#020 – Space, Wealth, and Power in the Ottoman Empire

with Ali Yaycioglu


Fethiye Mosque and Ali Pasha’s tomb, Ioannina (Greece)

Ottoman Studies offer several unexplored fields of research for the perspectives introduced by the so called “spatial turn” in historiography. “Space” can be investigated as a constituive element in an abstract imaginary of power and agency, but also as a repository which engenders diverse, more directly experienced “places” where knowledge is produced and power structures become visible. After some theorietical remarks, in this episode we discuss some ongoing projects focused on the spatiality of the Ottoman Empire in the early modern era. Secondly, we introduce some concrete example of how actors moved through space in configurations which included state structures and translocal networks, increasingly integrated into the Ottoman polity. This complex interplay is an occasion to reflect on some dynamics of accumulation of power and wealth through loyalty building, and how this accumulation was characterised by high volatility.

Ali Yaycioglu is assistant professor at the History Department of Stanford University. His main field of interest is the study of transformations and crises of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and early 19th centuries in the broader context of transition from early-modern to modern world. Ali is the author of a monograph on this topic entitled Partners of the Empire: Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford University Press, 2016). In this and in further works and projects, his research has focused on the restructring of economic and political institutions and ideas, changes in social and religious life, Ottoman spatial imaginations of life, nature and power, cultural and environmental history of Modern Turkey. He is currently working on a second monograph with the tentative title “Order of Volatility: Wealth, Power and Death in the Ottoman Empire”.

To cite this episode: Yaycioglu, Ali; Guidi, Andreas (2017): Space, wealth, and power in the Ottoman Empire, The Southeast Passage #020, 03.05.2017, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/podcast/yaycioglu-space-wealth-power-ottoman-empire



“Ottoman topologies: Spatial Experience in an Early Modern Empire and Beyond” conference programme (Stanford, 2014)

“Mapping Ottoman Epirus: Region, Power and Empire”, digital project coordinated by Ali Yaycioglu and Antonis Hadjikyriacou

Ali Yaycioglu’s interview for the Ottoman History Podcast (no.275)

Bouluo“, folk song from Epirus recorded in 1930 (Bibliothèque Nationale de France – Enregistrements sonores)

Further reading:

Bourdieu, Pierre (2014): On the state. Lectures at the Collège de France, 1989-1992. Cambridge: Polity.

Brenner, Neil (2004): New state spaces. Urban governance and the rescaling of statehood. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dankoff, Robert; Kim, Sooyong (Eds.) (2011): An Ottoman traveller. Selections from the Book of travels of Evliya Çelebi. London: Eland.

Graeber, David (2011): Debt. The first 5,000 years. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House.

Lefebvre, Henri (1974): La production de l’espace. In L’Homme et la société 31 (1), pp. 15–32.

Salzmann, Ariel (1993): An Ancien Regime Revisited. “Privatization” and Political Economy in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Empire. In Politics & Society 21 (4), pp. 393–423.

Spang, Rebecca L. (2015): Stuff and money in the time of the French Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Yaycioglu, Ali (2016): Partners of the Empire. The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.

Muhallefat Defter (records of properties left behind) of Mustafa Bayraktar (d. 1808). BOA MAD 9726
The Southeast Passage
The Southeast Passage
#020 - Space, Wealth, and Power in the Ottoman Empire