14 Oct 2022 - 15 Oct 2022 All day Castlereagh room, St John's College / SG1 Alison Richard Building



  • Camille Cole (University of Cambridge)
  • Peter Hill (Northumbria University)


The Ottoman empire ruled a vast expanse of territory over six centuries. It was closely integrated into global trade networks and encompassed multiple forms of production, lifeways, and interactions between humans and non-human nature. The Ottoman state and its diverse subjects were constantly engaged in negotiating the allocation of resources, labour, and power. They developed sophisticated modes of producing wealth, collecting and withholding revenue and profits, labouring and directing labour, and defining property and the economic through law and custom.

The past few decades have seen growing interest in global history, the history of capitalism, and the political economy of the post-Ottoman Middle East. Yet the question of the Ottoman world’s relationship to concepts of ‘economy’ or ‘capitalism’ has been little studied and seldom theorised since the cultural turn among historians. What role did Ottoman spaces, actors, and resources play in the construction of global capitalism? Where and when did this occur within the empire’s wide geography and long history? Did the Ottoman empire have its own distinctive modes of political economy – and if so, how should these be conceptualised? How do Ottoman legal constructions, practices, and experiences of power, production, work, exchange, or the household broaden our theoretical vocabulary and our understanding of the history of capitalism more broadly?

Over the past few years, an exciting body of work has begun to emerge – particularly from early-career scholars – that addresses these and related questions. The Ottoman Political Economies workshop aims to bring together this work, enable conversations between scholars engaged in this subfield, and showcase it for a wider audience of economic and social historians, social scientists and anthropologists, and theorists of political economy. Overall, the workshop has two objectives: to view the Ottoman empire and its subjects through the lens of political economy; and to question the concepts of political economy and capitalism in the light of Ottoman experiences.


Supported by:

CRASSH grey logo Economic history society logo Faculty of history logo   P and P logo. Red text on grey ampersand



If you have specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.


All times are in BST

Friday, 14 October
Castlereagh room, St John’s College


9.00 - 9.30

Welcome and introduction


9.30 - 11.00

Session 1: State finance

Ellen Nye (Harvard University)
‘Turning global coinage into imperial money: reasserting Ottoman monetary sovereignty after the fiscal crisis of 1688’

Naz Yücel (George Washington University)
‘Reform in Ottoman accountancy: on financial registers and revisiting the literature on late Ottoman state finances

Discussant: Nada Moumtaz (University of Toronto)

11.30 - 12.00

Session 2: Finance

Aviv Derri (Martin Buber Society of Fellows, Jerusalem and Harvard University)
‘Converting wilderness of waste into productive fields”: ‘enlightened’ banking and financial sovereignty in late Ottoman Syria’

Elizabeth Williams (University of Massachusetts, Lowell)
‘Financing the desert’s edge: the political economy of “empty lands” in the Eastern Mediterranean’

Discussant: Nora Barakat (Stanford University)

13.00 - 14.00



14.00 - 15.30

Session 3: Property (I)

Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Panteion University, Athens)
‘The 1832/33 Ottoman land and property survey of Cyprus: from recording production to recording property-holding’

Tolga Cora (Boğaziçi University)
‘Creating urban rent in the late Ottoman Istanbul: a real estate firm in the 1880

Discussant: Camille Cole (University of Cambridge)



16.00 - 17.30

Session 4: Discussion of next steps for OPE network [closed session]



Workshop dinner

Registration required


Saturday, 15 October
SG1 Alison Richard Building


9.30 - 11.00

Session 5: Commodities

Herman Adney (University of California, Los Angeles)
(Dis)possession by legal means: Oriental tobacco and the seizure of value (c. 1883-1903)

Dan Stolz (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
The Salif salt mines and the Ottoman legacy in southwest Arabia

Discussant: Peter Hill (Northumbria University)






11.30 - 13.00

Session 6: Violence

Anais Massot (EHESS, Paris)
‘The multifaceted attack against the Christians quarter of Damascus in 1860: rebellion, mutiny and inter-confessional violence’

Peter Hill (Northumbria University)
‘The balance of violence in late Ottoman Syria’

Discussant: Nora Barakat (Stanford University)

13.00 - 14.00



14.00 - 15.30

Session 7: Property (II)

Nada Moumtaz (University of Toronto)
‘Alienating inalienable property, making religious property: violence, politics, and law in Beirut’s post-war reconstruction

Discussant: Camille Cole (University of Cambridge)

16.30 - 17.30

Session 8: Discussion of next steps for OPE network [closed session]



Workshop dinner

Registration required



Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk