Eating the Last Seed: Famine, empire, survival and order in Ottoman Anatolia in the late 19th century
Title: Eating the Last Seed: Famine, empire, survival and order in Ottoman Anatolia in the late 19th century
Author: ERTEM, Özge
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2012
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This dissertation explores the social and cultural history of two Anatolian famines in the late-Ottoman Empire, situating them in the economic and political environment of the 1870s. It focuses on the central Anatolian famine of 1873/75 and the eastern Anatolian famine of 1879/81. It investigates how and why these disasters emerged, and how the local, imperial and foreign actors in Ottoman lands experienced and perceived them. It argues that particular socio-economic and political environments transformed droughts and natural events into severe disasters. It is at the crossroads of social, cultural and environmental history, but focuses more on relationships between people than relations between people and nature. Thus, despite the fact that it draws on environmental historical sources and findings in several instances, it mainly contributes to the social and cultural history and narratives of Ottoman Anatolia. It asks the following questions: 1) How did the famines impact the everyday lives of various communities in central and eastern Anatolia? 2) How were the famines perceived by imperial, local and foreign actors? 3) In what ways did these disasters threaten the internal and external legitimacy of the Ottoman state? 4) How did the famines create the conditions for the emergence of social clashes, and also for the development of solidarities within and between different communities? It demonstrates that famine led to simultaneous cases of violence and solidarity. Economic problems crosscut religious-ethnic tensions and socio-economic problems and ordinary political complaints, when merged with famine, were expressed as communal tensions as well as solidarities. Famine was not the sole reason for this however, it became one of the most significant triggers of social, political, ethnic and religious unrest in the following decades in a region already exhausted by war-time requisitons, plundering, violence and poverty.
Defence date: 25 September 2012; Examining Board: Professor Anthony Molho (EUI); Professor Stephen Anthony Smith (EUI); Professor Cengiz Kirli (Bogazici University); Professor Engin Deniz Akarli (Sehir University).
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