An International and Collaborative Research Programme

Seminar Session: June 26, 2023: Mehmet Osmanli

Deliberation and Autocratic Mentality in State Society: A Reading in İzzet Pacha al-Abed’s Diaries

June 26, 2023. 16h00-18h00 (Berlin Time). Registration:

There have always been different points of view about the nature of Sultan Abdülamid II’s handling of the issue of constitutional rule, but these points of view agree that he suspended the constitution for three long decades, and the argument always put forward by him was that “the people are not prepared for such a constitutional process.” But doesn’t the democratic process come with experience? There is no doubt that presenting criticism of such a situation falls between two complex cases, the first being anachronism, and the second being far from opinions that are closer to his ruling circle.

In this discussion, I seek to present Sultan Abdülhamid II’s personal views on the issues of authoritarianism (Mutlakiyet?) in government and the centralization of decision-making, as well as the autocratic nature and degree of deliberation he envisioned for governance. This will be through dialogues that took place between him and his Kâtib-ı Sâni (second secretary) in the ruling Yıldız Palace, Arap İzzat Holo Pacha. But as an “Ego-document”, how can it be dealt with despite the many “caveats”? What is the degree of credibility of İzzet Pacha in his diaries when he presents this view about this issue?

How did the Sultan see his constitutional functions? And his relationship to the Vükelâ (Representatives/ministers)? And the nature of the secretary’s criticism of him when he goes “home and is alone”? There is no doubt that a source close to the sultan who presented and criticized his views would constitute a new kind of understanding of that era. Either he confirms the research findings of different researchers, denies them, or even adjusts their destination. The view of the rest of the bureaucracy of the system of government and its relation to the Meşrutiyet (constitutional) of governance cannot be overlooked, and it is not only possible to rely on this source for sure as well, but it is a prelude to reconsidering the constitutional issue and its relationship with the ruler and the ruling regime, of course.

It must be emphasized that İzzet Holo Pacha’s diaries was recently discovered (in 2010), and then was printed (as a scanned version of the Ottoman Turkish, not a translation into modern Turkish) in 2019, so it may contain information that may be considered new, and therefore the importance of talking about this subject comes.

Mehmet Osmanli is a PhD researcher in modern Ottoman history at Pamukkale University. He is interested in studies of the philosophy of history and modern historiography. He is also a translator (Arabic, Turkish, Ottoman and English), specialized in the Ottoman bureaucracy and the Ottoman regime during the Tanzimat period. His research activities include studies on the Ottoman bureaucracy as well as on the Iraqi revolution of the twenties and the migration of Jews to Palestine. He translated the book Between Two Worlds: The construction of the Ottoman state by Turkish historian Cemal Kafadar from English into Arabic as well as the diaries of İzzet Holo Paşa al-Abed from Ottoman to Arabic.

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

June 20, 2023: Presentation of Nurkan Sever’s book

Nurkan Sever, author of The Mosul Incident of 1909 will present his book at Leibniz-ZMO on June 20, 2023 at 17h00

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

Seminar Session: 12 June 2023: Mounir Saidani

Intermediary bodies and the construction of political democracy in Tunisia.

June 12, 2023. 16h00-18h00 (Berlin Time). Registration:

In this study, I attempt to take advantage of a broad theoretical-historical review of the development of the concept of ‘intermediary bodies’ and the contexts in which it has been used to address the Tunisian situation between the end of 2010 and 2022. The questions I pose are as follows:
Has the process of building political democracy in Tunisia seen any specific action on the part of any intermediary bodies? If so, how was this action taken? What direction did this action take in relation to the process of building democracy?
The study focuses on Tunisian associations of a professional nature, operating as representative trade unions and presenting themselves as spokespersons for socio-professional categories belonging to the urban middle social strata: the Syndicat National des Journalistes Tunisiens, the Association Tunisienne des Magistrats and the Syndicats des Agents de la Sécurité.
I propose to implement an analytical model that considers the period under study to be :
On the one hand, a moment of social change which has an impact on the positions of the socio-professional categories in question, in terms of a revision of their social conditions on the basis of a general trend towards the achievement of a certain form of social justice and,
On the other hand, a moment of conflicting political change around a possible democratic transition.
The impact of this dual characteristic of the context on the various socio-professional categories mentioned above requires the intermediary bodies which propose to represent them in relation to the construction of the political democracy. This positioning takes the form of (non-)involvement in the process of constructing political democracy, coupled with specific action in relation to the “structural self-adjustment of the respective professions”, on the one hand, and, on the other, to initiate “a process of internal democratisation within the body” itself.

Mounir Saidani is Research Fellow at CERES Tunis (Centre des Etudes Economiques et Sociales). Among his publications: “Revolution and Counterrevolution in Tunisia: The Forty Days That Shook the Country” (Boundary, 2012); “The University Teacher’s Trade Union in Tunisia” (Omran, 2015).

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