Cüneyd Erbay (LSE) - 2021-22 Students

Legal Pluralism and the Codification of the Late Ottoman Empire: A Re-imagination of Imperial Political Authority and Legal Thought

My research project aims to examine the transformations of law and legal imagination in the late Ottoman Empire from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. The focus will be on tensions, manifest in the late Ottoman imperial legal discourse, between legal pluralism as an ancient mode of governance for a socially diverse empire and the concurrent emerging global idea of codification. This re-imagination of law involved legal techniques of fixing formerly plural and polycentric forms of social ordering to make complex indigenous social practice more “legible” to a centralising and expanding Ottoman imperial authority. Particular attention will be paid to the social implications of this discursive shift for various legal actors and its contextualisation within the framework of global trends in legal thought.

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