Urban property and administration in dispute in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire: Ayvalık, 1877-1914
Property -- Turkey -- History -- 1877-1914 Land use, Urban -- Turkey -- History -- 1877-1914 Ιδιοκτησία -- Τουρκία -- Ιστορία -- 1877-1914 Χρήση γης, Αστική -- Τουρκία -- Ιστορία -- 1877-1914
ractice of the central state at the second half of the nineteenth century. These administrative practices were challenged both at the level of the constitution of a new property regime and at the level of the urban community organisations. I will use a myriad of urban conflicts in the nineteenth century to talk, in more general terms, about the themes and questions that they raise about the changing nature and different understandings of urban property and administration in the late nineteenth century Ottoman Anatolia. The focus on the process of the interaction and confrontation of parties engaged in various urban conflicts in this period in and around the town of Ayvalık will bring out the variety of urban interests and the multitude of claimants over urban property as well as on urban government. In this sense, the historical cases will be used to engage with issues such as the extent to which urban property was associated with a sense of belonging to the urban community in the mind of the local population; the different understandings and definitions of the rules governing property; the extent of legal pluralism exercised at the negotiation and settlement stages of a dispute; the ways with which property conflicts cut through inter-communal lines; the increasing power and de facto jurisdiction of the local administrative councils in urban affairs; the clash of authority between the local councils and the central administrative organs; the resistance of communal leaders to many of the new administrative practices of the central state which were clearly aimed at breaking the power and control of those leaders on their communities. The paper will draw extensively on research conducted in the Ottoman Archive in İstanbul and the Public Record Office in London to provide a micro history of Ayvalık and some other towns in the area at the turn of the twentieth century. The historical narrative will show, among other things, for instance, how title to an olive oil factory was contested by different parties in an inheritance dispute; the issue of the immunity of domicile frequently raised following house searches conducted by the local authorities for finding smuggled goods; the blockade on the lands and properties held by Hellenic subjects at the time of the boycott against Greek goods in the tense atmosphere of 1910s; the differing meanings ascribed to urban land by different urban communities; the increasing role and power of the urban councils, made up of community leaders and notables, on the running of urban municipal services and on the collection and use of taxes for such services. As such, the focus on conflict and contestation is intended to provide a fruitful vantage point to closely review the urban transformation in the nineteenth century Ottoman Anatolia from the ground and to bring out into the open the dynamism inherent in that transformation.
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Eastern Mediterranean Cities compared: Technical networks, town planning and municipal institutions (Greece, the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire) (1820-1925)