Law, History, and Historiography: Legal Code in 1858

The Land Code of 1858, the first comprehensive and modern land law to be enacted in the Ottoman Empire, has been widely debated among historians and social scientists. The focus of the historiography on the code has been twofold: the purpose of the code and its impact. This article surveys what scholars have argued about the intended purpose of the code and its actual impact on the landholding patterns of the late Ottoman Empire. In addition, some significant works are examined in their own right. After a critique of the historiography, certain works that can form the basis of an alternative approach are discussed. Lastly, this article suggests several points that might 67 Gerber'in kendisinin bu uyarıya ne kadar uyduğu da tartışmalıdır. help construct a perspective to the code in particular and Ottoman land law in general that would overcome the problems of the historiography. The more significant ones of these suggestions are: to focus on the background rather than the consequences of the code, to pay attention to legal fictions in law, to take the form as well as the content of law seriously, and to inquire into certain aspects of landholding and land use that seem to be missing from the code as well as what it actually includes.


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