Princeton University, Center for Collaborative History, 24-28 March 2018
The Early Modern History Workshop
Graduate Program in History will attend a meeting of the academic workshop “Prismsox” organized jointly by Princeton University, King’s College London, University of Münster, Central European University, and Sabancı University. The workshop will take place at Princeton University on March 24-28, 2018. The topic of this year's workshop is “Law and Criminality in the Early Modern Period”. Elif Ayşenur Conker, an MA student in the History Program, will make a presentation on Ottoman law, entitled “Banditry in Ottoman Fetvas in the Early Modern Period”. Elif’s participation is supported by the FASS graduate travel grant. Mustafa Melih Kayar, also an MA student in the History Program, will present a paper entitled “Criminalization Beyond Borders of the Sharia: An Examination of Ottoman Sources between the 15th and 16th centuries in the Şehid Ali Paşa Library”. Melih’s participation is supported by TÜBİTAK grant no. 116K408. Students have been supervised by Ayşe Ozil, a member of the faculty in the History Program, who will attend the workshop as a discussant.
“Banditry in Ottoman Fetvas in the Early Modern Period”
This study examines banditry in Ottoman fetvas in the early modern period. Using banditry as a case study, it discusses the role of fetvas in the historical evolution of Ottoman law. It explores how this evolution shaped the development of Islamic law by comparing the treatment of banditry in Ottoman fetvas with the treatment of banditry in Islamic law. The study utilizes compilations of Ottoman fetvas issued by Ottoman shayk al-Islams between the 16th and 18th centuries, more specifically Fetava-yı Ebussu’ud Efendi, Fetava-yı Ali Efendi, Fetava-yı Feyziye, Behçetü'l-fetava, and Neticetü'l-fetava. The paper argues that although the treatment of banditry in Islamic law and Ottoman fetvas are in line with each other, Ottoman fetvas bring innovations to the treatment of banditry in Islamic law.
“Criminalization Beyond Borders of the Sharia: An Examination of Ottoman Sources between the 15th and 16th centuries in the Şehid Ali Paşa Library”
Şehid Ali Paşa library holds an extensive collection of legal documents on various centuries of the Ottoman empire. Fetvas of the classical period, legal reviews on kanunnames, and different copies of chronicles constitute a large segment of this library. This collection of legal documents provides a significant source material to explore the legal structure of the empire and its practices of criminalization. Using this collection, the present paper examines Ottoman criminal law from the 15th through the 16th centuries, at the time of imperial consolidation, also known as the classical age. Particularly, it inquiries into the empire’s dual legal system based on religious (Islamic) law on the one hand and sultanic law on the other. It argues that these two sources of law did not harmoniously complement one another, but rather they depicted rival systems of law and showed contradictory characteristics. Criminalization and punishment practices constitute the major axis of this debate. The paper traces how the interaction of the two legal sources demonstrates power relations in the empire at this formative period.