Ottoman History and the Scaling of Research
Taken as such, however, scales in Ottoman historiography is generally considered in “areal terms” (Brenner 2001). One can approach the question of scale also from the vantage point of asymmetrical social power relations and their reflections on historiographical imaginations. Recent writings focused on new societal actors who had been pushed to the margins of Ottoman historiography. The women, the slaves, workers, the disabled, and other social actors flooded the historical scene which had heretofore been dominated by the court elites, central bureaucracy, the urban rich, and the proto-nationalist leaders. However, even though Ottoman scholarship has been diversified, and hence democratized in this way, conceptual and historiographical reflections on the correlations between different levels of experiences remain thin. The questions of how these micro experiences speak to one another and how they force us to reconsider the broader imperial histories remain untouched.
This panel aims to approach the question of scale in Ottoman history-writing from the vantage point of asymmetrical socio-spatial relations, different levels of historical experiences and their inter-relationalities. Each paper situates a particular group of societal actors (missionaries, peasants, workers, and the tribes people) at the forefront of their analysis and examines contextually specific scalar partitionings through the experiences of these actors. From this perspective, the local/provincial, imperial, and global cease to be empty containers in which these actors operate but rather it is thanks to the proactive roles they take that these scalar partitionings come to existence. Rather than demonstrating how the forces of modernization shaped these individual lives, or how these actors “experienced” these broad changes, the papers will reveal the ways in which these actors built their own pathways at the juncture of the macro transformative forces of modernity and its micro manifestations. The papers collectively aim to bring to fore the conceptual and historiographical possibilities for and the shortcoming of approaching the Ottoman imperial and comparative-global historiographies from the perspective of the micro-scale experiences of Ottoman subjects.