Silent Violence in the Ottoman Empire

with Özge Ertem & Graham Pitts

hosted by Chris Gratien

Although seldom presented as such, famine, hunger, and disease were major forces influencing and shaping life in the countryside of the Ottoman Empire from its beginning until its final years. In this episode, we discuss the global conversation surrounding famine, colonialism, and the world economy during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Özge Ertem weighs in with a discussion of her research on Anatolian famines of the 1870s, which claimed more than a quarter-million lives, and Graham Pitts talks about famine in Mount Lebanon during the First World War, which killed roughly a third of the population in that region. 

Özge Ertem received her Ph.D. in 2012 from the Department of History and Civilization at European University Institute in Florence. She is currently Head Librarian at Koç University RCAC in Istanbul. (see
Chris Gratien is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University researching the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. (see
Graham Pitts is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University researching the environmental history of Lebanon. (see

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Ajay, Nicholas Z. Mount Lebanon and the Wilayah of Beirut, 1914-1918: the war years. Diss. Georgetown University, 1972.

Ayalon, Yaron. “Famines, Earthquakes, Plagues: Natural Disasters in Ottoman Syria in the
writings of visitors.” The Journal of Ottoman Studies, XXXII, (Istanbul: 2008): 203-27.

Davis, Mike. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third
World. New York: Verso, 2001.

Ertem, Özge. Eating the Last Seed: Famine, empire, survival and order in Ottoman Anatolia in the late 19th century. Diss. European University Institute, 2012.

Ó Gráda, Cormac. Famine: A Short History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Sen, Amartya. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.

Tanielian, Melanie. The War of Famine: Everyday Life in Wartime Beirut and Mount Lebanon (1914-1918). Diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2012.

Watts, Michael. Silent Violence: Food, Famine, & Peasantry in Northern Nigeria. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.


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