CfP: The Balance of Justice in the Ottoman Empire: Non-Muslims as Agents in an Islamic Imperial Legal Context

Hümeyra Bostan-Berber's picture

OTTOLEGAL: The Making of Ottoman Law, a project funded by the European Research Council, invites interested scholars to present papers at a conference it will hold in coordination with Sabancı University in October 2022.

The conference aims to contribute to the growing body of research on non-Muslims as integral parts of Ottoman society and on the various and evolving roles they played as agents in the legal system across the empire (in Anatolia, Arab lands, the Balkans, Istanbul, the Mediterranean, etc.). Focusing on the period from the early modern to the modern era, we invite participants to engage with questions such as the following: How can we reveal non-Muslims’ agency in the Ottoman legal context? What notions and practices of institutionalization, authority, and coercion did non-Muslims have? How do these diverge from the static models that have traditionally dominated scholarship on the subject? And what new, dynamic models can we develop in their place to better understand the varying ways non-Muslims participated in Ottoman society? We are especially keen to invite contributions from scholars who pursue socio-legal approaches and those who are interested in how social conditions and processes (demographics, economic features, geographies, neighborhood structures, professional solidarities, gender, etc.) influenced and were affected by legal norms, processes, and practices.

We are also interested in non-Muslims’ own perceptions of Ottoman justice at both the communal and the individual levels, and in how other actors perceived and responded to their ideas of justice. In addition, we welcome papers investigating the participation of individual and institutional actors (e.g., the Divan, non-Muslim religious and communal courts, qadi courts, guilds) in legal processes; the mechanisms by which different kinds of jurisprudence and norms (e.g., canon law, local custom, sharia,kanun) were employed in the pursuit of justice; and the role of different forms of coercion (e.g., state, ecclesiastical, professional, social) in the implementation of justice, the instruments through which these forms of coercion were exerted, and the actors who wielded them.

The conference will be held at Sabancı University’s Minerva Han in Karaköy, Istanbul, on 13–15 October 2022.

Those interested in presenting a paper at the conference are asked to submit an abstract (about 300 words) and a short bio, including institutional affiliation, to by no later than 28 February 2022.

For more information about the conference and key dates, please see

The organizers of the conference are Abdurrahman Atçıl, Eugenia Kermeli, and Ayşe Ozil.

Please contact Hümeyra Bostan-Berber (, the project coordinator, or Abdurrahman Atçıl (, the project director, with any questions and inquiries.

Categories: CFP