Mountains as Sites of History in the Ottoman Empire

AHA Session 12
Friday, January 3, 2020: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Beekman Room (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Karl Appuhn, New York University

Session Abstract

The mountains of the Ottoman Empire (and mountains more generally) have remained outside of historical narratives of the Empire, as assumptions about isolation and refuge remain powerful. This panel will argue for the mountain landscapes of the Empire as important sites of history, whether environmental, imperial or local. We hope to address all those who are interested in mountains in general, as well as Ottoman historians who have not thought to consider the place of mountains in the Empire's history.

Three of the papers concentrate on the Balkans, while the fourth includes the Aegean and the Black sea region, as well as the Balkans. The four papers cover the early modern period, stretching from the fifteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Jesse Howell's paper questions the assumption of mountain isolation by looking at the mountain town of Čajniče (in today's Bosnia and Hercegovina). Situated in an extremely wild and rugged area it was nevertheless a stop on a major international road. Ana Sekulić, also in Bosnia and Hercegovina, looks at religious and environmental landscapes through the records of a Franciscan Monastery in the town of Fojnica. A monastery is also at the center of Molly Greene's paper; in this case the monastery is much further south, in the Pindus mountains of Central Greece, and she argues that the monastery, rather than a site of refuge, helped to establish an Ottoman road network through the mountains. Ali Yaycioğlu's paper looks at Ottoman wood production, and local resistance to it, in various sites across the Empire.

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