My work in progress traces the making of the Ottoman regime of ethnicity governing its Armenian subjects in the nineteenth century. It focuses on frontier regions where the Ottoman state held little direct influence prior to its ambitious program of modernization, which began in the middle of the century. The study foregrounds the most prevalent subjects of contention and dispute such as land tenure and taxation as well as the impact of Great Power intervention on the frontiers. This is why a large part of the manuscript studies the remote town of Zeytun (modern-day Süleymanlı) in the Cilician highlands as it came to occupy center-stage in three episodes of imperial and international crises in the second half of the nineteenth century. Zeytun was a predominantly Armenian town, which had a reputation for the martial prowess and truculence of its residents. Its leaders frequently became involved in regional struggles, forming partnerships with local government officials or Muslim notables. Aside from a fixed tribute its residents paid to the Ottoman governor, the town remained outside the reach of direct Ottoman control until the middle of the nineteenth century. I explore how the Ottoman state began to expand its direct control over the town and its people through punitive, administrative and incorporative measures. I also examine how this process was complicated by the political maneuvering of the regional nobility, who called on French and British diplomats to intervene in their favor. Finally, I investigate how the regional crises informed Ottoman policymaking and anticipated the equation of Armenian dissent and protest with sedition.
Toygun Altıntaş received his PhD in 2018 from the University of Chicago. He is currently a EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He is currently working on his book manuscript tentatively titled The Governance of Inequality: The ‘Armenian Question’ in the Ottoman Frontier. He has published articles and book chapters on Ottoman policies of minoritization and Armenian revolutionaries in the nineteenth century in various publications. He has also taught classes at Bilgi and Boğaziçi Universities in Istanbul on modern Middle Eastern history and Ottoman paleography. He is currently teaching a course at Freie Universität Berlin on capitalism in the late Ottoman Empire.
Zeynep Türkyılmaz received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2009. Her research and teaching interests include state formation, gender, nationalism, colonialism, and religion with a focus on heterodoxy and missionary work in the Middle East from 1800 to the present. She returned as a EUME Fellow for the academic years 2017 to 2021. Starting October 2021, she is a research fellow of the Research Training Group Minor Cosmopolitanisms and Global History at Universität Potsdam.