Ottoman Land Reform in the Province of Baghdad
Kiyotaki, Keiko. Ottoman Land Reform in the Province of Baghdad. Brill, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In Ottoman Land Reform in the Province of Baghdad, Keiko Kiyotaki traces the Ottoman reforms of tax farming and land tenure and establishes that their effects were the key ingredients of agricultural progress. These modernizing reforms are shown to be effective because they were compatible with local customs and tribal traditions, which the Ottoman governors worked to preserve.

Ottoman rule in Iraq has previously been considered oppressive and blamed with failure to develop the country. Since the British mandate government’s land and tax policies were little examined, the Ottoman legacy has been left unidentified. This book proves that Ottoman land reforms led to increases in agricultural production and tax revenue, while the hasty reforms enacted by the mandate government ignoring indigenous customs caused new agricultural and land problems.

Disciples of the State? Religion and State-Building in the Former Ottoman World
Fabbe, Kristin. Disciples of the State? Religion and State-Building in the Former Ottoman World. Cambridge University Press, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

As the Ottoman Empire crumbled, the Middle East and Balkans became the site of contestation and cooperation between the traditional forces of religion and the emergent machine of the sovereign state. Yet such strategic interaction rarely yielded a decisive victory for either the secular state or for religion. By tracing how state-builders engaged religious institutions, elites, and attachments, this book problematizes the divergent religion-state power configurations that have developed. There are two central arguments. First, states carved out more sovereign space in places like Greece and Turkey, where religious elites were integral to early centralizing reform processes. Second, region-wide structural constraints on the types of linkages that states were able to build with religion have generated long-term repercussions. Fatefully, both state policies that seek to facilitate equality through the recognition of religious difference and state policies that seek to eradicate such difference have contributed to failures of liberal democratic consolidation.

Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4) (2 vols)
Necipoğlu, Gülru, Cemal Kafadar, and Cornell H. Fleischer, ed. Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4) (2 vols). Brill, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The subject of this two-volume publication is an inventory of manuscripts in the book treasury of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, commissioned by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II from his royal librarian ʿAtufi in the year 908 (1502–3) and transcribed in a clean copy in 909 (1503–4). This unicum inventory preserved in the Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtára Keleti Gyűjtemény, MS Török F. 59) records over 5,000 volumes, and more than 7,000 titles, on virtually every branch of human erudition at the time. The Ottoman palace library housed an unmatched encyclopedic collection of learning and literature; hence, the publication of this unique inventory opens a larger conversation about Ottoman and Islamic intellectual/cultural history. The very creation of such a systematically ordered inventory of books raises broad questions about knowledge production and practices of collecting, readership, librarianship, and the arts of the book at the dawn of the sixteenth century. The first volume contains twenty-eight interpretative essays on this fascinating document, authored by a team of scholars from diverse disciplines, including Islamic and Ottoman history, history of science, arts of the book and codicology, agriculture, medicine, astrology, astronomy, occultism, mathematics, philosophy, theology, law, mysticism, political thought, ethics, literature (Arabic, Persian, Turkish/Turkic), philology, and epistolary. Following the first three essays by the editors on implications of the library inventory as a whole, the other essays focus on particular fields of knowledge under which books are catalogued in MS Török F. 59, each accompanied by annotated lists of entries. The second volume presents a transliteration of the Arabic manuscript, which also features an Ottoman Turkish preface on method, together with a reduced-scale facsimile.
Narrating Muslim Sicily: War and Peace in the Medieval Mediterranean World
Granara, William. Narrating Muslim Sicily: War and Peace in the Medieval Mediterranean World. I.B. Tauris, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In 902 the last Byzantine stronghold in Sicily fell, and the island would remain under Muslim control until the arrival of the Normans in the eleventh century. Drawing on a lifetime of translating and linguistic experience, William Granara here focuses on the various ways in which medieval Arab historians, geographers, jurists and philologists imagined and articulated their ever-changing identities in this turbulent period. All of these authors sought to make sense of the island's dramatic twists, including conquest and struggles over political sovereignty, and the painful decline of social and cultural life. Writing about Siqilliya involved drawing from memory, conjecture and then-current theories of why nations and people rose and fell. In so doing, Granara considers and translates, often for the first time, a vast range of primary sources - from the master chronicles of Ibn al-Athir and Ibn Khadun to biographical dictionaries, geographical works, legal treatises and poetry - and modern scholarship not available in English. He charts the shift from Sicily as 'warrior outpost' to vital and productive hub that would transform the medieval Islamic world, and indeed the entire Mediterranean.

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