Rifa'at Ali Abou-El-Haj: A Different Look For the Ottoman State and Political Structure

Rifa'at Ali Abou-El-Haj: A Different Approach to the Ottoman State and Political Structure. Rifa'at Ali Abou-El-Haj suggests a different approach to the Ottoman political order making structural class analyses in the framework of the Ottoman bureaucracy and diplomacy. He criticizes the existing literature because of their insufficient analyses of the sources, non-theoretical approach to the issues, and indifference to complex network among the different realms of life. Hence, Abou-El-Haj studies the Ottoman political structure considering various causes and results of its change from bureaucratic structure to social structure of this society. He is seriously against the uniqueness (sui-generis position) of the Ottoman history and, therefore, has a strong tendency to put the Ottoman history into the World history. In his studies, he compares the changes occurred in the structure of the Ottoman Empire and that of its contemporary states. However, Abou-El-Haj precedes the inner dynamics of the change over other dynamics. For him, as an instance, the reforms of the nineteenth century Ottoman state could not be understood without examining the former structural changes occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Besides his studies on the Ottoman state and political structure, Abou-El-Haj has now continuing projects related to the Ottoman social structure and the Ottoman political thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In this study, I will try to introduce and evaluate his articles in a concise way and two books in detail, taking their chronological order into consideration. We will give full references of his articles and book reviews, which were written by him and for him, in the footnotes of our article.

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