Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Capitalism in a Post-violence Society: Women Workers and Ottoman Reindustrialization (ca. 1890s-1910s)
Dr. Yaşar Tolga Cora
Monday, April 30, 2018
Why and how did Oriental carpets become one of the most important export sectors – and the one with the largest number of women employees – in the late Ottoman Empire? This presentation examines the development of that sector and the encroachment of global capitalism into the late Ottoman Empire following the violence against Armenians in the 1890s and 1909. It argues that Armenian women and children in post-violence Armenian communities were incorporated into the global market as a vulnerable, organizationally weak and cost-efficient workforce for the flourishing oriental carpet sector. The presentation thus approaches post-violence societies as new environments into which the borders of capitalism expanded, and where cheap labor was exploited as part of their reconstruction. This expansion came in the form of “disaster capitalism” in those regions where unregulated markets and exploitation of human and material resources were coupled with a financially and economically weak Ottoman state; it created both the material institutions and the discourses for the acceptance of the private sector’s role in the recovery of a post-disaster society.
Dr. Yaşar Tolga Cora is a historian of the social and economic history of the late Ottoman Empire with a particular focus on Armenian communities in Anatolia. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago in 2016, and served as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2016-17. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of History at Boğaziçi University, teaching courses on the late Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Republic, Ottoman Armenians, and Modern Middle Eastern history. Dr. Cora has published on the histories of merchants, entrepreneurs, and commercial and industrial relations in the late Ottoman Empire in journals including the International Journal of Turkish Studies and the Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient. He translated and edited the memoirs of an Armenian officer who served in the Ottoman Army during the Great War (Harbiyeli Bir Osmanlı Ermenisi: Mülâzım-ı Sânî Kalusd Sürmenyan’ın Birinci Dünya Savaşı ve Tehcir Anıları, Tarih Vakfı, 2015) and coedited a volume titled The Ottoman East in the Nineteenth Century: Societies, Identities and Politics with Dzovinar Derderian and Ali Sipahi (I.B. Tauris, 2016).