• What Ottoman Nationality Was and Was Not

    Will Hanley (see profile)
    Law, History, Turkey
    Item Type:
    citizenship, Nationality, Legal history, Ottoman Empire
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    Will Hanley’s analysis of the 1909 revision of the 1869 Ottoman Nationality Law takes up one of the central themes that occupied the Office of Legal Counsel: the slippery relationship between the legal definitions of nationality, subjecthood, and citizenship. As Hanley argues, recent scholarship on the 1869 Ottoman Nationality Law has consistently sought its origins in the Tanzimat edicts of 1839 and 1856. He contends that interest in the question of Ottoman citizenship has led to a misreading of the word tebaa, and that the Tanzimat edicts referred to subjects, not citizens. This “citizenship misreading” has obscured the 1869 law’s original connection to the Capitulations and an 1863 decree designed to restrict the proliferation of foreign protégés. This law presented foreign protégés with a choice: They could either naturalize as foreign subjects or submit to Ottoman territorial jurisdiction to maintain their status as subjects of the sultan. The unintended consequence was that many of them chose to naturalize with a foreign state, while remaining in residence and continuing to benefit from the rights of Ottomans. Thus, while the number of protégés dropped, the number of naturalized foreigners increased precipitously. This development prompted firmer legislation, which took the shape of the 1869 law. Set against this backdrop, Hanley puts forward the provocative conclusion that neither the 1863 protégé legislation nor the 1869 nationality law were intended to form a citizenry. Rather, he argues that both were primarily aimed at safeguarding the empire’s sovereignty over its residents against the threat of European extraterritoriality. Hanley then analyzes a 1909 proposal for the revision of the 1869 law in order to chart the evolution of Ottoman readings of nationality and naturalization from the Tanzimat through the CUP period.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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