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Title: Contested Legacy: Property in Transition to Nation-State in Post-Ottoman Niš
Authors: Radovanovic, Jelena
Advisors: Hanioğlu, Mehmed Şükrü
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Keywords: ciftlik
Ottoman Balkans
Subjects: Near Eastern studies
Middle Eastern history
East European studies
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the incorporation of the Niš sancak into the Serbian nation-state after its annexation by Serbia from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. It analyzes several distinct but connected processes, which together comprised this transition: the region’s administrative integration, demographic transformation, and changes in property ownership. I examine how the displacement of Muslim property owners and the establishment of a temporary, special legal system in the annexed region in order to facilitate its incorporation into Serbia contributed to property redistribution in the nation-state. In contrast to the prevailing scholarship that attributes nineteenth-century political turmoil in the Balkans primarily to the birth of nationalism, I argue that property disputes played a central role in the political transformations of the region in this period. I demonstrate that these disputes, which had challenged the legitimacy of the Ottoman Empire, continued to pose a challenge to the nation-state, albeit under different circumstances. This work traces how Serbia implemented its property laws, which were based on Western models, in an annexed territory where property had previously been regulated by a complex overlap of Islamic law, the Ottoman Land Code, local regulations, and custom. I focus in particular on the types of property, such as vakıf in the city and çiftlik in the hinterland, that did not have exact counterparts in the European/Roman legal tradition which Serbia chose to embrace. I argue that Serbian legislators’ ability to frame these forms of property as non-European and non-modern enabled the state to interpret them in ways that led to their dissolution and appropriation by the new nation-state. I locate my case-study on a wider map of competing claims on Ottoman property, discourses of civilization and modernization, international diplomacy, and state-building in the Balkans.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Near Eastern Studies

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