CFP: Urban Environmental Histories of the Late Ottoman Empire

Call for Papers for MESA 2018

PANEL TITLE: Urban Environmental Histories of the Late Ottoman Empire


The long nineteenth century witnessed a process of regeneration and modernization that swept through the urban centers of the Ottoman Empire affecting both the hubs of political authority and economic power and the small peripheral towns. During the Tanzimat period, for instance, when the central state was striving to re-establish its authority over the provinces and secure the loyalties of all its subjects, cities carried out the role of staging posts for the promotion and implementation of the new imperial vision. The Ottoman government pursued urban renovation policies as a demonstration of the empire’s vigor and a confirmation of its ambition to retain the role of a major factor in world politics. Despite their often limited scale caused by the empire’s financial weakness, the renovation projects implemented in Ottoman cities in the nineteenth century embraced hallmarks of modern life such as public parks, railroads, and new sanitation principles.

This panel addresses the relationship between built and natural environments and the transformation that this relationship experienced during the long nineteenth century. What novel approaches to the natural environment and the management of natural resources did the modernization of the empire bring forward in the nineteenth century? How did narratives of urban transformation address the relationship between built and natural environments? How was urban ecological knowledge affected by the sometimes profound transformation of built fabrics and cityscapes? How could urban environmental history contribute to the study of the Ottoman nineteenth century? This panel seeks contributions addressing urban environmental issues from across the empire’s geographical boundaries.

Please send a 300-400 word abstract to Stefan Peychev ( by February 11.

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