggest answers to broader questions of state practice, social rupture, and the role of World War I in the making of the modern Middle East.






Elizabeth Thompson

(American University)
Elizabeth F. Thompson is Professor and Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC. She is currently writing a new history of the constitutional government established at Damascus, Syria...
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Malek Abisaab

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

Graham Auman Pitts

(NC State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Kate Dannies

(Georgetown University)
Kate Dannies is a PhD candidate in history at Georgetown University. Her research interests center on gender, family, institutions, and conflict during the Late Ottoman period. Her dissertation, “Breadwinner Soldiers: Gender, Welfare, and Citizenship...
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Secil Yilmaz

(Cornell University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Stefan Hock

(Georgetown University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;