During the second period of his stay at the IWM, Yavuz Aykan will be working on his ongoing monograph on the 18th-century legal history of the Ottoman Empire. While this period corresponded to a tumultuous period in the Empire’s lifespan, infuriating harsh rebellions from the people of the lowest strata, Aykan's attention will be focused on the mutually constitutive relationship between the moral economy of Istanbulian crowds and the legal devices and measures that were adopted by the Imperial center to ease the political crisis of the 18th century. This focus will highlight the socio-historical framework that paved the way to the constitution of the Topkapı Palace fatwa manuscript, one of the central sources of the monograph, in the context of the political economy of confiscation in the Ottoman Empire and beyond.
A fatwa compilation preserved in the Topkapi Palace Library concerning early modern states of “emergency” is the departure point for my research project. This text brings together a variety of legal interpretations, pertaining to different times and spaces in the Islamic world, with regard to the capacity of political power to inflict punishment in case of “emergency”. By focusing on the doctrinal genealogies of this manuscript, as well as on the historical context in which it was constituted, this project aims at writing the legal history of a local rebellion in 18th-century Istanbul. By doing so it expands the scope of legal history beyond Roman and European traditions, showing how an Islamic polity deployed law in cases of “emergency” in order to declare a state of exception.