This panel aims to bring together works on various different socio-religious communities and individuals in the Ottoman Empire that are neither Sunni-Muslim (like, e.g. Shiis of various kinds, Nusayris, Kızılbaş-Alevis (Şabak, Tahtacı, Çepni etc.), Bektaşis, Druzes, etc.) nor belong to one of the three millets, like, e.g. Yezidis. It intends to shed light on different spheres in which these communities, or individuals thereof, interacted with the local Ottoman State and its agents respectively. As such spheres or kinds of interaction, one may think of the Kadi’s Court, the local Divan, the petitioning system, or of local notables, who were frequently recruited from the rural population – regardless of their religious background.
Focusing on these kinds of ‘minorities’, on the one hand, permits to draw comparative lessons on how these groups and individuals arranged themselves with and within the Ottoman State between, roughly speaking, the 17-19th centuries. On the other hand, it furthermore enables to characterize the (local) Ottoman State of the “post-classical-Age” from the angle of these groups and their (regionally different?) accommodation to the Empire’s institutions as well as its apparatus of power.
I call for papers that may engage, but do not necessarily have to limit themselves to questions like these:
- How and why did communities or individuals of above-mentioned belonging interact with the Ottoman State? Which where the means, spaces, and patterns of such an interaction?
- How were they appropriated / accommodated to legal measures or how did they make use of these?
- What are the diplomatic / linguistic styles by which these groups and individuals are labelled and thus language-wise represented in the documents under consideration?
- What are possible sources to be studied in order to trace interactions of these communities and the state?
- Are the actors merely addressing the state as reaya and as peasants or do they exercise agency beyond this status, such as being responsible for tax collection etc.?
- Is it possible (or heuristically fruitful) to draw on Catlos’ / Tezcan’s idea of conveniencia (as opposed to convivencia) in order to come to terms with this relationship?
These and related questions are to be addressed by the panel, which thereby aims to develop fresh and likewise philologically grounded perspectives on these communities, whose history in the Ottoman Empire is oftentimes misconstrued by outdated binaries, such as orthodoxy-heterodoxy, minority-majority, high-low-Islam etc. In synopsis, the panel seeks to carve out some preliminary patterns and spaces of interaction. Thereby it contributes to enhance our understanding of the regional variations of administrative practices relating to the mentioned populations on the one hand, and comes to terms with yet other parts of the diverse Ottoman population and their historical conditions within the Empire on the other.