[P2672] Ottoman Identity, Part III (17th-18th C.): Transformation to an Administrative State

Created by Kent F. Schull
Saturday, 12/03/11 11:00am


This multi-panel session seeks to investigate the creation, projection, reception, negotiation, contestation, and transformation of Ottoman identity over the long history of the empire's existence. The Ottoman Empire offers the rare opportunity to trace the transformations of identity from the pre-modern to the early-modern and then to the modern era. Identity is a slippery concept that must be determined empirically on a case by case basis and is anything but static. As a polyglot and incredibly heterogeneous empire, the concept of being Ottoman experienced many changes and adaptations. The purpose of this multi-panel session is to trace the development, transformations, and expansion of Ottoman identity not only from a central imperial perspective and ideological projection, but also to see how this identity was adopted, adapted, rejected, and contested by subjects, rivals, allies, and foes alike in the Ottoman sphere of influence.

Panel III investigates the transformation of being Ottoman during the 17th & 18th centuries when the Ottoman Empire shifted from being a conquest to an administrative state. Paper I focuses on 17th century advice literature regarding the qualities of the ideal Ottoman bureaucrat as a result of the discontinuance of the Ottoman devsirme system and the transformations brought on by the 16th Century Price Revolution and the Military Revolutions of the 17th century. Paper II investigates the identity dichotomies found in the poetics of 17th century historical writings regarding the deposition and execution of Sultan Osman II. These identity dichotomies include Istanbul versus the provinces, Istanbul bureaucrats versus provincial administrators, and Janissaries versus Sekban (provincial irregular forces). Paper III deals with the inception and transformation of the office of Chief Black Eunuch in the Ottoman Empire (16-18th century) and how these individuals were both Ottoman insiders and outsiders. An insider inasmuch as he possessed access to the highest levels of the Ottoman administrative power and outsider because of his East African origins and emasculation. Paper IV looks at the construction of Ottoman-African identity through the investigation of the life of Mullah Ali who was Ethiopian born; presented as a gift to the Ottoman Chief Black Eunuch; received a comprehensive Islamic education; and served as one of the highest ranking Ulema in the empire. Finally, Paper V examines the construction and projection of non-Muslim institutional identity in Ottoman Cyprus during the 18th century and the manipulation of official titles usually reserved only for Muslims dealing with the Ottoman administration.






Virginia Aksan

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

Linda T. Darling

(University of Arizona)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Resat Kasaba

(University of Washington, Seattle)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Christine Isom-Verhaaren

(Brigham Young University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;

Kent F. Schull

(Binghamton University, SUNY)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;