Scholarly-Social Meetings: Tolga Esmer, “A Micro-history of an Unknown Bandit and the Culture of Rebellion in the Ottoman Balkans at the End of the of the Eighteenth Century”
17:30 - 18:15: Presentation by Tolga Esmer: “A Micro-history of an Unknown Bandit and the Culture of Rebellion in the Ottoman Balkans at the End of the of the Eighteenth Century”
18:15 - 18:50: Discussion
19:00 - open end: Drinks and informal meeting of students and faculty. Place: Spájz Kocsma (Lázár utca 7).
The aim of the Scholarly-Social Meetings is to provide insights into the research undertaken at our department, and they also represent an opportunity to bring our students and faculty together in an effort to establish an academic community reaching beyond the day-to-day academic activities. All students and faculty of the History Department are therefore strongly encouraged to attend.
Tolga Esmer: “A Micro-history of an Unknown Bandit and the Culture of Rebellion in the Ottoman Balkans at the End of the of the Eighteenth Century”
In this talk I will focus on the career of an Ottoman bandit, rebel, and paramilitary leader named Kara Feyzi who is unknown to the scholars of the Ottoman Empire today despite his Empire-wide notoriety at the turn of the nineteenth century for marshaling trans-regional networks of violent men that terrorized communities throughout the Ottoman European domains (Rumeli) in the reign of Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807). Drawing on a large corpus of neglected imperial dispatches and letters penned by Ottoman officials and Kara Feyzi himself, as well as period narrative sources of both Muslim (in Ottoman Turkish) and Christian (in Bulgarian and Serbian) provenance, I will argue that Kara Feyzi's career and networking practices challenge several staple narratives in Ottoman historiography, ranging from our understanding of patronage in late Ottoman political culture to the assumptions that the roots of endemic violence in Rumeli should be sought in the dichotomous tensions between the Ottoman "center" and "periphery" or in rebellious provincial notables (i.e., a‘yân). This case study also sheds new light on the nature and logic of banditry, social dissent, everyday life violence, as well as competing notions of justice and rebellion in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire and provides a detailed snapshot of Ottoman social life and political culture during a little-studied era of Ottoman history that ushered in the "age of nationalisms" and imperial reforms (Tanzimat).