Fragile alliances in the Ottoman East: the Heyderan Tribe and the empire, 1820 - 1929

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Bilkent University
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This dissertation discusses how tribal agency impacted the eastern margins of the empire in terms of tribe-empire relations during the nineteenth century. The Heyderan, a confederative form of tribal social organization, acts as a case study, used to explore and analyze how local, provincial and imperial agencies confronted the real political situation. This study follows the transformation of the Ottoman East from a de-centralized to a centralized structure, until the emergence of the modern nation-state. During the long nineteenth century, this study argues that the tribes and the empire were separate agencies, and that the two bargained in order to expand their power at the expense of the other. As a separate imagined community, the Heyderan were not passive and dependant subjects, but rather, enacted their own political and economic agendas under a separate tribal collective identity. Relations between local and imperial agencies were dynamic and fragile, but tribe and empire often supported each other and became allies who benefited from shared missions. Therefore, politics in the Ottoman East did not develop through a top-down implementation of the imperial agenda, but rather in combination with the bottom-up responses and agency of the local Kurdish tribes. Finally, rather than completing this study in July of 1908 with the collapse of the last Ottoman Sultan, this thesis concludes by analyzing the changes in the region until 1929, when the tribe lost its political-military power, and paramount Heyderan tribal leader, Hüseyin Pasha, due to the emergence of the modern nation-state.

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Borderland, Frontier, Heyderan Tribe, Ottoman East, Ottoman Empire
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