States of Emergency in the Late Ottoman Empire

Episode 349

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Idare-i örfiyye (or örfi idare), loosely translated as a “state of emergency or siege,” was a neologism introduced in the first Ottoman constitution in 1876 to allow the suspension of ordinary legal order in Ottoman localities in case of actual or potential uprisings. While the term clearly referred to the Ottoman legal tradition, the idare-i örfiyye was also inspired by contemporary definitions of regimes of exception in France and other countries. This conversation offers an insight into the genesis of this legal notion and seeks to understand the political, geographic and social impact of the widespread implementation of idare-i örfiyye in the Ottoman provinces during Abdülhamid II reign and the early Young Turk period.

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Contributor Bios

Noémi Lévy-Aksu is a British Academy Newton International Fellow at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London. Her research focuses on late Ottoman political, social and legal history and she is currently working on a book project on the state of emergency in the late Ottoman Empire.
Taylan Güngör is a doctoral candidate at SOAS in London. His interests are in Medieval and Pre-Modern Eastern Mediterranean trading circles and his research is on trade in Istanbul after 1453.
Michael Talbot received his PhD from SOAS in 2013 for a thesis on Ottoman-British relations in the eighteenth century, and now lectures and researches on a range of topics in Ottoman history at the University of Greenwich in London.


Episode No. 349
Release 27 February 2018
Recording Location: London (Recorded at SOAS Radio studios. SOAS Radio is an outlet for creative media and talent housed by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Run by alumni, current students and staff at the School, including volunteers from like-minded communities, SOAS Radio is dedicated to varied and original programming on world music, culture and current affairs.)
Audio editing by Taylan Güngör
Music: Abdullah Yüce - Bu ne sevgi bu ne ızdırab

Images and bibliography courtesy of Noémi Lévy-Aksu


L’illustration, 15 Mai 1909, « Le protecteur de la constitution turque. »
Taylan Güngör, Noémi Lévy-Aksu, and Michael Talbot in the SOAS Radio Studios

Select Bibliography

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Grotke, Kelly and Prutsch, Markus eds. Constitutionalism, Legitimacy and Power: Nineteenth-Century Experiences. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2014.

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Köksal, Osman. “Osmanlı Devleti’nde Sıkıyönetimin Doğuşu ve İlk Uygulamaları,”Askeri Tarih Araştırmaları Dergisi, 1/1 (2003).

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Waldron, Peter, “States of Emergency: Autocracy and Extraordinary Legislation, 1881-1917,” Revolutionary Russia 8, no. 1 (1995).


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