Toygun Altıntaş: The Governance of Inequality: The Ottoman State and Ottoman Armenians (1856-1908)

This project investigates the governance of and struggle over equality among Ottoman subjects in the second half of the nineteenth century with a focus on Ottoman Armenians. It explores the main sites of contention and struggle for equal treatment and justice; namely land tenure and labor relations, representation, taxation and sexual violence against Armenian women. The Ottoman government’s management of its pronounced commitments to formal equality are juxtaposed with its leaders’ continued interest in fostering and expanding a Muslim ruling nation. At the same time, the project traces Ottoman Armenians’ multifaceted efforts to realize and expand the promises of equality, which went further than the limits of formal parity before the law. It studies the international and imperial ramifications of these processes as Ottoman policymakers and European statesmen came to understand these struggles in the ambiguous catch-all “Armenian Question”. This project also aims to explore these developments in relation with global processes of ethnic and racial marginalization during this period.

Toygun Altıntaş works on the social and political history of minoritization, supremacism and inequality in the late Ottoman Empire. He received his MA (2010) in Middle Eastern Studies and PhD (2018) in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago. Entitled “Crisis and (Dis)Order: Armenian Revolutionaries and the Hamidian Regime in the Ottoman Empire (1887-1896),” his dissertation explores the spread of Armenian revolutionary committees and the contemporaneous minoritization of Armenians by the Ottoman state. It also investigates the processes by which boundaries of subjecthood and nationality for Armenians were constructed and constricted during the reign of sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909). Altıntaş worked as an MA Preceptor at the University of Chicago (2017-2018). He taught courses on Middle Eastern history and Ottoman language and paleography at Bilgi and Boğaziçi Universities (2018-2020). He is a EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation between 2020 and 2022, affiliated with the Center for Global History at Freie Universität Berlin.


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