Modernity as a Code: The Ottoman Empire and the Global Movement of Codification

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
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Codification was a founding feature of Ottoman legal reform from the 1840s until the demise of the empire. This article seeks to situate the Ottoman project of codification in the context of the global codification momentum, which set the ground for a transnational common imagination of the law during the “long nineteenth century”. When analyzed from the perspective of glocalization, Ottoman codes, much like codes elsewhere, stand out as essential signifiers of modernity in the socio-legal sphere.

Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

Journal d'Histoire Economique et Sociale de l'Orient

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2

J. Bentham, Papers Relative to Codification and Public Instruction (London: J. M’Creery, 1817).

3

C. Varga, Codification as a Socio-Historical Phenomenon (Budapest: Szent Istvan Tarsulat, 2010).

5

W. Menski, Comparative Law in a Global Context: The Legal Systems of Asia and Africa (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006): 493-593; J.W. Head and Y. Wang, Law Codes in Dynastic China: A Synopsis of Chinese Legal History in the Thirty Centuries from Zhou to Qing (Durham n.c.: Carolina Academic Press 2005).

7

M. Gray, Prussia in Transition: Society and Politics under the Stein Reform Ministry of 1808 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1986): 37.

8

A. Watson, The Evolution of Western Private Law (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001): 256; Varga, Codification as a Socio-Historical Phenomenon: 75-9.

11

L. Farmer, “Reconstructing the English Codification Debate: The Criminal Law Commissioners, 1833-45.” Law and History Review 18 (2000): 397-425.

12

A.P. Morriss, “Symposium on Taking Legal Arguments Seriously: Codification and Right Answers.” Chicago-Kent Law Review 74 (1999): 355-392.

13

M.L. Murillo, “The Evolution of Codification in the Civil Law Legal Systems: Towards Decodification and Recodification.” Journal of Transnational Law and Policy 11 (2001): 1-20.

14

I. Ryosuke, Japanese Legislation in the Meiji Era (Tokyo: Pan Pacific Press, 1958).

15

J. Chen, Chinese Law: Towards an Understanding of Chinese Law, its Nature, and Development (The Hague and Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1999): 17-22.

22

S.L. Doshi, Modernity, Postmodernity and Neo-Sociological Theories (Jaipur and New Delhi: Rawat, 2003): 352.

23

D. Kennedy, “Two Globalizations of Law and Legal Thought: 1850-1968.” Suffolk University Law Review 36 (2003): 631-679.

26

A. Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990): 21.

27

J.C. Scott, Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998).

29

C. Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). As Baki Tezcan notes, “the basis of the legality of the kanun was custom.” See B. Tezcan, The Second Ottoman Empire: Political and Social Transformation in the Early Modern World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010): 49.

30

U. Heyd, Studies in Old Ottoman Criminal Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973): 173.

33

See, for instance, L. Peirce, Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab (Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003): 119.

34

G. Burak, “Between the Kanun of Qaytbay and Ottoman Yasaq: A Note on the Ottomans’ Dynastic Law.” Journal of Islamic Studies (2014): 23.

39

E. Said, Orientalism (New York: Penguin Books, 1995): 259.

41

Owen, The Middle East in the World Economy, 90.

43

J.N. Shklar, Legalism: An Essay on Law, Morals, and Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964): 1.

47

See, for instance, W. Twinning, Globalisation and Legal Theory (London: Butterworths, 2000).

49

T. Heizelmann, “The Ruler’s Monologue: The Rhetoric of the Ottoman Penal Code of 1858.” Die Welt des Islams 54 (2014): 292-321.

50

A. Watson, The Evolution of Law (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985). On the Ottoman project of legal transplantation, see A. Rubin, “Legal Borrowing and its Impact on Ottoman Legal Culture in the Late Nineteenth Century.” Continuity and Change 22 (2007): 279-303.

51

C. Mallat, Introduction to Middle Eastern Law (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007): 253-61.

52

See, for instance, A. Layish, “The Transformation of the Shari’a from Jurists’ Law to Statutory Law in the Contemporary Muslim World.” Die Welt des Islams 44 (2004): 85-113. In a recent article, Samy Ayoub analyzes the Mecelle as “a response generated from within the Islamic legal tradition to the Tanzimat reforms and penetration of laws in Ottoman society.” See S. Ayoub, “The Mecelle, Sharia, and the Ottoman State: Fashioning and Refashioning of Islamic Law in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.” In Law and Legality in the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey, ed. K.F. Schull, M.S. Saraçoğlu and R. Zens (Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2016): 129-49.

57

E. Mardin, Medeni Hukuk Cephesinden Ahmet Cevdet Pașa (Ankara: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı, 1996): 46-7.

61

Cevdet Paşa, Mâruzat (Istanbul: Çağrı, 1980); Mardin, Medeni Hukuk Cephesinden Ahmet Cevdet Pașa: 65.

67

S. Örsten Esirgen, “Mecelle ve Fransız Medeni Kanunu Çercͅevesinde Vekalet Sözleşmesi.” Ankara Barosu Dergisi 1 (2013): 167-184.

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