‘The Ot­toman Em­pire and the Bos­nian Upris­ing: Janis­saries, Mod­erni­sa­tion and Re­bel­lion in the Nine­teenth Cen­tury,’ By Fatma Sel Turhan

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - DR. BİLGE YABANCI Cen­tre for South­east Euro­pean Stud­ies

Con­tentious pol­i­tics are in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized and le­git­i­mate forms of po­lit­i­cal claims-mak­ing and par­tic­i­pa­tion in to­day’s demo­cratic sys­tems. Sid­ney Tar­row and Charles Tilly de­fine con­tentious pol­i­tics as “episodic, public, col­lec­tive in­ter­ac­tion among mak­ers of claims and their ob­jects when (a) at least one gov­ern­ment is a claimant, an ob­ject of claims, or a party to the claims and (b) the claims would, if re­al­ized, af­fect the in­ter­ests of at least one of the claimants.” When it comes to con­tentious pol­i­tics as such, we of­ten con­sider it in its mod­ern­day forms like strike ac­tions, ri­ots and demon­stra­tions. What hap­pened in Athens dur­ing the 2010-2011 anti-aus­ter­ity protests, in Genoa dur­ing the 2001 G8 sum­mit, from Tu­nisia to Dji­bouti dur­ing the 2010-2011 Arab Spring and in İs­tan­bul dur­ing the July 2013 Gezi events ob­vi­ously demon­strates that con­tem­po­rary forms of con­tentious pol­i­tics take dif­fer­ent forms and raise a num­ber of chal­lenges for states, thanks to their abil­ity to gen­er­ate al­ter­na­tive forms of po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion and iden­tity.

Yet, con­tentious pol­i­tics in the form of pop­u­lar po­lit­i­cal strug­gles was a part of pol­i­tics as early as the 18th cen­tury, as Charles Tilly ar­gues. The role of con­tentious pol­i­tics in na­tion-build­ing and de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion in Europe, such as in France and Bri­tain, is well re­searched. We still know very lit­tle about al­ter­na­tive forms of his­tor­i­cal po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism, such as mu­tinies and pop­u­lar up­ris­ings, in non-Western sys­tems and their con­se­quences in shap­ing state-so­ci­ety and cen­ter- pe­riph­ery re­la­tions.

In this sense, “The Ot­toman Em­pire and the Bos­nian Upris­ing” by Fatma Sel Turhan of­fers a de­tailed ac­count of 19th cen­tury Ot­toman Bos­nia, one of the most ex­cit­ing and strate­gi­cally cru­cial re­gions of the em­pire. Based on metic­u­lous in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Ot­toman ar­chives and the sec­ondary literature, the au­thor in­ves­ti­gates a pro­vin­cial re­bel­lion by link­ing it to re­gional, im­pe­rial and even in­ter­na­tional dy­nam­ics. Turhan in­ves­ti­gates 10 years of Ot­toman Bos­nia that wit­nessed two pe­ri­ods of re­bel­lion (1826-31 and 1831-36). How­ever, her ap­proach to­wards these re­bel­lions aims to re­veal that these are two dif­fer­ent cy­cles of the same re­bel­lion. The main oc­cu­pa­tion of the au­thor is to pro­vide a bal­anced nar­ra­tive of the re­bel­lion from the rebels’ and the Ot­toman cen­ter’s point of view. The it­er­a­tive nar­ra­tive be­tween the two dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives al­lows the au­thor to of­fer a com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of the rea­sons be­hind the re­ac­tions of Bos­ni­ans to the abo­li­tion of the janis­sary corps and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new or­der ( nizâmât). The au­thor is a his­to­rian; yet, she not only gives a his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive but also an ex­ten­sive ac­count of the form, or­ga­ni­za­tion and lead­er­ship of the re­bel­lion and the re­ac­tions by the Sublime Porte to reestab­lish its con­trol over the de­fi­ant prov­inces.

The au­thor in­ves­ti­gates a pro­vin­cial re­bel­lion by link­ing it to re­gional, im­pe­rial and even in­ter­na­tional dy­nam­ics

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