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Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Preface and Acknowledgements
Notes on Contributors
1. Empire and Nation in Comparative Perspective: Frontier Administration in Eighteenth-Century China
2. Administrative Practice between Religious and State Law on the Eastern Frontiers of the Ottoman Empire
3. The Fate of Empires: Rethinking Mughals, Ottomans and Habsburgs
4. Modernities Compared: State Transformations and Constitutions of Property in the Qing and Ottoman Empires
5. When Strong Men Meet: Recruited Punjabis and Constrained Colonialism
6. Administering the City, Policing Commerce
7. Formal and Informal Mechanisms of Rule and Economic Development: The Qing Empire in Comparative Perspective
8. Heaven and the Administration of Things: Some Remarks on Law in the Tanzimat Era
9. A World Made Simple: Law and Property in the Ottoman and Qing Empires
10. A History of Caste in South Asia: From Pre-colonial Polity to Biopolitical State
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Shared Histories of Modernity

Critical Asian Studies Series Editor: Veena Das

Kreiger-Eisenhower Professor in Anthropology,

Johns Hopkins University Critical Asian Studies is devoted to in-depth studies of emergent social and cultural phenomena in the countries of the region. While recognizing the important ways in which the specific and often violent histories of the nation-state have influenced the social formations in this region, the books in this series also examine the processes of translation, exchange, boundary crossings in the linked identities and histories of the region. The authors

in this series engage with social theory through ethnographically grounded research and archival work.

Also in this Series Living with Violence: The Anthropology of Events and Everyday Life Roma Chatterji and Deepak Mehta ISBN 978-0-415-43080-7 Enchantments of Modernity: Empire, Nation, Globalization (Ed.) Saurabh Dube ISBN 978-0-415-44552-8 The Intimate State: Love-Marriage and the Law in Delhi Perveez Mody

ISBN 978-0-415-44604-4 Settlers, Saints and Sovereigns: An Ethnography of State Formation in Western India Farhana Ibrahim ISBN 978-0-415-44556-6

Shared Histories of


China, India and the Ottoman Empire

Huri Islamoglu
Peter C. Perdue

First published 2009 by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RN

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business First issued in paperback 2019 Transferred to Digital Printing 2009 Copyright © 2009 Huri Islamoglu and Peter C. Perdue Typeset


Star Compugraphics Private Limited
D—156, Second Floor
Sector 7, Noida 201 301 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to



British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-0-415-48166-3 (hbk) ISBN 978-0-367-17634-1 (pbk)

Contents Foreword by Veena Dagvii Preface and Acknowledgementsx Notes on Contributorsxii 1 Introduction





Empire, and Nation in Comparative Perspective: Frontier Administration in Eighteenth-Century China


Administrative Practice between Religious and Stale Law on the Eastern Frontiers of the Ottoman Empire


The Fate of Empires: and Hgfesburgs



Rethinking Mughals,


Compared: State Transformations and Property in the Qing and Ottoman

Constitutions of




When Strong Men Meet: Recruited Punjabis and Constrained Colonialism



City, Policing Commerce




Formal and Informal Mechanisms of Rule and Bcanomie Development: The Qing Empire in

Comparative Perspective



8. Heaven and the Administration of Things: Some Remarks on Law in the Tanzimat Era



A World Made Simple; Law and Property in the Ottoman and Qing Empires


History of Caste in South Polity to Biopolitical State


10. A


Asia: From Pre-eolonial


Foreword Critical studies on empire have typically taken the European and the North American forms as ideal sites on which debates about the implications of empire for national sovereignty, citizenship and transnational social forms are engaged. The civilizations of China, India and the Ottoman empire have figured in the narratives of modernity mostly as sites of lack, as victims of history or as objects of reform through which the story (‘narrative’ appears earlier in the sentence) of the civilizing mission of the West could be told. This volume brings together a powerful set of essays by historians and historical sociologists who shift the emphasis of debate, focusing on an entirely new set of questions. They ask, for instance, how we are to understand the relative longevity of early empires as compared to the short lifespan of nineteenth century empires. Or, can we give a comparative account of how or why the Habsburg and Ottoman empires eventually splintered into nation-states while the Mughal and Qing empires, despite some fragmentation and reorganization, continued with relatively stable boundaries? It is not as if any answers are available or even that everyone would agree to the form of the question. However, a systematic rendering of the problems in management of territories and populations in terms of administrative and legal techniques utilized by these historical empires in the early modern period, and the portability of the forms that were evolved, has the great advantage of correcting the presentist bias (or what might be called a ‘tunnel’ view of history) that marks much discussion of contemporary dilemmas about the nation-state. The articles in the volume leave one in little doubt that focusing the Qing, Ottoman and Mughal empires reveals the shared histories of modern transformation in Eurasia from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century, rather than the of tradition and modernity, or lack and plenitude in the East and West respectively. Among the most interesting questions that are posed is the question of how diversities were managed, and how relations between formal legal structures and local forms of justice evolved? Almost all the articles demonstrate the various kinds of negotiated through which regional, denominational and other diversities were nego-tiated. One could characterize these as ‘accommodative’




Shared Histories of Modernity practices, as many of the articles do, but the descriptions of the actual practices through which the peripheries of the empire were managed, and the negotiations with elite interests as well as nonelite urban populations (petty traders, street vendors) that shaped urban space show these to be normal ways of managing populations, rather than as ‘accommodations’. Thus, for instance, the problem of keeping peace at the frontiers was addressed through incorporating local elites in central rule as a technique of statecraft. There is an interesting inter-relation between discourse and

practice here, and one can think of a productive disjuncture between the two. For instance, the formalization of law into state law or qanun in the Ottoman empire did not prevent particular practices to be defended or opposed on the basis of sharia law. Contemporary theories of legal pluralism would similarly point to the manner in which the idea of custom is incorporated in state law and yet retains a trace of its opposition to formal law. In their erudite Introduction to the volume, the editors draw out the full implications of these and related developments for the early modern scenario in these regions — marked as they were by rapid commercial expansion; legal and reforms relating to policing, revenue collection, and some mapping of populations circulating and acquiring new forms as they interact with earlier institutions. But it is the specificity and attention to detail in the individual articles that make for fascinating reading on the gamut of state and imperial formations that marked the early modern period in these three empires, ranging from courtcentred to bureaucratic mechanisms of rule. What is even more stunning is the demonstration, in several articles, that earlier forms of discourse and practice did not simply disappear — there is of how these were reconstituted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thus, both in space and time, it is hard to draw sharp boundaries between a Western Europe that formed a single coherent entity in contrast to an equally coherent Orient. Such myths, however, did perform the function of legitimating colonial expansion, and influenced generations of history-writing by ready-made templates within which stories of the Orient could be told. Yet one may ask, may one not, what has changed? Even as we reject the story of progressive modernity, can the other stories of the panoptical surveillance of modern institutions, atomization of communities within urban forms and, more generally, the




Foreword characterization of all violence as forms of biopower suffice for a description of our contemporary world? I would suggest that the tools with which the authors of this volume revisit the practices of these three empires might be profitably applied to questions about modern states. As I have written elsewhere, it is astonishing that even the most powerful states or empires in the world, like that of the United States, experience themselves as ‘unfinished’ projects and seem to oscillate between an arrogant application of brute power to the realization that negotiated settlements maintain the peace better. Perhaps countries such as India need to learn from their own past. Instead of the myths that now abound in certain history textbooks and in public culture about the autocratic Mughal rule as emblematic of early empires, we need to shift our attention to questions of diversity, forms of justice, attention to the local, and the long history of circulations between states and imperial formations that formed the early modern world, and the continuities we detect till later periods can form the archive from which there is much to be learned. I am grateful for the splendid set of articles that Huri Islamoğlu and Peter C. Perdue have offered us in this volume in the series on Critical Asian Studies.

Veena Das Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology Johns Hopkins University

Preface and Acknowledgements During the last decade, quite a few historians and theorists have turned their attention to the comparative study of empires, and their connection to modernity. Yet most of them still rely on the classic European empires of Britain and France as the primary reference point. A growing number of scholars, however, recognize that the distinctive paths of non-Western empires deserve equal treatment. With this volume, we intend to encourage this trend toward genuinely comparative world-historical analysis.


This volume originated in 1999 and 2000 when a group of scholars of the Qing and Ottoman empires Game together in two workshops. The first workshop, Shared Histories of Modernity: State

Transformations Contexts, Seventeenth through

in the Chinese and Ottoman Nineteenth Centuries, was hosted by the, Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University. The second workshop, Shared Histories of Modernity: Law and Administration in 19th

Century Empire, University China and the Ottoman

in Istanbul. We


gratefully acknowledge

held at SabanCa

the contributions to


discussion Agmon, Engin workshops: of those who attended the


Akarli, Talal Asad, Karen Barkey, Jerome Bourgon, Peter Carroll, Fred Cooper, Pamela Crossley, Rifaat Abou El Haj, Khalid Falimy, Peter Gran, Baber Johansen, Vasant Kaiwar, Rebecca Karl, Çağlar Keyder, Sucheta Mazumdar, James Millward, Roger Owen, Nancy Paxk, Ariel Salzman, Derek Saver. Joanna Waley-Cohen, Frederic Wakeman. Particular thanks are due to our hosts at the two Timothy Mitchell, then Director of the Kevorkian: for Near Eastern Studies at NYU and to Ahmet Evin, the Dean of Social Sciences at Sabanci University. Five articles by Huri



Dina Rizk Khoury, Melissa Macauley, Peter C. Perdue, and R. Bin Wong were published in a special issue of the Journal of Early Modem History, Vol. 9, No:. I (2001). We thank JEMH and its editor, James D. Tracy for his warm reception of the initial


five articles and publishing them in a well as for the permission to reprint.

special issue of the journal as

The India part of the volume was initiated in discussions with

Professor Patricia Uberoi of Center for Developing Societies in New Delhi and Peter Carroll generously guided us in the choice of

Preface and Acknowledgements articles for this part. We are grateful to both for their contribution, and to Esha Béteille, now of Social Science Press in New Delhi; without her grace, enthusiasm and warm support, this volume could not have been possible.

Notes on Contributors Peter Carroll is a social and cultural historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century China, and Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University. His research interests include urban history and social geography, Chinese modernism and social science, popular and material culture, gender/sexuality, and nationalism. His book, Between Heaven and Modernity: Reconstructing Suzhou, 1895– 1937 (2006), was awarded the Best Book (Non-North American) 2007 prize by the Urban History Association. He is currently writing a book on suicide and ideas of modern society in China during the first half of the twentieth century.

[email protected] Huri Islamoğlu is Professor of Economic History and Political Economy at Boğazici XfeiYersity, Istanbul, and in Central European University, Budapest. Her first book, State and Peasant in the Ottoman Empire (1994) challenges notions of oriental despotism and stagnant eastern economies; it examines the internal dynamics of Ottoman rural economy in its relation to state policies. Constituting Modernity: Private Property in the East and West (2004), an edited volume, puts forth a research agenda on: the legal and administrative makings of private property as an aspect of Ottoman modernity. Her most recent

book, Ottoman History



History (2007)

the economic and legal history of the Ottoman contains ten essays


empire. She is currently writing

a book on two historical moments of market formation: in the nineteenth century, and in the late twentieth and early twenty-first ceiiturie# in the Middle East, Russia

and eastern


huricihanQberkeley. edu

Dina Rizk Khoury is Associate Professor of History and International Relations at George Washington University in Washington DC. She writes on the Iraqi provinces of the Ottoman empire in the early modern period, with particular emphasis on urban rebellions and Islamic reform agendas. Her book, State and Provincial Society in the Ottoman Empire: Mosul 1540–1834 (1997) has won two prizes. She is currently writing a book, ‘Postponed Lives: War and Remembrance

in Iraq’, on the impact of war on Iraq’s war generation. She is the

recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 2007–8. [email protected]

Melissa Macauley is Associate Professor of History and the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at University. She is the author of Social Power and Legal


Culture: Litigation Masters in Late Imperial China (1998) and various articles relating to Chinese social and legal history. She is currently studying a southeast coastal region of China in its context and will publish a book tentatively titled ‘Chaozhou


Sojourners: Crime and Migration in the South China Seas, 1856–1937'. [email protected] Şerif Mardin is Professor of Sociology of Religion and Political Sociology at Sabanci University, Istanbul. He was educated at the Johns Hopkins and Stanford universities:. He has taught courses on sociology of religion, religious fundamentalism, the political sociology of the Ottoman empire, and Ottoman intellectual history at the Political Science

Faculty of Ankara University, at Bogazici University, Istanbul, and, in the US, Princeton, Harvard, and at the University of California at Berkeley, and at Los Angeles. He has also taught at Oxford University in the UK and at Eeole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in France.. Among

at universities his


publications in Turkish and English


Religion and

Social Change in Modern Turkey: The Case of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi (1989), The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought (1962) [Yeni Osmanh Düşüncesinin Doğuşu (1996)], and Etik, Din ve Laiklik ( Ki liirs. Religion and Laicism) (1995). [email protected]

Rajit K. Mazumder has a BA in Economics from the University of Delhi, an MA in History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and has completed his doctoral dissertation at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is currently Assistant Professor of History at DePaul University, Chicago. He is the author

of The Indian Army and the Making of Punjab (2003), and is at

present working on the impact of the British Indian army on the

development of science and technology in colonial India. [email protected]

Peter C. Perdue is Professor of History at Yale University. He teaches courses on East Asian history and civilization, Chinese social and economic history, the Silk Road, and historical methodology. His

first book, Exhausting the Earth: State and Peasant in Hunan, 1500–1850 A.D. (1987), examines long-term agricultural change in one Chinese province. His most recent book, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (2005), discusses environmental

change, ethnicity, long-term economic change and military conquest in an integrated account of the Chinese, Mongolian and Russian

contention over Siberia and Central Eurasia during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He is now beginning a new project of comparative research on Chinese frontiers. [email protected] Sanjay Subrahmanyam is Professor and Doshi Chair of Indian History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where

he also directs the Center for India and South Asia. He was Directeur d’études at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) from 1995 to 2002, and then held the Chair in Indian History and Culture at the University of Oxford from 2002 to 2004. His chief

publications include The Political Economy of Commerce (1990); The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama (1997); Penumbral Visions (2001), and the two-volume Explorations in Connected History (2005). [email protected]

Ananya Vajpeyi teaches South Asian History at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She was educated at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), at Oxford, where she read as a

Rhodes Scholar, and at the University of Chicago. She has taught at Columbia University (2006–7) and was named a fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi (2005–8). Her monograph, Prolegomena to the Study of People and Places in Violent

India, appeared from WISCOMP in November 2007. She is currently

working on a book titled ‘Righteous Republic: The Political of Modern India’ for Harvard University Press.

Foundations [email protected] R. Bin Wong is Director of the UCLA Asia Institute and Professor of History. His research has examined Chinese patterns of political, economic and social change, especially since the eighteenth century, both within Asian regional contexts and compared with more familiar European patterns. Among his books is China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience (1997), which also appeared in Chinese, and a Japanese edition is due for publication in 2009. Wong has also written or co-authored some fifty articles published in North America, East Asia and Europe, in Chinese, English, French and Japanese, in journals that reach diverse audiences within and beyond academia. His scholarly articles include ‘Entre monde et nation: Les regions Braudelienne en Asie,’ Annales HSS 56(1) (Jan.–Feb. 2001: 5–42); ‘The Search for European Differences and Domination in the Early Modern World: A View from Asia,’ American Historical Review 107(2) (April 2002: 447–69). More popular essays appear in the Nihon keizai shimbun (Japan Economic Times) and the Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay, India). A ten-page interview with Wong has appeared in the August 2004 issue of Shehui kexue (Social Sciences). [email protected]

Introduction Huri Islamoğlu

and Peter C. Perdue

Paradigms determine the writing of history. Whether acknowledged or not, all historical writing rests on assumptions about the nature of a given society, about its past and future trajectories of

development and about its place vis a vis other societies. The history of non-

European societies has, for a long time, been set in opposition to that of Europe. European history, written as the privileged domain of commercial classes, of bourgeois revolutions and of liberal


states, is pitted against a non-European history of stagnant agrarian economies, stunted commercial development and absent revolutions. Historians have held despotic states or disabling belief systems — Confucian or Islamic — responsible for the

backwardness of the East. This high drama of pitting absences and presences

against each other has achieved two interrelated objectives: it has

legitimated European domination over non-European areas and it has reconstructed Europe, or ‘the West’, and non-Europe, or ‘the

East’ as homogeneous, ahistorical, hypostatised entities. Two discourses which crystallized in the post-World War II period, the modernization and world-system perspectives, addressed the issue of interaction between the western subject and the

nonwestern object of domination. Modernization theory focused on ‘westernization’, or the adoption of European institutions since the

nineteenth century, as a way of breaking out of stagnant ‘tradition’. World system theory, by contrast, attributed the stagnation of

non-European areas to the European impact. The modernization theorist saw the trajectory of world history as convergence toward an idealized image of the West, but the world system theorist saw only the reproduction of a dominant western center and a dependent

non-western periphery. Despite their differences, both modernization and world-system theories embraced a bifurcated conception of world history that cast European and non-European histories as irreconciliable

trajectories of development. While the world system perspective has been critical of the culturalist-essentialist tilt of modernization



and Peter C. Perdue

westernization approaches and has emphasized the historical stagnation and backwardness of non-European regions, both approaches address what is lacking in non-European regions cum

that has slowed down their progress in terms of capitalist industrialization, democratic institutions and liberal constitutionalism. This vocabulary of deficit has informed both modern historical studies and social theories. Historians in China, for example, have placed paramount emphasis on the question of why China failed to have an industrial revolution. They have asked why China deviated from the 'normal' path to capitalism in England as defined by Marx. The reasons may include Confucian disdain for commerce, repression of trade by the bureaucracy, neglect of military


literati elite or inadequate specialization leaving an entrenched peasantry that blocked the growth of an industrial labour force. 1 Similarly, Marxist and liberal scholars of the Ottoman and Mughal empires identified the

technology by



in the rural economy,

existence of self-sufficient village communities or the appropriation of rural surpluses by oriental despots as impediments to capital accumulation and industrial development (Habib 1969 ; Islamoglu and

Keyder 1987). Recently, scholars of Qing China’s economic history have

repeatedly uniformly

exposed the flaws in this picture of a stagnating economy and society. In the revisionist view, the imperial state did not repress commerce, literati elites went into joint ventures with merchants, peasant marketing developed vigorously, agrarian productivity rose in the advanced regions and technological continued in the agrarian economy through the eighteenth century (Li 1998; Marks 1998; Mazumdar 1998; Pomeranz 2000; Wong 1997). This work has set a new agenda for comparative study in this area: to first investigate similarities between China and Europe before specifying more nuanced degrees of contrast.


Studies of the economic history of the Ottoman empire have also

attempted to free themselves from the problematic of deficits in comparison to western Europe. Suraiya Faroqhi ‘oppose[s] the thinking which underlies so many comparisons between ‘East and West’, and plead[s] for a relatively late divergence between the two, for the role of historical contingencies in causing disjuncture, and for the importance of economic, social, and cultural within the two socio-economic formations in question…’. She argues that dynamism and decline are found in both Europe and the



Introduction Ottoman empire; we cannot sharply split a progressive West from backward East. Just like tlieir Chinese: counterparts, Ottoman historians have attacked the simple dichotomies of 'tradition'and 'modernity' that counterpoSed a dynamic West to a backward East; these Ottoman historians draw attention to the complex and dynamic eeonomie and social environment of the Ottoman empire (Aksan 1999; Darling 1998 ; Faroqhi 1992: 217; Islamoğlu-Lia.n 1994; •Salzman 1993; cf. Cohen 1984 ), Peter Gran likewise criticizes the belief that the 'rise of the West implies a decline of the Other', and argues that 'non-Western regions: collaborating in the larger social transformation of the late eighteenth century had indigenous roots for their own modern capitalist cultures' ( Gran 1979 : xii). All these a

scholars reject the idea that western Europe constitutes a singles coherent model against which; to: contrast an equally coherent, totality. Instead, they argue for multiple contradictions within


ssocial formations and multiple interactions between different units. Industrialization and modernization become global processes that transform all the component units, not the privileged possession of one civilization which is exported to another ( Gran 1979 ; Islamoglu and

Keyder 1987;

Blaut 1993



Historians of the Mughal empire have also moved away from the consensus that Mughal institutional structures were inferior to those of an ‘idealized’ West. (Habib 1969; Labib 1969). Tapan Raychaudhuri shows that an entrepreneurial class flourished and commercial activity thrived in a number of coastal regions in Mughal India (Raychaudhuri 1969). Chetan Singh has shown that such development was not limited to coastal regions and extended to the interior region of Punjab (Singh 1991).2 There has also been a proliferation of studies of Mughal institutions, especially land tenure and revenue assignment systems as well as the idioms of rule (Alam and Subrahmanyam 1998). In his article in this volume, Subrahmanyam further underlines the salience of the Mughal institutional input for the makings of the British colonial state in India. In the 1980s, Ranajit Guha and a group of Indian scholars launched a criticism of the elitism which characterized the of colonial India and set forth a research programme to study the histories of ‘subaltern ’ groups or groups who have been subordinated to the dominance of ruling groups. Subaltern studies focused on the politics of the people, which, Guha argued, rested on the capacities of the ‘exploited’ to achieve mobilization horizontally,


in contrast to elite politics and their vertical forms of mobilization in the context of state institutions, including parliaments and commissions. Guha, however, admitted the significance of the Gramscian insight that subordination cannot be understood except in relation to domination for ‘subaltern groups are always subject to the activity of ruling groups, even when they rebel and rise up’ (Guha 1982). Yet it appears to be left to a new generation of scholars to overcome the analytical barrier represented by the binary division of politics of the people and the politics of the elites. State institutions or orderings of social reality may be more than just instruments of co-optation and manipulation on the part of state elites; they may also be domains of political activity of nonelite groups. Articles in this volume may provide an opening for scrutiny in that direction. Finally, certain European historians have asserted multiple routes to capitalism that do not raise England, or Marx’s models of it, as the exclusive option. O’Brien and Keyder demonstrate quantitatively, for example, that labour productivity in France was in fact higher than in Britain through the nineteenth century. They reject the diffusion model that focuses exclusively on superior British techniques spreading to the rest of Europe. France’s path to industrialization was different, but not backward or inferior. Ken Alder’s study of the role of French military engineers in developing production with interchangeable parts supports the idea of multiple roads to technological progress and the significant positive role of the early modern state, especially in its military activities. John Brewer makes much the same case for England. These examples show how economic and technological historians of all three regions have begun to address related questions with a presumption of the existence of multiplicity, indeterminacy and cross-regional similarities, instead of binary divisions between the West and the rest ( Alder 1997; Brewer 1990; O’Brien and Keyder 1978). Yet recent historical scholarship, while pointing to different paths of historical development, still measures non-European histories against European models of development, including when it uses economic measures like changes in agricultural productivity and population growth, and political measures like representative institutions and centralized bureaucracies ( Frank 1998; Inalcik 1973). To say that ‘non-Europeans had it too’ only reproduces the binary conception of world history by taking Europe as its point of


reference. Such similarities need to be embedded in broader concepts that transcend both East and West. This volume brings together historians of the Qing, the Mughal and the Ottoman empires and is motivated by a concern to modern transformation of these regions without reference to ‘idealized’ criteria of what qualifies as modern transformation and what does not, which coincides with a geographical bifurcation of world history into two irreconcilable trajectories, European and non-European. It also seeks to transcend the temporal bifurcation of that history into pre-modern and modern, as pre-modernity is often considered to be the ‘time’ of non-European regions, whereas modernity is assumed to belong to the West. Instead, the volume categories of historical explanation that might span the European and non-European, pre-modern and modern experiences.



It does this, first, by addressing the shared experiences of modern

transformation or modernity in three regions which the conventional historiography identifies as non-European and is therefore, by outside of modernity or only tangentially linked to it as its victim. Here, modernity refers to the continuous processes of exploring new institutional configurations in the world historical context of the Eurasian land mass (subsequently to include the Americas and other continents) since the fifteenth century. Two interrelated features define this historical context: one, commercial expansion both within imperial territories in Eurasia and in overseas dominions; two, competition among multiple political entities giving way to a gamut of state or imperial formations, ranging from courtcentred to bureaucratic and, recently, to one centred on autonomous governance by bodies of experts.3 The developmental trajectories within this world historical refer to highly complex processes with earlier institutional configurations (and the interests they embodied), say of the and the seventeenth centuries, interacting with later ones in the nineteenth century, whereby the old is recast in the terms of the new and the new carries the imprint of confrontations with the old. In this sense, modern transformation does not merely the institutional configurations of the nineteenth century but incorporates their early history in the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. As such, modernity no longer stands for


context sixteenth


experiences of ‘alienation’ from specific historical trajectories, a characterization which often haunted the ‘modern’ histories of the

British empire in India, the Ottoman reform state or the communist

Chinese state. Moreover, a focus on the experience of the modernity of nonEuropean regions has added salience in the present world economy, as these regions assume leading roles in a new phase of modern

transformation. Awareness of the early histories of these regions makes

one skeptical about evaluations of their present-day modernity as being merely accidental. Such arguments, as promoted by the ‘clash of civilizations’ school, carry the implication that ‘essential’

civilizational structures will eventually dominate, leading to a new equilibrium state in world history, dominated by the West. The articles in this volume suggest instead that present transformational patterns may have deeper roots than are generally assumed. One thread in the making of modernity has been state formation.

Centralizing states have been the most readily identifiable shared historical experiences throughout Eurasia since the fifteenth century. These states interacted in peace and war, assimilating

institutions and ideologies of rule. James Millward, in the spirit of Joseph

Fletcher, provides an impressive analysis of how steppe empires linked the Chinese and Ottoman state formations, transmitting

techniques of government between East Roman (Byzantine), Iranian,

Chinese and Turkic traditions (Millward 1999). To Europeans, the Ottoman state was the visible face of this body of knowledge as it came to embody the Renaissance ideal of governance, or

statecraft. Machiavelli’s Prince approximated an idealized image of the

Ottoman ruler more closely than any other ruler in western Eurasia. Later on, by contrast, as centralizing states in Europe looked to a model of Rechtstaat, or well-regulated government under law, the Ottoman and Mughal states and the Chinese Middle Kingdom

became metaphors for despotism, mirrors for criticizing the practices of the European rulers, deviating from the Rechtstaat ideal. Russia, to the extent that it was seen as an ‘Asiatic’ power,

absolutist also fit the stereotypical model of despotism. Europeans

embracing commercial and colonial expansion in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries identified ‘oriental despotism’ as the single most important cause of Asia’s political and economic stagnation.

The label also justified European colonialism. Western claims to

eliminate eastern stagnation by imposing domination laid the basis for the perspectives of modernization in the twentieth century.

This volume ‘brings the state back’ (Evans et al. 1985) into the study of the three empires but does so by differentiating it into its different institutions or orderings of social reality. Over the past three decades, Qing, Mughal and Ottoman historical researchers rejected the study of state institutions inspired by the ideal-type analyses of Orientalism and the modernization perspective. Instead, they turned to social and economic structures, long-term trends and regional analyses. This new ‘return to the state’, however, the insights of social and economic history, underlining the differentiated, pluralistic and diverse character of the early modern societies and the flexibility, fluidity, and accommodative nature of their state practices. For example, rejecting European characterizations of the Ottoman state as ‘despotic’, we find the notion of the early modern state as a negotiated enterprise (Barkey 1994; Islamoglu 1987; Salzman 1993). The concept of the early modern state as a negotiated enterprise questions the assumption that state centralization must be a key metric of success in modernization. China, because of its longlasting civil bureaucracy, often seems to have failed in its attempts because it failed to confront creatively forces of decentralization in the nineteenth century. The thesis of the ‘decline’ of the Ottoman and the Mughal empires raises similar arguments. The contributions in this issue by Peter C. Perdue and Dina Khoury challenge the decline thesis by pointing to the abilities of the Qing and Ottoman imperial governments in the eighteenth century to administer the frontier regions through an accommodation of multiple local particularities within an overreaching structure. Perdue discusses a series of administrative innovations introduced by the Qing that included fixing of boundaries, classifying peoples and designating reliable local leadership. These practices replaced fluctuating alliances and multiple allegiances with one direct line of authority. Unlike the interior, consolidation of the Qing conquest on the frontier required organizing the population into multiple administrative forms. During this consolidation, the empire created and sustained diversity by moving people from the interiors to the frontiers, and vice versa (Perdue 2005). Dina Khoury emphasizes the particularities of the Arab frontier in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In this period, the Ottoman government sought to redefine the administration of the Iraqi provinces by issuing regulations that represented negotiated

includes attractive


settlements between local elites and the central government. Klioury shows how these administrative rules: accommodated tribal, commercial and landed interests. Her analysis focuses On the use of the legal idioms of kanun (state law) and the Islamic sharia to negotiate claims. In her analysis, locnl Islamic jurists used sharia to challenge the legitimacy of particular points in state law, but did not reject the state's existence. The conception of justice embedded in state In w. in turn, made it generally acceptable to jurists and the local population (Islamoğlu 1994).

Subrahmanyam argues that the ‘Mughal compromise’, which included assignments of revenue grants to different groups of and a system of land management premised on negotiations of the obligations of local magnates to the Mughal ruler and these received from him, embodied the abilities of the Mughal government to accommodate diverse regions and religious and denominational groups to their rule. For Subrahmanyam, the ideological basis for the ‘Mughal compromise’ or the idiom of rule in the Mughal empire had been a notion of social equilibrium derived from older Persian and Central Asian traditions. Subrahmayam argues that, far from being a sign of decline, the pattern of regional development supports this accommodative institutional capacity of the Mughal empire. The term ‘negotiation’ epitomizes the accommodative, flexible nature of the Qing, Mughal and Ottoman states in the early modern era. Although all three states used force when negotiations broke down, they did not try to repress all resistance in the name of an ideal future. The negotiated character of early modern states, however, is often contrasted with the ‘despotic’, unyielding modern states, as the Ottoman empire after the Tanzimat reforms, or Republican China, or the British empire is purported to be ( Akarli 1999). Articles in this volume addressing state formations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the Ottoman and the late Qing empires as well as in British India challenge the vision of the modern state subjecting all social reality to its uncompromising control (Foucault 1991). Such control is generally understood to be embedded in administrative techniques defining property rights on land, as well as citizenry with obligations of military service and payment of taxes. Thus, administrative techniques, which included aggregate categories for classifying land and persons employed in population and cadastral registers, represented all encompassing

administrators privileges

state ‘power’, mystified and unalterable through the actions of those

who were subordinated to it (Scott 1998). One way to transcend the overdrawn contrast between ‘nego-

tiating’ the early modern state and uncompromising modern administrations would be to reconsider the uses of the concept of

‘negotiation’ as an explanatory principle for different state actions. A rigid governmentality perspective tends to confine analysis of early modern and modern states to given definitions or ideal-types, not allowing for understandings of the process of transformation of one

or the other. On the other hand, using the concept of negotiation as an object of inquiry would allow for evaluations of the different contexts in which negotiations take place and for tracing shifts in these contexts, as had been the case with the transformation of

early modern into modern states.4 Rajit K. Mazumder’s article challenges the understanding of the ‘absolute’, ‘non-negotiated’ character of administrative power with respect to Indian colonial rule in Punjab, by focusing on the multiple

negotiations or deliberations between the British administrators and various local actors (most notably the landed interests and soldiers) as well as those among the administrators themselves. Such deliberations embodying power relations among different actors

resulted in continual amendments in the legislation on alienation of lands, in rules of tax assessment and elections. Moreover, the varying nature of interests, of power relations and colonial institutions as sites for the negotiation of different claims largely accounted for

specific developmental trajectories in different regions of colonial India. Mazumder shows that local actors in Punjab had particular leverage vis-a-vis the colonial administration because this was a region for the recruitment of the British Indian army. Because of

the primacy of security interests to the empire, British colonial administrators made many concessions to the landed military classes of Punjab in order to ensure the smooth flow of soldiers into the army. Further contesting

polarizations of an uncompromising and

modern state against flexible and accommodative nonaccommodative q

modern state, Islamoglu addresses the deliberative processes in the Ottoman empire, focusing on the shift in context as the early


modern sixteenth to eighteenth centuries gave way to the modern nineteenth century. Here, deliberations or negotiations refer to the

political activity of different actors (‘subordinate’ and elite), carried out in relation to definitions or orderings of social relations in terms of rules or institutions. According to Islamoğlu, in the early modern Ottoman empire, institutions represented particularistic settlements; negotiated between the ruler and his various representatives: and different groups or individuals. These institutions aimed towards distributing among different groups or individuals a wide range of resources, including the land-use, revenues; and titles to land, as; well as privileges, exemptions from taxes and from military service. The distributive thrust of Ottoman institutions signalled an concern and was rooted in the priority to maintain social harmony. The ruler's legitimacy rested on his ability to secure such harmony, which, in Ottoman parlance, was equated with his ability to dispense justice. Such justice was the reference point of all political activity and the recourse of all social actors seeking



accommo dat ion.

In the nineteenth century, in the world historical context of in western inter-state bureaucratic rules and former authority prevailed general particularistic replaced settlements. This passage was a highly conflictual one. involving incessant negotiations or deliberations of general rules and procedures. Islamoğlu's article focuses on Contestations of and resistances to the Land Code, which introduced the general category of individual ownership, replacing particularistic definitions of multiple claims on land and threatening, for instance, use rights of sharecroppers and subsistence farmers. It also focuses on resistances to cadastral activity, including field mappings aiming towards a spatial constitution of individual plots from which single state tax could be collected, to the detriment of previous multiple revenue claims from land, including those of pious establishments and tax-

intensified Eurasia, competition

farmers. One outcome of such contestations and resistances 'particularization' of the general precept of the Land


was a


through the issuing of special provisions, the demands of groups hence accounting for diverse modern transformation trajectories in different rr«i< >n> of the empire. Islamoglu also points to the negotiated character of land registration accounting for its character in the nineteenth century and, especially, for the failure to achieve extensive cadastral mapping, which was expected to define precise boundaries for individually owned plots.



Yet, Islamoğlu shows that such particularizsition and inability registration did not signal a return to the took 'old'; particularizaiion place in reference to a general rule, not in reference to justice or social harmony negotiated with the ruler. Such a shift in the point of reference of negotiations distanced the central government from individual, particularistic interests;; it to affect modern land

signaled a new kind of stateness where legitimacy rested on the government's ability to deliver a bureaucratic kind of justTee. In the nineteenth century, such justice was partly informed by notions of public service, which in practice provided the bureaucracy with a pretext

to intervene in societal situations in order to ensure that

interest and not only the particular interests of the few served, hi the Ottoman context, it was also informed by ancient vocabularies of justice traceable to: Sassanid Persia, to: Central Asia, also prevailing under the Mughals.



Peter Carroll’s discussion of the institution of a modern police

force in the city of Suzhou in Qing China in the early twentieth captures the tension between the generalist thrust of the modern institutional project and its particularistic local assimilations, pointing to a competition between the state and business elites for urban supremacy. The police reform in Qing China was the brainchild of maverick state officials, industrial entrepreneurs, and political–economic theorists; its focus was on urban structure and it was viewed as a means for stimulating economic expansion and society for advantage in the social Darwinian military, economic and political competition against imperial powers. Yet, the reform met with the serious resistance of different groups in Suzhou. For one thing, measures taken by the police force (including street order regulations) penalized petty tradesmen while promoting the interests of business elites associated with large trading houses. On the other hand, business elites claimed that the new police force, often including soldiers of local armies and baojia who were traditionally responsible for maintaining order in the cities, did not ensure the security of their property and commercial activity. In response, the business elites created their own urban militia to protect their interests (Carroll 2006). Carroll’s article captures the conflict-ridden process of the makings of a modern urban environment in terms of power among urban actors, including the chamber of commerce representing business elites, night-soil workers, petty street vendors




(possibly actors in the old baojia system) as well as soldiers who were excluded from the new police force and the new merchant militia. The outcome is an exposition of specific features of modernity in late Qing — one that was premised on a tension between local business elites and other urban actors as well as between these elites and the central state for urban supremacy. In this picture, the Qing government — not unlike its Ottoman counterpart — seems to have been engaged in ceaseless balancing acts between elite interests and its own legitimacy in the eyes of non-elite urban groups, desperately seeking to negotiate social harmony in the cities and seeking to do so (not very successfully) by trying to form an institution, the police force, spanning the gamut of particularistic urban interests. The discussion of states in this volume overlaps with that of

empire. Unlike many theorists, we did not sharply distinguish empires

from European states (Wallerstein 1974: 1, 57–63). Subrahmanyam’s article addressing the current debate on empires seeks an answer to the question of why the Ottoman and Habsburg splintered into numerous nation-states while the bulk of the Mughal empire (except for Pakistan) and of the Qing empire (except for Mongolia and Taiwan) still hold together in the form of a single nationstate. Subrahmanyam examines these issues without engaging in an idealization of early modern empires and their mechanisms of cooptation which allowed them to negotiate with and incorporate diverse interests. For instance, Fred Cooper argues that such cooptative explain the longevity of early empires, while increased levels of rationalization, uniformity and standardization of state practice may have accounted for the relatively short-life spans of the nineteenthand twentieth-century European empires (Cooper and Stoler 1997). Similarly, Engin Akarli explains the survival of the Chinese empire into the twentieth century by the fact that the Qing rulers continued to accommodate the provincial elites through multiple settlements (Akarli 1999). By contrast, the Ottoman imperial state in the first quarter of the nineteenth century ceased to govern through negotiations with provincial elites. Instead, by subjecting them to general and uniform regulations, the Ottoman government lost legitimacy in the eyes of these groups and was compelled to to coercive measures to maintain its authority. For Akarli, this inability or reluctance to negotiate with provincial elites lay at the heart of the collapse of the Ottoman empire.


negotiated resort

Distancing himself from the separation of early modern and

modern empires, Subrahmanyam engages in a comparison of the Habsburg, Ottoman and Mughal empires in terms of their institutional capacities to manage regional diversity and religious and denominational difference as well as to allow for


economic change. He argues that the Mughal empire’s ability to manage regional and religious/denominational diversity, and the

fact that its central concern was not the siphoning of surpluses from the regions, contributed to the development of regional economies which became the locomotive of economic change. The positive institutional capacities of the Mughal empire were assimilated by the British empire in India. Similarly, R. Bin Wong confirms the salience of regional development for the project of Chinese modernity

following the collapse of the Qing empire. In the Chinese case, too, we may perhaps say that specific institutional features of the Qing empire were incorporated by the communist and nationalist governments as part of state formation on the mainland and Taiwan. East Asian mandarins discussed enduring questions of bureaucratic management for over thousand years. Alexander Woodside points

out the ‘lost modernities’ of the classical East Asian bureaucracies of China, Korea, and Vietnam which modern nation-states ignore at their own cost (Woodside 2006).

From Negotiation to Legal Practice Discussions of the Qing and Ottoman states must also consider the role of formal law. This includes topics like the autonomy of the legal sphere, the interaction of different types of law, the law’s role in governance, as well as administrative practice, law courts as sites of negotiation. R. Bin Wong, in his discussion of Qing law, draws attention to the blurred boundaries between formal law (referring to statutory law) and informal mediation. The Qing law code had relatively few major statutes that concerned merchant transactions, but informal mechanisms like kinship associations regulated commercial activity. By contrast, under the European model, modern state building meant the replacement of informal mechanisms by formal law. Formal law created and implemented common standards and norms, while informal practices sustained greater diversity. At the same time, the shift from informal to formal institutions in European states was associated with the centralization

of power, whereas, in agrarian empires, the complementary use of

formal and informal institutions did not require centralized rule. Wong refutes the characterizations of the Qing as ‘despotic’, and intrusive by showing how officials delegated much

interventionist of their power to non-state associations.

Wong’s distinction between formal and informal adjudication tends, however, to regard statutory law, both European and nonEuropean, in Weberian manner, as a set of rational bureaucratic norms and standards. This schematic reduction needs some qualification.

For one thing, in early modern and Ottoman settings, statutory law often represented multiple negotiated settlements. In this sense, there was a continuum from formal to informal mechanisms of mediation. Magistrates’ courts in China and kadi courts in the Ottoman empire

equally focused on the mediation of disputes as well as statutory adjudication (Fahmy 2000; Khoury 1997; Macauley 1998). Şerif Mardin’s article points to an erosion in judicial culture based on courts. In the nineteenth century, as judges lost their

administrative powers, they lost local influence. When graduates of the state school of public administration replaced judges, law came to mean governmental edicts. At the same time, the introduction of

professional attorneys changed court procedures. Iris Agmon, for instance,

argues that the new adversarial system directed the attention of the judge away from litigants, therefore away from conflict resolution and towards the legalistic arguments presented by the attorneys (Agmon 2000). This change revealed the shift in the reference point

of law, from distributive justice resting on negotiated settlements among litigants to the consistency and uniformity of law presented in legal arguments. But we should not push the argument too far. Does this transformation in legal practice point to a complete

erasure of mediation in the legal domain and to a total ‘formalisation’?

The prominence of commissions and administrative tribunals in the Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century as spaces for the negotiation and implementation of governmental edicts suggests

otherwise. In sum, comparisons of the Qing, Mughal and Ottoman experiences point to multiple paths to modernity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They also reveal that these paths were largely determined

not by emulation of European patterns but by the exigencies of power configurations in the respective empires and by their historical

vocabularies of rule. Above all, comparative histories undermine

the thesis of ‘decline’, which postulates that China in the century, and the Ottoman and the Mughal empires since the seventeenth or the eighteenth centuries, were unable to transform


their institutions and meet the challenges of warfare and domestic

upheaval. The proponents of the ‘decline’ thesis pose the loss of ability to innovate institutionally or to govern creatively as an for the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the


Ottoman malaise throughout the nineteenth century, with its final

collapse in 1918. The articles in this issue, by contrast, point to institutional transformations in both empires throughout their existence. Peter C. Perdue shows that administrative practices that


characterized the Qing state-building enterprise in the eighteenth

century were neither centralized nor general or uniform. They objectives associated with the modern state project, the stabilizing of borders, the maximization of revenue

addressed including efficiency, and the raising of armies to meet the exigencies of warfare and domestic upheaval.

Macauley points to the attempt of the Qing in the eighteenth century to simplify property claims on land and to establish ownership rights with a view to laying claim to a larger share; of taxes from rural areas. She attributes the Qing failure to institute individual ownership on land to the resistance of provincial elites and to the fact that this attempt was not accompanied by an exercise in building a centralized state. In contrast , Matjauley arguefs, in the Ottoman empire during the nineteenth century, the constitution of individual ownership Was integral to institutionalization of state power, which focused on thg central bureaucracy and the central army to the exclusion of provincial elites. klamoglu, however, points tp the limits in the nineteenth-century Ottoman empire's definitions of individual ownership incumbent on the struggles of groups whose; access to land was threatened by the new system of individual titles. Such limits were negotiated in the realm of bureaucratic practicest


The Qing and the Ottoman institutional reforms, from the

eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, remained part of the of modernity, though their transformational trajectories did


not always translate into glowing successes in military, political and

economic competition against imperialism. In the Chinese context, successful modernization depended on local, not central, and diverse,

not uniform, initiatives from either officials or elites (Wong 1997). The Mughals’ ability to hold together geographically, ethnically, and religiously diverse regions indicated powerful institutional capacities which were taken over by the British colonial state. Similarly, Ottoman legislation of the nineteenth century, defining general rules and categories of individual, ownership on land and of commercial transactions — largely derived from the precepts of Islamic fiqh or jurisprudence — continued to provide the modern vocabularies for landed property and commercial transactions in the Middle East, including the Israeli-occupied West Bank. These articles argue that modern transformation in the three

empires under discussion represented ruptures in continuities. Old vocabularies survived, whether in transmutations of ruler’s justice into the administrative justice of the Ottoman bureaucracy, or in those of Mughal ‘social peace’ into some form of an angular of the British colonial administrators. The new order of modernity was perhaps made more comprehensible through recourse to familiar vocabularies. In addition to looking at these legal, administrative and economic developments, Vajpeyi’s article examines another kind of specific continuity: caste discourse, which spans Indian history from medieval times into the present. Her discussion resonates with our themes of negotiation and legacies of the early modern period for modern nation state. For Vajpeyi, caste, premised on inequality, provided an idiom for negotiating one’s position in society. Her article focuses on three historical instances of such negotiations: one, in the seventeenth century, in relation to the kingship of Shivaji, the other in the nineteenth century, in relation to Jotirao Phule’s rebellion against the caste oppression fired up by enlightenment ideas of equality, fraternity and liberty, and finally by Ambedkar at the time of Indian independence in the midtwentieth century. Ambedkar rejected caste and its vision of social inequality, introducing, instead, the idea of citizenship premised on equality under the Indian Constitution (of which he was the principal author) as an organizing principle of the new Republic. Yet Vajpeyi’s discussion suggests that the terms of such rejection as it was negotiated in the text of the Indian Constitution through categories of reservation, scheduled castes, and scheduled tribes, may explain the perpetuation of caste into the present. Once again, the social resources of early modern empires have not only survived but thrived, this time in modern nation-state environments.


Notes 1. See Philip Huang: ‘For the “classic” pattern of agrarian change in the modern age, we of course look to England’s transition to … what is most striking is that in China the differentiation did not end in the complete transformation of agrarian society, as happened in the West … it led not to a capitalist industrial economy, but to a

capitalism differentiated peasant economy’ (1985: 10).

2. Studies of two such regions are by Richard M. Eaton (1993) and Farhat Hasan (2004). 3. Fred Cooper, referring to the first version of this introduction, claims that our definition of modernity includes ‘everything that has in the last 500 years’ (Cooper 2005: 127). We do no such thing. Instead, we examine specific institutional transformations shared by a significant number of large societies in Eurasia. We do not claim that all of them happened everywhere, or that modernity consists of a single homogeneous package of changes. 4. We are grateful to Baber Johansen for his analytical distinction negotiation as an explanatory category and as an object of inquiry.


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1 Empire and Nation in Comparative Perspective: Frontier Administration in Eighteenth-Century China Peter C. Perdue

Introduction: A Comparative Analysis of Empires Nearly all comparative analyses have taken as normative the European experience of state-building from ca. 1500 to 1800 CE, when new monarchies built increasingly centralized bureaucratic machines in an environment of ceaseless military and economic competition. Charles Tilly notes that in 1500 CE there were about five hundred political units in Europe, but by 1900 there were only twenty-five (Tilly 1975: 15). Theorists view the formation of the European state system as the essential foundation for the history of industrialization and global colonization in the nineteenth century. Using this benchmark, they look for elements lacking in non-European states, instead of analyzing how the non-European states functioned in their own terms. This vocabulary of deficit informs both modern historical studies and social theories. Historians in China, especially, place paramount emphasis on the question of why China failed to have an industrial revolution. But what if we look instead at direct comparisons between two nonEuropean empires, like the Ottoman and Qing?


We can begin by positing analogies between the structures of

these two agrarian empires, which derived originally from the era of conquest. Beginning as small frontier states on the periphery of larger empires, both expanded rapidly with powerful military forces, eventually capturing the center of the older empire. Both incorporated a wide range of different peoples under their rule; both had to develop new administrative structures for taxation, adjudication and local control. When we look for basic similarities

Peter C. Perdue in the specific arenas of social and administrative structures, we find that the approaches to these questions taken by Ottomanists and by Qing historians have striking convergences.

Convergent Historiographies One theme that unifies both historiographies is the rejection of the thesis of ‘decline’. In the Qing field, older historical studies stressed Qing China’s failure to respond adequately to incursions in the nineteenth century. Domestic upheaval in the empire and repeated losses in warfare indicate that the rulers had lost the ability to govern or to innovate creatively. Scholars have explained the collapse of the dynasty in 1911 as the inability of a traditional society to respond to western modernity. Analyses of the Ottoman empire from the seventeenth or eighteenth century forward have followed a similar framework (Hourani in Khoury and Wilson 1993). Nationalist historiography has reinforced the tradition/modernity divide by interpreting the transition from empire to nation as a progression from decline to renewal. In the nationalist view, the old empires were despotic, backward, stagnant structures that, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, despite several reform efforts, failed to respond to the dynamism of western powers. Therefore, they inevitably collapsed in the early twentieth century, to be replaced by modern nations. These interpretations rely on three key assumptions: culturalism, linear concepts of time and centralization as an index of progress. Culturalism views the state as the manifestation of underlying ideals generated by texts and traditions that define universal norms. This single coherent set of ethical norms and inherited traditions guides the administrative practices of the ruling elites. If the state can lead its subjects to realize these ideals, it has succeeded. Thus the Ottoman state becomes simply the sponsor of Islam, while the Qing implements neo-Confucian orthodoxy. A ‘classical age’ is defined as the period during which state, social and normative come closest to harmony, after which a period of decline sets in. It encompasses the ‘flourishing age’ (shengshi) of seventeenthand eighteenth-century China and the first three centuries of Ottoman rule (Fairbank 1998; Inalcik 1973). A special interpretation of the origins of empire derived from these culturalist models. The ghazi thesis of the origins of the Ottoman

generally western dynastic


Empire and Nation in Comparative Perspective state stressed the early role of the Turkish founders as warriors for Islam. For the Qing, the ‘Sinicization’ thesis performed the same function, as it claimed that the backward Manchus abandoned any distinctive identity of their own, and adopted the superior Han Confucian culture. In Ho Ping-ti’s interpretation, the Manchus were the ‘ghazi’ warriors who imposed Confucian orthodoxy on their subjects (Ho Ping-ti 1998). Just as Herder’s insistence on the special characteristics of German folk culture led historians to focus on the particular features of each national history, turning away from the universal histories of the eighteenth century, culturalist analyses of the empires directed attention not to what they shared, but what divided them. By stressing the specific, unique cultural ideals that structured each imperial formation, culturalists ruled out meaningful comparisons between them. But recent critiques have brought the two empires closer together, by focusing on the common effects of the frontier experience. Cemal Kafadar criticizes nationalist historians for ‘assum[ing] more or less sealed cultural identities of peoples [Turks, Greeks, Spaniards, Arabs, etc.] who have come into contact within the framework of a larger bipolar division of equally sealed civilizational identities [East/West, Muslim/Christian]’ ( Kafadar 1995: 20). Instead, he stresses the ‘mobility and fluidity’ of identities in frontier and the possibility of ‘moving from place to place, allegiance to allegiance, and identity to identity with an ease and hard to even imagine in more settled societies’ (Kafadar 1995: 140). Viewed in these terms, the borderlands of the Byzantine where the Ottomans originated, bear a striking resemblance to the fluid conditions of Manchuria in the late sixteenth century (Perdue 1998).

environments acceptability empire,

Pamela Crossley likewise argues that there was no fixed ‘Manchu’

identity at this time, but that the Manchus were created pari passu with the formation of the Qing state. ‘The monolithic identities of “Manchu”, “Mongol”, and “Chinese” [Han] are not regarded as sources, or building blocks of the emergent order ...these identities are ideological productions of the process of imperial centralization before 1800’ ( Crossley 1999: 3). She particularly stresses the flexibility of the banners, the combined militaryadministrative and residential institution that incorporated Tungusic tribesman, Han peasants, Mongolian pastoralists and other diverse cultural formations under a unified hierarchy. If we see both


ruling elites not as univocally committed to a single religio-cultural mission, but as balancing multiple cultural formations arising from a fluctuating mixed frontier environment, we get a more accurate picture of the historical origins of both states and we have some common ground from which to view their subsequent evolution. Linearity is the presumption that there is only one possible path of development and one metric of success. In this respect, classical culturalism and modern technoscientism share the same assumptions. Nations and civilizations can then be ranked by their closeness to this single standard, and their trajectories can be described as either approaching or failing to meet it. The ‘decline’ paradigm fits closely within both metrics, when empires are seen as failing both to achieve their cultural targets and to match the technoscientific level of rival imperial powers. State centralization, in this paradigm, is often taken as the key metric of success. Strongly centralized regimes then represent the maximal achievements of the state, because it can impose its ideology and its institutions on localities and extract the resources it needs from them. More loosely controlled structures, allowing greater autonomy to localities, seem inferior, because they lack unity and cannot defend the centre against outside incursions. The nation state wins, in this interpretation, because it restores the necessary power of the centre, backed by a new mobilization of the people to replace the sacral power of the monarch. However, the notion of a secular, democratic nation had to be introduced from outside, because the cultural values of the imperial civilization could not accommodate these radically different ideals. Recent work on both empires has displayed considerable

skepticism about these reigning assumptions of traditional historiography. 1

Regional social and economic studies, based on archival materials, have replaced the monolithic focus on the culture of the centre. We recognize that even the most powerful imperial centralizers have conducted extended negotiations with ‘vernacular systems of power’ ( Salzman 1999); they have not sought to eliminate all variation, but to accommodate multiple local particularities within an overarching structure. A focus on internal dynamics replaces the exclusive attention to the impact of the West. The imperial structures were not stagnant despotisms, but were composed of fluid interactions between elites, administrators and local economies and identities. Centralization could be one outcome, but was only

one of several possible paths, and it did not have to be supported

by foreign stimulus. However, the reform movements heralded as presaging the modern state look more compromised: they may have brought ‘despotization’ that delegitimized the central state more than strengthening it (Akarli 1999). This conclusion may apply just

as well to the Tanzimat reforms of the early nineteenth century as to the Qing reforms of the late nineteenth century. If there are multiple paths to modernity, and centralization is not the exclusive index, then the metaphor of ‘decline’ loses its

value. Analyzing the tracks of these empires becomes much more complicated, since we have no clear single metric anymore. The move to regional analysis, especially, threatens to fragment our

perspectives so much that we lose any coherent view at all. But regional

analyses of empires need to retain an awareness of the imperial centre. Despite substantial influence from the Annales long-term perspective on both fields, it has proved impossible to kick the state out entirely. Events, political and military contingencies, and even

the personalities of rulers must re-enter the picture, if in a more complex way. Our goal is to discover how these large states held themselves together, and why they fell, by examining convergent and divergent ideologies, and interests generated by interactions between

elites, regions, the central apparatus and the world beyond. I suggest that frontier administration is a useful site for examining

such questions of coherence and diversity in these large agrarian empires.2 In this essay, I distinguish the frontier regions of China as

the regions encompassed by modern Manchuria, Mongolia [Outer and Inner], Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet. As areas of reduced state control, greater cultural alienation, poorer resources and more dispersed populations, they contrasted sharply with the settled

agricultural regions of China Proper. They shared socio-economic characteristics with the peripheries of macroregions as defined by G. William Skinner, but they were not part of the regular imperial administration (Skinner 1977). The term ‘frontier’ can have many meanings, but there are

basically two traditions of analysis: the European one, which stresses the creation of fixed borders between distinct states [the French frontière], and the North American one, where frontier refers to

broad regions of interaction of multiple cultures (Adelman and Aron 1999; Foucher 1986; Power and Standen 1998). The modern

Chinese term for frontier, bianjiang, combines both meanings, as bian means a region, and jiang can mean a delimited border. In imperial China, both processes occurred concurrently with imperial expansion: the rulers came into contact with new cultural groups who intermingled with each other, and administrators began to draw lines in the sand dividing the region into demarcated zones of bureaucratic control. The eighteenth century in particular is the period when these intersecting processes are most salient. Qing incorporation of the frontiers followed a sequence of ideological construction at the center, military conquest in the periphery, consolidation of new lands and people, and social and economic integration through migration and commercial exchange. To begin briefly with imperial ideology: Pamela Crossley has presented a brilliant exposition of the Qing emperorship as a ‘simultaneous expression of imperial intentions in multiple cultural frames’ (Crossley 1999: 11). The ‘cultural null’ of the imperial centre represented itself as a universal language that transcended all the particular diversities of its subject peoples, and therefore reigned over all of them. By superscribing itself on the multiple forms of cultural expression within the empire’s boundaries, imperial embraced all their contradictions. Crossley rejects historiography’s assertion of the ‘Sinicization’ of barbarian conquerors and its assumptions of ‘decline’; she draws links to the experiences of other early modern empires (including the Ottomans and Romanovs); and she outlines how imperial structures created the framework within which twentieth-century nationalists made their territorial and ethnic claims, at the same distinguishing from nationalist definitions of identity.


discourse traditional imperial

There is much to be learned from Crossley’s focus on the view

from the court and its associated institutions of the center: the rituals, the secretariats, the emperor’s person, his kinship network, and imperially commissioned histories and genealogies. We also need, however, some perspective from the edges: on how the precepts of universal rule were translated into administrative practice in the empire’s far-flung regions. We risk falling into solipsism if we look only at the central broadcasting station, without examining how its messages were received. Here, I will discuss two specific examples of the implementation of policy during and after the struggle for Central Eurasia as described by two frontier governor-generals. They concern the classification and movement of peoples and territories

as the empire expanded its scope. In conclusion, I will discuss how these two examples of frontier expansion may generate some insights about the relationship between empire and nation.

Nian Gengyao and the Incorporation of Qinghai, 1724 The present day province of Qinghai is a vast region, 743,000 square kilometers in size, with a sparse population in 1990 of 4.5 million, consisting of many nationalities, including Han, Tibetans, Muslims, Mongols, Kazakhs and Salars (Hsieh 1995: 11). Its capital, Xining, is one of China’s most culturally diverse cities, containing significant numbers of Han, Muslims, Mongolians, and Tibetans ( Gaubatz 1996). Qinghai, meaning ‘blue lake’ (Kokonor in Mongolian), is named after the great shallow lake located 150 kilometers west of Xining. Between Xining and the lake is the great Tibetan monastery of Kumbum(Chinese Ta-er-si), home of the Panchen Lama. During the early Qing dynasty, only Xining was part of the regular provincial administration. The region to the west, known as Xihai (‘west of the lake’) was controlled by Mongolian tribes known as the Khoshots. They were recent arrivals. They had originally been part of the federation of Western Mongols, with pastures near Urumqi in Xinjiang, but in the early seventeenth century they moved southeast into Kokonor (Howorth 1970; Hummel 1943–44: 265). Unified under the leadership of Gush Khan (d. 1656), they established themselves as an autonomous federation and extended their influence over Tibet. Gush Khan’s military support of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617–82) enabled him to create a centralized Tibetan state with its capital in Lhasa. As an adherent of the Yellow Teaching of Lamaist Buddhism, Gush Khan aided the Dalai Lama in crushing his rivals of the Red Sect. Gush Khan’s son served as temporal administrator under the Dalai Lama, and for the rest of the seventeenth century, Khoshot Mongol Khans were the de facto powerholders in Lhasa. During the same period, the Zunghar Mongols were consolidating their state in what is now western Mongolia and northern Xinjiang. Batur Hungtaiji (r. 1634–53) established his authority as Khan and led military campaigns to conquer Turkestan and collect tribute from the tribes of Siberia. The new state then fell into disarray but, in 1671, Galdan (r.1671–97) returned from his Tibetan lamasery to

lead the Zunghars in a vigorous campaign of expansion to the east, which would ultimately lead him into conflict with the Manchus. As the Manchus created their state in the northeast and prepared

to take control of China, the Khoshots found it advantageous to ally themselves with the new Qing dynasty. In 1637, they formally submitted to the Qing, but this submission was more like an of convenience than incorporation into an empire. Only in 1644 did the Manchus, supported by their allies among the Eastern Mongols and the Chinese bannermen, take Beijing, driving out the Ming dynasty and beginning the reunification of China. During the seventeenth century, Qing rulers were preoccupied first with driving the loyalists of the last Ming ruler to the south, and with invading Taiwan. Then, in the 1670s, the young Kangxi emperor exerted his authority over the three autonomous feudatories of the southwest (Sanfan), held by three generals who had aided the Manchu conquest. After provoking them into revolt, he launched a successful campaign to repress the revolt and make Southwest China an integral part of the empire. The next phase of imperial expansion moved to the northwest, where Kangxi fought four military campaigns against Galdan. Although Kangxi defeated Galdan twice in crushing victories in 1690 and 1696, the Mongol leader refused to surrender. After Galdan’s death in 1697, the Zunghar leaders continued to resist Qing domination. During this time, the Khoshot Mongols dominated Tibet with Qing support, but the rising Zunghar power would soon challenge their control. Latsan Khan, great grandson of Gush Khan, struggled for power in Lhasa with the regent (Diba) for influence under the feckless Sixth Dalai Lama. The regent tried twice to poison Latsan Khan, who retaliated in 1705 by killing the regent and proclaiming himself ruler of Tibet (Hummel 1943–44: 758, 760). After the Zunghars invaded Tibet in 1717, killing Latsan Khan and looting the temples of Lhasa, the Kangxi emperor sent an army, led by his fourteenth son, Yinti, which recaptured Lhasa in 1720, and drove out the Zunghars. Yinti’s military successes gave him a credible claim to be the presumptive heir to the Qing throne, but when Kangxi died in 1722, it was his fourth son, Yinzhen, who took the throne as the Yongzheng emperor (r. 1723–35), while Yinti was put under house arrest.


The Qing military intervention had not resolved the numerous

conflicts in Tibet between rival Tibetan nobles and Khoshot

Mongolian princes. Finally, Lobzang Danjin, a grandson of Gush

Khan, aimed to reunite the Khoshots and to restore their control over Tibet. The threat of Khoshot unity induced the Yongzheng emperor to send in Nian Gengyao as Fuyuan Dajiangjun (Generalissimo in charge of Pacification of Remote Regions) with his army, to suppress

this ‘rebellion’. Qing forces defeated Lobzang Danjin’s army after a short period of brutal warfare in 1724, burning large lamaseries and massacring thousands of monks. Lobzang himself escaped to the Zunghars but his wife, son, kinsmen, and followers were all captured.

At this point Nian Gengyao put forward a memorial containing thirteen items for the reconstruction and incorporation of Qinghai into the empire. Nian’s comprehensive plan included provisions for military security, economic development and administrative reform.

It was designed to ensure that Qinghai, formerly an autonomous territory ruled by Mongolian tribes, would become a permanent part of the Qing realm (Nian 1971, Vol. 2: 518; Perdue 2005: 310–14; Sato 1972: 731; YZHZZ 3/27–43).

Nian’s proposals epitomize the process of Qing imperial

formation so well that they are worth discussing in some detail. Nian began by emphasizing all the benefits that Gush Khan and his

descendants had received from the Qing emperors. The first task

was to determine rewards and punishments. Three princes who aided the Qing suppression received titles of nobility. ‘Coerced followers’ (xiecong) were pardoned, but the active leaders of the rebellion deserved execution. Nian explained the Qing decision carefully to

an assembly of the Khoshot princes, outlining in detail the crimes of the eight ringleaders. Then he had the men dragged before the assembly and had their heads cut off, in order to ‘rectify the laws of the nation (guojia)’ (Nian 1971: 30a). Second came the fixing of the territories of the Mongolian tribes.

According to Nian, the autonomy of the hereditary lineages of Mongols and Tibetans in Qinghai led to continual plundering and conflict. Now that the rebels had been rooted out, the Mongols

would be organized into banner companies, modelled on the militaryadministrative units which had been the basis of the Manchu state’s formation. Their pastureland boundaries would be fixed, and the Mongol leaders would be named jasaks: commanders of the banners

subject to confirmation by the Qing. Each tribe would be allocated a separate grazing ground, following the precedents of the Eastern

Mongols when they submitted to the Qing. No tribe could interfere with another tribe’s pasturelands. The Qing also exploited divisions among the Mongols to serve

imperial unification. The Khalkhas, or Eastern Mongols, had submitted to the Qing in a great assembly in 1690, after Kangxi’s first defeat of Galdan. In return for Qing protection, they agreed to recognize the Qing emperor as their Khan, to be enrolled in banner companies and to provide horses men and supplies to the Qing armies. Several groups of Khalkhas, however, had fled from the Zunghars to the south and instead sought protection from the Khoshots of Kokonor. Now that the Qing had taken over this region, these Khalkhas had the opportunity to free themselves from Khoshot domination by accepting Qing rule. Their chiefs would become jasaks, and they could take over territory confiscated from Lobzang Danjin’s rebels. As Nian states, ‘thus we will divide the strength of the Kokonor princes, and the Khalkha princes will no longer suffer the shame of being slaves; they will become their own tribes’. These Khalkhas were explicitly defined as a new tribe (buluo) and settled separately from the Khoshots in Qinghai. The multiple coexistence of different ethnic classifications aided the Qing in promoting its policies of divide and rule. Westerners knew this policy well as one of ‘setting barbarians against barbarians’. Similar discriminations were applied to the Tibetans (Xifan) in

Kokonor. Nian regarded them as the original inhabitants of the region, but they also provided the Qinghai Mongols with cattle, grain and labour services. When Lobzang Danjin revolted, they joined him ‘in swarms’, saying ‘they only knew of the existence of Mongols, and knew nothing of Chinese civil administration (tingwei) or garrisons’. Nian noted: ‘Now they have become obedient, but if we do not put them in order they will disperse like birds and beasts in the future.’ For Nian, these Tibetans were ‘our common people (baixing)’; ‘their lands are our lands; how can they serve the Qinghai princes?’ They would be liberated from dependence on lamaseries and Mongol princes, their settlements would be registered and taxes paid to Qing officials. But detailed population and tax registers would be introduced only gradually, so as not to alienate them. ‘Over several decades we will transform their dog and sheep natures into good people.’ Nian thus envisaged the Qinghai region as inhabited by native Tibetans, who naturally deserved to be incorporated as loyal subjects

of the Qing empire, owing duties directly to the imperial This meant detaching them from their ties to lamaseries and Mongolian lords. They would become another defined population within the territory, with distinct administrative characteristics. From a fluid mix of populations who owed multiple obligations to different superiors, Nian aimed to sort out single, well-defined groups who would be subordinated to only one superior authority. Enforcing control over the local Tibetans also meant challenging the Dalai Lama’s suzerainty, by splitting up the territorial boundaries of Tibet. Two of the four Tibetan regions, Zang and Wei in western Tibet, belonged under the Dalai Lama’s jurisdiction, but Qinghai and Kham in eastern Tibet, because they were dominated by Gush Khan, deserved a separate classification. After Lobzang’s defeat, the Kham region was attached to the neighbouring interior provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. Nian did not regard this reorganization as taking territory away from the Dalai Lama; his ‘lands of incense and fire (xianghuo)’ in the west remained under his control. The Qing would compensate the Dalai Lama for his loss of revenue with annual payments and the right to conduct trade at Dajianlu on the Sichuan border. This division of the Tibetan cultural region imposed by the Qing corresponds closely to its current administrative under the PRC. Further discipline of the Qinghai required severe limitations on the power of the lamaseries. These were some of the largest monastic establishments in the entire Tibetan region, containing up to 3,000 monks and many interconnected buildings (Ishihama 1988). They were significant centres of autonomous power, supported by dues from local Tibetans. From Nian’s point of view, the lamaseries could not be authentic religious institutions, because they stored weapons, gave refuge to ‘criminals’ and supported Lobzang Danjin’s ‘rebellion’. It was perfectly proper to burn them down and massacre their residents as rebels. Afterwards, the lamaseries would be limited in size to 300 monks, all of whom had to register with local officials and undergo twice-yearly investigations. Rent payments could not go directly to the lamaseries, but must be submitted to the government for distribution to them. To summarize these tactics: after eliminating a minority of ‘rebels’, the Qing administrators organized the remaining ‘coerced followers’ into fixed ‘tribes’ defined as territorially and circumscribed units, whose leaders were regulated by




the state. Different groups were intermingled so as to balance them against one another. ‘Natives’ were distinguished from later arrivals, and multiple allegiances were replaced with one direct line of authority. These practices of fixing boundaries, classifying peoples and designating reliable local leadership were all key components of the Qing imperial project in the frontiers, tasks which they shared with other empires in the world. Virgina Aksan, for example, points to parallel processes of defining stable borders and sharpening classifications of peoples in the eighteenth-century Russian and Ottoman empires.3 Like the British in India, the Qing rulers needed to conduct ethnographic categorizations of the new regions they ruled and to fix identities in place for the convenience of of fiscal duties and preservation of local order (Edney 1997). They replaced the fluctuating alliances of the autonomous nomadic society with fixed, hierarchically determined posts of authority. But the bureaucratic structure was not the same as that of the interior: it had to be adapted to the character of the frontier.


At the same time, promotion of immigration would enhance the

links to the interior and create a more peaceful, settled society. Nian proposed to send 10,000 Manchu and Han settler households into Qinghai in order to ‘dilute the strength’ of the Mongols and turn them toward stable cultivation. These were, in some ways, contradictory policies. The first aimed to untangle tribal affiliations by creating separate territorial and kinship entities under an orderly administrative structure, while the second introduced more diversity into the region, adding new peoples who could come into conflict with the indigenous inhabitants. Trade was another crucial instrument for binding the frontier to the centre. Before the conquest, as Nian saw it, the Mongols traded as they pleased, exchanging ‘useless hides and furs for our useful tea and cloth’ (Nian 1971: 32a). Han traders who headed for the territory in search of profit created a ‘spirit of wickedness’ (jianxin). Free trade relations also had allowed Lobzang to spy out conditions in the interior before he rebelled. Now, trade at the frontiers would be Mongolians would be divided into three groups; each group could come to the capital on a licensed trade mission once every three years, in rotation. Over nine years, all would have a chance to trade. Regular trade at border markets was allowed twice a year. Troops would patrol the markets to ensure that no one crossed the border without permission.


These regulations anticipated similar trade regulations negotiated

with the Russians in 1727, where border trade was confined to the town of Kiakhta, and tribute missions to the capital were allowed only with official permission. The Canton trade system of handling western traders at the end of the eighteenth century repeated these

principles. Joseph Fletcher has shown how Central Asian precedents set the pattern for coastal treaties in the nineteenth century. China’s first ‘unequal treaty’ settlement was negotiated with the Khan of Kokand in 1835 (Fletcher 1978: 378). Its provisions for

extraterritoriality, merchant autonomy and permanent resident political representatives were applied equally to the British after the Opium War in 1842. The same is true for the earlier period: the Canton trade system known to the western coastal traders had been

anticipated by these regulated trading arrangements on the Russian and Qinghai frontiers. Finally, Nian proposed a major new construction project to create a new border along Qinghai’s northern frontier. A connected series

of fortresses would in effect extend the Great Wall line of defense far into the Gansu corridor to Ganzhou and Anxi, cutting off Qinghai from contact with the Zunghars to the north. All Mongols would be cleared out of this area, and large numbers of settlers

from the interior would be brought to populate the garrison towns. Criminals sentenced to military exile would make ideal cultivators of the soil. The Qing repression of revolt in Qinghai was brutal but not

wanton. The large lamaseries were dismantled and re-established on a limited scale, with smaller influence, but they were not eliminated. The Qing had no ideological hostility to Lamaism per se; it was concerned only with the potential for the institution to

create centres of resistance. Under appropriate restraints, the monks could facilitate imperial control, especially if it was endorsed by the top of the hierarchy. By patronage and selective intervention in the Lamaist hierarchy, the Qing obtained the personal loyalty of

the leading Tibetan Buddhist clerics: the Jebzongdanba Hutukhtu of Mongolia, the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama among them. When these personal links were intact, there was no need to impose thorough administrative reorganization of the Tibetan regions. Qinghai’s experience has uncanny parallels with events in Tibet

in the twentieth century. We may note the appearance of rival incarnations, one backed by the orthodox hierarchy, one by the

Chinese; the use of forcible intervention to impose a solution on

Lhasa; and the concern to prevent lamaseries from becoming foci of resistance to state control. But Tibet’s experience also illustrates the difference between imperial and nationalist ideology. The Qing never conducted all-out ideological campaigns against Tibet’s

religion; Mao’s notorious statement to the Dalai Lama that ‘religion is poison’ would never have been used by a Qing emperor. Qing administrators restricted lamaseries but left their leadership in place. By contrast, the communists destroyed the landed base of

Tibet’s religious hierarchy, and during the Cultural Revolution, thousands of monastic establishments were destroyed by the Red Guards; monks and nuns were humiliated and killed. The Manchus inflicted only a nasty, sharp military shock on the resisting lamas,

after which they allowed the institution to continue. Except when they had their own militarily dominant empire in the seventh to ninth centuries, Tibetans have always been in the unfortunate position of choosing among unsatisfactory, violent or

indifferent protectors. Mongolian patronage did help the Dalai Lama centralize his state from the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries; but the eighteenth-century Zungharian intervention in internal conflicts left the Tibetans with the choice of only one patron: the Qing

emperor in Beijing. Yet after the 1720s, Tibet remained at peace under

loose Qing suzerainty. Only twentieth-century nationalist upheaval led to true threats to Tibetan culture.

The Deportation of the Turfanis Qing policy toward the East Turkestani oasis of Turfan provides

another example of how the empire sought to impose control in the face of great logistical difficulties (Perdue 2005: 231–32, 329–33). Qing armies first captured the oasis from the Zunghars in 1720. This represented the first extension of Chinese control into Turkestan

since the Tang dynasty, a thousand years earlier. But holding these territories proved difficult. Zunghar raids on Turfan continued, as it became clear that Turfan could not produce enough grain to support both the local population and a substantial garrison

(Saguchi 1981). Tsewang Rabdan (r. 1697–1727), the Zunghar leader, attempted to carry off Turfanis to the west, because these agriculturalists could

be valuable producers of grain for his state (Fu Heng 1990, 1721/6). Many Turfanis instead fled to the east, appealing for protection from the Qing. But when Tsewang Rabdan retreated the next year, the Qing generals, after some discussion, decided not to put a large garrison in Turfan. Even though the Kangxi emperor had the Turfanis as ‘our people’ (womin) and vowed to protect them against Zunghar raids, his successor, Yongzheng, would not expend large military resources in the distant oasis (Fu Heng 1990, 1725/4). These considerations led to proposals to induce the Muslims of Turfan to move closer to the Chinese borders by offering them lands to settle around Anxi and Suzhou. Anxi was still 225 km beyond the end of the Great Wall, but 665 km closer to the border. In fact, very few Turfanis accepted the offer. Only 650 of a total population of 10,000 left the oasis for a new home, even though Qing troop withdrawals left them more vulnerable. Those who did settle in Suzhou suffered from poor harvest and mistreatment by local officials that drove them into debt. In 1731, however, when Zunghar raids resumed, there was further unrest in Turfan. The garrison now numbered 3,000, but it could not support itself, and officials had to distribute relief to the local people as well (Fu Heng 1990: 1731/6 jiawu; 1731/11).


General Yue Zhongqi then outlined an extremely ambitious

sixteen-point proposal for a massive military occupation of East Turkestan (YZHZZ 19/990). He asked for substantial increases in troop strength, expansion of military colonies, and shipments from the interior. Thirty thousand troops in Barkul would move to Turfan and be replaced by 18,000 more men from Ningxia and the Ordos. Yue made detailed estimates of the supply demands for such a large force. He expected that clearance of lands around Turfan city could support 10,000 troops, and smaller towns in the region could support at least 5,000 more, but additional supplies of 30,000 shi of millet would have to be shipped annually from Suzhou. The expanded army also needed a total of 60,000 horses, including cavalry mounts and pack animals, 34,000 camels to carry over 60,000 shi of grain and 200,000 sheep, while each soldier himself carried two months of rations on his back.4 Yue’s careful estimates indicate the vast scale of preparations

necessary to launch a truly decisive campaign. He realized that a serious military effort would take at least three to four years, and

would have to root out the Mongols from their faraway nests, at the same time leaving enough troops in the oases to defend against raids. The emperor regretfully refused Yue’s requests. Although he understood how shameful it was for Yue’s garrisons to stay in defensive positions holding off nomad raids, now was not the right time for a decisive campaign (Fu Heng 1990, 1731/2 guichou). At this juncture, Imin Kwaja, the chieftain of Turfan, besieged

by the Zunghars and desperate for Qing support, began to organize a mass emigration (Saguchi 1981). Repelling Zunghar attacks, in 1733–34 he led nearly the entire population of 10,000 on a long march inland, settling them in Xin Guazhou, just west of the Anxi garrison. For his efforts, he was granted the title of jasak Fuguogong (Prince who Supports the State), and his people were organized into a banner, with Imin as the banner chief, the first Turki to receive this honour. For two decades, the Turfanis lived there in poverty, as in a refugee camp, while their homelands were devastated by warfare. They were allowed to return in 1754, as the Qing prepared its final blows against the fragmented Zunghar state. The Turfani migration toward the border was ‘voluntary’, in the sense that Imin’s people chose to protect themselves from Zunghar attacks by abandoning their home. But an important factor in their decision was the Qing refusal to guarantee the oasis against attack. The limitations on supplies for large garrisons in the oases of Turkestan meant that armies could not stay in one place very long; they had to either attack vigorously, or retreat. The long-term solution was to build up the productive resources of Turkestan so as to support both an expanded population and a military apparatus. This development only came after the mideighteenth century, when the Qing began the aggressive promotion of the settlement of Xinjiang. This semi-voluntary population movement was only one of many other migration projects promoted by the Qing. The Qing rulers shifted not only military forces but thousands of agrarian settlers, through coercive and material incentives, around their empire as they progressively incorporated larger territories into the state. From its origins as a ‘booty state’ in early seventeenth century Manchuria, the Qing used deportations and mass kidnappings to build their human resource base. As Hung Taiji commented in 1643, ‘One is not happy enough when merely taking goods, one is only satisfied when one takes people’ (Crossley 1999: 99–100).

The largest state-sponsored population movement delivered civilian and military colonists to Xinjiang after the conquest of 1760. The movement began with the establishment of military colonies and the transport of criminal exiles to the region, later followed by civilian peasants and merchants from the interior. These coercive population movements served several purposes. In the early phase of expansion, they deprived rival states of manpower. Later, they relieved agrarian pressure on poor-yielding lands of the interior, especially in the northwest. They increased agrarian productivity in Turkestan by converting grasslands to fields, constructing works, and importing new seeds and animal labour. As in Qinghai, they created a newly diverse population in the region, whose different elements could be balanced against each other so as to ensure permanent imperial control.

irrigation Symmetry

R. Bin Wong espouses the principle of symmetry in comparative analysis (Wong 1997). If we are to view China through European eyes, we should equally view Europe through Chinese eyes. This principle leads him to develop new perspectives on both regions. What is a major focus of attention in one society may only be a minor key in another. Even though the repertory of human perceptions, administrative structures or economic modes of production is finite, different forms take prominence in different places. What happens if we apply, even crudely, the principle of to the Qing/Ottoman comparison? An Ottoman looking at the Qing would find much that is strangely familiar. The Mongolian jasaks, confirmed as local leaders by the Qing, look very much like yurts, ‘summer and winter pasturelands the limits of which were determined and were entered in the imperial registers’.5 The ‘feudatories’ of the early Qing (sanfan) were large-scale timars. Both were grants of large territories to provincial military rulers in return for service to the state. And coerced population movements (sürgün) were prominent features of the Ottoman and Qing states.6 Both of these states, during times of expansion and conquest, chose analogous methods of controlling the newly incorporated populations. For administering conquered nomads, it was convenient to keep their leadership intact, while supervising their mobility. Military commanders who allied with

symmetry administrator

the ruling elite gained their rewards in autonomous territorial grants, at a time when regular taxation systems had not yet been established. Uprooting populations from their homes could bring them into greater dependence on the regime, and mixing them with other subject peoples provided useful leverage, preventing united resistance. These parallels may derive either from a common Central Asian heritage or from common conditions of rule in frontier regions (Fletcher 1995; Togan 1992). The Ottoman might be favourably impressed with how effectively the Qing used these institutions for imperial control. A Qing frontier official of the eighteenth century might find the

Ottomans too generous, however, in leaving substantial autonomy to frontier commanders (beyliks). He would have in his historical memory the experience of the Tang dynasty (618–907), another dynasty with strong Central Eurasian connections, where the autonomy of frontier military commanders led to a major rebellion in 757 which nearly destroyed the dynasty. It was only restored to the throne with the help of another group of Central Asian nomads, the Uighurs. The Manchus and their Chinese advisors knew the Tang precedents well. The Ottoman perspective indicates that Kangxi’s repression of the Three Feudatories rebellion in 1681 was a decisive turning point in the construction of the Qing state. By forcibly rejecting the construction of loosely autonomous fiefdoms in return for military service, he put the Qing on a new and different path, and constructed a completely new foundation for imperial identity (Crossley 1999: 105–108).

Empire and Nation: The Question of Modernity Inevitably, scholars of both empires must examine the relationship between imperial formations and their successor nation-states. Once again, most comparative analysis of the subject takes the European experience of state and nation formation as normative. The nationstate, in turn, represents the quintessential formation of modernity, taken to subsume mass democracy, literacy, education and technological dynamism, to name only a few. Images of the Chinese and Ottoman empires as ‘sick men’, decaying despotisms unable to adapt to the modern age, derive irresistibly from taking Europe as the model, and from assuming that modernity is a single whole or

a uniform process. But if we unbundle modernization and look at the pieces, then there seems to be less coherence and less obvious superiority of one society as a whole to another. In some ways, imperial policies then look precociously ‘modern’. Qing China’s policies (orphanages and famine relief, for example) and price regulation with evernormal granaries, exceeded those of most European states until the mid-twentieth century. Ottoman tolerance of multiple ethnic and religious communities looks preferable to nationalist exclusions. Ariel Salzman has argued that the venality and lifetime tax farming contracts of the early modern European and Ottoman empires (malikane) ‘are only the uncelebrated of contemporary privatization’ of state power (Salzman 1993).



On the other hand, some eighteenth-century developments in

the Ottoman empire look remarkably similar to those of the Qing dynasty in the nineteenth century. On the Ottoman frontiers, over a centralized army was ceded to provincial elites through contracts to local ‘state militias’ directed by prosperous elites; this is echoed in the Qing policies of commissioning militia groups (tuanlian) to secure local order (Aksan 1999; Khoury 1997; Kuhn 1970). By examining the two empires in tandem, we can raise new comparative questions. Although there were parallel relationships of local elites to the centre in elements of tax collection and military organization, the ultimate outcomes for the central state were quite different. The most striking distinction in the long run is that, despite the collapse of both empires at the end of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman realms were reorganized into nation-states, while nearly all of the Qing empire was reconstituted under a single nationalist regime.


From this perspective, it is worth examining how the ‘sprouts of

nationalism’ were planted by the Qing in the eighteenth century. Much of the terminology used by Qing frontier officials prefigures the classifications of twentieth-century nationalists. The term guojia (literally ‘state-family’) appears frequently in discussions of the northwest conquests. It is used to define the dividing line between subjects of the emperor and those beyond. The dividing line between ‘our people’ (womin) and those beyond the obligation of subjection to imperial authority was evolving during the period of expansion, as the victorious armies successively brought new groups under imperial control. The completion of the Central Asian conquests in 1760, with the designation of Xinjiang (‘New Frontier’) marked the

culmination of this process of delimitation, creating fixed territorial limits where there had formerly been shifting personal allegiances of individual leaders to the emperor. But contrary to Chinese historiography, the Qing did not ‘unify’ the peoples of China under a ‘multinationality nation-state’. What was still lacking was the concept of a fixed collective essence, rooted in ancient history. Theorists have noted the fundamental of nationalist ideologies: they claim to discover the primordial essence of a people, yet the ideology itself is a quintessentially modern creation. Nationalism evokes the progressive ‘awakening’ of a people to the recognition that they have always unconsciously shared a common fate; it is the role of intellectuals and political activists to open their people’s minds so as to mobilize them in a unified movement (Fitzgerald 1996). This faith in the unitary of an imagined community does not fit comfortably with the conception of a classical empire. Where the empire was tied together only at the top, by common subjection to the individual ruler, nations are tied at the bottom, by common subordination to a collective will. The most common fate of empires that confronted this contradiction was to break into component units. All except China have now done so. As the Romanov, Habsburg, Ottoman and Mughal domains have split into multiple national units, the process of fragmentation has not stopped, because the nationalist principle of essential unity can be applied recursively ad infinitum. Smaller minorities within the new nations then claim their own rights to autonomy or separation. Michael Walzer points out that large empires can accommodate extreme collective cultural difference within their domains much more easily than nation states (Walzer 1997). Multinational empires, whether they are Romans, Ottomans or the Qing, embrace multiple communities, each of whom is left relatively autonomous and treated relatively equally. What the communities have in common is subjection to the autocratic bureaucrats and ruler at the top; they are all the same, in this respect, regardless of the size of their population or cultural power. There were no ‘minority peoples’ in the Qing dynasty. The Manchus, who ruled the Qing, had good reason not to create the concept of ‘minority’, since they themselves were a small percentage of the total population. But they did accommodate difference and even constructed diversity in the new territories. No less than five different administrative systems governed Xinjiang in



the late eighteenth century. These included Mongol banners, Han settlers, Muslim begs ruling Turkic oasis agriculturalists, a variety of Manchu banners and military colonists. It was because they were Manchus, not because they assimilated into the superior Han Confucian civilization, that they could create these multiple of classification and administration. These barbarians did impose a kind of solution. But under imperial rule, the price of multiculturalism is Some commentators on the Middle East and the Balkans today evince a certain nostalgia for the early modern empires: in their own ramshackle forms of autocratic rule, they did keep their component peoples from slaughtering each other. But imperial structures belong to the past, or so it is claimed. Nation-states have to be built from the bottom up, on pseudo-democratic principles of popular will, not from the top down, on pseudo-sacral religious claims to divine mandates. Nation-states are founded on the presumption that all their peoples share a common history and destiny. These peoples have to voluntarily recognize that they belong to a common cultural matrix and create their political structures out of it. Twentieth-century China inherited both the imperial claims to territory and collective self-definition, and the assumptions of national unity that claimed to derive from a linear, modernizing march of history. These two models of collective destiny do not fit together comfortably, either as historical interpretation or as lived experience. The clash between national and imperial ideologies affects all of China’s population, but it is particularly conspicuous for the non-Han minorities. Now they are no longer collaborators with imperial conquerors, or autonomous cultural formations within a variegated empire, but decidedly subordinate members of a Han-dominated polity. The imperial legacy ties them inextricably to Beijing, but the nationalist ideology accommodates them with great difficulty. The extent to which non-Han peoples support the People’s Republican government today corresponds closely to their degree of integration under the Qing. Manchuria, the homeland of the Manchu rulers, is solidly part of China; Outer Mongolia, the source of the most sustained resistance to Qing domination, is an independent nation; Inner Mongolia, most of whose Mongols were loyal, and even part of the Manchu conquest elite, is fairly secure, especially because its population is majority Han, a result of massive immigration since




the seventeenth century. Xinjiang, conquered in the eighteenth century and more loosely administered, is rather restive; and Tibet,

the most alienated region, was the least tightly controlled under the Qing. Within the Tibetan cultural realm, Qinghai and Kham (western Sichuan), are more loyal than the population in Lhasa. Likewise, in Xinjiang, Turfan is the oasis with the most positive feelings about China, while Kashgar is the most hostile (Rudelson 1997). Qing frontier administration strongly affected the strength

of the ties between these regions and the centre. Taiwan, too, conquered only in the 1680s, a site of frequent

rebellions in the eighteenth century, and a colony of Japan after 1895, shares with Tibet a history of sporadic, contested imperial control.

Today, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet are looking for definitions of cultural belonging to the straightjacket of the


nineteenth-century version of nationalism. Beijing, on the other hand, endorses both racialist conceptions of cultural unity derived from the nineteenth century while carrying on many of the practices of the empire.


Both empires and nations face the question of how multiple collective identities, produced from personal memory, socialization,

and mobilization, can fit together under political structures that tolerate difference but maintain unity. The empire is the spectre that haunts the modern nation. Rejected as emblematic of the dark past, it leaves its inescapable traces on the territorial and subjective claims of the modern political community. As a source of both pride and shame, it inspires inadequate histories that

attempt to embrace its contradictions in a single narrative that links

it seamlessly to a people’s common destiny. But its diversity cannot be suppressed. Recovering the multiple accommodations between centre and locality, between state and local elites, or core and periphery, makes the story much more complex, but truer to lived experience. In the long run, national communities need genuine, not

factitious histories, that are sensitive to the unavoidable pluralities of social experience.

Notes 1. ‘It is probably unwise to think of centralization — that is, the toward concentration of decisive power in the hands of a single ruler — as the normal, or more vital motive in Qing political culture.’ (Crossley 1999: 158); ‘many political economists and social scientists


still use the degree of centralization of administrative and coercive capacity to measure the progress of state development ... [but] the very longevity of the Ottoman state points to a paradox: that long-term institutional decentralization may well be a viable strategy, in fact an integral part, of the socio-organizational evolution of the modern state’ (Salzman 1993). 2. For a comparable examination of the Ottoman empire from a frontier perspective, see Khoury 1997.

3. ‘From 1699 forward ... the whole bureaucratic apparatus of diplomacy in Istanbul moved to strategies of peace which involved mediation and fixed borders.’ In Russia, ‘A new fortress line was built in the northern Caucasus’, further closing the ill-defined border between Russian and

nomad, between Orthodoxy and Islam (Aksan 1999). 4. Oneshi of grain weighs approximately 60 kilograms. 5. Inalcik and Quataert (1994: 37. Cf. Khoury 1997: 31), on the compilation of registers as part of the ‘state’s policy of curtailing the movement of pastoral groups by turning them into taxable subjects within a limited geographical area.’ 6. ‘The state’s deportation policy ... played a major role in the shifts of population in the empire.... As was true in the Byzantine and Iranian empires, the Ottomans, too, applied the policy of forced deportation of population in an effort to get rid of a rebellious ethnic group or to colonize a particular area important for the state’ (Inalcik and Quataert 1994: 32).

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2 Administrative Practice between Religious and State Law on the Eastern Frontiers of the Ottoman Empire Dina Rizk Khoury The notion of early modern empires as negotiated enterprises is a useful conceptual tool for historians engaged in the study of state-building across time and space. Popularised by historical Charles Tilly in his comparative work on the different paths of European state-building, the term itself is quite opaque, its meaning premised on a very fluid concept of bargaining as a tool of power (Tilly 1990; Tilly and Blockmans 1994). Various sectors of the state elite in the early modern period deployed a host of strategies to negotiate alliances with local political actors. The mobilization and funding for wars, the administration of localities, the collection of taxes, and a host of other functions central to the maintenance of the state’s hegemony all fall under the rubric of a series of negotiated settlements between the state and the locality. The concept of bargaining between and state and society allows us to explain what in reality was a very specific articulation of relations of power between the centre and its subjects, and allows us to do so without the pitfall of theoretical generalizations drawn from the study of a limited set of historical experiences. The concept of bargaining, it turns out, is a remarkably mobile one. Shorn of its grounding in early modern European history, it can be used across space and time to explain the variegated experiences of different political hegemonies. At the same time, it provides a relatively straightforward explanation for the transition from early modern forms of hegemony to the modern. In contrast to the fluidity and opaqueness of negotiated forms of control, social scientists such as Scott now view, as the hallmark of modernity, the modern state’s abilities to map territories and develop clear categories of administrative practice where negotiation was curtailed (Scott 1998).


Administrative Practice on Eastern Frontiers of Ottoman Empire Historians have done much in the past decade to complicate this admittedly rough and schematic general narrative of the transition

from early modern to modern.1 Yet the pitfalls of using an elastic term such as ‘negotiation’ are abundant. If power is exercised within the parameters of negotiated contract between various groups within society, what sets the limits of this negotiation?

Explaining meaning of rebellions as vehicles of change in political culture. In the the coercive power of the state is crucial if we are to understand the limits of consensus, and by implication legitimacy, and the

Ottoman case, the state was engaged in an almost continuous battle, not only with its external enemies but also with its subject Karen Barkey has viewed these rebellions as vehicles by


which groups outside the Ottoman political ‘system’ negotiated their way in. Various local leaders rebelled in the interest of obtaining or

retaining economic and political entitlement from the state in the early modern period. Ultimately, however, such rebellions, unlike their counterparts in France and China, were negotiating ploys (Barkey 1994). As ploys, they did not change the nature of the state’s

hegemony, government began of series of reforms with a massive and violent effort

clearly articulated in the series of laws set in the sixteenth century. It was only in the nineteenth century, when the Ottoman

to liquidate localized forms of rule, that the legal and administrative culture of the empire was transformed in fundamental ways. I will not attempt to address in this paper the nettlesome and often circular argument of continuity and break between early modern and modern forms of rule. Rather, what interests me are

two underlying assumptions of the way the concept of negotiation can inform and at the same obfuscate our understanding of the forms of power in the early modern Ottoman empire. At one level, thinking of the relationship between the centre and local power elite as a series of struck bargains dependent on the power of each party in the contract allows us take into account the divergent

ways in which Ottoman control was exercised across the empire. At another level, the emphasis we place on the distributive power of the state, its ability and readiness to make concessions for its various subjects through negotiations, moves our attention from the active and often crucial role localities played in the articulation of the political culture of imperial rule. What gets glossed over in this

schema is the extent to which local understandings and challenges to state hegemony circumscribe and define both administrative law and its legitimization through sharia (religious law).

Dina Rizk Khoury Three questions concern me in this essay. How did negotiation between centre and local groups affect administrative laws imposed at the provincial level? What were the vocabularies used by the state and/or local claimants to legitimate and/or contest this practice? Finally, in what ways did the imperial centre adapt to the realities of frontier provinces where both military and ideological challenges to the legitimacy of Ottoman rule were quite common? I focus on the Iraqi provinces of the Ottoman empire during the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries, particularly the provinces of Basra in the south and Mosul in the north. For much of the early modern period, these provinces were the military and ideological frontiers of the Ottoman empire. Local political households, independent warlords, and disruptive occupations by Safavid forces and its successor states that emerged in the aftermath of their fall in 1722, furnished the Ottomans with a number of opportunities to define and redefine their administrative practices in a volatile political environment. As such, a study of the administrative practice in these provinces allows us to gauge the extent and limits of negotiation as a tool of power, and to examine local understandings and challenges to what constituted legitimate state prerogatives. The provinces of Basra and Mosul provide good and contrasting examples of the relationship between the centre and the provincial subjects because the political economy of these two provinces, the ethnic composition of their populations and their places as frontier provinces in the Empire were quite different. These differences were reflected in the way the state chose to apply administrative law. Furthermore, I have chosen to examine two periods in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, when the early modern state engaged in conscious and concerted effort to reform its administrative practices. Any conclusions about the relationship of state law, sharia and local practice during these periods could provide an instructive comparison with the modern state’s attempts at reform.


Administrative Practice between Kanun (State Law) and Sharia Sometime during the 1670s, Hussein bin Hasan, known as Mimizadeh, a scholar from the southern Iraqi city of Basra, dedicated an epistle he authored on the art of ruling an empire (siyasat al-mamlakat)

to the newly appointed Ottoman governor of Basra (Mimizadeh n.d.).2 In it, he expounded on the bases of a just Islamic order. At the heart of any Islamic order, wrote Mimizadeh, was the belief in the oneness and omnipotence of God. However, integral to being a Muslim was the duty to advise God’s creatures about religion and to admonish rulers, the caretakers of God’s creatures on earth, not to forget their duties. Like fathers, rulers are to protect their subjects from harm, guide them to the true path and ensure their prosperity. In exchange, subjects owed rulers sanctioned taxes and the commitment not to rebel. Mimizadeh’s epistle on just rule echoed the advice literature produced by the literati at the centre of the empire in the late and seventeenth centuries. Deeply aware of the crisis that enveloped the empire, they sought to remedy the roots of this and political crisis by finding exemplars in the early Islamic or classical Ottoman period. The ruler, in this literature, was at the centre of an order in which political stability and moral/ religious practice were intertwined. For Mimizadeh, more so than for his contemporaries writing from the centre of the empire, the Ottoman sultan’s rule was modelled on two cultural constructs: the Persian construct, in which effective rule was maintained by an efficient bureaucracy and a qualified administrative elite, and an Islamic model based on the example of the Prophet and the early rulers of the young Muslim community. Central to this view of an ideal ruler was his ability to enforce administrative laws through effective and ‘just’ taxation, and to maintain morality and social stability through the application of sharia. Fiscal justice, maintained through adherence to kanun, and moral order maintained through the application of sharia by the provincial judicial courts, were inseparable. That this view of just rule was normative goes without saying. However, it was a powerful ideal that continued to inform much of the debate on administration and reform in the Iraqi provinces of the Ottoman empire. In these provinces, administrative law was often circumscribed by the realities on the ground. The Ottomans were adept at modifying their fiscal expectations from these provinces, and administrative laws governing land tenure and land taxes were adjusted to suit the realities of the province. Furthermore, unlike Qing China, where the line between customary law (law under which transactions in land were covered) and state law were more

sixteenth economic

clearly drawn, for the Ottomans the relationship between kanun and sharia on issues of land, its administration and/or ownership was more ambiguous.3 Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the definition of property in land and its products. Islamic legal scholars had developed a very sophisticated opus on the various meanings of property by the late medieval period. Scholars of the Hanafite school of law, which the Ottomans espoused, had articulated the notion that all land was under the guardianship of the sultan who was the representative of God on earth (Johansen 1988). The state extracted taxes from peasants based on the notion of eminent domain in cultivated land. In exchange, the peasantry had the right of protection, subsistence, usufruct (explained in some legal literature as rental) and perpetuity as a peasant family. Ottoman state law built on this Hanafi notion of property and justified taxation of land on this basis. Property was categorized according to taxes imposed (some taxes being strictly non-Islamic, that is, recognized as state taxes) while others were defined as religiously sanctioned. The different series of provincial state laws (kanunamler) and the administrative guidelines attached to them issued in the sixteenth century when the Ottomans conquered Iraq reflect this uneasy symbiosis between kanun and the Hanafi interpretation of sharia. The guardianship of the sultan over land meant that the Ottoman state was a distributive state in which privileges and rights flowed downward. The sultan rented out the rights of cultivation, the rights to collect taxes and a number of other rights to the produce of the land through a series of contracts with one or more of the following parties: peasants, tax farmers, administrative officials and the prebendal cavalry. The articles on land cultivation and administration in the provincial state laws are remarkable for the contractual language that permeates them. Contracts tied a large number of proprietors of rent who had access to the surplus of the land in a hierarchy of rights and obligations that is often quite complex. Tax farming registers for the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for the province of Mosul, together with petitions for the cultivation of deserted village lands, attest to the negotiated and contractual nature of the application of the idea of state ownership of land (Khoury 1997: 75–115). Sharia, however, described property in land not only in terms

of ownership of land by the sultan and religiously sanctioned taxes

of this land, but also in terms of inheritance and individual rights within the family. Thus, while state law did build on sharia, the latter’s purview went well beyond the fiscal concerns of the state, to the organization of familial relations and hierarchies, and to the protection of such rights against what was viewed as threats by the state’s fiscal prerogatives (Mundy 1988: 1–123). The state had no monopoly over the production of knowledge of Islamic law, nor did it control its scholars. Judges trained at the official schools in Istanbul staffed the court system in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman empire only at the highest level. Locally recruited jurists as well as deputy judges engaged in defining the interpretation of secular law and its perceived deviance or adherence to one school or the other of the sharia in matters of land taxes and ownership of land rents. They did so by writing non-binding legal opinions (fetwas) on such matters. While adjudicating judges may not have adhered to these legal opinions, they often defined the parameters of action open to them (Rafeq 1994: 9–23; Rafeq 1999: 67–95). The Ottoman provincial court system allowed for the opinion of jurists outside its dominant Hanafi school of law and left it to the discretion of the Hanafi judge as to whether to take these dissenting opinions into consideration when making his decision. The space available within the official court system of the empire

for dissenting interpretations of sharia and state law meant that legal scholars could challenge the fiscal prerogatives of the state within what E. P. Thompson has aptly called, in the context of the legal culture of early modern England, ‘the rhetoric and rules of society’ (Thompson 1975: 265). At the level of administering justice, the lines between kanun and sharia were often murky. Kanun itself was an amalgam of sharia, customary law drawn from the Turkic tradition of rule, local customary practice (örf), and Byzantine practices on issues of taxation, control of resources and organization of artisanal production. For political thinkers as well as for Islamic jurists, the concept of justice (in its wider political as well as juridical senses) was intimately bound to rule by a Muslim sultan. As a result, the Ottomans more than any other Islamic rulers invested provincial judges with a wide array of administrative functions. The Islamic court judge was responsible for the administration of both kanun and sharia, as well as for the implementation of a slew of other orders coming from the state.4 The division of the tax burden among the sultan’s subjects, the mobilization and provisioning for war, the

implementation of state laws governing the city’s crafts corporation

and the adjudication of disputes governing inheritance, marriage and land revenues were among the many functions performed at the local court. In areas where no strong provincial political class emerged, the court became the main venue of Ottoman control (Goffman 2000, Gradeva 1999: 177–90). However, despite what appeared to be a

state monopoly over the implementation of Islamic as well as state law in the courts of the judges, the Ottomans never had the complete

acquiescence of their informed subjects on what was Islamic and what was not. Nor did the state, with a few notable exceptions, try to force such acquiescence. In fact, as the cases of Basra and Mosul

demonstrate, the Ottomans often made piecemeal modifications of administrative laws as a concession to revenue holders and local

landowning groups, by bringing the state law closer to the sharia definition of ownership of land. The boundaries separating sharia and kanun were often redrawn by the state on the one hand and, on the other, by local groups who chose to challenge its definition of what it considered allowable in sharia terms.

Administering Frontiers During the 1660s and 1670s the Ottomans, under the leadership of

the reforming Koprulu grand viziers, initiated a series of military conquests and administrative reforms. The imprint of this new era of reform on the legal norms of the Ottoman provinces was particularly evident in a series of new laws issued to rule over the newly conquered territories of Crete and Basra. Analyzing the

place of these laws in the development of Ottoman kanun will allow us a concrete example of the reworking of the relationship of

kanun and sharia during a period defined by the state as a period of renewal. Less than fifty years later, the Ottomans introduced into the province of Mosul a more permanent form of tax farming

practice with a view to reforming the fiscal system and renewing the empire after it had suffered its first major loss of territory in

Europe. The introduction of this form of tax farming had a profound impact on the distribution of wealth and the understanding by the local claimants to revenue of what it meant to be an owner of such tax farm. For much of the early modern period, the Iraqi provinces of the

Ottoman empire presented both ideological and military frontiers.

Early in the sixteenth century, the struggle between the Sunni Ottomans and the Shi’i Safavids for control over trade routes and the more legitimate version of Islamic rule was fought in the territories that correspond roughly to modern day Iraq (al-Azzawi n. d.; Olson 1975). Several wars were fought, some in extended occupations. Despite clear demarcation of borders between the two empires after Suleyman’s conquest of Baghdad and Basra in the sixteenth century, these territorial borders were rendered meaningless by the refusal of a number of Kurdish and Arab tribal principalities to accept the transformation of these fluid frontiers into well-delimited territories. The Ottomans’ to impose administrative law in these areas was sporadic and inconsistent. For the government, it was more important that the local rulers of these areas provide them with the manpower to fight wars on the Persian front. To that end, outside of the major population centres of these areas (Mosul, Basra, Baghdad, Irbil, Kirkuk), we have no indication that an Ottoman legal culture developed as it did in the other cities in the area. In the absence of effective Ottoman administration, of an Ottoman legal apparatus, or rather of a common idiom, coercion more than negotiations defined the relations between these areas on the frontier and the Ottomans. Allegiances to the Ottomans were always tenuous, rebellions frequent, and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century official documents replete with demands, sometimes exhortations, sent to the governors in the major seats of the province to reestablish order in these areas. Both the rugged and mountainous terrain in the north and the southern marshes and deserts lent themselves to the maintenance and perpetuity of local cultures less amenable to control.5 The extent to which the Ottoman legal court culture, with its mixture of sharia and kanun, impinge on the customary practices and law of these populations is hard to tell. It is in these areas that the Ottoman modern legal system, implemented during the second half of the nineteenth century, resulted in great changes in customary law and practice.6 During our period, however, the Ottomans did not have the wherewithal, or perhaps the will, to affect major changes in the legal culture of these areas. The situation was quite different in the major population and commercial centres on the eastern frontier. In both Basra and Mosul, the Ottomans sought to establish a measure of control over resources by the imposition of administrative laws. However, they came up



against two areas with distinct economies, populations and political cultures. Basra, a commercial city-state governed by an alliance of a tribal aristocracy and a merchant elite when the Ottomans conquered it in the sixteenth century, proved the more challenging of the two cities to keep within the Ottoman fold. The Ottomans made a number of adjustments in the set of administrative laws (kanunamler) they introduced into the province in the sixteenth century to accommodate the situation. Mosul was a node for the long distance trade in goods coming from Persia westward and Syria going eastward; however, its importance lay in its role as the centre of trade for its rich agricultural hinterland. Although the pastoral population of the area often brought their animals to sell in the city, they never came to dominate it as they did in Basra. As a the Ottomans found a stable agricultural population on which they imposed, with minor concessions to local practice, the series of administrative laws that governed the extraction of rural resources that the existed in the other parts of the empire. From the onset of Ottoman rule, the differences in matters of law and practice were clear.


administrative The Province of Basra as Commercial and Military Frontier

The city of Basra and its surrounding hinterland were the main segues of the Ottomans into the Indian Ocean trade. Located on the Shatt-al-Arab waterway that connects the Euphrates and Tigris river-trade to the Persian Gulf, its commercial importance was paramount in the area of the Fertile Crescent. It was ruled by the heads (shaykhs) of the Muntafiq tribe allied to local merchants at the time of its conquest by the armies of Suleyman the Magnificent in 1546.7 The leaders of the city had established commercial contacts with the Portuguese and appear to have become part of the tug-of-war over control of the Persian Gulf trade between the Portuguese and various rulers of commercial city-states along both sides of Gulf (Inalcik and Quataert 1994: 315–63; Khoury 1991). While the city fell briefly to the Safavids, their rule remained nominal. Until Basra’s subjugation by the Ottomans, there were no borders delimiting the movement of goods and people across both sides of the Gulf. Nor was there any kind of religious orthodoxy, either Ottoman Sunni or Safavid Shi’i. Rather, the heterodox politico-religious movement

of the musha’shi’in seemed to have attracted most of the pastoral populations while the city’s population was partly Shi’i, Sunni or Sabaen.8 Both in the northern and southern areas, the Ottomans faced a heterogeneous population. In the north, Sunni orthodox Islam became predominant in Mosul after the Ottomans and their local allies tried to weed out Shi’is from the city, while in the south, the musha’shi’in movement gradually succumbed to the Safavid persecution and Ottoman pressure (Imber 1996: 103–28). For the Ottomans, control of Basra was essential for both and political reasons. Basra was the main artery of the India trade. As a result, bullion travelled out and into the empire through its port. Controlling the flow of bullion was essential, and the Ottomans established one of the few mints in Basra (Khoury 1991; Pamuk 2000: 104). At the same time, taxes accruing from the lucrative India trade proved essential for the Ottomans. Politically, the conquest of Basra allowed the Ottomans to launch two attempts to expel the Portuguese from the India trade, and limited the spread of Safavid control to the eastern part of the Gulf (Ozbaran 1972: 45–87). Furthermore, the population of the city was ethnically and religiously diverse and its connections to the world of the Indian Ocean strong, so that the development of a Sunni Ottomanized elite amenable to Ottoman control was slow. Until the eighteenth century, Basra’s political history alternated between the ascendance of a commercial tribal aristocracy and the rule of an elite household allied to this aristocracy. Because of the centrality of receipt of trade to the economy of Basra, the Ottomans’ interest lay in categorizing and taxing this trade. The sixteenth-century kanunamler (administrative laws) are more detailed on issues of trade than they are on the issue of taxing rural populations (Khoury 1991; Mantran 1967).



Perhaps because the counting and classifying of these mobile

rural populations was difficult, the Ottomans chose to list the male adults by name only, without designating, as they did in other areas of the empire, the amount of land the peasant cultivated. Rather, it appears that the apportionment of taxes for each group was to be determined by the local leader. The Ottomans did not impose a prebendal elite on the rural population; thus they seem to have not expected any military or administrative functions from the leaders except for the submission of rural taxes.9 Whether this meant that Ottoman administrative and legal culture did not penetrate into

the countryside is an important point to ponder. It appears that classification of rural units under cift, cift hanes, and later tevzi hanes remained alien to the rural population and its leaders. What was more familiar in the texts was the classification of rural taxes on produce, such as rice, wheat and dates, in addition to other goods. These, however, did not seem to have profoundly changed customary practices in the use of land.10 Whether the Ottomans planned to change this situation once they had a firmer hold on the province is hard to tell. Basra proved hard to control especially after a political dynasty called the Afrasiyab took control of the city and its hinterland in the 1590s and ruled it as an autonomous city-state. However, despite the apparent of the city, the Afrasiyabs chose to exercise in the city a distinct form of Ottoman control. They fashioned themselves into an extended household, with a retinue, a private army and court appointed literati. Janissary regiments, a local court, a council of notables — in other words, all the trappings of an Ottoman urban order — were maintained under the Afrasiyabs. In this respect, the Afrasiyabs were mimicking a form of provincial rule that a number of autonomous warlords had mastered in the seventeenth century. However, the Afrasiyabs, more than other autonomous rulers, were closely allied to the merchants of the city and their tribal allies in the rural area ( Khoury 1991). When the Ottomans re-conquered the city in 1669, they attempted to break this strong alliance by the two groups and by restructuring the hierarchy of power in the city. In the rural areas, they accepted the de facto rights of urban and tribal elites to the lands they had been cultivating for commercial purposes, by officially declaring them private. In the city itself, they appointed a new administrative elite and took stock of the sixteenth-century administrative laws governing urban artisanal and commercial taxes, by using a new tax register. There were no new categories of taxes introduced in these laws, just an expansion of tax farming practices to include the majority of taxes expected from the different economic sectors of the city. A number of these tax farms went to the commercial elites of the city.11



It is a more difficult to assert continuity in administrative law

between the sixteenth and seventeenth century registers. The little we know about Basra in this period indicates that the city experienced a strong commercial revival, bolstered by the expansion in the cultivation of cash crops such as rice and dates. In the rural

areas surrounding the city, as well as in agricultural lands around the surrounding marshes, the seventeenth-century survey points to agricultural estates in which rice and date trees were cultivated. It is not clear from the sources available what were the legal that defined ownership rights in these estates. In other words, we do not know whether these were developed under a regime of absolute ownership of land or a regime of entitlement to rents of the land (as was the case in other parts of the empire where commercialization took place).12 What is clear, however, is that the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century registers present us with new classifications of ownership and new categories of owners. I would like to focus on one category of ownership and one category of owners as an example.13 The cultivation of trees, in Basra’s case date trees, was widespread if not highly commercialized in the sixteenth century. Date trees were taxed in two forms: under the generalized rubric of gardens, or their product (dates) were listed as part of the tithe accruing to the state. In the first case, they were taxed as private property, as ownership of gardens was accepted under kanun, and in the second, dates were products of trees planted on what was considered state land and were taxed accordingly. In both cases, date trees were not listed as a clear and independent category, but rather subsumed under the generalized format of Ottoman law on land (tithes, gardens and other pasture taxes), a format that incorporated elements of Islamic Hanafi law. In the seventeenth-century register, a new classification of ownership appears: ownership of individual date trees by individual proprietors. Trees, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, were listed as belonging to certain persons. In the sixteenth-century register, owners of gardens were listed separately and set aside as a category outside what was considered state land where state law applied on issues of rental and transfer (usually covering villages or territories controlled by tribal groups). These gardens were bracketed from the purview of kanun and were governed by the legal precepts of sharia on such issues of rental, transfer and inheritance. The seventeenth-century cadastral register, however, contained lists of villages, taxes on products, as well as the amount of date trees owned by individuals as private property in each village. Thus, the counting of trees and the counting of owners of trees was a new in the seventeenth-century survey.




The new category of persons that appears in the seventeenth-century register is that of women. In marked contrast to the sixteenth-century survey, women in the later survey were listed as heads of households and as owners of date trees and rice fields. The majority of these women were daughters or wives of prominent city merchants and political elite, a number carrying the last name of Afrasiyab. However, a substantial number were designated as or wives of tribal leaders, indicating that individual ownership of trees spread beyond the limits of the city’s elite.


What are we to make of these changes? Perhaps the clearest

explanation would attribute this change to the economic and circumstances the Ottomans found themselves in during the seventeenth century. When Basra was forcibly brought into the Ottoman fold in 1669, it had had a strong commercial, political and agrarian/tribal landowning elite. Systems of land use and that went with it had not been shaped by strong Ottoman administrative practice in the previous century. Commercial production appears to have been initiated by individuals, male and female, who regarded the products of land brought under cultivation as private property. Commercial agricultural was not new to Basra. Before the sixteenth-century Ottoman conquest, the Basrenes were the primary producers of grains in the area and they sold the bulk of their produce to the Portuguese stationed in Hormuz. Presumably, these grains were cultivated on privately owned land, land that the Ottoman government tried to register as state land in the sixteenth century. However, by the seventeenth, commercial production of dates spearheaded the in the area and date trees and groves were privately owned, often in partnership with others. The Ottomans did not attempt to change patterns of ownership that had developed over the previous century. Rather, they imposed a new tax, the divaniye tax, on products and embraced within the purview of kanun the private and individual ownership of trees, an aspect of ownership they were not prone to accept in the sixteenth century. Their was to acknowledge this development under a separate in the survey. However, it is important to situate this change in law in the context of the debates within the Ottoman judicial establishment as well as the provincial jurists on the interpretation of regimes of ownership within the empire. Scholars of the Hanafite school of


entitlements agricultural production

prosperity agricultural compromise classification

law, to which the Ottomans belonged, had debated whether groves

or fields cultivated but not inhabited by peasants should be taxed as state land or as privately owned land. In the former case, they were classified as mirî (state) lands and could be taxed as such, while in the latter case they could be classified as privately owned

lands on which peasants paid the sharia-sanctioned tax, harac. According to Colin Imber, the consensus among the empire’s official religious scholars was that while trees could be considered private property, the land itself was not. It was leased by the state to

individual growers (Imber 1996: 207–16). Yet the sixteenth-century register of Basra does not list owners of date trees or the amount of trees owned, but the tax on dates in lump sum. What is striking in the seventeenth-century register is the listing of owners and the

number of trees or rice fields they owned as a separate category. Furthermore, in neither the prebendal system nor the farming of land revenues did the state’s law recognize women as legal claimants, although in practice women were often tax farmers (Repp 1988).

In contrast, through laws governing inheritance and sale, women were recognized as legal proprietors in Islamic law. The listing of women as owners of trees and rice fields offers convincing proof that the state had accepted that such lands were transferable

through sales and through inheritance according to the sharia law of inheritance. To interpret these minor changes in the system of classification in regimes of property in the seventeenth century, we need to place

them in the context of the political culture at the centre as well as in the provinces. Historians of the Ottoman empire have viewed the seventeenth century as one of administrative chaos in which the state intermittently issued a series of administrative measures

to deal with restive provincial populations. There were no attempts on the part of the state to transform or challenge the fundamentals of the legal vision enshrined in the series of provincial laws issued in the sixteenth century. While historians of the Köprülü era concede

that the period saw a wide-ranging effort to reform the administrative practices of the state, there have been few works that focus on how these reforms translated in the provinces of the empire. The study of two sets of provincial administrative laws for Basra and Crete,

systematically drawn by the Ottomans, shows us for the first time that the Köprülü’s attempts at reform were framed within the fifteenth- and

sixteenth-century administrative language. However, the Köprülü appear to have introduced new elements into the definition of legal categories, elements closer to sharia categories on taxes on property. Basing her conclusions on the study of the series of laws (kanunamler) attached to the cadastral survey of Crete in the aftermath of its conquest in 1669, Molly Greene offers us one of the few examples of how the Koprulu’s reform agenda worked in the provinces (Greene 2002: 78–140). She finds that Cretans were allowed to register as harac land, that is to say, land that was transferable and heritable and subject to classical Islamic taxes, such as the tithe osr. Greene believes that the Ottomans accepted the claims of to private ownership and did not attempt to turn the bulk of the island’s land into state land. This she attributes to the Ottoman attempts to encourage cultivation and attract Muslim settlers by using the classical Islamic concept of taxing conquered territories, a practice the reforming Koprulu viziers seem to have followed. The Iraqi provinces’ place in the Ottoman empire was somewhat different. Conquered in the sixteenth century from the Shi’ite Safavids, Baghdad and Mosul fell back under Safavid control for a brief period in the first half of the seventeenth century. When they were re-conquered, with much fanfare, by Murad IV, the Ottomans felt no compulsion to conduct new surveys. Basra did not fall to the Safavids in the seventeenth century. Hence, it was never officially outside the control of the Ottomans. The Afrasiyabs were regarded as renegade subjects that should be subdued. Yet it was for Basra that the Ottomans chose to write a set of administrative laws and conduct a detailed cadastral survey. Like Crete, Basra had been brought into the Ottoman fold under a reforming vizerial dynasty. In both cases, the Ottomans engaged in a new effort to survey, record, and classify taxes. In both cases, they departed from the fifteenth-and sixteenth-century categories for classifying land taxes and expanded the category of individual ownership of agricultural land in an effort to bring it closer to definitions of sharia. Mimizadeh’s epistle, discussed earlier in this paper, on just rule, demonstrated the potency of the ideology of reform, dubbed by Mimizadeh as renewal (tajdid), for sectors of the provincial literati. Yet Mimizadeh’s vision of the reformed state at the centre of the empire drew not on the exemplars of the classical Ottoman period such as Suleyman the Lawgiver but rather on the rulers of the early Islamic state. Invoking the memory of this




classical Islamic period, when the legal prerogatives of the state

on matters of taxation were closer to the definitions of religiously sanctioned taxes, was the idiom chosen by Mimizadeh to call for the limits of the state’s rights to taxes. Nowhere, however, does Mimizadeh challenge the legitimacy of the state’s prerogatives. His was a call for the new governor of Basra to emulate his early

Islamic predecessors whose legacy the Ottoman state perpetuated. That Mimizadeh was able to do so was partly the result of the

expectations that the Köprülüs, as reforming households, created of a just rule within the Empire. The Province of Mosul as Military Frontier Mosul’s place in the Ottoman empire was somewhat different than Basra’s. More amenable to Ottoman control than many of the smaller

towns on the eastern frontier of the empire, it became, in the

seventeenth century, the centre for the recruitment, mobilization and provisioning of troops for the Ottoman fight against the Safavids (Khoury 1997). It maintained that position throughout the

eighteenth century, providing the Ottomans with a more dependable

base than Baghdad, whose tribal populations and urban elite were less amenable to Ottoman control. By the early eighteenth century,

the business of defending the eastern frontiers of the empire from Persian invasions as well as from rebellious frontier overlords fell to a family of private contractors who monopolized the office of governors for the next century. The Jalilis recruited armies,

provincial collected funds for their provisioning and were active in the transfer

of goods and capital across the southeastern part of the Empire during campaigns. That they had the resources to do all that was in

part due to the transformation in the system of tax farming which allowed them secure access to revenues over a long period of time. The prebendal system of rural administration was introduced into

Mosul in the sixteenth century and the Ottomans succeeded in imposing its categories of tenure and regime of ownership on the

local population. By the seventeenth century, most of the important revenues of the province were farmed out as tax farms to regional and local elite on a short-term basis. The practice of farming taxes had a long history in the imperial Islamic empires. Discussed in the Islamic legal literature under the rubric of iqta’, a category in

which the ruler bestowed on his elite revenues of land in exchange

of service, it had at the time of the Ottomans lost its exclusive

association with service. By the seventeenth century, a tax farm was purchased for economic reasons, as an investment, with clear stipulations in the contract between the state and its subject that he would submit late taxes and brings the land into cultivation.

Because the price of the tax farm was set at the market value of its revenues, taxes turned into commodities accruing to individuals independent of their administrative abilities. In marked contrast to the situation in Basra, where the commercialization of agricultural

production took place under a regime of property approximating private ownership, commercial agricultural production in Mosul took place under a regime of entitlement to rents from the land through tax farming.

By 1703, the Ottomans introduced into Mosul a new category of tax farming which allowed tax farmers further proprietary rights over their entitlement to rent. The life tax farm, malikane, was presented by the state as a new reform measure designed to remedy the ills

of the empire. The malikane owners were granted proprietorship over revenues for the duration of their lives. They were allowed to transfer their rights to the revenue of the land, their rights being understood as tasarruf, the right to dispose of revenue. They could

transfer part of their holdings to their male children during their lifetime, and could pass on the right to their descendents on their death after obtaining special permission from the state. There were only two limitations on the right of the malikane holders. The first

was that the state could withdraw its renewal of malikane when the issue came up at the time of the ascension of a new sultan, or when the original owner of rent died. The second was that the malikane owner could not dispossess the peasant from his rights to cultivate the land,

nor could he take possession of that portion of the surplus that went to the peasant’s sustenance. However, what is remarkable in the new form of revenue ownership is how much closer it was brought to the sharia definitions of heritable property, where inheritance of titles

to revenue became regularized and transfer of revenue was legally recognized. However, ultimate ownership remained with the state, the peasants rights to subsistence were maintained at the expense of the owner and women could not legally become owners of such

revenues, something they could do under the provenance of sharia rules of inheritance.

By the 1750s, a two-tiered social division within tax-farming

groups in Mosul had emerged. The first tier, four lineage groups who were divided into several extended households, monopolized both rural and urban malikane holdings. At their head were the Jalili households, the main military contractors for the state on the eastern

frontier. They formed a provincial Ottoman aristocracy, copying the political and organizational culture of the elite households in Istanbul. The second tier of malikane owners was a group of medium and small proprietors of rural rents. While many of them held shares

in malikane in partnership with wealthier households, they faced an ongoing battle trying to secure and maintain access to rural rents in the face of the predatory acquisitiveness of their wealthier cohorts. It is from this group of small and medium owners of rural

rents that most of the literature on the legality in sharia terms of this kind of new tax farm was written. In 1745, Abdallah ibn Ahmad al-Mosuli, a scholar and member of this group of owners of rural rents, wrote a legal tract that

encapsulates the ideas of his class (al-Mosuli n.d.).14 He was concerned that peasants, under pressure from the governor of Mosul and its largest landowner, were selling their usufruct rights to his family. In doing so, they were forfeiting their right to the

non-taxable products of their land, in effect becoming sharecroppers of the malikane owner rather than renters of rights of cultivation from the state. The state, for this particular scholar, was trustee of the interest of God’s creatures and as trustee it had guardianship

over land. As guardian, it should set clear limits to the ability of malikane owners to divest peasants from what was rightfully theirs. More importantly, it should make it clear to tax farmers and peasants that the privatization of land rent did not extend

to ownership of land. As a member of a class of small owners of revenue, he was alarmed that the sale of usufruct rights by the peasantry was leading to the monopolization of revenue by a limited elite. Appealing to late medieval interpretations of sharia as well as

to the authority of the venerated Ottoman chief mufti Ebu Suud, this particular scholar warned against the more deleterious effects of the privatization of revenue. However, he was not averse to the concept of life tax farm itself and his treatise makes this clear.

Rather, it is the abuse of the new administrative practice that he found indefensible in sharia terms.

The Ottomans sought to revoke the malikane grants to revenue in the early 1820s in an effort to centralize the tax collection Local jurists, appealing to legal opinions widely accepted by the Ottoman jurists, argued that these grants had now become permanent rights to revenue because they were obtained under a sale contract with the state. Their arguments were situated within the parameters of an Ottoman legal culture premised on varied and local interpretations of the kanun and its relations to sharia. Neither the concept of the guardianship of the sultan over land nor the conditional rights of individual proprietors was fixed. The struggle between the control of the state over the land’s resources and the individual proprietor’s dominion over such resources often took the form of a debate over the meaning of property in state law on the one hand and religious law on the other. As so much of Ottoman kanun was derived from a particular sharia interpretation of property, provincial jurists who challenged it did so within the ‘rhetoric and rules of society’. The elastic contours of sharia and kanun were seriously challenged in the nineteenth century by the homogenization of Islamic legal practice under the reform of Hanafi law and state laws.


Debates on Land Reform on the Frontiers of Empire The Ottomans did not abandon the concept of the sultan’s over land in the 1858 Land Code that articulated the modern state law on issues of property and taxation of land. Nor did they completely forsake the vocabulary used in their earlier piecemeal attempts at navigating between sharia and kanun in their negotiations with their landowning subjects. However, they did rationalize, systemize and regularize all land transactions in ways that left the language of bargaining implicit in the earlier debates on issues of land and its taxes. The loss of the language of bargaining, however, appears to have extended to the debates on the relationship between sharia and kanun in some of the tracts written by jurists and legal scholars of the period. Sharia was now increasingly pitted against kanun, despite the fact that the Ottomans embarked on an ambitious and highly successful effort to homogenize the local practices of the courts by making them adhere to a particularly Ottoman interpretation of Hanafi law.


Perhaps it was this clear subordination of sharia to a single state-sponsored interpretation that led to this polarization. At any rate, this particularly Ottoman interpretation of sharia had already had its detractors in the Iraqi provinces, detractors who no longer to the same set of historical legal texts that were among the repertoire of Ottoman jurists. Historians of Islamic law either focus on the work of earlier Ottoman jurists or on that of those those jurists writing in the later nineteenth century, when the land law of 1858 and the homo-genzation of Hanafi law were in place. However, between the 1770s and the 1840s, a period marked by severe crisis and several calls to reform on the part of the state and its elite, there were a number of alternative reform agendas being offered by sectors of the provincial elite to counter the apparent chaos at the centre. In the eastern frontier provinces of the empire, these agendas were coloured by the alternative offered by the puritanical and movement out of Arabia, the Wahhabi movement that had threatened the central and southern parts of Iraq in the early nineteenth century. At the same time, a politicized and activist form of sufi Islam, the Khalidiyya Naqshabandiya, had made inroads into the scholarly community of urban Iraq, creating an atmosphere where the polemics of religious and political reform were discussed in tandem with reform agendas emanating from the centre. The work of Abdul al-Aziz bin Muhammad al-Rahbi, a late eighteenth-century Baghdadi scholar, is perhaps a good, if not illustration of the polemics of reform (al-Rahbi n.d.). 15 Al-Rahbi wrote a commentary on the eighth-century foundational text on land taxes, ibn Yusuf’s Kitab al-Kharaj. Unlike his Mosuli counterparts, he did not appeal to the authority of the Hanafite jurists of the late medieval and early modern periods, jurists that the Ottoman establishment accepted. He consciously set out to write a commentary that was based directly on the source and dismissed the commentaries of later scholars (al-muta’khirun) as full of and based on weak authority (isnad). Al-Rahbi’s text sets the prerogatives of the sultan to tax within the parameters of the early Muslim state when the concept of the guardianship of the sultan over all land had not yet become the norm among legal scholars. The authority of the sultans to collect taxes was clearly limited to religiously sanctioned taxes and the state’s prerogative to impose administrative taxes was curtailed. Spurred perhaps by





the widespread movement emanating from India to render a more

scripturalist reading of foundational texts, and concerned with the chaotic realities of Ottoman rule in his city, al-Rahbi sought to these texts as remedies for the current crisis. 16 His particular call to a return to the early Islamic texts and the example of early


Islamic rule carried some resonance in the early nineteenth century.

The Wahhabis tried to set up an approximation of the early Islamic state in Arabia, threatened the sultan’s legitimacy, and proceeded to

wreak havoc in southern and central Iraq (Fattah 1997). While the large sectors of the Baghdadi and Basrene elite were hostile to their more extreme doctrines, they were quite attracted to their vision of

a reformed state. A number of scholars in the Iraqi provinces of the nineteenth century wrote polemical tracts addressing issues raised by

the Wahhabis: issues covering true Islamic practice, the legitimacy of the state, the legitimacy of rebellion, and the legitimacy of taxes. It is easy to dismiss al-Rahbi’s text as an exceptional one and

not representative of the kind of debates that circulated in the provinces and the centre of the empire. However, al-Rahbi’s work

was printed in Istanbul as well as by Muhammad Ali’s Bulaq press in the nineteenth century. His views might have become part of the

attempts of different sectors of the reforming elite to tackle the issue of private property in land. However, what distinguishes his views from that of earlier scholars who tried to negotiate an alternative

interpretation of law within the parameters of a shared vocabulary was his insistence on a clearer and more scripturalist definition

of taxes. It is remarkable that, as the language and categories of modern state laws become non-negotiable, so do the interpretations offered by some expounders of sharia in the Iraqi provinces who insist on stricter adherence to the classical Islamic definitions of ownership of property.

Conclusion The hallmark of the Ottoman imperial enterprise in the early modern period in its frontier provinces was a negotiated settlement over the disbursement of resources and the distribution of power. The legitimacy of the state’s prerogatives over the provinces’ resources had to be worked and reworked within an accepted set of vocabularies and rules of engagement. On the issue of taxation and rural property, these vocabularies drew on a common understanding of kanun and

sharia drawn from a body of work legal scholars developed in the late medieval and early modern periods. This was an ideology of rule based on the concept of a universal empire engaged in the expansion and defense of the territories and the maintenance of an Islamic order. Jurists and scholars who wrote about administrative law and sharia accepted this Ottoman vision. While the provincial interpreters of sharia maintained their independence from the state and reserved the right to offer dissenting interpretations on points of administrative law drawn from sharia, they did so without challenging the overall legitimacy of such laws. The state often accommodated provincial social realities by granting proprietary rights to revenue closer to sharia. In all cases, the medium through which provincial groups expressed their interests was sharia as they interpreted it. During the last decade of the eighteenth century and until the 1840s, the legitimacy of the Ottoman state was severely tested, and the various reform movements inspired by new and activist interpretation of Islamic dogma found their way into the Iraqi provinces. It is at this point that appeal to a more scriptural interpretation of the sources of sharia, or its foundational texts were presented as viable alternatives to the old order, in which the boundaries of sharia and kanun were difficult to demarcate. This is, at least, how al-Rahbi and those inspired by some aspects of the Wahhabi challenge framed their proposals for reform. The separation between sharia and kanun was a discursive devise, often a misrepresentation of a complex and messy reality that represented the modernizing reforms of the state as a distortion of the true spirit of the early Islamic state. How does the administration of the frontier provinces in the Ottoman empire compare to that of Qing China? In his introductory essay to a special issue on Manchu colonialism, Peter Perdue stresses the varied ways in which the Manchus dealt with their newly conquered frontiers. Manchu policy alternated between compromising with local elites and adapting imperial administrative prerogatives to local conditions, and the more intrusive organization of frontier into banners, and military and administrative units, which served as vehicles for tying frontier populations to the centre. However, as with Ottomans, the Manchu relations with their frontier regions cannot be easily categorized under a single policy. In the words of Perdue, ‘Local administration was also heavily shaped by how the expanding empire took over these regions: imperial residents


and small garrisons combined with selective delegation of powers

and allocation of privileges to native elites to tie the regions to the centre in a different fashion from regular bureaucratic structure of the interior’ (Perdue 1998: 255–62). That is to some extent true for the Ottoman eastern frontier, especially in the case of Basra where mobile populations and a strong commercial elite made the

control of the city more difficult well into the eighteenth century. The case of Mosul is somewhat different. Regarded by the Ottomans

as one of the most important military outposts of southeastern Anatolia, and as their main entry into Iraq and eastern Arabia, it was from the beginning essential that it become a dependable and

more Ottomanized outpost on the frontier. The administrative policy followed by the Ottomans worked at co-opting, as much as possible,

a wide range of its urban population through a complicated system of entitlements. However, beyond drawing these broad strokes in comparing

policies of the Qing and the Ottomans on the frontier, it is more

challenging to find common categories for comparison. This is especially

the case when we discuss the relationship of state and customary law in Qing China, and administrative law and sharia in Ottoman

empire. The Ottomans had a great deal of difficulty controlling the eastern frontier. However, when they finally did so, they based their hegemony on a tenuous alliance with an urban elite who gradually

reproduced the political organizational culture of the centre. And it is to these elite that the Ottomans turned for legitimation and

the administration of their provinces. That they were able to do so can be partially attributed to a shared conception of rule and of law that had been germinating among the urban elite of the Islamicate at least as far back as the late medieval period. What the Ottomans introduced was a systemization of state law at a level that had not

existed in the late medieval period. This aspect of their rule seems to have been the most contested by provincial jurists.

It is not clear whether the Qing faced a comparable situation in their frontier provinces in the eighteenth century. However, the contrast between the Ottomans and the Qing appears to be clearer

when we turn to the relationship between customary law and state law in the interior of the Qing empire. The Qing seem to have had

a highly effective bureaucratic culture that was reflected in their administrative practice and their manuals issued on the proper way to administer the empire. T’ung-tsu Ch’ü, for example, describes

a provincial administration in which the state had well-defined procedures for the court and for the magistrate to follow in both

criminal and civil cases. Peasants were organized by local magistrates into households as tax units that were made responsible for keeping their own records. The magistrate, the most important representative of the state at the provincial level, appears to have focused on issues of taxation, crime and matters covered by state law. He did not involve himself in issues governed by customary law,

such as disputes among the peasantry over land sales, inheritance and property (Ch’ü 1962). Peter Perdue finds that by the eighteenth century, the state had become more involved in regularizing customary law by intervening in disputes among the peasantry over land — its transfer and its distribution. Officials in the eighteenth century were active in organizing production in order

to maximize the use of land in the face of an expanding population (Perdue 1987). The Ottomans, even in their eastern frontier provinces, present us with a contrast to this picture during the early modern period. The existence of sharia, its symbiotic relationship with state law, and the blurred lines between these two and customary local

practice makes it difficult to view administrative law as a set of rules independent of their implementation, after much negotiation, within local conditions. However, such negotiations and adaptations to local conditions took place within the limits of a legal discourse shared across the urban centres of the empire. It is important not to misconstrue sharia as representing the local at the expense of

the centre. It was, rather, often a discursive means used by local jurists to challenge the legitimacy of particular points of state law, not its existence. Furthermore, despite the presence of an Ottoman provincial court system regulated by the state, the judge ruled on issues covered by sharia (inheritance, marriage, property, sales) and state law. Jurists, who were often part of the provincial court

system, opined on matters covering state law. In other words, where the picture that emerges for the Qing is one that distinguishes clearly between state and customary law (law covering issues of inheritance, property, and sales), no such distinction appears in the frontier urban centres of the Ottoman empire. Especially on issues of taxation and property, both sharia and kanun used a common

vocabulary. It is this common vocabulary that made challenging the prerogatives of the state a viable option for jurists seeking to maintain local practice against encroachments of the state.

Notes 1. For an example of such complications see two essays in this volume: Melissa Macauley’s ‘A World Made Simple: Law and Property in the Ottoman and Qing Empires’, and Huri Islamoglu’s ‘Modernities Compared: State Transformations and Constitutions of Property in the Qing and Ottoman Empires’. For an enlightening analysis, see Mundy (1988). 2. There are number of works that address this aspect of Ottoman land law. The most succinct is Inalcik (1994). For China see, in this volume, R. B. Wong’s ‘Formal and Informal Mechanisms of Rule and Development: The Qing Empire in Comparative Perspective’, and Perdue (1987).


3. For the Arab provinces, work on the role of the courts is quite varied; this is a small sample. For Egypt, see Behrens-Abouseif (1994) and Hanna (1998). For Syria, see Marcus (1989), Doumani (1995) and al Qattan, (1999). For Anatolia, the works of Suraiya Faroqhi and Ronald Jennings offer a good description of the working of the court system.

4. Abbas al-Azzawi chronicles, in his multi-volume history, frequent 5.

6. 7. 8.

rebellions among these populations. For how these rebellions affected the northern province of Mosul, see Khoury (1997). Rogan (1999) discusses the impact of modern administrative laws on the frontier areas of the trans-Jordan. Doumani (1995) discusses the impact of the new laws on customary practices in the provincial town of Nablus. Discussions of Basra are derived from al-Azzawi (n. d.), Khoury (1991) and Ozbaran (1986). On the musha’shi’in messianic movement, see al-Azzawi (n. d.). See also Khoury (1991) on the Ottoman’s listing of the Sabaens of Basra. Mufassal defter-i, no 242 for Basra, Iraq Scientific Society, Baghdad.

9. Basra was under what was known as the salyane system, in which annual taxes were collected in lump sum in the province. See Ozbaran (1986). 10. Ba¸sbakanlik Osmanli Ars¸ivleri, Maliyeden Mudevver, #5461, year 1101 AH, 1689 CE. 11. Robert Gordon uses the phrases ‘regimes of property’ and ‘regimes of entitlements’ to denote forms of proprietorship that encompass a of rights, often fragmented among several individuals, in which control by the individual proprietor was circumscribed by the rights of other property holders. He uses this to describe property, in early modern England and America. Discussion of forms of property in the context of the Ottoman empire, is comparable to these forms of property. See Gordon (1995). For an example of regimes of entitlements in Mosul, see Khoury (1997).


12. Bas ¸bakanlik Osmanli Arsivleri, Maliyeden Mudevver, # 5461. 13. Voll and Levtzion (1987) offer a useful survey of these trends and the interaction between scholars of Arabia and India. In Baghdad, the Suwaidi family of scholars were among the leading proponents of reform both of Hadith studies and of sufi practices. Abdul Rahman al-Suwaidi, one of the leading scholars of Baghdad in the second half of the eighteenth century, traced his Naqshabandi silsila to Sirhindi in India. He was also one of a number of scholars engaged in debating the

founding of a Ja’fari school of legal thinking proposed by Nadir Shah in the first half of the eighteenth century. I am currently working with a number of manuscripts by the Suwaidis on these and other issues. 14. Abdallah ibn Ahmad al-Mosuli, ‘Bayan al-ahkam fi al-‘ushr wal kharaj”,

“majmu’at rasa’il fi al-aradi al-amiriyya’, the Hasan Pasha al-Jalili collection, no. 25/1, Waqf Library of Mosul. 15. Abd al-Aziz bin Muhammad al-Rahbi, ‘Fiqh al-muluk was miftah al-mursad mursad ala khazinat kitab al-kharaj’, Suleymaniye kutuphanesi, Bagdatli Vehbi Efendi, #1044. 16. Voll and Levtzion, eds, Eighteenth Century Renewal and Reform in Islam (New York: Syracuse University Press 1987) offer a useful survey of these trends and the interaction between scholars of Arabia and India. In Baghdad, the Suwaidi family of scholars were among the leading proponents of reform both of Hadith studies and of sufi practices. Abdul Rahman al-Suwaidi, one of the leading scholars of the Baghdad in the second half of the eighteenth century traced his Naqshabandi silsila to Sirhindi in India. He was also one of a number of scholars engaged in debating the founding of a Ja’fari school of legal thinking proposed by Nadir Shah in the first half of the eighteenth century. I am currently working with a number of manuscripts by the Suwaidi’s on these and other issues.

References al-Azzawi, Abbas. n.d. Tarikh al-Iraq bayn Ihtilalayn, Vol 4 & 6. offprint. Qom: al-Sharif al-Rida Press. al-Mosuli, Abdallah ibn Ahmad. ‘Bayan al-ahkam fi al-‘ushr wal kharaj.’ In ‘majmu’at rasa’il fi al-aradi al-amiriyya . Hasan Pasha al-Jalili collection, no. 25/1, Waqf Library of Mosul. al-Qattan, Najwa. 1999. ‘Dhimmis in the Muslim Court: Legal Autonomy and Religious Discrimination.’ International Journal of Middle East Studies 31 (3): 429–44. al-Rahbi, Abd al-Aziz bin Muhammad. ‘Fiqh al-muluk was miftah al-mursad ala khazinat kitab al-kharaj.’ Suleymaniye kutuphanesi, Bagdatli Vehbi Efendi, #1044.

Barkey, Karen. 1994. Bandits and Bureaucrats: The Ottoman Route to

Centralization . New York: Cornell University Press.

Başkanlik Osmanli Arşileri, Maliyeden Mudevver, #5461, year 1101

AH, 1689 CE. Behrens-Abouseif, Doris. 1994. Egypt’s Adjustment to Ottoman Rule, Institutions, Waqf and Architecture in Cairo . Leiden: E.J. Brill . Ch’ü, T’ung-tsu. 1962. Local Government in China under the Ch’ing . Stanford: Stanford University Press. Doumani, Beshara. 1995. Rediscovering Palestine. Berkeley: University

of California Press. Fattah, Hala. 1997. The Politics of Regional Trade in Iraq, Arabia, and the Gulf, 1745–1900. Albany: State University Press of New York. Goffman, Daniel. 2000. ‘ Izmir.’ In Edhem Eldem, Bruce Masters, Daniel Goffman (eds), Ottoman Cities between East and West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gordon, Robert. 1995. ‘ Paradoxical Property .’ In John Brewer and Susan Staves (eds), Early Modern Conceptions of Property . London: Routledge. Gradeva, Rosita. 1999. ‘The Activities of a Kadi Court in Eighteenth Rumeli: The case of Hacioglu Pazarcik.’ Oriente Moderno 18 (1):

Century 177–90.

Greene, Molly. 2002. A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hanna, Nelly. 1998. Making Big Money in Cairo . Syracuse: Syracuse Press. Imber, Colin. 1996a. ‘The Persecution of Ottoman Shi’is According to the


Muhimme Defterleri, 1565–1585.’ In Colin Imber, Studies in Ottoman History and Law, pp. 103–28. Istanbul: Isis Press. ———. 1996b. ‘The Status of orchards and fruit trees in Ottoman Law.’ In Colin Imber, Studies in Ottoman History and Law, 207–16. Istanbul: Isis Press. Inalcik, Halil. 1994. ‘State, Land and Peasant.’ In Halil Inalcik and Donald Quataert (eds), An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300–1914 , pp. 103–78. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Johansen, Baber. 1988. The Islamic Law on Land Tax and Rent . London: Croom Helm. Khoury, Dina Rizk. 1997. State and Provincial Society in the Ottoman Empire: Mosul 1540–1834.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ———. 1991. ‘Merchants and Trade in Early Modern Iraq.’ New on Turkey (5 and 6): pp. 53–86. Mantran, Robert. 1967. ‘ Reglement Fiscuax Ottomans: La Province de Bassoura’, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, 10: 224–44.


Marcus, Abraham. 1989. The Middle East on the Eve of Modernity. New York:

Columbia University Press. Mimizadeh, Hussein bin Muhammad bin Hasan. ‘Uddat al-salik fi siyasat al-mamalik’. Suleymaniye Kutuphanesi, Asir Efendi. 299/2, 121. Mufassal defter-I, no 242 for Basra, Iraq Scientific Society, Baghdad. Mundy, Martha. 1988. ‘The family, inheritance and Islam: a re-examination of fara’id law.’ In Aziz al-Azmeh (ed.), Islamic Law: Social and

Historical Context , 1–123. London: Routledge. Olson, Robert. 1975. The Siege of Mosul and Ottoman Safavid Relations 1718–1743 . Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Ozbaran, Saleh. 1972. ‘The Ottoman Turks and Portuguese in the Persian Gulf, 1534-1581.’ Journal of Asian History 6: 45–87. ———. 1986. ‘Some notes on the salyane system in the Ottoman Empire as organized in Arabia in the sixteenth century.’ The Journal of Ottoman Studies 6: 39–45. Pamuk, Sevket. 2000. Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Perdue, Peter. 1987. Exhausting the Earth, State and Peasant in Hunan,

1500–1850. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ———. 1998. ‘Manchu Colonialism’, International History Review 20 (2): 255–62. Rafeq, Abdul Karim. 1999. ‘Relations between the Syrian ‘ulama and the Ottoman state in the eighteenth century’ Oriente Moderno 18 ( 1): 67–95.

Repp, Richard. 1988. ‘Kanun and Shari’a in the Ottoman Context.’ In Aziz al-Azmeh (ed.), Islamic Law: Social and Historical Context, pp. 124–45. London: Routledge. Rogan, Eugene. 1999. Frontier of the State in the Ottoman Empire . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Scott, James. 1998. Seeing Like the State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press. Thompson, E. P. 1975. Whigs and Hunters: The Origins of the Black Act. Great Britain: Harmondsworth. Tilly, Charles. 1990. Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990–1990 . Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Tilly, Charles and Wim Blockmans, eds. 1994. Cities and the Rise of States in Europe, AD 1000–1800 . Boulder: Westview Press. Voll, John and Nehemiah Levtzion, eds. 1987. Eighteenth Century Renewal and Reform in Islam. New York: Syracuse University Press.

3 The Fate of Empires: Rethinking Mughals, Ottomans and Habsburgs* Sanjay Subrahmanyam Everyone knows this world will not be ruined by sin Destruction will come when flattery is spoken in place of truth. —‘Izzet Molla (1786-1829)

I There has been a recent spate of writings on empire, for reasons that are scarcely a mystery; at the heart of the matter lies the end of the Cold War and the emergence of the unipolar American as a model and a way of structuring the geopolitical imagination,


if not a concrete reality. A recent collection on ‘lessons of empire’ begins by noting: ‘Empire for a time became a quaintly antiquated word, banished from the political spectrum with the collapse of Europe’s colonial rule in Africa and Asia. Now the word has come back’ (Calhoun et al. 2006: 1). Some of this work is unabashedly presentist in orientation, veering between a very loose use of the term

‘empire’, and a celebration of the American inheritance of the British mantle and mission civilisatrice. I sense that I am not alone in believing that we historians have by now spent far too much time and energy on such ‘Empire Do-It-Yourself Kits’, and have spilt far too much futile ink whether on Messrs Hardt and Negri (on the ostensible left-wing of the confederacy of amateurs) or on Niall

Ferguson (on its definite right) (Ferguson 2003; Hardt and Negri 2000). We have surely heard enough of such moral propositions that the British empire was an altogether excellent affair since without the Indian troops it recruited, Hitler and his allies could never have been defeated in the 1940s. 1 Here then is an excellent redeployment of the justification for Stalin and the gulag, for


that equally excellent invention, how could Hitler have been defeated either?

The Fate of Empires My purpose in this admittedly diffuse and rather ambitious essay is somewhat different. I wish to return the métier of the historian and the historical sociologist to the centre, and to study three early modern empires that covered an impressive swathe of more or less contiguous territory (with a small gap from east to west equivalent to the width of the Safavid domains), extending from the northern fringes of Burma in the east to the Atlantic and Morocco in the west of Eurasia, and in a more general sense had a worldwide coverage and reach in about 1600. None of these empires has in general been written into the happy history of modernity, and all of them are definitely seen as losers in the eighteenth-century redistribution of cards that characterizes the rise of the second British empire.2 Yet, as I shall argue below, these empires are very significant in terms of the diversity of political, institutional and cultural and processes that they embody. For though Mughals, Ottomans and Habsburgs were rivals who possessed certain characteristics in common, they were also quite different from one another, both in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and in terms of the longer-term trajectories for political institutions that they produced.


Let us begin with a brief look at a moment when the three

empires saw themselves as locked into a tight inter-imperial grid of rivalry. I refer here to 1580-81, a moment when the already contest between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs came to be transformed into an even more intricate one, and the Mughals too entered the scene in a substantial way. This was the year when Philip II came, as a consequence of a complex train of events, to gain joint control over the Spanish and the Portuguese empires, in the aftermath of the death of the Portuguese king Dom Sebastião in North Africa in 1578, and the demise less than two years later of the aged Dom Henrique. Philip, notoriously, could mobilize not only legal arguments based on his kinship ties with the Portuguese House of Avis but the force of his battle-hardened armies as well as his New World silver to smooth over the transition (Parker 1995). The consequence of this was that the Habsburgs, which is to say Philip II, his son and his grandson came, for a relatively brief period of sixty years, to rule over an empire that included not only a part of the Low Countries and Naples, but also Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Brazil, Angola, the lower Zambezi valley and a part of lowland Sri Lanka (Gruzinski 2004). Global in its reach,


SanjaySubrahmanyam this Habsburg world-empire was supposed, in theory, to be ruled

over in the form of two autonomous sections; but the underlying realities were more complex. In East Asia, as well as the Río de la Plata, the boundaries between the ‘Portuguese’ and ‘Spanish’

sections of this empire proved quite permeable. Besides, the events of

the time brought the Ottomans into a situation where— instead of facing one set of rivals to the southeast (in the Indian Ocean) and another set in the Mediterranean— they were now notionally encircled by the extensive resources deployed by the Habsburg

monarchy of the Philips. Thus, the theatres of Ottoman-Habsburg rivalry in the 1580s included North Africa, the central and eastern Mediterranean islands and Ethiopia, as much as the Swahili coast, the Persian Gulf and northern Sumatra.

Besides, within the Muslim world, the more or less unchallenged supremacy that the Ottomans had enjoyed since the reign in the 1510s of Yavuz Sultan Selim was now under challenge. During the half-century reign of Sultan Süleyman, ‘the Lawgiver’, the Ottomans

were seen as the lords of the holy cities of the Hijaz (as well as Jerusalem), the only great Muslim power with a true maritime reach, and also boasted periodically that they alone possessed territories in all of the ‘seven climes’ of traditional Islamic geography (Seyyidi

‘Ali Re’is 1999, 1999a: 86-87, 115-16). But this was to change. The Mughals, descendants of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, who had emerged in the area of Herat and Kabul in the early sixteenth century as a petty dynasty that was initially under Safavid tutelage,

began to flex their muscles from the 1560s on-wards and mounted a series of successful campaigns to consolidate their domains in northern India. By 1580, the Mughal ruler Akbar (r. 1556-1605) was seen as a real rival to the Ottoman sultan in terms of his power

and prestige, and it is significant that by about 1600, the Mughals rather than the Ottomans come to play the role of a model for some of the fledgling Sultanates that are emerging in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral ( Lombard 1967: 79, passim).

In the early 1580s, Akbar entered into direct diplomatic contact with the Habsburgs and by the time the first Habsburg-appointed viceroy, Dom Filipe Mascarenhas, reached Goa in 1581, a Mughal ambassador was already there to greet him. Not for nothing has

1580-81 been seen then in traditional historiography as a time that sealed the fate of the world-imperial ambitions of the Ottomans, in

the face of a set of realignments and potential alliances that boded ill for them in the long term (Subrahmanyam 2005: 42-70). It is useful here to distinguish a naive ‘political’ and short-term interpretation of the transition of 1580-81 from the far more sophisticated view of Fernand Braudel in his classic study of the Mediterranean in the age of Philip II, even though Braudel has written, with characteristic flourish, that the transition of 1580-81 (and more generally the years 1578-83) was from the viewpoint of the Mediterranean the ‘turning point of the century’ (Braudel 1972, ii: 1176-77). While the logic of international politics plays a role in Braudel’s explanation of the shift from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic in about 1580, it is underpinned by a sense of the enormous inertial momentum of the longer-term shifts of economic balance in Europe that led to the rise in importance of the Low Countries and England. Thus the plate-tectonics at the level of a slow-moving substratum of forces is manifested, in his view, at the level of events in a dramatic political climax, which is at once a ‘crisis’ and a ‘turning point’. Braudel also briefly introduces a further thread into the analysis in terms of a purported Ottoman thrust leading to a resumption of the ‘war for control of the Indian Ocean’ as a consequence of the 1580-81 transition. In this view then, the energy earlier focused on the Mediterranean had to be transferred using a sort of parallelogram law of forces (or what Braudel himself calls the ‘physics of international relations’) to two external zones: the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean (Braudel 1972, ii: 1166, 1174-76). Still, it is clear enough that, despite his own very considerable investment in the study of the sixteenth century, these rival empires of 1580-81 are, for Braudel, the overall losers of history and as such probably of lesser consequence in the long term than the great ‘modern’ commercial empires of the seventeenth century, namely the British, Dutch and French overseas enterprises. The Habsburgs and Ottomans after 1600, even if they are not quite relegated to the ‘dustbin of history’ in this construction, are not seen as necessarily relevant for the longer history even of political arrangements on a world scale. In the hands of historians of a more explicitly Weberian bent of mind than Braudel, such as Niels Steensgaard, a perfectly neat classification can hence be applied to the world in about 1600 (Steensgaard 1974): on one side of the divide, the nascent, forward-looking ‘productive enterprises’ of the northern Europeans which will eventually produce the modern

world; and on the other side, the increasingly archaic ‘redistributive enterprises’ of the Habsburgs, Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals (into which pot one could also presumably throw in the China of the Ming and Qing for good measure), whose fate it is to be drawn into modernity only through the relentless latter-day ‘Europeanization of mankind’. And yet, the Habsburgs, and even less the Ottomans and Mughals, were not just some great stinking carcasses by 1600. For one, the Mughal state was only just emerging into prominence at this time and it makes little sense to see it as already carrying the odour of The thrust of most recent historiography on the Ottomans has, for its part, cast enormous doubt on the old paradigms of Ottoman ‘decline’, which were based on the sour observations of Venetian observers as well as on internal cyclical theories in part from Ibn Khaldun (Fleischer 1983). As Cemal Kafadar has written, ‘many processes and events dating from the last three and a half centuries of the Ottoman empire were indiscriminately lumped together under the rubric of decline. Transformations in all spheres of life— political, military, institutional, social, economic, and cultural— were neatly explained in the framework of decline. of the empire implied that there was no regeneration, vitality or dynamism, but only occasional respite through despotic discipline (until the imported vitality of Europeanization arrived)’ (Kafadar 1997-98: 33-34). The case of the Habsburgs is more curious still, since the paradigm that speaks of a ‘golden age’ followed by an ‘age of decline’ still remains very much in place, with scarcely a sign of a full-blooded challenge. Whether one dates such decline to the 1580s with the ‘imperial overstretch’ of Philip II, or to the great revolts of the 1640s that deal a body-blow to the ambitions of the Count-Duke of Olivares, most narrative histories continue to argue as if the standard rise, consolidation and decline cycle fits the Habsburg case perfectly well.3 At the same time, we are aware of some quite facts. The rivalry on a world scale between the Iberians and their northern European rivals did not quite end in total triumph for the latter. To be sure, the Dutch (and to a lesser the English) did make major inroads into Portuguese in the Indian Ocean between the 1590s and the 1660s. But in Africa and America, the situation was far more ambiguous. With the exception of parts of the Caribbean, the Spanish empire in America remained largely intact at the end of a century of war,


deriving Degeneration


extent holdings

raiding and piracy by the Dutch, French and English. The most significant successes outside the Caribbean for the newcomers

were in areas where Spanish investments of money and manpower were quite limited, namely on the Atlantic seaboard of northern America. Brazil remained intact as a Portuguese colony, despite Dutch attempts to settle Pernambuco through Johan Maurits of Nassau and the West-Indische Compagnie. Indeed, Brazil through the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to


be a powerful and vibrant motor in the Portuguese colonial system, linked not simply to the metropolis but also to West Africa, in a South Atlantic trading system that has unfortunately not received even a fraction of the attention of its North Atlantic counterpart.4 At this level, the Habsburgs (or even the restored House of Braganza) were hardly the pushovers that the usual Whig narratives of the

imperial rat-race would have us believe. To sum up this first section, then: even if we see the seventeenth

century as the period when the Dutch and English emerge into great prominence as carriers of trans-continental trade, with Amsterdam and London as important clearing houses for this traffic, it is only by thinking anachronistically that one can imagine that the Ottomans,

the Mughals and even the Habsburgs can simply be ignored or set aside as trivial. Yet, the pressing momentum of Whig historiography, the desire to read the nineteenth century back into the seventeenth century, and the great teleologies of Marxist and Weberian social-science reasoning all lead in this direction. Recent historiography on the British empire still shows few signs of having moved on

these key questions; thus, we learn even quite recently from Cain and Hopkins that ‘the Ottoman empire and Persia can be placed, with China, in a distinct category of regions that presented peculiar obstacles to European expansion in the underdeveloped world. The failure of societies in these three empires to produce modernising elites which were both powerful and cooperative limited their

development as independent polities along western lines.’ What then could be the fate of such places? Hardly a happy one: for ‘the presence of large, antique, yet still death-defying political structures meant that indigenous authorities could not be taken over without promoting internal disorder, incurring massive expense and risking international conflict’ ( Cain and Hopkins 1993: 397). Stagnation

and suffocation could be the only outcomes, until the cold shower of westernization could be called on to bring about the necessary radical and wrenching changes.

II Let us pause, even if only briefly, to ask what was in fact ‘antique’ (which carries the subtextual meaning ‘archaic’) about the Mughals,

Ottomans or Habsburgs, and when these polities became so in the perception of historiography. The Mughals, we may recall, ruled over northern India from the 1520s to the late 1850s; but two caveats

need to be introduced with respect to this chronology. First, between the late 1530s and the mid-1550s, there was a hiatus in their rule,

when the Mughal emperor Humayun was forced to withdraw from northern India on account of the resurgence of the power there of Afghan warlords. Second, from the late eighteenth century and more particularly from the 1770s and 1780s, the Mughal emperor was increasingly reduced to a figurehead, so that it is difficult

to talk of a real ‘Mughal empire’ existing in the first half of the nineteenth century. With regard to the Ottomans, the chronology

stretches over a far longer period, indeed nearly six centuries. Still, during the first century or so of its existence, that is to say, well into the fifteenth century, it is more plausible to speak of an

Ottoman regional polity than a veritable empire. Indeed, as late as 1512, the Ottoman domains are still quite compact, extending

west to east roughly from Sarajevo to Sivas, and from the Danube south to the Mediterranean. It is in the sixteenth century that the far more extensive dimensions that we have written of briefly in preceding paragraphs actually come to be defined: it is now that Buda, Oran, Cairo, Mosul, Basra, Mecca and Suakin all fall into

their hands. As for the Habsburgs, they too were quintessentially an early modern empire. Charles V (or Charles I of Spain) came to

power in Iberia in the 1510s, and the death of the last Habsburg ruler of Spain, Charles II, coincided neatly with the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Of these three structures, two—

the Ottomans and Habsburgs—

certainly had world-embracing ambitions in the sixteenth century,

of a literal sort that set them apart from the older type of universal empire. This was also what set them apart from most other states of the time, a fact noted by none other than Sir Walter Ralegh, in his vast and unfinished History of the World. Ralegh’s preface to this work is a curious one, for he tells us that even if he had begun

with the notion of a history of the world, he had ‘lastly purposed (some few sallies excepted) to confine [his] discourse within this

[...] renowned island of Great Britain’, since it was far better, in his initial view, to ‘set together [...] the unjointed and scattered frame of [...] English affairs, than those of the universal’ (Ralegh 1820: i, 1; also Racin 1974). Eventually, even this reflection on Britain had to be limited to a few asides, for Ralegh was unable to go chronologically beyond the Romans, whom he left at the end of his work still ‘flourishing in the middle of the field; having rooted up, or cut down, all that kept it from the eyes and admiration of the world’. However, while closing the work, Ralegh does hint strongly to us how he might have organized that other ‘universal’ history which he abandoned. Such a history would be oriented for his times above all in terms of the opposition between the Turk and the Spaniard, for ‘there hath been no state fearful in the east but that of the Turk’; he counterposes this to the fact that ‘nor in the west any prince that hath spread his wings far over his nest but the Spaniard’. Ralegh thus concludes: ‘These two nations, I say, are at this day the most eminent and to be regarded; the one seeking to root out the Christian religion altogether— the other the truth and sincere profession thereof; the one to join all Europe to Asia— the other the rest of all Europe to Spain’ (Ralegh 1820, vi: 368-69). The Mughals were a somewhat different order of polity than the two great rival systems mentioned above. Their ambitions extended periodically into Central Asia, where they may have entertained ideas of recovering the ‘ancestral homelands’ (or watan) of their great ancestor Timur; but beyond that and a few residual border disputes with the Safavids, their notions of a frontier of expansion largely seem to have been southwards and eastwards (Foltz 1998: 136-46). To the south, a natural limit presented itself in the sense of the maritime frontier of the Indian Ocean; and though the Mughals had almost attained this limit by 1700, there is no sign for example that they ever considered launching an expedition into Sri Lanka, let alone into Southeast Asia. To the east, Bengal represented a very important terrain of expansion between the 1570s and 1660s, and beyond that areas such as Kuch Bihar, Tippera and Assam certainly fell within the Mughal ken. Yet again, the Mughals seem to have set internal limits to their expansion even here, and there are no real projects to extend the Mughal domains into the region of Arakan in northern Burma. To this extent, we may see the Mughal state as an unfinished project in a territorial sense, but also one that

had a proper sense of its limits. We shall seek to explore elsewhere where such ideas might have come from (Athar Ali 1997). When does talk of the ‘decline’ of these three empires begin? Here again, chronology is complex and it becomes even more so if one looks to the case of China in the early modern period (Atwell 1988; Huang 1981). To begin with, internally generated political theories within each of these empires carried much anxiety about the issue of decline, and it was this internal theory that was seized upon and at times deliberately misinterpreted by outside observers. The central elements appear as follows, with theories of Habsburg and Ottoman decline appearing in the late sixteenth century and Mughal theories stemming from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Again, Kafadar has warned that it will not do to confuse authors who ‘warn of the possibility of disorder’ with those who see disorder as already endemic and characteristic of a ‘world-in-decline’. Bearing this in mind, we may distinguish theories that are broadly cyclical and predominantly dynastic in orientation within a given zone with others that are inclined to see domination and hegemony as a phenomenon that passes from one region of the world to another. The bulk of theories within the Habsburg and Ottoman context seem to fall in the first category, and are also accompanied by ‘advice’ or ‘reform’ literature (nasihat or arbitrío), proposing ways of checking, attenuating, or even reversing processes of decline. Central ideas involve ‘corruption’, the lack of a proper equilibrium amongst the elements that hold a polity together, the rise of new social groups associated with money rather than achievement, a suspicion of new standards that lay aside ascriptive criteria, and so on. Yet, these are not blanket cultural criticisms. No Spanish arbitrista of importance ever recommended abandoning the Catholic religion, nor suggested that the languorous Mediterranean climate condemned Iberians to a lazy decadence. The only Mughal writers who made such arguments about their own polity were those who did so after the British conquest of India, when they had deeply internalized a form of ‘cultural cringe’. Rather, typical Mughal writers of the eighteenth century might argue that a decline had occurred in the ‘masculinity’ of the Mughals, or that commercially-oriented social groups had come to hold far too much power in the polity (Alam 1986: 169-75). These are arguments that very nearly have the status that astrology does in such societies; rather than


being associated with a fully deterministic science, they imply that events are impelled by a certain momentum but that they can also be altered in their course. Yet, these very arguments could eventually be manipulated by others, notably western European proponents of the view that the Ottoman empire was the ‘Sick Man of Europe’, or Protestant propagandists of the ‘Black Legend’, into fully locked-in arguments, in which the fate of such empires was inexorably determined, even as the rise to power of the Netherlands and Britain were also written in stone. One can thus see a situation in which, by the mid-seventeenth century, the decline of the Ottomans and the Habsburgs was the of a curious consensus by observers on the inside and outside, but based in fact on a fundamental incompatibility of the schemes of presentation. A century later, this came to be the case with the Mughals as well; when Nadir Shah of Iran humiliated them in his campaign of 1739-40, Mughal observers ruefully began to look to why they had ‘declined’; and despite superficial similarities, their own explanations had little to do with the views of East India Company officials, who were anxious to show, by the 1750s, that there were easy pickings to be had in the Indian subcontinent.5 Interestingly, after having proceeded a fair way down the road to conquest, some of these very same East India Company servants would discover virtues to Mughal modes of organization that had escaped them before. Thus, time and again, between 1760 and 1830, the English in India would declare that they aimed to preserve the best of Mughal institutions, while ridding themselves of the dross (which naturally included most of the Islamic character of the state). The view was therefore that something quite substantial did exist to be rescued from the Mughal state, a vastly different notion than that set out by Mustafa Kemal and the Kemalists at the end of the Ottoman state. This takes us logically to a consideration of the key elements in the political and institutional functioning of our three empires. Here, their histories diverge but in complex ways. Mughals and Ottomans appear quite similar in respect of some institutions but dissimilar in respect of others. In certain surprising respects, the histories of the Habsburgs and Ottomans converge, and that of the Mughals eventually emerges as quite distinct. Indeed, to give the central theses of the essay away at this point, there must have been reasons why the Ottoman and Habsburg empires eventually


fragmented to produce a vast number of smaller— and often deeply divided— nation-states, while the bulk of the Mughal empire still holds together in the form of a single nation-state, namely the Republic of India. My focus here will be on three issues: first, the management of regional diversity; second, religious and difference; and third, economic change. These three are not in fact separate, for a canard has long been floated (and recently been revived by neo-Kemalist economic historians) that the Ottoman empire declined economically because of its rigid adherence to the outmoded legal institutions of Sunni Islam (Kuran 2003; compare Hanna 1998). Again, issues of regional diversity and religious difference also often come intertwined in the historiography; it would be difficult indeed to separate the two entirely in the context, say, of the revolt of the Netherlands from Habsburg rule. However, it may be useful to look to the institutions in question in the period of imperial consolidation and then consider their evolution as time wore on. The paradox of Habsburg rule lies in the curious contrast in the treatment of the Atlantic colonies and the European territories. In the latter, a far greater degree of institutional diversity was permitted in the sixteenth century; this was implied in the very process by which different elements that were attached to one another were treated as ‘kingdoms’. Indeed, such diversity existed in the interior of the very Iberian holdings of the Habsburgs, so that the terms of their acquisition of Portugal merely confirm rather than question the rule. Local and regional institutions and were jealously guarded and when they were questioned— as happened periodically— reactions ranged from grumbling, and the threat of litigation, to outright revolt, as happened early in the reign of Charles V with the comuneros, and periodically thereafter. In other words, the metropolitan heart of Habsburg rule was characterized by a diversity of fiscal privileges (mercedes and fueros), special arrangements going back to the Reconquest, community claims and other institutional exceptions to practically any ‘absolutist rule’ that we can find. This was to frustrate the of the great validos in their drive to consolidate the power of their masters, Lerma acting for Philip III and Olivares for Philip IV (Elliott 1986; Stradling 1988: 172-206). For, as Olivares wrote secretly to Philip IV as early as 1625: ‘The most important thing in Your Majesty’s monarchy is for you to become the king




of Spain: by this I mean, Sir, that Your Majesty should not be content with being king of Portugal, of Aragon, of Valencia, and count of Barcelona, but should secretly plan and work to reduce these kingdoms of which Spain is composed to the style and laws of Castile, with no difference whatsoever’ (cited in Lynch 1981: 105). But such a plan was eventually to prove beyond the grasp of the Habsburgs. In the overseas territories, on the other hand (and here we must leave aside the problematic status of the Habsburg North African possessions), the process of conquest was based on the notional implantation and reproduction of imported institutions.6 We see this first with the encomienda, brought into the Caribbean, then into Mexico and then into Peru, on the basis of a model that itself came from the Estremadura. The decline of this institution brings others (such as the hacienda) in its place for the control of land and labour, but everywhere the same linguistic and terminological grid appears: the repartimiento to organise space, the reducción to bring populations together, the model city with its traza plan and its council, the imposing fortified monasteries with their lands, the Franciscans and Jesuits with their great linguistic and brainwashing projects, the universities to train creole elites, and so on. As the Spanish empire wends it majestic and often deeply destructive way from Hispaniola and Cuba, to Mexico and Central America, to Peru and Bolivia, and eventually to the Philippines, we are struck by the degree of orderliness in the midst of the chaos caused by disease and displacement, the acts of repetition and institutional reproduction, and the desire for a sameness that appears to deny the diversity of these territories; for how much did Cuba, the valley of Mexico and the area of Manila in fact have in common before the Spanish irruption? To be sure, the problems of administration in the sixteenth

century almost immediately produced fissure, as the viceroyalty of New Spain was separated from that of Peru, while the Philippines— though notionally dependent on Mexico— enjoyed a fair degree of autonomy. However, against this we must look to the institutions that produced a constant circulation across these territories, whether administrative, mercantile, religious or intellectual. Unlike the two other empires that we shall look at below, the Habsburg empire was from its inception an explicitly colonial one, one that was based uncompromisingly on the dual principles of settlement and economic

exploitation. Some rough figures indicate how matters appeared on the first of these fronts, suggesting a steady increase in the European population, but also one in the population of mestizos and mulattos, who would in some cases eventually be absorbed into the creole elites that began to grumble against the very nature of colonial rule. Table 3,1 Table 3.1 Population Statistics Population Statistics for for Spanish Spanish America America 1570



65% 000

230,000 8,927,150

1,299,000 §,405,000







By Racial Olassification Whites


most izos

and mulattos


By Region




Bolivia Chile



Central America Antilles Others

Total Source:


del Castillo



»P0B SSpSO 1,292,500

650,000 1,545,000




{1985: 336, .451).

There is surprisingly little in the nature of this Habsburg empire, as it appears in 1650, that would suggest the eventual fission of the whole into a series of political entities ranging in size from Argentina and Mexico to Salvador and Honduras. To the extent that there is regional diversity, it appears largely determined by three phenomena: first, the extent of the survival of the descendants of the pre-Columbian populations (and in some cases, as with the area that comes to be known as Argentina, the related question of the pre-1500 population density); second, the diversity of ecologies and economies, with a predominance of mining in some regions, of agriculture in others and of unsettled groups in still others; and third, the nature of the slave trade, the import of African slave populations and the differential impact of this on areas that range from Mexico and the Caribbean to Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia.

This said, the late sixteenth century already sees the first signs of a particularistic patriotism in different parts of Spanish America: residents of Mexico often already saw that colony (and city) as a centre of true majesty unlike any other in America, while the denizens of Lima came for their part to respond with claims for their own city, and the colony and viceroyalty it governed.7 Further reinforcing this picture of relatively limited regional overseas (in contrast to the surprising tolerance of diversity in the Habsburg European possessions) is the religious question. Here, the contrast between Europe and the extra-European colonies is far less sharp than we have noted above. The empire of the Habsburgs, it is very nearly a cliché to assert, was born into a crucible of religious intolerance of a sort that few other early modern empires have witnessed (the only valid comparisons appear to be with Safavid Iran and Tokugawa Japan). The voyage of Columbus coincided with the expulsion of Jews from Spain and, a century later, this policy of religious homogenization was sealed with the expulsion of the moriscos, decreed in 1609, and more or less implemented by 1614. This population of forced converts from Islam to Christianity was suspected by many of being a ‘fifth column’ for the Ottomans within the heart of Spain, and their expulsion may have involved as many as 275,000 to 300,000 people (perhaps 3 to 4 per cent of a total population of 8.5 million), mostly to North Africa, but also to the eastern Mediterranean (Ortiz and Vincent 1978). The effects of this expulsion were quite uneven regionally in Spain, with the regions most affected being in the south-east, especially Valencia and Aragon. Whether this expulsion had a massive economic effect may be doubted but at any rate it is clear that it symbolized the Habsburg monarchy’s drive to a form of religious homogenization, of which targets were not only ‘heretics’ (that is, Protestants), but also the other religions of the book. This remained broadly true of the American possessions, for even if there were periods when the population of marranos (or converted Jews) was tolerated in Mexico, Peru and the Río de la Plata, at other moments they were subjected to fierce persecution. Some recent historians have gone overboard in their enthusiasm to defend the record of the Inquisition at the time of the Habsburgs but the nature of this institution must be set against what we shall observe in our two other empires.


From the early sixteenth century, the Ottoman domains were

recognized as a place of refuge for religious groups persecuted in Europe.

This was true of the Jews, latex of the moriscos, but also of a vast number of groups ranging from the Anabaptists to: a variety of sects. The Ottoman understanding of most of these groups was that they were 'protected minorities' (dhimmis), which was equally the case for Armenian and other eastern Orthodox Christian populations. One authoritative author has written of how the of Ottoman expansion in the sixteenth century in fact meant a sort of Golden Age for these minority communities: thus, 'the victory of the Ottoman Empire symbolized, in the sphere of a victory of Greeks, Turks, renegade Christians, Armenians, Ragusans, and Jews over the two-century-old commercial hegemony of Venice and Genoa' (Stoianovich I960, cited in In.ilcik 1997: 214). The picture is somewhat different when one looks to the of rural Christians living under Ottoman rule in the Balkans and Bast Europe, but there is little doubt that the commercial and





both Jews and Christians saw the Ottomans sis their protectors in the Mediterranean. The Ottomans seem to have internalized this image of themselves too; for this was surely why the sultan Selim II wrote a reproachful letter to his ally the French monarch Charley IX after the St Bartholomew Day's Massacre of 1572, chastising him on his unjustifiable treatment of religious minorities. On the other hand, the Ottomans did collect

professional classes amongst

discriminatory poll tax (cizye or jizya) from their non-Muslim subjects, which accounted for as much as 8 per cent of the empire's total revenues; in addition, in the Balkans, the Ottoman state also a


additional collective tax on Christian villages for the of poll-tax fugitives and the dead. But perhaps most important Was the practice of the devshirme, the 'levy of boys from the Christian rural population for services at the palace or the of the standing army at the Porte', as Halil tnalcik defines it. This was an adaptation by the Ottomans of the so-called mamluk institution that had long existed in Muslim states, save that the Ottomans stretched the definitions beyond what was; in fact legally permissible. For, usually, these elite slaves (mamluks or kul) were war-captives, not drawn upon from one's own subject populations, an


the Ottomans did. The result in the Ottoman cfjse was, on the hand, the opportunity for some former Christians, after their alienation from their natal families, 'social death' and rebirth, to aceulturate into Ottoman elite practices and at time rise up very as


high in the administrative and military hierarchies; yet,



other hand, the practice was based on force and we must imagine

that it was accompanied by considerable resentment on the part of the populations that were obliged to give up their male children in this manner. At any rate, what is also instructive is that while the Ottomans were eventually imitated in this matter by the Safavids

(especially towards the late sixteenth century), the Mughals for the most part steered clear of this institution as a pillar of their state-building (but see Chatterjee 2000). The Ottoman slave-bureaucracy was in fact the object of a certain

admiration on the part of European observers such as Machiavelli, who saw it as a meritocracy that contemporary European states were incapable of producing (Machiavelli 1959: 43-45). It seems to have functioned in the most efficient fashion in the sixteenth

century, but— as Metin Kunt has shown— its form and content changed somewhat in the seventeenth century (Kunt 1983). This was accompanied by changes in the relationship between the

central and provincial administrations, a theme to which we should now turn briefly. As we have already seen, the Ottoman state began from a core in Anatolia and Rumelia and then expanded in fits and starts, extending further east but also acquiring substantial

territories in Bulgaria and Macedonia by 1389. Expansion then

continued very gradually over the next century and more, over the Serbian kingdom and Albania, and further east still, to include such towns as Konya, Kayseri and Amasya. This heartland, which had been consolidated by 1512, was to become the core for a massive

subsequent expansion that continued into the mid-sixteenth century. In the early 1530s, economic historians estimate a population for the Ottoman domains (excluding the Arab provinces) of around 17 million, and perhaps about 25 million for the end of the

sixteenth century. 8 If this is broadly true, it places the population at

roughly the same level as the Habsburg empire in 1650 (after the loss of Portugal and its dependent territories), which we may estimate at somewhat over 20 million.

However, the articulation of this empire in terms of regions was quite different in relation to the Habsburgs. For one the classic centralizing fiscal institutions of the Ottomans were to be found largely in the heartland and the main military routes leading

westward; and this was most notably true of the timar, the assignment on the basis of which the Ottomans drew


Table 3.2 Table 3.2

Ottoman Ottoman

Population Population Estimates, Estimates, c.c. 1530 1530







1,067 ,355

78. ,783'


1 ,146 ,697

|,733 ,485


291 ,593


12 ,204

1 ,191 ,799

5.,958 ,995

Balkans / Aegean

,24.4 ,958


4 ,134

1 ,111.,799

5 ,559:,395

1,603 ,906


16 ,897

3 ,450 ,29,5

17 ,251 ,875


Total Source: Barkan 1957.

military manpower (outside the standing army). Rather unlike the Habsburgs, the broad Ottoman policy was one of compromise and the maintenance of various forms of ‘customary privilege’ in external or newly incorporated territories, rather than the insistent

reproduction of the idealized central institutions. In areas such as North Africa, they announced from early on that their intention was not to disturb local institutions they instead sought out local

elites with whom they could collaborate. As André Raymond sums up: ‘It is important to note that where the Ottomans had found ancient traditions of the state, and strongly constituted


groups, they frequently made an effort to compromise with these traditions and these groups, rather than trying to impose their administrative system in its totality’ (Raymond 1989: 356). The

same was broadly true of other regions, whether Iraq, the Hijaz or Habesh (though arguably less so in the Balkans); everywhere, the Ottomans sought to benefit from the possibility of more cash-rich

economies than the somewhat impoverished and sparsely core of Anatolia, as was the case for most of the territories they


conquered after 1512. Further, even in the sixteenth century, when

the circulation of bureaucrats and officials between the imperial centre and the provinces was far more regular than it became later, the Ottoman dependence on local elites remained high. Theirs was

never quite a ‘settler empire’, and there was simply no question of sending out tens of thousands of colonists from a core to a periphery, with the possible exception of the timariots sent out into the Balkans

and eastern Europe (who may have numbered 20,000 in the late fifteenth century), or migrants who went out from Anatolia and Rumelia to colonize untenanted lands in areas such as northeastern

Bulgaria, Thrace, the Macedonian plains and Thessaly. Where the Ottoman elite could usually be found was in positions of privilege,

whether in Tunis, Cairo, Budapest or Baghdad but the contrast with

the America of the Habsburgs could scarcely be more stark. In




in those territories that the Ottomans

directly ruled

(as distinct from tribute-paying lands such as Wallachia or Moldavia), the; degree :of centralized control that was exercised varied enormously, whether over political and fiscal institutions or over religious practices. Even in a sphere such as money and monetary circulation, the Ottomans permitted an enormous of regimes to exist in different parts of the empire, though


the akçe existed as a notional unit of account for fiscal purposes (Pamuk 2000 : 88-111). Where religion was concerned, to be sure,

tolerance was not general, and the Ottomans, with their attachment to Sunnism, had a distaste for the Shi'ism they found in eastern Anatolia or the borderlands with Safavid associated with the religious heterodoxy

which they naturally (ghuluww) that had given


birth to the Safavid regime of Shah Isma'il in the early sixteenth century (Babayan 2002 ). Again, with regard to Christians, it is that conflicts arose, periodically and that instances of forced conversion (as well as of 'martyrdom' in such contexts) can be found. However, as Haim Gerber has effectively argued, overall the dhimmis in the Ottoman empire found that regime to be a


congenial one for many purposes, even preferring it when they had other options open to them (Gerber 1999; also Jennings 1993 ). This view of the Ottoman dispensation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries conflicts with the received wisdom of many post-Ottoman nationalist historiographies, notably those who see Ottoman rule as the 'saddest and darkest period' in Balkan history (Jireček 1876 ,

cited in Todorova 1997 :

In this construction, argues Maria is 'on that the eve of the Ottoman conquest, it Todor va, posited the medieval societies of the Balkans had reached a high degree of sophistication that made them commensurate with, if not ahead of, developments in Western Europe'. Ottoman rule then was 'a


calamity of unparalleled consequences because it disrupted the; natural development of Southeast European societies as a substantial and creative part of the overall process of European


and the Renaissance' ( Todorova 1997 : 182-83). The Balkan elites were; either annihilated physically or driven out, leaving only the Orthodox church and the village commune to preserve and defend something of a glorious pre-Ottoman past. On the one

hand, Todorova suggests that,

after the Ottoman conquest, 'only

a small part of the Balkan Christian aristocracies were integrated in the lower echelons of power’ and that, in the vassal territories, such Christian elites were tolerated to a higher degree though not properly integrated into the Ottoman world, where elite culture was ‘produced and consumed exclusively by educated Ottoman, Arabic and Persian-speaking Muslims’. On the other, she also points to how ‘the Ottoman period provided a framework for a veritable flourishing of post-Byzantine Balkan culture’, a long distance indeed from the view of this period as some form of ‘Dark Age’, a view promoted by nationalist historiographies in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This perception of the Ottomans as ‘bearers of an essentially alien civilization characterized by a fanatic and militant religion’, who hence ‘brought about the pastoralization and agrarianization’ of the regions over which they ruled, would certainly find echoes in a certain form of populist, Hindu nationalist depiction of Mughal rule in South Asia as well. However, it flies in the face of most authoritative and scholarly writing on the Mughals, which tends to portray them as ruling over a complex and plural empire with a fair degree of ideological flexibility. Like the Ottomans, the Mughals too were a Sunni Muslim dynasty, though they did have extended flirtations with Shi‘ism both in the sixteenth and the later eighteenth centuries. Again, like the Ottomans, their ruling elite was a composite one, made up of Indian Hindus and Muslims, as well as Iranians and Central Asians. The substantial presence of non-Muslims at the highest ranks of the ruling elite does however set them apart from the Ottomans, and even more so from the Habsburgs, in whose empire one cannot imagine a non-Christian coming to occupy the place that was afforded to the Rajputs under the Mughals. Again, unlike the Ottomans, the place of elite slavery in the Mughal hierarchy was limited, though slavery as such was not unknown at the court. The Mughal bureaucracy was organized around a numerical of rank, itself derived from the Mongols, and adapted and refined in the course of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The core institution here was of the dual mansab rank, with those who attained a sufficiently high rank being termed amirs (or grandees, pl. umara). Such a rank entitled the holder to remuneration, either in terms of cash or in the form of a prebendal assignment known as the jagir (Khan 1992). These assignments


were intended to circulate, and the mansabdar elite were also periodically despatched on assignments to different provinces of the empire. Thus, to take one example from around 1600, a high mansabdar of Central Asian origin, Sa‘id Khan Chaghatay, on his return from Bengal and Bihar, was reassigned to the Punjab. Such transfers also occurred at lower levels in the bureaucracy, even if some tenacious elements attempted to remain for long periods in a region where they had built up a support base or clientele. At the very lowest levels of the hierarchy, one also eventually found officials who were deemed too petty to merit transfer. This system coexisted, as many seventeenth century observers

noted, with another, namely one of rooted local magnates called zamindars, many of whom belonged to families that had already deep roots before the arrival of the Mughals on the scene (Nurul Hasan 1998). Mughal rule was in effect a compromise with such magnates, with periodic conflicts breaking out that had to be resolved mainly through force, or skilful negotiation. These zamindars were also important local patrons and saw themselves as located, above all, in a vernacular regional culture, whereas the Mughals, by the late sixteenth century, had clearly adopted Persian as their idiom of rule (Alam 1998). Eventually, acculturation into Persian also became a means for various non-Muslim groups to accede to the Mughal hierarchy without converting to Islam, a phenomenon that would have been inconceivable under the Habsburgs (where non-Christians were concerned) and somewhat difficult under the Ottomans, even if one can periodically find Jews exercising a powerful influence at the Ottoman court in about 1600. The ideological basis of this ‘Mughal compromise’ was articulated in the late sixteenth century by the statesman and intellectual, Shaikh Abu’l Fazl, who also presented an argument for ‘peace towards all’ (sulh-i kull), based on notions of social equilibrium that themselves derived from an older tradition of Persian and Central Asian political treatises (akhlaq) (Alam 2004: 61-67). At the heart of the matter was the vastness and diversity of the empire that the Mughals aimed to rule over, once they had completed the conquest of Gujarat and Bengal by the 1570s. By 1600, the Mughals ruled over a population which cannot have been far from 70 million, and by the end of the seventeenth century— with population growth and the southward expansion— may have been closer to 120 million.9 We can compare this to the populations of the Habsburg and Ottoman

empires in order to gain a sense of the different proportions, although it is the far higher population density of South Asia (rather than the size of territories) that accounts for the difference. To imagine that such an empire could be ruled over by simply using force is inconceivable; the majority of the population was made up of non-Muslims, and the institutions that existed in various regions were also very varied. Only for a brief period in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries had a state— the Sultanate of Delhi— had anything like the extensive reach that the Mughals possessed. When Muslim clerics of that state at the time proposed a forthright attack on Brahmanical culture, the Sultans baulked, seeing this as infeasible. Thus, what the Mughals proposed was a compromise, in which the ruler would take on certain attributes and practices that appealed to his non-Muslim subjects, while Mughal rule would then proceed on the basis of a progressive Persianisation of elite culture, and the incorporation of extensive territories through Mughal fiscal and administrative institutions. This view was articulated with a fair degree of clarity by the rebel prince Muhammad Akbar, to his father, the emperor ‘Alamgir, in the 1680s: he his father that ‘former emperors like Akbar had contracted an alliance with this race [of Rajputs] and conquered the realm of Hindustan with their help’ (Sarkar 1989: 69). However persuasive ideas of balance or equilibrium (i‘tidal) might have been, eventually Mughal rule was based on trial and error, and at times was tested by reactions from a subject population that was made up of an armed peasantry that the Mughals simply did not have the means to pacify. By the early eighteenth century, powerful regional magnates emerged, some from within the Mughal hierarchy and others from within the ranks of the zamindars; together, they set about dismantling some of the more centralized aspects of Mughal rule, while still preserving its form and institutions. Even at its height, the Mughal empire had not functioned as a colonial regime; and even if resources had flowed to the court (which was usually located in the empire’s northern Indian heartland), it is difficult to portray the whole as a core ruling over a series of exploited However, in the eighteenth century, revenue-flows from regions such as Bengal, Gujarat and the Deccan first dried to a trickle and then eventually ceased altogether. It was this weakened Mughal centre that the English East India Company was able first to and then eventually displace.

recognizably reminded

peripheries. manipulate

If one compares the Mughals to the Habsburgs and Ottomans, it becomes clear that, in most respects, they resemble the latter far more than they do the former. Both are empires that are largely based on notions of contiguous territorial expansion rather than the ‘seaborne’ model that the Iberians patented, to be imitated by the Dutch, English and French. Further, neither the Mughals nor the Ottomans can be thought to have ruled over ‘colonial empires’ (nationalist Balkan historiography notwithstanding), in the sense of systematically promoting settler colonies, or basing themselves on an extractive and exploitative relationship of the type that existed between Castile and the lands that the Habsburgs ruled over. Both Ottomans and Mughals promoted a composite elite, the latter through a form of acculturation douce and the former through the far more uncompromising mode of the devshirme. Again, both engaged in extensive compromises with local and regional elites and permitted a degree of variation that existed within the Iberian peninsula for the Habsburgs but not outside it. Arguably, in this respect, the Mughal compromise went deeper but was also less robust, to the extent that it led to the rise of centrifugal forces within a century and a half of the establishment of Mughal rule.

III What impact did these imperial regimes have on the nature of economic change in the regions that they ruled over? The Habsburg case is the classic one, for the usual argument is that the nature of their colonialism benefited neither the colonies nor eventually the metropolis. To be sure, the problem was considerably exacerbated by two other factors: the shrinking native populations of the Americas and the enormous cost that inter-imperial wars placed on the Habsburgs in the course of the seventeenth century. Yet, paradoxically, the Habsburg colonies seem in some respect to have fared better than the metropolis, particularly in the latter half of the seventeenth century. In the case of Mexico in the seventeenth century, a turning away from mining to agriculture, and for the domestic market seems to have taken place as the colony became somewhat less oriented to its trans-Atlantic links. Together with subsistence farms and sugar estates, great cattle ranches emerged using the institution of the hacienda, and developed new local and regional patterns of economy that were less tied up


with the fate of the port-towns. This new regime was also linked up to a rise in the proportion of government revenues that were retained in Mexico for administration and public works rather than remitted to Spain, described as follows: ‘local self-sufficient economies with their own urban centre [that] could survive independently of the trade, dealing with other localities in particular and trading in particular with Mexico City, a market, an entrepôt, a source of capital, a metropolis’ (Lynch 1981: 230-31). Clearly, this cannot be generalized to other parts of Spanish America or indeed to the Philippines. In the case of Peru, despite expansion in the production of wine and sugar, the dependence on mining remained substantial. However, one also sees the growth, in the seventeenth century, of inter-American trade between Mexico and Venezuela, or Mexico and Peru, which has been linked to a ‘shift of the Spanish American economy and its mounting of Spain, the decrease of remittances to the metropolis and the growth of investment in the colonies themselves’ (Ibid.: 244). Ironically enough, this situation compares quite favourably with that in Castile, which has been described as ‘trapped in a vicious cycle of depression’ that is particularly marked in the latter half of the seventeenth century.10 Harvest failures in 1665-68 lead to major inflation in food prices thereafter, and a series of economic and natural disasters that persisted in the decade from 1677 to 1687 (Ortiz 1962). The population of the region seems to have stagnated over most of the seventeenth century and there were also periodic monetary crises, so that even official observers wrote of how, by 1685, ‘the state of the whole kingdom of Castile is utterly wretched, especially Andalucía, where the aristocracy are without funds, the middle elements poverty-stricken, artisans reduced to vagrancy or beggary, and many dying of hunger’ (Lynch 1981: 288).

transatlantic commodities,


Even if is clear that

take this view to be a somewhat exaggerated one, it the Habsburg experience of empire did produce severe


unintended consequences for the metropolis. Ottoman historians the empire they study as producing consequences of a quite; different sort for the territories under Ottoman rule. Thus, writing of the Ottoman empire as a form of 'welfare state', the doyen of modern-day Ottoman studies, Halil Ịnalcιk avers that 'mercantilism was in complete contrast to Ottoman notions of economic Rather, he sees the Ottomans as interested, at one and the same time, in promoting the notion of 'an economy of plenty' and see


intervening extensively to create 'regulations for customs and guild manufacture, fixing maxima in prices, market inspection on the quality and measures of goods, monopolies on the manufacture and gal© of certain necessities'. 11 Yet, it may be argued that in go doing, he possibly distorts two central features of the comparative picture. First, inalcik seems inclined to: caricature a contrast between grasping western 'mercantilists' on the one hand and paternalistic 'easterners' on the other, wherein the dirigiste character of the Ottoman state over the economy comes to be vastly overstated. This may partly result from the too-great importance given in this view to the Ottoman centre, and those parts of the empire (notably centres such as Istanbul, Bursa and Izmir) where the state had a relatively strong presence. This is allied in turn to some recent trends of the Ottoman economy, which overplay the role of military supplies and the provision of war-materials in the overall articulation of the economy. Second, it would seem that this view also exaggerates the role played by Islam as a determining feature in the long-term trajectory of the Ottoman economy. Thus, from this view to one in which Islam, and Muslim institutions regarding property and capital, determine the long-term 'underdevelopment' of the areas under Ottoman rule, is but a short distance. One can also well imagine that the historiography on the 'oppression: of Christians' could also use this view creatively to assert that in the absence of Ottoman (that is, Muslim) rule, many parts of East Europe and the Balkans would in fact have flourished economically under the aegis of a 'Christian economy'. In reality, the gap between precept and practice was considerable; and even if the Ottoman state in the


prohibited the export of gold and silver (to lake but one example), these metals flowed east to the Safavid and Mughal domains in huge quantities in the seventeenth century. In a similar vein, economic changes in Egypt, the Balkans and even Anatolia, cannot always be read as the consequence of top-down initiatives emanating from the state; the transformation of international markets, the growing prospects of commercial agriculture, and regional complementarities must equally be taken into account.

dangers of the 'top-down' view can be seen in the manner Central European and Balkan nationalist historiography has laid the 'underdevelopment' of that region wholly at the door of the Ottoman state. Thus, in the writings of a major Hungarian historian of the interwar period, Gyula Szekfű, we learn that 'the The

in which

Ottomans destroyed the normal development of the Hungarian state and nation by their three hundred years of war’ and also that Ottoman rule was ‘the most severe [...] probably the only major catastrophe of Hungarian history’, which was in turn ‘the cause of all later misfortunes of Hungary’ (cited in Berend 2003: 22). Central to this portrayal is the Ottoman fiscal system, in which the tax burden was not only inordinately high but also linked to a form of ‘command economy’ in which ‘the peasants had to sell their products to the Sultan at a low official mandatory price, which amounted to an extra form of taxation’. 12 Some more balanced, and recent, writings have moved away from this view, while still maintaining a largely ‘top-down’ perspective. In these views, ‘Ottoman occupation of the Balkans actually helped to replace the nomadic transhumance way of life with permanent settlements and agricultural activity’; it is also suggested that ‘the state encouraged the cultivation of unused land by granting private ownership, which led to rice cultivation in the river valleys’.13 However, once again, these positive features are largely associated with the classic timar system, while the emergence of the tax-farming (malikane) regime of the seventeenth century is seen as producing numerous negative side-effects, including an enormous rise in the tax burden. 14 The case of the Mughal empire contrasts with the two we have set out above in quite clear terms. First, it is evident that, until the last quarter of the eighteenth century (and, in some regions, even beyond), South Asia possessed massive resources in terms of artisanal manufacture that imports were not able to affect. Second, much recent work has demonstrated that the seventeenth century, as well as the first half of the eighteenth century, witnessed considerable agrarian expansion that accompanied steady population growth. It was only in the context of the late eighteenth century that the wars of colonization, together with some devastating famines (such as in Bengal in the early 1770s) brought about a substantial change in this picture. Thus, all in all, the centuries of Mughal rule are centuries of relative prosperity for much of South Asia, if one excludes moments of crisis such as the great Gujarat famine of the early 1630s. It is no longer plausible to argue that standards of living in Mughal India steadily fell behind those in Europe between 1500 and 1800; and, if one must seek a ‘great divergence’ (as Kenneth Pomeranz has proposed for China and Europe), it must surely lie in the period after 1780 or 1800 (Pomeranz 2000). Thus, whereas

historians of the Ottoman empire seem largely content to argue that by 1800, the domains ruled over by the Sublime Porte had— in relative terms at least— clearly fallen behind their neighbours to the west, historians of South Asia would be very reluctant to admit such a claim. And if such a claim is not to be admitted, it is in fact difficult to lay the blame at the door of Mughal institutions. This view is at some variance witli the cosy consensus that existed in the late 1960s, when historians such as Halil Inalcik, Subhi Labib and Irfan Habib sought to demonstrate how the Ottomans and the Mughals had produced institutional structures which were vastly inferior to those of an imagined 'West' (Habib 1969 ; Ịnalcιk 1969; Labib 1969 ). Some of these writers argued from the ideology of such as Habib — these states, while others — took a more orthodox Marxist line, suggesting that the nature of class relations in the Mughal empire was such that a small elite siphoned off the surplus and used it for wasteful, conspicuous consumption, leaving the bulk of artisans and peasantry in abject and undifferentiated poverty. Yet, even at that time, other voices suggested that one might look at the long-term trajectory of the Mughal empire's economy in quite different terms. Thus, Tapan Raychaudhuri argued that, by the later Mughal period, in several regions along the coast [in India] we find a powerful and rich entrepreneurial class and focal points of specialized economic activity which were not quantitatively insignificant in relation to the not very extensive territories which relevant points of reference', meaning Europe. He then to state: 'As some of these territories, Gujarat and Bengal in particular, long enjoyed the benefits of Mughal peace and the urban-commercial development that went with it, conditions there were no more unfavourable to eventual industrialization than in pre-Meiji Japan. It would not be absurd to argue that in 1800 the relevant conditions were not more favourable anywhere else outside are our



certain parts of West Europe and the New World' 1969: 87).


The concealed implications of such an argument are not far to find. The first, and most obvious of these, is that the imperial form of state may have actually acted as a check on the economic transformation of certain regions by tying them willy-nilly to others that were less dynamic. If we are to take this view seriously, it would imply that the growing autonomy of the regions from the Mughal centre in the eighteenth century may in fact have been an organic

process, which their reintegration into the British empire in the nineteenth century actually checked. In other words, a post-Mughal scenario of smaller regional states may in fact have favoured some regions far more than others. The second implication of this view is that the ‘Mughal peace’ in fact provided the pre-conditions for such a transformation because, first, the Mughal state was not a colonial one which extracted massive surpluses from the regions and transferred them to a metropolitan core; and second, because a ‘powerful and rich entrepreneurial class’ did come to exist in these regions, benefiting from their centuries-long participation in regional and oceanic trade.15 Still, the point to make is that Raychaudhuri’s argument is presented in a counterfactual mode, whereas the long-term outcome in South Asia was not post-imperial fragmentation but continued political consolidation. In contrast, the longer-term outcomes in both the Habsburg and the Ottoman cases were fragmented polities born in a set of late imperial and post-imperial moments. The disintegration of the Ottoman domains was a slow and painful one, which seems to have endured from the mid-eighteenth century through all of the century that followed. Central to the arguments of those who Ottoman disintegration was the unnatural character of that state and the obvious nature of the ‘primordial identities’ in the states that emerged from its debris. These were in fact deeply dubious arguments, but the interesting fact is that they possessed an enormous purchase, whereas such arguments had a far more limited place in South Asia. The situation in Spanish America is a more curious one, since we are aware that Bolívar’s ambitions included a consolidation of the former colonies (visible in his project for Gran Colombia), rather than their disintegration into small units (Brading 1991: 603-20). Here, the obvious comparison is with the United States, where the disbanding of the continental army in the aftermath of the revolutionary war, and the creation of an imperial state that organized the progressive colonization in a westward direction was a model that Spanish America was unable to emulate in the nineteenth century. The spectacle of a former Spanish America that fragments into bitterly conflicting ‘nations’ is a particularly curious one from a South Asian perspective, when so much in the latter region would allow for arguments concerning ‘primordial’ differences in terms of language, custom and culture.




Why then did South Asia, like China, produce a large continental-sized

polity in the twentieth century, which though calling itself a ‘nation-state’ in fact possesses many of the attributes of an imperial polity? The facile answer is that this was the heritage of the British empire, but such a response can quite easily be refuted. For one,

in the regions of the world that they ruled in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the British left behind as much division and fragmentation as consolidation and integration; indeed, arguably far more of the former than the latter. Second, it is not clear that

it was in Britain’s own imperial interest, or indeed that of the United States, to have a polity the size of India on the world stage by the 1940s. The only function that such a polity could play was as a counter-weight to China in Asia and this was a dubious role

in the circumstances. The hypothesis that I would like to propose here is that the Mughal empire was in fact a relatively successful exercise in state building, and that the Republic of India in fact inherits many of its institutional and other characteristics from

it — as modified by the colonial experience, to be sure. The politics of elite integration that it practised were far more successful than the drastic modes of acculturation used by the Habsburgs, or even the curious ones that the Ottomans deployed. In its dealings

with the regions under its control, it deployed neither the colonial forms that the Habsburgs favoured (with their consequences in terms of producing creole resentments), nor the mix of dirigisme and laissez-faire that led the Ottomans to engage with European

traders in the manner they did. In contrast, the Ottoman empire appears to us to be more

ambitious in its programmes in some respects and far less so in others.

The degree of elite circulation by the seventeenth century was quite

limited here and the degree of autonomy of some distant provinces came to be considerable by the later seventeenth century. Yet, the Ottoman practice of autonomy was substantively different from the Mughal practice of incorporating and compromising with local and

regional elites. Rajput nobles and Kayastha and Khattri notables all spoke Persian at the Mughal court by the early seventeenth century, while the free-born Christian elites of the Balkans appear to have shown a relative indifference to high Ottoman culture.16

However, the Ottomans are significant for the degree of openness of their commercial elite, the treatment of the dhimmi populations,

and their refusal to espouse a model of cultural homogenization such as the one that the Habsburgs clearly favoured. Yet, seen through a certain prism, all these empires were the ‘losers’ of the race to modernity and have long been measured against the success of the British and, more recently, American examples. Whether this will appear the appropriate yardstick in the decades to come is, of course, a matter open to debate. What is certain is that the large neo-imperial polities of India and China appear today to be the objects of desire and longing for at least some architects of the European Union, who wish to transform that entity into a federated polity that possesses some of the most useful features of empire, without the more questionable ones. In a weaker vein, the project of the Mercosur seems to look back to Bolívar’s notions of a federated Spanish America; and it is not the Trotskyists alone who have argued that the success of the United States of America in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries has lain in combining elements of the nation-state with that of the expansive imperial polity. There have been moments, notably at the end of World War I (and the final disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires), and at the end of World War II (with the decolonization of large swathes of Africa and Asia), that the teleological view of the empire giving birth to the nation-state has seemed irresistible. Formulae such as the ‘right to national self-determination' seemed obvious at that time, and the primordial identities of ethnic groups were accepted quite unquestioningly. The fall of the Soviet Union gave currency to another brand of rhetoric, that of globalization, and the end of nation-states as an international regime, as a part of the working out of the eschatological concept of the ‘end of history’. However, the idea that the market would replace politics has had a distressingly short life. Instead, the twenty-first century has brought back a certain nostalgia for empire, but in the form of an imagined world driven and dominated by a single empire, with the hegemonic role that the British empire barely attributed to itself at the height of its power. If indeed such a single regime comes to acquire a stable place in the future, it is difficult to imagine that it can do so without isolated but increasingly violent acts of opposition by groups of either disillusioned former satraps, or disempowered would-be imperialists. This seems almost as inevitable as the view that the continuing hegemony of Microsoft (on one of whose computer programmes this

essay is, incidentally, written) will produce an underground of hackers with exaggerated notions of their own heroism. Here then is where the possibility of imagining a future that bears a greater resemblance to an inter-imperial grid of competing, large-scale, political entities that hold each other in partial check, seems a more attractive— if not a more plausible— scenario. Whether, in that view, the histories of the Ottomans, Mughals and Habsburgs in the earlier modern world will still provide substantial food for thought is of course a mere matter for speculation.


Notes *

A somewhat modified version of this article appeared





1. This

of the

ingenious arguments deployed by Ferguson was 'The British Empire was a Force for Good', at The Royal Geographical Society, London, on 1 June 2004. The motion, supported by him, was incidentally passed by a popular vote of the audience. in



was one


debate whose motion



of the


balanced views of this process is


(1989). 3.

On imperial overstretch, see Parker (1998). see the important study by Alencastro

and the earlier




classic by Mauro (1989). ' Thus compare Khwaja Abdul Karim


On the somewhat anomalous position of the North African


(2000); ,

with Bolts


Schaub (1999). possessions, see

7. For


discussion of thesfe themes

through a series of evocative

biographical sketches, see Brading (1991).


The classic study on this issue remains Barkan


I have calculated

these numbers from Barkan's tables, using his coefficient of five per household; they have, however, frequently been misread by more



recent historians to suggest a population of 12 million in about 1520. I follow the reasoning in Desai (1978), while accepting his lower-bound estimates of 65 to 70 million. A far higher population of between 107 and 115 million for the Mughal empire in about 1600 is defended by

Habib 10.

(1982: 166-67).

The contrast is pithily summed up in the Sturdy', by BakeWell (1997).

11. Ịnalcιk

(1997: 49-52).

Klaveren (1960).

heavily Ịnalcιk's conception by earlier Whig-oriented historians such as

It is striking how

here; remains influenced

phrase 'Spain Frail, America


The term 'command



Fikret 14.



is used in

(2003 ; 24). Berend's analysis Adanir (1989).

Lampe and Jackson (1982). depends in fair measure on


somewhat different view than the classic Balkan nationalist one,


McGowan (1981). McGowan stresses the growing importance of çiftlιk (small estate) formation and a context of demographic decline in the seventeenth century that is not explained in 'top-down' terms. Adanir (1989) also draws upon McGowan's work, to argue that the çiftιk should not be understood as 're-feudalization'. 15. For more recent studies of the two regions cited by Raychaudhuri, see Eaton (1993) and Hasan (2004). For a contrasting study of an see



interior 16.



maritime) region, See Singh (1991).

Cemal Kafadar differs from many other Ottoman historians in insisting, that 'many timar-holders were also of non-Turkish


origins, as were members of t he ulema, the ranks of which were noif closed to those born to, say, Arabic-, Kurdish- or Greek-speaking families'; see Kafadar (1994 : 619-20).

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Stoianovich, Traian. 1960. ‘The Conquering Balkan Orthodox Merchant.’ Journal of Economic History 20 (2): 234-313. Stradling, R. A. 1988. Philip IV and the Government of Spain, 1621-65 . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. 2005. Mughals and Franks: Explorations in Connected History . Delhi: Oxford University Press. ———. 2006. ‘A Tale of Three Empires: Mughals, Ottomans and Habsburgs in a Comparative Context.’ Common Knowledge 12 (1): 66-92. Todorova, Maria. 1997. Imagining the Balkans. New York: Oxford Press. Van Klaveren, Jakob. 1960. ‘ Fiskalismus, Merkantilismus, Korruption: Drei Aspekte der Finanz- und Wirtschaftspolitik.’ Vierteljahrsschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 47: 333-53.


4 Modernities Compared: State Transformations and Constitutions of Property in the Qing and Ottoman Empires Huri






long been the preserve of Europe. Social science modernization that have shaped the categories of

historical analysis since the nineteenth century have excluded the Ottoman and the Chinese empires from mappings of modernity 1978 ). Instead, the two empires are designated undifferentiated and ahistorical domain of the East,

(Turner an


part of


by what it lacks: individual ownership of property, rational organization of market activity and rational bureaucratic forms of government. This construct of the East provides a contrast to an equally abstract domain of the West (including western Europe and its extensions in the United States) privileged with the presence of modern forms. This high drama of absences and presences of idealized properties has been instrumental in legitimating European domination of the East. The notion of oriental despotism has been a

central feature of that legitimation (Islamoğlu-Inan 1987; Perdue In Asia, it facilitated the setting up of colonial administrations


that could be identified as rational and bureaucratic, as opposed to the arbitrary rule of the despot and the constraints that such rule

imposed Asia



social and economic progress. At the same time, once an imagined straitjacket of Oriental Despotism,

frozen in

indigenous transformation of statecraft in modern times was dismissed, either as not conforming to the bureaucratic rational model (as in the ease of China) or as being a poor and ineffective aping of the European model (as in the case of the Ottoman empire). On the whole, Oriental Despotism became a shorthand explanation for why Asia did not develop. any



This article addresses the experiences of modernity of the Ottoman and Qing émpires in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. It will focus on statecraft or practices of governing or ordering social reality. More specifically, it will focus on administrative rulings or law and procedures which ordered and defined property relations on land. The idea behind this undertaking is to formulate an of modernity that is historical and contingent, and that does not confine modern transformations in the governing of social reality to the European experience, or treat the experience of nonEuropean regions as derivative. What is proposed instead is the idea of a shared experience of modernity, with multiple paths of modern transformations. The comparison of modern transformations in statecraft in two non-European regions provides an important starting point to bring into focus the universality of the experience of modernity, beyond the narrow confines of western Europe.


Methodologically, this venture calls for setting aside analysis that

has its starting point in ideal types — a checklist of modern generally associated with the nineteenth-century European experience in state-building and its colonial extensions. These have been appropriated and mobilized to support diverse political and ideological positions. For example, the ideal type of centralized bureaucratic government has not only been part of the vocabulary of European domination, it has also been assimilated in defensive renderings of non-European histories that seek to show that this form of government existed in Asia long before it did in Europe. Contemporary critics of modern statecraft, most recently James C. Scott, also take the bureaucratic organization of society to be a defining feature of modernity ( Scott 1998). For Scott, it was the administrative and legal practices of modern statecraft which simplified, standardized, uniformized and therefore rationalized social relations, including property and taxation relations, and rendered them administratively legible and accessible to state control. Thus, standardization and uniformization differentiated modern administration from pre-modern statecraft. The latter was characterized by an inability to cut through the web of customary practices making up the myriad of property arrangements and to establish its claims of taxation and over society. In fact, in Scott’s analysis, the binary contrast between modern and pre-modern statecraft parallels the East/West

properties properties

particularistic surveillance

Modernities Compared dichotomy of modernization theory. The only difference is that, while for proponents of the modernization perspective, the central statebuilding project and its practices of bureaucratization and represent the hallmarks of modern progress to be emulated and aspired to, for Scott, they spell the harsh reality of the modern state’s administrative and scientific coercion. The modernization perspective and Scott’s analysis thus converge in casting modern statecraft as an ideal type, abstracted from the historical contexts of power relations. Both analyses focus on the of this state form on society. For modernization theory, penetration accounts for social integration.1 For Scott, modern forms of statecraft, invasive and controlling, condemn society to eternal impotence; by contrast, pre-modern state forms, hitherto characterized as ineffective, allowed room for politics and negotiations among social groups. The descriptive mode hypostatizes and renders non-problematic what it identifies as the brave new world of the modern leviathan, as against the idyllic era of negotiations or politics that preceded it. Responding to accounts of idealized absences and presences rooted in binary perceptions of a hypostatized world history, this article introduces an understanding of the history of modernity which Europe and non-Europe shared. In a preliminary way, this history refers to different strategies of coping with the dual challenges of competition among political and military formations and of commercial expansion, both of which were experienced in varying degrees throughout Eurasia from roughly the fifteenth century. One institutional response to this dual challenge was to centralize power in the hands of rulers and bureaucracies. In European and non-European areas, this response signaled a tendency towards concentration of coercive and moral authority so as to maintain social harmony while promoting social and economic welfare. Fulfillment of these goals depended on raising revenues, especially in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, when intensification of competition among states, as well as the exigency of resistance to European colonial expansion, resulted in increased military expenditures. Moreover, central government expenditures in this later period also had to be expanded to cover social welfare costs that had previously been the responsibility of different groups that were part of the ruling coalition. In turn, the taxation imperative compelled governments to become closely

rationalization effects bureaucratic

involved in promoting economic activity, so that state fiscality and economic growth were inseparable features of the nineteenth-century historical environments. These developments always took place in the context of power relations, external as well as internal. The individual contexts of power relations where state objectives and legitimation idioms are formulated and negotiated may appropriately be called state environments. Statecraft or institutions that order social reality are part of these environments; the different institutions represent power fields where social relations are constituted. When viewed from this perspective, what Scott describes as customary or by statecraft in pre-modern environments can be seen as constituted through practices of statecraft, albeit of a different kind. In contrast to the nineteenth century, the constitutive practices of early modern statecraft were rooted in power contexts where central rulers competed and shared power with different groups. In this framework, statecraft was an art of accommodation, aimed at distributing taxable resources among members of the ruling bloc. By contrast, in the nineteenth century, when power was centered in state bureaucracies, statecraft no longer aimed at distributing resources. It focused instead on directing resources to the centre, so as to enable the state to deliver the ‘greatest happiness of greatest numbers’ in terms of providing security in the form of military mobilization against internal and external enemies, and also by securing the economic welfare of the population. Both early modern and modern practices of statecraft were domains of negotiation or of politics. For Scott, only a pre-modern ‘local’ society, blessed with a partially ‘blind’ and incapacitated state, could have politics, that is, continual negotiations of practice that ordered property relations and other aspects of life. In a mood recalling the anti-statist civil society perspectives of the 1990s, Scott relishes the plurality and diversity of political life in his imagined pre-modern society. This article, refusing to confine politics to a reified pre-modern domain, will argue that in early modern state environments, the practice of statecraft represented the sum total of particularistic settlements negotiated among groups, one of which was made up by the representatives of the central authority. For instance, in the Ottoman empire during the sixteenth century, tax regulations for individual provinces were settlements negotiated between central officials, local officials, and




local groups, including the cultivators. Thus, what was customary was constituted through negotiations the outcomes of which were summed up in administrative regulations as well as in the rulings of provincial courts of law. The legitimation idiom which unified the diverse particularistic negotiation processes was an understanding of justice; it rested on the ability of institutions of statecraft to accommodate the different interests. By contrast, in the nineteenth century, when power was focused in the central government to the exclusion of other groups, the of the central government to mediate among different interests represented the legitimating idiom of the new state environment. Such mediation was to be effected through general laws, general administrative rulings and procedures that stood in contrast to the particularity of rules and procedures of the early modern The challenging of central government, in turn, took the form of challenging and negotiating the generality of these rules or institutions that ordered social relations. Because he identifies ‘politics’ with society at a distance from the state, understood as a multitude of practices of control and surveillance, Scott is unable to recognize the distinctively modern politics of administration. Instead, he draws attention to the politically emasculated character of the administratively constituted modern society. This article does not view administrative practices as disembodied tools of control or subjugation. In the lived experience of modern statecraft, law and attempts at mapping and registering land and property were challenged. Such resistance was far from being ineffectual. The fact that a comprehensive cadastral mapping of imperial could not be carried out in the nineteenth century Ottoman context suggests the success of this resistance. The Ottoman Land Code of 1858, which introduced individual ownership in land as well as procedures for compiling land and property registers, all point to the fact that administrative practices were sites of negotiations. Only slowly did modern administrative practice, objectified and depersonalized, emerge as the arbitrator among the different interests in land from which it distanced itself (Arthurs 1985). At the same time the ability of the central to render its uniform and general rulings acceptable in the eyes of different social groupings — in other words, its legitimacy — rested on mediation and arbitration affected through its practices. As such, the modern state did not have an existence



constantly territories

government administrative

separate from the society it sought to control and subject; it was continually formed and consolidated in the processes and procedures that were fashioning a rural society of free-holders. In that sense, the struggle of the central government to obtain legibility and simplicity in land tenure, as part of its imperatives of taxation and economic growth, was a prolonged one; the attainment of state objectives was ultimately contingent on the ability of its agencies to conciliate different interests and on the power relations between the different groups and these agencies. Lastly, local or customary practice did not altogether disappear. Rather, as in the case of regional codes issued in response to contestations of the Land Code, these practices were renegotiated and their particularity re-established, this time in relation to the general precepts of the Code and not simply as recognitions of the local on its own terms.2 Modernity, as conceived here, is political and therefore

contingent on historical contexts of power relations both among states

and within individual state environments. Modernity, in this sense, cannot be confined to an idealized image of the nineteenth-century European experience of central state-building and the forms of associated with it. First, from the perspective of this article, the history of modernity is not confined to the moment of European domination in the nineteenth century; rather it is extended back in time to include the experiences of early modernity in European and non-European regions. Nor were modern forms of statecraft to the kind of bureaucratic practices that seek uniformization and standardization of social relations. These practices are found at a specific moment in power configurations in certain regions, when the balance of power shifts to central bureaucracies. In areas where such a shift does not occur, other modern forms of governing emerge. The Chinese experience of state-building initiative at the local or regional level in the nineteenth and early twentieth century is a case in point.3 This exercise in historical relativity lends itself to a problematization of bureaucratization or of rational forms of government. It also points to future possibilities of governing society and economy other than those that focus on centralized state bureaucracies. This consideration has particular relevance at the opening of the twenty-first century, when the institutions for steering and regulating economic and social activity that have been identified with centralized administration seem increasingly inadequate for the task. In the present-day context of accelerated social and economic integration on a world scale, regional forms




of governance that transcend the limits of central state seem to hold promise for a more effective organization of societal life.


Second, the perception of modernity as historically and politically

contingent underlines its conflicting and problematic character in Europe and non-Europe alike. It focuses attention on the multiple processes of modern transformation and not on ‘idealized’ outcomes abstracted from highly complex historical experiences. Not all of the regions where these processes of modern transformation were underway were able to meet the challenges of survival in inter-state competition and capitalist transformation in the nineteenth Consider for a moment the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. These multinational empires collapsed in the early twentieth century, mainly because of strong nationalist movements, despite having undergone modern transformations in terms of orderings of social relations, and as importantly in terms of idioms of rule. This essay will focus on the Ottoman and Qing cases.


Contingencies of State Centralism Centralized political power is highly prized in the historiography of modernity. Responding to allegations by Eurocentric historiography that modern forms of government were not to be found in Asia, Ottoman and Chinese historians have stressed the existence of centralized states long before such a feat was achieved in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Inalcik 1973; Wong 1997 ). This perspective often focuses on central institutions such as armies and bureaucracies. In the case of China, the civil service bureaucracy and the system of elite education are identified as mechanisms for integrating local groups into imperial service. Similarly, the Ottoman devshirme system was a mode of imperial integration through recruitment of Christian youths from conquered territories, who were then trained as military and civilian elites to staff the infantry and the central as well as provincial administrations. During the sixteenth century, the Ottoman infantry or janissaries provided an edge to the Ottomans in the competition with the emerging European states, some of which still relied mainly on cavalry. The Chinese civil service bureaucracy, spanning the empire, was

important ensuring promoted early domestic order that China's commercial expansion and the prosperity, including networks Frank 1998 of market development ( ). in



This institutional perspective is problematic on a number of counts. Above all, it has a tendency to abstract institutions from the specific contexts of power relations that prevailed at the time of their formation. Hence, institutions identified as representing the early modern Ottoman or Chinese central states are often projections of idealized institutional forms associated with nineteenth-century European administrative states. At the same time, emphasis on centralization at an early date saddles the with the problem of having to explain why these empires could not maintain their lead over Europe in the race toward central institutions. More often than not, one is compelled to juggle various decline scenarios. For the Ottomans, the seventeenth century marks the beginning of such a downward slide, whereas for the Qing it is the nineteenth century. Hence, the task of the historian becomes one of explaining the decline of such institutions, including the janissaries, the system of revenue grants, the devshirme, the imperial civil service and the examination system, as if these were immutable features of a ‘golden age’ that could no longer be sustained by the Ottomans and the Chinese of a later era.4 Finally, insofar as the institutional locus claims a certain uniqueness for early modern Asian state formations in terms of their central institutions, it abstracts them from the larger context of modernity that they shared with European areas, albeit in forms determined by their specific circumstances. To counter the fetishization of imperial state centralization, this article will focus not on institutions themselves but on the societal processes which underlay these institutions or rules that ordered social reality in different historical contexts. Here, statecraft refers not simply to sets of governing institutions but to the processes of ordering social relations among different groups or interests those of rulers. This approach allows for differentiation early modern and modern state environments, but it also seeks to guard against unilinear, progressivist conceptions of history. In effect, one finds an entanglement of the early modern with the modern, as the central rulers or administrations caught up in military and political competition (internal as well as external) sought to wrest power from other actors and affect changes in modes of governing.




including between

In early-modern state contexts, both European and non-European,

centralism involved a series of negotiated settlements shaped by a

distributive ethos. Thus, the different institutions ordering social relations sought to accommodate the groups competing for control over resources (agriculture and trade) as well as the producers of agricultural surpluses through a series of particularistic negotiations. For the most part, these institutions represented the sum total of settlements negotiated between the ruler and the different groups. Such settlements involved relations of reciprocity. For instance, in return for tax exemptions, groups competing for revenues, as well as agricultural producers, performed certain tasks, such as provisioning provincial armies, or providing social services like the maintenance of infrastructure, or charitable work.5 The position of the ruler and individuals or groups varied in different contexts of negotiation as the balance of power between them changed. Despite claims on the part of rulers to divine sanction, the legitimacy of the centre, or the authority of the ruler, depended upon the ability to negotiate settlements. 6 In the Ottoman empire, from its inception in the fourteenth century, the saga of state-formation was one of continual attempts at centralizing power in the hands of the ruler and his court. In this respect, the Ottoman experience shows certain parallels to early modern European cases of state-making characterized by struggles of monarchs against established claims or rights of feudal bodies, clerics, and municipal governments. In the Ottoman case, however, the entitlements and obligations of military and provincial elites, and of a religious establishment that overlapped with provincial and urban elites, were not expressed in a language of pre-established legal rights. Until the nineteenth century, the various claims to sources of revenue (such as taxes on land and on trade), including claims of the ruler and his court, were in a set of rules that represented negotiated settlements between the ruler and different groups that constituted the ruling bloc. His role as dispenser of justice allowed the ruler the right to negotiate these settlements and hence differentiate himself from the elites with whom he competed for entitlements to tax revenues. An understanding of justice, cast in terms of the ruler’s ability to ensure order or freedom from social strife, in turn, was an idiom of rule or a legitimating discourse which imparted a to diverse patterns of negotiation and made it possible for the ruler to represent the state. In practice, the ruler’s justice measures to accommodate competing power claims within the



coherence presupposed

ruling bloc. Thus, during the formative centuries of the empire, until the late sixteenth century, sources of revenue were distributed among different groups as their revenue grants. These groups included the military commanders who acted as provincial administrators, of the religious establishment and former rulers in conquered territories. While the ruler made grants of revenue in return for contributions of mounted soldiers for cavalry and/or performance of social services, concern for enlisting the political allegiance of different groups was paramount in the distribution of revenue grants. This may explain the apparently arbitrary character of the exercise of ruler’s justice vis-à-vis elite groups. Above all, justice making provision for individual circumstances in different areas, as well as for the different types of revenue grants. These provisions, included in state ordinances and provincial regulations, responded to individual circumstances and were negotiated with respect to the power commanded by the parties at different time periods in different areas. Because the central government needed more cash to build central armies to meet intensified inter-state competition on its European frontiers, and because of the commercial expansion that began in the sixteenth century (and, with a brief pause, in the seventeenth century) continued into the eighteenth century, tax-farming came to be widely adopted as the preferred mode of fiscal extraction. As such, tax-farming was another moment in the distributionist mode of imperial integration, at a time when the composition of the ruling bloc underwent change. Despite its departure from the earlier system of revenue grants, associated with the zenith of Ottoman centralism in its golden age, tax-farming did not represent a rupture with previous forms of governance. It belonged to the context of power relations imbued with the ethos of distributive accommodation. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and until the mid-nineteenth century, the Ottoman central government was engaged in incessant struggles with tax-farmers over control of tax revenues. These struggles were worked out in tax-farming contracts that represented negotiated settlements between the central and different groups of tax-farmers. In these settlements, the central government sought the allegiance of these groups as well as securing for itself a share in revenues. However, in order to discipline more powerful groups, including members of the religious




Modernities Compared


establishments (Christian and Muslim), military commanders and officials, and the provincial elites, the central government in the late seventeenth century attempted to redirect the assignment of tax farms away from old elites towards new provincial elites (Saltzman 1993). In Qing China, imperial centralism was not mediated by a system of revenue grants, nor by tax farming. Instead, Qing officials were engaged in continual negotiations with different groups of landholders in the different provinces over the amount of tax that was to be paid to the state. The taxation claim of the imperial government, as well as multiple claims over land use, were negotiated in multiple and particularistic settlements embodied in contracts, in the provisions of the customary law and the statutory law of individual provinces. As was the case in the Ottoman empire, the different rulings, representing multiple negotiated settlements, responded to individual circumstances; they varied over time and from one locality to another, with conditions of production and with political and social leverage enjoyed by different parties to negotiations (Perdue 2004). The reference point for multiple settlements and particularistic rulings was the Confucian understanding of domestic order that formed the legitimating idiom of imperial government. It was rooted in the shared context of pre-industrial society, where food shortages were a main cause of social unrest, while the maintenance of social harmony presupposed the continuity of agricultural production. Perdue refers to the ideal of Qing administration as being one of upholding independent peasants, each self-sufficient in his plot and able to pay taxes in cash to the state (Perdue 2004). The social reality of the countryside was, however, much more complicated. Multiple layers of use claims prevailed over a single plot, including those of ‘owners’ or holders of subsoil rights who paid taxes to the imperial government, and tenants or holders of topsoil rights who paid rent to ‘owners’. Nevertheless, state policy remained committed to the continuity of agricultural production by peasant cultivators either as tenants or ‘owners’, and to the maintenance of social harmony. To this end, the central government instituted in the eighteenth century, a statewide civilian provisioning network that included a highly developed granary system (Will et al. 1991); government measures promoted security of tenure, sought to regulate land markets and return refugees to their lands.7

Similarly, in the early Ottoman empire, ruler’s justice presupposed the perpetuation of the subsistence production of peasant which provided the rural as well as the urban populations with foodstuffs (Islamoglu-Inan 1994). While empire-wide famine relief was practiced, Ottoman subsistence management emphasized that controlled the movement of foodstuffs as well as raw materials; the aim was to ensure local provisioning through the of regional economies. Moreover, to ensure the continuity of food production, regulations restricted the alienability or divisibility of subsistence holdings, limited the freedom of movement of cultivators, and regulated fallow practices. State rulings included in provincial regulations, as well as in edicts by the ruler responding to individual complaints, sought to protect subsistence producers from extortion by holders of revenue grants. To this end, these rulings delineated the use rights of producers, as well as their obligations to different groups of revenue claimants. These obligations included specifications of the form in which dues were paid (in kind, in labour or in money), the rates at which they were paid and exemptions from payments in return for services rendered. Regulations varied from one locality to another, depending on the conditions of production and on the political or military status of cultivators; they represented series of settlements negotiated between the cultivators and the extractors of their surpluses over long periods of time. Finally, the different rulings and contracts that regulated actual land use represented multilayered, shared claims that were negotiated over land use, including webs of grazing and planting rights on common lands as well as on individual plots. In brief, the pattern of negotiated settlements that characterized the orderings of social relations in the early modern state of the Ottoman and Qing empires suggests an understanding of statecraft premised on a reconciliation of particularisms, of This understanding departs from Scott’s view, which situates negotiative activity or politics in the society, and out of the reach of the pre-modern state. On this basis, Scott makes the pre-modern state absolutely ineffectual in terms of its ability to subjugate to its control. But if one asks what the state as a governing body was able to do in a given context of power relations and what kinds of orderings of property relations were possible, one sees that the boundaries of politics or the state’s ability to mediate among different interests were drawn by power relations existing in a given historical context. Thus, in the Ottoman and the Qing empires of

households regulations formation

environments localisms.


the early modern period, the central authority or the ruler sought to establish its order within those boundaries through a multitude of particularistic negotiations, so as to achieve a measure of social harmony. In the nineteenth century, both the Ottoman and the Qing

imperial governments were confronted with challenges of domestic rebellion and of European imperialistic penetration. The Qing government proved to be more successful in meeting these

challenges and was able to maintain its territorial integrity, while the

Ottoman government lost significant territories both to rebellion and in foreign wars. Wong argues that, unlike the developments in western Europe (and also in the Ottoman empire), in Qing China,

concerns for mobilizing resources and men to meet military and political challenges did not lead to a centralization of power in a modern bureaucracy. Instead, for Wong, modern state formation in Qing China was characterized by an expansion of local government

capacities, by a more formal involvement of local elites in local and by a blurring of the distinction between officials and local elites, so that elites were employed in the staffing of government


bureaus. Modern state-formation in this sense emphasized popular

mobilization and social control, and was part of an attempt to implement a Confucian agenda for domestic order (Wong 1997). In this connection, Wong points to the imperial government’s enlisting of the cooperation of local elites, especially to address social welfare

concerns and, most centrally, those of famine relief. He argues that, in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, the Qing did not formulate a new agenda of rule and remained committed to the Confucian agenda. This should not, however, suggest a

continuity in terms of societal dynamics. One could perhaps talk about an attempt to recast the Confucian agenda in a new context of power relations in which localities dominated. Wong points to the diminished capacities of the central government in addressing

social welfare concerns in the nineteenth century when compared to the eighteenth century. He also mentions the resistance of local gentries to the strong official control directed towards extracting revenue and men. The outcome appears to have been a shift in the

balance of power and a relocation of the state-building initiative in the localities, with the development of provincial military units and consultative gentry assemblies. The latter, in the late nineteenth century, became sites for politics, where the claims of the central

government on the provincial gentries, in the form of revenues, and of cooperation in the management of subsistence (which involved

provisioning grains during times of famine) were variously met,

resisted, evaded or negotiated. This localization of politics as well as the military led to an undermining of the capacity of the central state to rule and to the declaration of independence by provincial governments in 1911.

By contrast, in the Ottoman empire, the shift to a modern state formation meant a radical shift in the balance of power to the central government, consisting of the central army and the bureaucracy. This new arrangement undermined the distributionist–

accommodative mode of imperial integration premised on the negotiation of diverse claims over resources. In the nineteenth century, confronted by domestic rebellion in Egypt and the Balkans and by wars with Russia, the Ottoman central government sought

to appropriate the tax revenues that had formerly accrued to military commanders, members of the religious establishments, and tax-farmers. This involved a dissociation of state power from the networks of negotiated settlements with divergent interests,

and focusing it instead on the central bureaucracy and the army. Statecraft no longer sought to accommodate but to subjugate through coercive means, which included the use of the central armies, as is evidenced in the case of the abolition of the janissary

corps.8 Statecraft also sought to subjugate through an ordering of social relations by means of administrative rules and procedures that cast these relations in general and universal terms. This meant that rules were no longer summations of negotiations between the

ruler and the different groups or individuals; they did not impart privilege and or impose obligations on particular individuals or groups. One such privilege had been exemption from state taxes; removal of that privilege meant the subjection of tax-farmers and

of religious institutions to the general rule that required the of state taxes by all subjects. This implied a much more radical constitution of social reality


through administrative practice than was implied in the earlier

state environment where legitimation concern had impelled rulers to concentrate on distributive activity and on maintaining social harmony. Conquest had previously been the primary means of expanding revenue, but the limits of Ottoman territorial expansion

were reached in the second half of the eighteenth century. If many European states faced a similar limitation (e. g., after the treaty of Westphalia in 1648), they compensated for it by colonial ventures and the building of merchant empires. At the same time, both

the Ottoman and European states resorted to intensive modes of revenue-raising. This implied a coupling of the revenue concern with that of increasing the productive capacity of the population, of land, of industry.9 That is, the central authority would not simply content itself with appropriating what was previously determined; also sought to create further wealth to be taxed. In the nineteenth century, this consciousness of the ‘economy’ on the part of the Ottoman government is revealed in the kinds of precise demanded from local officials about productivity figures as well as levels of supply and demand for different products.10 In Qing China, territorial conquests in Central Asia during the eighteenth century demonstrate a similar concern to increase the revenues of the imperial government, as do the attempts during this period to reduce the number of claimants to agrarian surpluses. Moreover, in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Qing China attempted to improve its productive capacity, even though power configurations did not allow for a crystallization of the central bureaucracy or for general and universal practices of ordering social reality to promote economic growth. Instead, the imperial state sought to achieve this objective through the negotiative environments of consultative provincial assemblies (Wong 1997). In the Ottoman empire, the imperative for a radically new of reality resulted in a shift in the self-definition or of central authority. It was no longer a question of the ruler’s ability to maintain social peace through distributive measures but rather of the efficacy of its administration and its ability to in material terms to its subjects, that is, to ensure the ‘greatest happiness of greatest number’. Efficacy in this sense was gauged by the government’s ability to provide for social welfare (which maintaining an acceptable level of subsistence) as well as measures to improve productive capacity. In the earlier period, the local groups accommodated in particularistic settlements were expected to monitor rulings designed to maintain the level of including those relating to the security of land tenure. With the focusing of power at the centre, famine relief became the responsibility of the central government. The Qing attempt, in the eighteenth century, to concentrate power and revenues at the centre through the introduction of individual ownership had also coincided with the introduction of the granary system. When such centralization failed, the central government enlisted the



constitution legitimation




assistance of local gentries in famine relief. In the Ottoman empire, a granary system was introduced in the late eighteenth century. It coincided with the moment when the central government was seeking to reduce the power of tax-farmers, who previously ran the granaries (Güran 1998). Similarly, in the early period, other social welfare provisions such as health, education, and municipal services in cities, were the responsibility of religious foundations (Ozbek 1999, 2000). When the central bureaucracy sought to eliminate the foundations and lay claim over the resources they controlled, the provisioning of the welfare services too devolved on the central bureaucracy. In the nineteenth century Ottoman empire, did this of social reality through administrative practices of the central government, with the shift from a distributive ethos to one of state welfarism and productionism, spell erasure of the local? No, it signalled rather, its reconstitution and insertion into the new state environment. This is demonstrated in the next section in relation to compiling cadastral surveys of the land and the formation of local commissions to undertake this task. For the modern Ottoman state, the administering of property entailed constitution of individual freeholds. This meant the of multiple claims over use and tax revenues from land, and established the owner as the sole claimant to title and use. It also established the central state as the sole claimant to tax revenues. In fact, constitution of individual freeholds was closely related to the interrelated features of modernity in the nineteenth century, namely those of state fiscality and economic growth. In the productivist perspective of the nineteenth century, as Bentham succinctly put it, property was entirely the work of law (by which he meant administration), nothing but a guarantee provided by the law for individual expectations to derive certain advantages from a thing which a person was said to possess. In this sense, individual property created in law provided the individual with a security and freedom that facilitated his decisions regarding production. It was instrumental in fulfilling the individual’s expectations in realizing his or her welfare. To the utilitarian mind, the objective of government in legislative activity was to deliver the ‘greatest possible happiness of the community’.11 In the nineteenth century, when concerns for market expansion (arguably conceived in terms of maximization of an individual’s expectations) overlapped with concerns for increasing



state revenues, it was evident to political economists and

statesmen alike that the burden for creating the new economic order fell upon central administrations (Kanth 1986). The story of how central administration constituted individual ownership is thus the story of the constitution of the modern Ottoman state.

Administering Property Individual ownership or private property is a fetishized institution. Institutionalist historians, most notably Douglass C. North (1981) and Erie L. Jones (1988) attribute the development of private property in western Europe to attempts on the part of commercial ,

on multiple and claims that characterized property rights in society. The result was expansion of commercial activity

groups to reduce transaction costs incumbent



and economic

growth associated with capitalistic economic development. Conversely, these authors attribute what they perceive; to be the 'economic stagnation'

or absence of capitalism in China and the Ottoman empire to state ownership of land in these societies, which they believe to have prevented the development of private ownership and stifled individual initiative in economic activity. Without going into how this formulation is entangled with the notion of Oriental Despotism, and leaving aside also the debatable

growth and 12 private ownership, I would simply like to point to the fact that this economistic perspective fails to reveal the power relations that underlay the development of individual ownership in both European nature of the assumed correlation between economic

and non-European areas. Central to these power relations has been the development of centralized states that sought to lay exclusive claims to tax revenues from land (Islamoğlu 2000).

Law and the Administration of Property In early modern European and non-European areas, in keeping with

the distributionist-accommodationist objectives of governments, property rights on land were understood as a bundle of claims that largely corresponded to the multiple settlements negotiated among

different groups (Maine 1920). These settlements were cast in terms of rules that were variously formulated by the state or the ruler,

as well as in terms of the rulings of the courts of law. Such rulings often sought their legitimation in the customary practice of different

localities; in doing so, they sought to accommodate existing multiple interests and were not exclusive. In the Ottoman empire, definitions of property rights on land consisted of a bundle of rights representing claims to land use, revenues and title. The title to land (rakaba) generally lay with the ruler (or the treasury). This did not represent a title of ownership in the modern sense but ability on the part of the ruler, or the government, to distribute rights to revenues from land and, in so doing, to negotiate with different groups or individuals the conditions of their allegiance. State ‘ownership’ also served to the boundaries of the heritable use rights that cultivators had over their plots; by protecting the rights of cultivators, the state sought to ensure continuity of agricultural production and, therefore, production for subsistence and for tax payment. State rulings introduced in provincial regulations and reiterated in numerous edicts also imposed limits on the divisibility and alienability of use rights. They also restricted the cultivation of non-grain crops and the time periods for which lands could be left uncultivated or left fallow. Given that most taxes were paid in kind, rulings emphasized the primacy of grain production on state lands.13 These claims were continuously negotiated and redefined, For instance, depending on the nature of the settlement among the parties, the rights to revenues could rest with a freeholder (mülk), a pious endowment, or the treasury, while the title rested with the state or the treasury. This should not suggest that the claim of the state to title was an absolute one: especially in areas where there had been strong resistance to the Ottoman conquest, Ottoman rulers conceded the right to title to former ruling groups. These groups included members of the religious establishment in the Muslim region of Anatolia. The rights to revenues from such lands could be assigned to state officials, and state regulations relating to subsistence production applied also to these lands. Similarly, the different categories that defined entitlements to revenues and to land use did not correspond to an understanding of ownership in the modern sense. Nor did mülk (freehold) signify private ownership; instead, it was a category of entitlement to tax revenues which the grantee held by virtue of an official document of entitlement from the ruler. In that sense, mülk did not differ from other types of revenue grants. On the other hand, the holder of the mülk grant could alienate his right to revenues, transfer it to

central define

however. negotiated

his heirs,

con-vert it into mortmain

or vakif. Trees or other buildings agri-cultural holdings, produce, were also classified as freehold, which, in this case, referred to entitlement to the fruits of the land. These claims were differentiated from mirǐ claims (or the 'ownership' claims of the central treasury over the soil where the trees and buildings stood) and on grain fields. The cultivators of mirǐ lands had inheritable usufruct rights, which they held by a deed issued for a fee by the local administrator cum or








What differentiated the bundle of claims that constituted

property rights on land in Qing China from that in the Ottoman empire

was that in the Qing case the bundle did not include multiple claims over tax revenues. Instead, it consisted of the imperial government’s tax demand from the gentry or holders of subsoil rights, the rent claims of the gentry, the usufruct claims of the holders of topsoil rights or tenants, and the use claims of subcontractors from holders of topsoil rights. The first of these claims could be interpreted as a grand rent paid to the imperial government, in view of the loosely defined ownership of all lands by the emperor. These multiple claims were continually renegotiated and were formulated in a of contractual settlements issued by the magistrates’ courts, carrying the official stamp of approval by the imperial government (Macauley 2001; Perdue 2004). At the same time, these claims were formulated in official rulings of the emperor which, as was the case in the Ottoman empire, represented an appropriation or of the existing local understandings of property rights to the vocabulary of official rule. On the other hand, a sense of Confucian domestic order and its central premise, the concern for maintaining the security of the tenure, of peasant cultivators imparted a unity to the maze of negotiated settlements. This was the idiom of rule that defined the limits of what was possible and what was not in terms of property settlements on land. To it the imperial state owed its ability to rule and the gentry its ability to extract rent. Melissa Macauley, in her article in this volume, has shown that in the eighteenth century the attempt of the Qing imperial to redefine the topsoil rights of the gentry as individual ownership rights, to the exclusion of the multiple claims of tenancies, failed. The proposed change would also have eliminated the conditional sales that resulted in confusion about

plethora accommodation

government permanent

who at a given point was the ‘owner’ and thus responsible for tax

payment. Through this measure of simplification, the central state had sought to increase its revenues, or realize its administrative ideal of creating the individual holders paying taxes in cash to the state. It met resistance from holders of topsoil rights, as well

as the gentry, for whom conditional sales provided escape-valves from tax responsibilities. At the same time, the inability of the government to institute individual ownership pointed to the


limits of its action in a given context of power relations with given

vocabularies of legitimation. The Ottoman central government did succeed in introducing

individual ownership, but it did so following bitter struggles waged especially against the different groups with claims over tax

revenues from land; at the same time it sought to mediate, through particularistic concessions, the claims of subsistence producers who were threatened by the loss of their heritable usufruct rights. This

meant a recasting of power mappings that constituted the state

context and an idiom of rule that increasingly departed from the understanding of the distributive justice of the ruler and relied on administrative procedure to mediate the different property claims.

Though the nineteenth century is aptly described, here too, as the ‘age of property’ (Forster 1997), the Ottoman environment did not fall prey to the religion of property that especially raged in

postrevolutionary France, a region Ottoman administrators watched closely. This was not due to any innate predisposition against private property stemming from state ownership in land, nor to the lethal effects of state intervention in economic activity. Quite simply, the Ottoman administrators, in line with the conservative

governments of Europe, watched with a great deal of trepidation the disputes over the introduction of individual/absolute ownership that

raged in the French countryside. Ottoman territories themselves

were not entirely free of such disturbances. The liberal guarantees

included in the reform edict of 1839 had encouraged the provincial tax-farmers and notables to register their tax-farms (or revenue grants) as their private property. The decisions reached by

provincial assemblies, which the reforms introduced, as well as those by

judges in provincial courts of law14 served to buttress this new form of property. For instance, a decision of the Vidin Council, taken

soon after the issuing of the 1839 edict and referring to the abolition

of corvee impositions, stated that ‘no person could cultivate or take over another’s land without payment; he will have to pay by some other means [than corvee]’. This meant that, in the course of its deliberations, the council had established a single rent, signaled

by the abolition of corvee, while at the same time establishing the tenancy status of cultivators on lands owned by tax-farmers (Inalcik 1943). In 1851, when the cultivators (‘tenants’, share-croppers) in Vidin broke into open rebellion, they were voicing their claims vis-à-vis

the tax-farmers by demanding title deeds on land. In other words, the cultivators had learned to employ the vocabulary of private ownership. The rupture in the old order of property resulted in widespread

rebellions throughout the Balkans, in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Albania. In each case, the rebels were cultivators who also staked their claims in terms of individual ownership rights. The nascent central

bureaucracy, attempting to contain rebellion, found itself in the position

of mediating the claims of different groups for absolute ownership; its capacity to negotiate multiple property claims ultimately was to differentiate the central bureaucracy from other actors and help establish its authority over them. Hence, at this historical ‘moment’,

the bureaucratic state took over the constituting of individual through its administrative practices, as none of the traditional propertied interests could claim to do. 15


The drafting of the Land Code of 1858 was a major political

success. It attested to the Ottoman central government’s ability to establish its claim to mediate among different interests, so as to set forth a general code that henceforth provided the reference point in all property matters. By contrast, the French state, throughout the

nineteenth century, failed to pass a rural code in the face of on the part of propertied classes, who saw in such a code an instrument to strengthen their own hand (Aberdam 1982).

intransigence However, the text of the Ottoman Land Code was highly

negotiated, testifying to the problems encountered in codifying property relations. Yet the Code did include a definition of individual

ownership that supplanted earlier definitions of multiple claims

to revenues and to land use. It has been argued that the Code

sought to establish the ownership rights of cultivators at the of the tax-farmers who came to control large tracts of land,


thus allowing the central state to maintain its justice-dispensing

function (Barkan 1940). But the Code did not explicitly favour any one group; while it included some measures to restrict alienation of land, it included others that facilitated exchange. In the Balkans, where land was controlled by local notables who were also tax-

farmers, and land was worked under sharecropping arrangements, the Code became an instrument by which the notables established absolute ownership rights to the detriment of the use-rights of the cultivator-sharecroppers. In these cases, the central government,

needing political and military support in the face of local resistance and nationalist aspirations, backed the ownership claims of the notables. The important point is that the Land Code established the central state as the agency for the constitution of individual

ownership rights. It was on state lands that the state’s unique claim to tax revenue was established; it was also on state lands that individual ownership rights were instituted. This implied a change in the meaning of mirî or state lands. Prior to the Code, state

ownership had enabled the ruler to exercise his distributionist justice

by assigning revenues to different groups, to obtain their political allegiance and to ensure subsistence production. Under the Code, state ownership took on a character close to absolute ownership,

which could be transferred to individuals by means of sales and land registration. Yet the Code represented a alongside the mirî, the Code admitted to the presence of

contracts compromise;

the categories of vakif, mülk and mawat (vacant), and which were

not subject to the bureaucracy’s universal demands for taxation and rules of individual ownership. Vakif and mülk categories, in turn, represented the resistance to bureaucratic authority and the central government continually countered this resistance by extending its

practices of land registration as well as sales and lease contracts to non-state lands.

Land Surveys and the Administration of Property Law was constitutive of individual ownership, in the sense that it provided an overall legal framework for social relations. But the

constitution of individual ownership also took place through and through surveys. The latter represented the compilation

registration of statistical information on land, ownership and production.

From the perspective of the fiscal or administrative goals of the central government, the most desirable situation was to attach every parcel of taxable property to an individual responsible for paying tax on it. To this end, the Ottoman government encouraged registration of property in the name of individuals, who were designated as individual heads of households. This practice began as early as 1847. The surveys, which were undertaken in 1859/60, aimed at ensuring the registration of all lands and properties. In this sense, these surveys approximated the character of the modern cadastral survey. Most significantly, the constitution of individual ownership meant a change in the categories in terms of which land and were recorded. Land surveys had been a central practice of Ottoman statecraft from the early days of the empire. In keeping with the distributive logic of state power in the earlier period, the early tax surveys represented an administrative universe divided between the military class, or the recipients of revenue grants, and the taxpayers. The military class appeared in the registers as holders of power positions; they were not persons but recipients of taxes. Since they were exempt from taxes, neither their names nor their numbers were recorded. Taxpayers, on the other hand, were recorded by their names; the amount of produce collected as taxes was also entered into the registers. Land was recorded as a category of taxation, in relation to a tax that fell on the person as well as the land (resm-i çift). The unit of measurement was the çift, the area ploughed by a pair of oxen. Çift, however, varied with climatic and ecological conditions. Its plasticity, in turn, made it amenable in an environment in which payment of taxes was subject to a negotiative process. Earlier surveys were blind to those aspects of social reality that did not fall within the purview of taxation. They were signifiers of shifting power positions, transcribed in the continual distribution and redistribution of resources among different groups in a given locality. Though the surveys did give information about production and land, their main purpose was the mapping of power relations in a given region. At the same time, they bore to the recognition of the authority of the ruler, since revenue entitlements were described in the given format of the register and carried out by means of procedures determined by the centre. The much-acclaimed tax registers (tahrirs) constituted an important


population, witness

vocabulary through which the Ottoman understanding of

distributive justice was articulated. The nineteenth-century surveys represented a radically different state environment. There was no question in the minds of the

nineteenth-century Ottoman bureaucrats that access to information

on population, income, wealth and property was a prerequisite for realizing the modern aspirations of state taxation and economic growth. To this end, beginning in the 1830s, the central government undertook the preparation of statistics, including population

censuses, income registers and cadastral surveys. Clearly, the central government put a great deal of effort into the preparation of these surveys. These preparations included pilot projects in selected districts and the constitution of local commissions to carry out the

collecting and recording of information. That this was an urgent matter for the central government is attested to by the fact that the preparation of 18,000 income registers (temettuat defterleri)

compiled between 1840 and 1845 (Güran 1998; Kaya 2005; Saraçoglu 1998) covering all imperial territories outside of Arab lands was completed within a surprisingly short time. There also appears to have

been a continuous effort on the part of the central government to explain and to justify why new assessments of wealth and income were

necessary. To this end, statements by government officials stressed the need for assessments on the grounds of complaints about heavy tax burdens and of inequitable distribution of taxes among

different regions and individuals. Tax evasions on the part of members of former ruling groups were considered a primary cause of inequity in the distribution of tax.16 All such efforts notwithstanding, information recorded in

income registers was not used in the assessment of taxes. That this

information was at times glaringly defective was probably not lost on central government officials.17 The problem was that individual heads of households had been less than candid in declarations of their wealth. The central government was well aware that muhtars

(village headmen) and imams (prayer leaders), who received and recorded the declarations of wealth from these individuals, tended to overlook the inaccurate statements. These deficiencies were also revealing of power configurations on the level of the village, a

situation the central government set out to remedy in the of the subsequent surveys.


Surveys were not simply repositories of information. Systems of classification and the categories included in the income compiled 14 years before the Land Code of 1858, were pivotal to the constitution of individual ownership. The income registers did not classify information on different regions on the basis of holders of revenue grants, as was the case with the earlier registers. Rather, these registers rested on the assumption that the central State Was the primary recipient of taxes and the members of the former military class were themselves subject to state taxes, together with ordinary households. Instead of separate surveys devoted to proceeds from different types of revenue grants (timar defterleri, mukataa defterleri, vakif defterleri), income registers classified on the basis of listings of households. In the old surveys, the unit of recording had been the village whose revenues were apportioned amongst different revenue grant-holders; payment of taxes was the collective liability of the village and taxes (other than the tithe) were equally distributed amongst households on the basis of negotiated arrangements within the village. In the 1840-45 income registers and the subsequent property and income



century, recording surveys individual household, of the nineteenth

the unit of wag the which was taxed on the basis of its income. The household was the site of individual ownership and in the process it was redefined as an 'atomized' unit with responsibilities for Of taxes and for economic activity. The household became the pivotal point around which administration could operate. The income registers included detailed inventories of lands and animals in the possession of the household, and at the end of each entry there Was an estimate of household income. It must be emphasized that


not all of what was recorded was taxed. Entries in income registers also listed items that were not taxed. In this sense, these registers were not simply tax books, they Were constitutive of the household as an economic unit.

Above all, the registers recorded all land in the possession of the household, not just those lands that were cultivated and taxed. This suggests that land was no longer being treated simply as a tax category. It was also an asset that yielded income to its possessor. Income registers recorded lands that were cultivated, left fallow, or leased out. They also recorded income from land leases and the cash income accruing from the land for the year before registration as well as for the year of registration. The abstraction of land from

the context of a negotiative–accommodative system of taxation becomes manifest in the adoption in the income registers of the dönüm, an aerial unit of measurement, instead of the çift, a unit of measurement characterized by its plasticity and therefore by its negotiability. This was, no doubt, a step in the direction of standardization and uniformization of the measurement unit, which was integral to the central government’s effort to simplify property relations on land. The introduction of the aerial unit of measurement was important from the point of the objectification of land as a ‘thing’, as the object of ownership and the object of exchange in the market. The dual objectives of modern administration, economic growth and state fiscality coincided with administrative practices directed towards augmenting the productive capacity of land and other resources that were expected to result in increased state revenues. The Instructions to Property Officials in the Provinces, issued in January 1857, 18 are indicative of the interest the central government had in detailed information on land and other productive resources. These instructions include lists of questions for which the property officials in the provinces were expected to seek answers, which were then to be reported to district officials and governors. Property were also expected to enter these results in registers and send them to Istanbul each year in February or at the latest in early March.19 At the outset of the instructions it is stated that ‘the generosity of the ruler dictated that he rendered services for the progress of agriculture which would benefit the country and his subjects’. To this end, exact information was to be obtained for all villages in all districts and sub-districts. These included of areas of cultivated fields and figures on seed/yield ratios at a given harvest time.20 For individual farms, it meant on the area of each farm in aerial units of measurement, the area sown and the amount of seed cultivated, the area of land left fallow, the yields from vineyards and grape presses as well as the amount of grape produce consumed in the locality of the farm and the amount exported. Assessment of the income from land and its yields, inseparable from an interest in the productive capacity of land, was a primary objective of these statistics. The Instructions to Property Officials, in the spirit of market management that was characteristic of the nineteenth-century political economy, asked for comparative figures.


measurements information

Thus, the property officials were to note the yearly variations in

production or yields and in prices. The central government wanted to know how the changes in the supply of a given good were reflected in its price, and what factors affected its supply or production. A factor that caused a fall in production was to be countered by

administrative intervention. To this end, property officials were instructed to enlist the assistance of agricultural officials to combat diseases that affected the vineyards, which would cause a fall in state revenues and would harm the vineyard owners. All of these

concerns referred to a domain outside of taxation, to that of the economic activity of the individual household. Lastly, the practices of numbering and of classifying data in the numbers registers were very important to the process of


of ownership as well as to the exercise of central government controls. The practice of numbering was initiated in the income registers of 1840-45 by the affixing of numbers to individual households. The Regulation for the Surveying of Property and

Population issued in 1860 21 states that fields, orchards, pasturelands and

vineyards should be recorded in property listings in terms of general and particular numbers.22 The 1860 registers for which the above instructions were issued are not yet available to researchers. Thus,

it is not clear what was meant by general and particular numbers assigned to land or property. But the procedure of numbering and individual households made possible an administrative


crystallization of the individual householder as holder of property

on the one hand and, on the other hand, of land or property as a ‘thing’ to be owned or exchanged and to be taxed on its income. Moreover, the recording of land in registers presupposed that

documents of ownership, title deeds (tapu), were shown to the scribes

in charge of recording; in the event that these were not available, they were to be renewed in the courts. These documents were to the general number of property or land as it was recorded in


the property register, together with descriptions of its borders and

of its shape.23 These descriptions of the registration practices with multiple registers correlated with each other through systems of numbering and of tables, represent an ordering of landed property laid before the eyes of the central administrators and made

accessible for their intervention. As such, they represent a snapshot of the Ottoman administrative universe of the nineteenth century.

The saga of preparing surveys in the nineteenth century was one of continual struggle between the central government and the local notables. Hoping to evade state taxes and conscription, the notables, who more often than not acted in collaboration with local populations, resisted the demands of the central state to provide information about the wealth and population of their households. State measures in the face of such resistance took the form of sanctions and severe punishment, including three years of prison in irons;24 there were also exhortations to officials to the population to give honest disclosures of their wealth and property.25 The central government still sought to mediate the interests of different groups, but now by integrating local elites into the new administrative framework for the collection and recording of land and population statistics. The Regulation for the Survey of Property and Population (1860) stipulated the appointment of commissions at the different levels of provincial administration, ranging from the eyalet (district) to the village. These commissions included assessors who were to be chosen from among respected persons in individual localities. At the village level, a commission of six members was to be appointed for a group of six villages, with each village providing one member. Commissions were expected to meet weekly in the summer and bi-weekly in the winter on a given day of the week. They decided on the distribution of taxes among the households according to their ability to pay, and were also responsible for reporting to the district council births and deaths, persons who moved, and buildings constructed without permission. It appears that these commissions (which in all likelihood were to be chosen from among respectable persons in the region) stood above the village administration represented by the muhtar (headman). In the compiling of income registers, the village headmen had played a very important role and had shown poor performance from the point of view of the central government. The Regulation of 1860 stated that village headmen came from lower classes and people from respectable backgrounds deemed it below their dignity to hold this position. For reform and restitution to be executed properly, the Regulation continued, village headmen had to be appointed by the central government, from among persons who were considered trustworthy by the local population. To this end, theRegulation stipulated that scribes26 appointed by the central government should dismiss the existing village headmen and appoint new ones


from among the trustworthy and respected persons in the village. Whether or not the appointment of new village headmen by the government, or the inclusion of locally respected persons in the commissions, were effective devices in making possible the of more accurate information, it is not possible to tell.27 We do know that, despite the flurry of administrative activity in relation to the compilation of property and land registers, the Ottoman state did not succeed in executing cadastral maps, which were central to the process of cadastral surveying. Cadastral maps remain the final achievement of the modern state in constituting individual ownership on land. They enabled cutting across the maze of property relations and established administrative controls over the land, its resources and population. Above all, cadastral maps draw boundaries and leave no ambiguity as to who owns what. James Scott states that cadastral maps ‘...are designed to make a local situation legible to an outsider’ (Scott 1998). This may explain the remarkable success of cadastral mapping in the colonial contexts of the nineteenth century where the map provided an outsider-state with a ‘bird’s eye view’ (Saumarez Smith 2004). In the case of the non-colonial Ottoman state, its ability to be an outsider, that is, to abstract itself from the context of power relations within the empire, was far more limited. As a result, the central government conceded to local demand in curbing its practices of registering of wealth and land. It did so because in areas such as the Balkans, the central government heavily relied on the collaboration of the notables to contain social unrest, which in the nineteenth century was increasingly expressed in terms of nationalist aspirations. In the absence of a reserve army of administrators that could be brought in from a colonial homeland, the Ottoman state depended on local notables for instituting the new administrative order, as was the case in the forming of commissions for the preparation of surveys. No longer operating in an administrative universe of distributiveaccommodative practices and lacking the home-country point for its actions that the European colonial states had, the Ottoman state sought justification for its practices in political maneuverings. The outcome was a spate of compromises and grand undertakings that could not be put into practice, as was the case with the income registers, as well as the numerous amendments to the Land Code in the form of regional regulations. All of these point to resistance to administrative practices that sought to simplify, to clarify and ultimately to define a new ordering of social relations.



Politics triumphed after all, without the legitimating vocabulary of distributive justice. Yet, by recording land as individual property, and by registering and numbering land and properties in the names of individual households, the new regime left its imprint on social relations in general and property relations in particular. In the end, perhaps, the legitimacy of this regime came to rest on the execution of these bureaucratic practices and on the incessant upward and downward flow of documents.

Conclusion This essay has tried to cut the Gordian knot of questions surrounding modern transformation in two regions that are often characterized as failures or, at best, as outsiders with ambiguous standings in the enchanted realm of modernity. The Ottomans succeeded in introducing individual ownership and they did so by means of the bureaucratic practices of a modern central state. The Qing did not institute a centralized bureaucratic state in the nineteenth century. Nor could the Qing introduce individual ownership. Yet, the creation of a bureaucratic state was not a guarantee for the survival of the Ottoman imperial entity in interstate competition which, in the nineteenth century, included economic development. By contrast, the Qing empire maintained its integrity without forms of statecraft and despite the fact that the central government collapsed in the early twentieth century. In this case, non-central forms of modern statecraft including local consultative agencies, were able to mobilize the military power and perhaps the developmental energy needed for survival in the military and political arenas. These contrasts between central state-building and state-building initiative at the regional level notwithstanding, both the Ottoman and Qing contexts witnessed modern transformations. This essay has illustrated modern transformation in the Ottoman environment through the ordering of property relations on land. It has shown that the transformation that occurred was problematic and contingent. Individual ownership was established by law but was contested vehemently by the former claimants to revenues and by holders of diverse use claims; the institution of individual property through the drawing of cadastral maps was also resisted. Yet, the legal recognition of individual ownership and the new categories for cadastral surveying radically altered the very terms in which


property relations on land were negotiated and perceived. That is,

while various landholding groups continued to enjoy the benefits they derived from land and, in all likelihood, evaded taxation, they did so in the capacity of landowners with ownership titles or as tenants on privately owned lands. As such, they submitted to

the categories of individual ownership and to domination by the central bureaucracy in the form of being subjected to its procedures regarding lease contracts and registration of property. Moreover, reforms in landed property rights and administrative reforms

contributed to increases in state revenues that were witnessed in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Yet such increases could not keep apace with increases in expenditures and hence could not prevent the empire from coming to the brink of financial collapse at

the end of the nineteenth century (Pamuk 2008). At the same time, modern transformation resulted in dramatic changes in property relations and in the nature of state power, the impact of which was visible both in the organization of the Ottoman agricultural

economy and in the nature of successor states, especially in the Balkans (Pallarait 1997), and in Anatolia (Barkan 1937a and 1937e; Barkan 1938). As significantly, modern transformation implied that the very self-definition of the state, its idiom of rule, was no longer

that of justice premised on the distribution of claims to revenue and land use in order to accommodate different interests with the objective of maintaining social harmony. Instead, the legitimating principle of the Ottoman state in the nineteenth century was its

ability to administer effectively and equitably; it dispensed justice not through distribution but through equitable administration of its demands (most notably taxation demands) from its subjects, and its services to them. It was represented no longer by the just ruler

but by the generality and uniformity of administrative practice that imparted to the bureaucrat the role of mediator. The figure of the bureaucrat came to represent the state, embodied its identity. This was an identity in keeping with the multinational character of the

empire. It aspired to affect an erasure of all national identities. As importantly, not beclouded by the romanticism of nationalism, it was a thoroughly modern (in the Weberian sense) identity. It was perhaps this identity that survived until the 1980s, but has

since been undermined by radical changes in the context of power relations rooted in the expansion of market exchange activity, both

international and domestic, so that a search is now underway for new self-definition of state. This is not very different from the situation in other world regions that, within their own trajectories of modern transformation, seem to be engaged in similar searches.


Notes Philip Huang eighteenth pointed absence, nineteenth centuries China, rationalization, has



emphasizing the degree to

in the



of bureaucratization and

which this absence affected the

state to form alliances with

divergent groups (elites)

ability of the

to Consolidate its

powers (Huang 1985). In other words, if the Chinese imperial state had not failed to bureaucratize and affect an integration of society by means of


modern administrative apparatus, might it have escaped collapse

at the hands of provincial assemblies and the new military troops? The posing of this counterfactual reveals an understanding of

bureaucratization formulation, given as an


abstracted from any

experience of state-making, whether European



non-European. Islamoglu (2000) discusses particularization in relation to the generality of the Land Code of 1858 and the provincial regulations that were or

drafted at this time. 3.

Against the model of bureaucratization as state-building, Wong poses popular mobilization and social control as a model of Chinese state-building. What distinguishes this model is its accommodative, negotiated character, as evidenced in consultative gentry assemblies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Wong suggests that this fabric of social relations may have contributed to the preservation

of the imperial unit even after the collapse of the empire (Wong 1997). 4. Representative of seventeenth-century accounts of Ottoman decline is Koçi Bey's treatise or his 'advice to the sultan' (Koçi Bey 1972). İnalcik (1974) based his account of Ottoman decline on Koçi Bey's treatise.

Abulhaj argued that the seventeenth-century accounts of decline were penned by the members of the central administration who were ten the losing end as a result of institutional changes affected by changes in power configurations, both internally and externally, especially in relation to intensification of military and political competition and the increased cash requirements of the central government to finance armies (Abulhaj 1991). Linda Darling (1996) and Ariel Saltzman (1993) 5.


provide critiques of the decline thesis. Guery (1984) provides an account of

relations of


in the

context of the French state of the seventeenth century. David Parker (1981) discusses this point in relation to the activities of French kings in the seventeenth century.

7. State policy was also instrumental in empowering, alternatively, the different groups with claims over rents and land use in their struggles

against one another and, at times, against the central government, when the latter sought, in the eighteenth century, to simplify the multiple claims to land use or permanent tenancy and to rationalize its taxation claims (Macauley 2001). 8. Janissaries, who were the former infantry corps, were subsequently

closely affiliated with urban craft guilds and constituted an important force in urban society. 9. Selcuk Dursun (2001) discusses measures, in the nineteenth century, by the Ottoman government to protect and to render the population more productive. Michel Foucault (1991) discusses the population politics of the modern state in general. 10. The Ottoman interest in political economy is demonstrated by the translation in 1852 of Jean Baptiste Say’s Economie politique, one of the most popular political economy texts of the nineteenth century. 11. Bentham presented an impassioned critique of the eighteenth-century formulations of the Natural Law theory, which posed property as being natural (see Blackstone). According to Bentham, ‘property and law

are born together, and die together. Before laws were made, there was no property; take away laws and property ceases’ (Bentham 1931: 113). Then Bentham proceeds to link property to security: ‘law creates whatever is to be secured’. In this sense, Bentham established a direct link between property and law as governance. 12. Research undertaken in the 1980s amidst the Thatcherite hysteria for privatization has shown that it was the existence of a competitive environment and not private owner ship that was a determinant of economic efficiency or growth. Peter Perdue discusses this issue in relation to patent law (Perdue 2004). 13. An important point of difference between the Ottoman and Qing imperial contexts would be that in Qing China taxes were paid in cash, while in the Ottoman empire they were mostly paid in kind. This factor may explain the more intimate involvement of cultivators with the market in the Qing context, while in the Ottoman case it was the tax collectors and the holders of revenue grants who were involved in market transactions (Islamoglu-Inan 1994).

14. The practice of issuing certificates (hüccets) by judges in establishing property rights was a common one. In the earlier period, this practice was used to establish the ‘freehold’ (mülk) claims over revenue. Such freehold claims included the ability to exchange freely and to bequeath to heirs rights to revenues from land and other taxable resources. In the nineteenth century, it appears that the practice of establishing property rights by issuing court certificates was a means of establishing ‘absolute’ ownership claims.

already referred to the role of the decisions of provincial councils in the Balkans in the formulation of individual ownership rights. Ottoman historians know very little about the decisions of kadi courts on property matters in the nineteenth century; after all there is no reason why the kadǐs, who were part of provincial power networks, would not support the property claims of tax farmers and other Ottoman officials, as did the English magistrates (Arthurs 1985) and the French jurists (Kelley and Smith 1984), with their close to local propertied groups. 16. 'Taşra Mülkiye ve Mal Memurlarma verilen Talimatdir', 15 Cumade'lula 1273 (11 January 1857), in Düstur, I. Tertib, Vol. 1, 2nd edn, pp. 555-58. Article 2 addresses the failure of notables to register their sons in order to exempt them from military service and to pay less tax. A number of decrees issued by the central state prior to or at the time of the compilation of the 1844 survey, as well as accounts referring to a failed attempt at compiling a survey in 1838, point to complaints about heavy tax burdens on ordinary people and to situations where notables did not pay taxes. 17. In a number of cases, the tithe payments were recorded as nearly 45 per cent of the total income from a given cultivated area. 18. 'Taşra Mülkiye ve Mal Memurlarma verilen Talimatdir', 15 Cumade'lula 1273 (11 January 1857), in Düstur, I. Tertib, Vol. 1, 2nd edn, pp. 555-58. 19. Ibid. Article 5 addresses corrupt practices in the process of registration. Changes in production were to be reported every month to the new treasury by property officials or mülkiye memurlam. 20. The finance Ministry Register (Maliye Nezareti Defteri) dated 1272 (1856), no. 797 includes an entry of cultivated lands for villages in the kaza Of Can located in the province (sancak) of Biga. This register, in Contrast to those of earlier years, contains information on the area of cultivated lands, the geographic location of fields, quantities of seed planted and yields for individual crops for the years 1856 and 1857. The figures given are those of quantities measured in kiles, which are not monetary values. The format of individual entries in the is as follows: the name of the head of the household, followed by the numbers of animals he owns, the lands he cultivates (which are represented in the measurement units of kita and dönüm), the quantity of seed, cultivated, and yields in kita for individual crops. At the end of 15.

I have


register the records for each crops are



village, quantities of seed and yields for individual am grateful to my doctoral student Yücel Alp

totalled. I


21. 'Tahrir-i Emlak


with this information.

Nüfus Nizamnamesi'

(Regulation for Registry of Property and Population), 14 Cumade'l-ula 1277 (28 November 1860), in Düstur, I. Tertib, Vol, 1, 2nd edn, pp. 889-902. ve

22. Changes in the status of property due to sales and leases as well as births and deaths were entered in daily registers (yevmiye defterleri) and were subsequently recorded in the main registers, where each household was assigned a number. This may suggest a preliminary step in the direction of proper cadastral surveys. 23. ‘Tahrir-i Emlak ve Nüfus Nizamnamesi’, Fasl-i evvel (first chapter). Article 12 notes that the property register will include general figures and description and registration of boundaries (Defter-i emlakde muharrer umumi rakamlar ve eşkal ve akyise ve hudud tarif ve tahrir olunacak.) 24. ‘Tahrir-i Emlak ve Nüfus Nizamnamesi’, Fasl-i sani (second chapter); in the process of recording the population, persons failing to present birth cerificates were not to be allowed access to courts and their travel certificates were to be revoked. 25. Mesail-i Muhimme, 58/15. 26. The grand commission at the provincial centers included twenty two scribes who were members of the ilmiye or scholarly class, four estimate-makers, and one chairperson (reis), (‘Tahrir-i Emlak ve Nüfus Nizamnamesi’, Fasl-i Evvel (first chapter)). 27. It is important to note that in the compiling of income surveys, survey officials were initially appointed from the centre. In the face of local opposition, this practice was discontinued after 1844. I am thankful

to Professor Tevfik Guran for this information.

References Primary Sources Maliye Nezareti Defteri (Finance Ministry Register), 1272/1856 No. ,



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and Limits of

5 When Strong Men Meet: Recruited Punjabis and Constrained Colonialism Rajit K. Mazumder Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth! —Rudyard Kipling, The Ballad of East and West, 1889

It should come as no surprise to those partial to the longue duree that ‘the East’ is once again in focus. History’s inexorable cycle

continues; some areas seem to be on the ascendant, others on the wane. Oswald Spengler had perhaps prematurely predicted the ‘decline’ of the West after World War I, but there is less popular doubt

about the present ‘rise’ of ‘Asia’. This perception of contemporary global political economy has inevitably affected academia,

admirably reflected in the tone and content of this volume. This essay analyzes the relationship between colonial India,1 British imperial policies, the British Indian Army, recruited communities and recruiting regions. It suggests that even the mighty (and ‘modern’) British Indian empire had similarities with the Qing and the Ottoman: imperialism in South Asia was not always an imposition of ‘westernization’ from the top, but rather the result of negotiation

and compromise with existing social, political, economic, cultural and intellectual traditions.2 Kipling’s opening line may yet again have been proven wrong, but it is argued below that the British

were not only forced to concede to the demands of the ‘strong men’ of Punjab but also voluntarily provided concessions to them.

In light of the comparative approach of this volume, it must be recognized at the outset that the nature of imperialism in India under the British was fundamentally different from that in Qing China and Ottoman Turkey and, of course, the Mughal empire.

Rajit K. Mazumder British India was a colony of a western ‘great power’, the primary purpose of which was exploiting India’s vast human and natural resources for the sole benefit of Britain. The notion of ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ is, therefore, not applicable to it in the same way as it is in analyzing the Qing or Ottoman administrations. Although the British rhetoric in India was predictably that of a ‘civilizing mission’, their policies, in the majority of instances, were not aimed at benefiting India or its inhabitants.3 Moreover, India was ruled until 1858 by an alien, private, corporate body, the East India Company, whose primary incentive was increasing profit. Only after the great upheavals of the Mutiny and Revolt of 1857 did the Crown take direct control and responsibility, but this did not change the principal purpose of the state, which remained meeting imperial prerogatives, not India’s ‘modernization’.4 From the latter decades of the nineteenth century, increasingly powerful anti-colonial and other indigenous groups combined with international developments5 to force the colonial state into making concessions. Nonetheless, in the paradigm of this book, it can be suggested that local dynamics in a non-western region influenced the nature of British imperialism. The West may well have affected the East, but it was never completely insulated.6 What we have inherited, therefore, may more accurately be viewed as a shared, interconnected, mutually influenced heritage, rather than a strictly ‘western’ or ‘eastern’ one. 7


The British Indian Army and Punjab:8 The Context The British Indian army was predominantly a ‘native’ army. The empire in the East was conquered by that army and colonial rule was enforced by its substantial might. A native force was thus trained and armed to control less-conciliatory natives and it loyally served the colonial state right up to Independence. It fought two World Wars and numerous other campaigns in and outside the subcontinent. This ‘British’ Indian army also suppressed countless local infractions, often involving Indians opposed to the colonial government. At the same time, the imperial masters of this native force had to ensure that the army remained loyal. This imperative forced the colonial state to pursue a more benevolent policy in dealing with

when Strong Men Meet militarized men and in militarized regions. Government initiatives aimed to protect the interests of the recruited groups and to their local standing. Moreover, the British government had to tread very cautiously in dealing with mass agitation in the highly recruited regions.


The contradiction, that colonial rule was ultimately based on the

military might of a ‘western’ government, and that this coercive power was represented in a ‘native’ army, thus, raises certain questions. Why did Indians join an imperial army and serve it so loyally? How did the colonial state co-opt them to voluntarily enlist into its regiments? Did the soldiers not affect the state? These issues concern the nature of colonialism and of in relation to the wider ramifications of the armed forces of colonial India.9 The army has usually been studied solely in military terms; it to be perceived to be removed from society and has been (and still is) kept segregated from it. Most histories of the Indian army are a history of its development from earliest days, of its constituent regiments and of its various campaigns. The location of the military in a wider social context has been somewhat neglected. However, the armed forces under any political organization — ancient and medieval kingdoms, imperial states, modern democracies, et al. — are deeply rooted in civilian society. The troops who form the corps are members of that society. Thus, soldiers are social, economic and political units, both individually and as a group. The military and military personnel influence society and politics despite being specifically excluded from the ‘civilian’ sphere. Military policy is, after all, state policy and steps taken to affect military men is part of government policy. On the other hand, soldiers are conscious of their special position as members of a critical of the state. They realize the many advantages of soldiering and are aware that these can be withdrawn easily. Therefore, they respond to specific issues in terms of their affiliation to a corporate body, too, and not just as individuals. Military men, thus, form an important ‘vote bank’ in highly recruited regions, and affect politics. The following analyzes how the Punjab-centric military apparatus of British India affected provincial politics in British Punjab.






The British only just emerged victors in the two Anglo-Sikh Wars

in 1846 and 1849 and were quick to acknowledge the bravery of the Sikh army.10 After the annexation of Punjab in 1849, to ensure that

its ‘warlike’ people fought with and not against them, all able-bodied men of the Sikh army were absorbed into the British Indian army. The policy of accommodation paid off during the Mutiny of 1857, when the active support of the nobility and the peasantry of Punjab enabled the British to hold on to their possessions and win Delhi back from the rebels. A grateful colonial state repaid its allies by further opening up the army to their ‘martial races’, investing them with grants, ‘settling’ land rights in their favour and incorporating them into the administrative structure. By 1911, over half the native army came from Punjab. A amount of funds went into its villages as pay and pensions of servicemen, and positively affected the militarized peasants (Mazumder 2003: 7–45). The prospect of facing the imperial Russian army in Asia led to the establishment of roads, railways, post and telegraph networks, and the construction of military cantonments to defend the frontier. The strategic considerations of frontier defence thus indirectly created the infrastructure which critically assisted the agricultural boom, since Punjab was the frontier province (Ibid.: 46–92). This essay considers the nature of British colonialism in Punjab. The army affected the British government and not merely in relation to military policy. The paradox that colonial power was maintained through a ‘native’ army forced the imperial state to ensure that the regiments remained loyal. This influenced state policy, particularly in the recruiting grounds. Therefore, paternalistic and benevolent policy initiatives were taken by the British government to reinforce and sustain the loyalty of its soldiers. Furthermore, mass agitation by recruited groups and/or in highly recruited areas was handled with unexpected alacrity, concern and tact. On occasions, the government policy on the issues causing grievance was altered, even reversed (Mazumder 2003: 202–30). The policies of the colonial state in Punjab highlight the constraints to colonial power through several surprising concessions, both voluntary and forced, to its recruited peasantry. The military significance of the province was a result of the high recruitment from its ‘martial races’ after 1857 and of the situation of Punjab as the frontier of the empire (Mazumder 2003: 7–19). The colonial state’s security was so dependent on Punjabis that it was forced to initiate measures aimed at pre-empting any possible causes for disaffection by the recruited peasantry.




The Punjab Alienation of Land Act, ‘political’ revenue assessment and specific legislative measures aimed at militarized groups need to be seen in light of state imperatives, too. Government policy was also influenced by the need to invest the state’s allies with greater power and privileges, as indicated by canal colonization, the franchise policy, the efforts of the Soldiers’ Boards and educational facilities for soldiers’ families.11

Recruited Peasants and the Restraint of Imperial Power The following shows how government policy in Punjab was affected by military considerations and recruited groups. It is not a history of colonial policies in Punjab but an argument that the nature of

those policies was influenced by the ‘Punjabization’ of the Indian army. To ensure that rural Punjab remained loyal, the British

government voluntarily sought to favour soldiers, and, more broadly, the ‘agricultural tribes’. In other instances, mere suspicion that the recruited peasantry might be aggrieved forced intervention or concession. Ironically, colonialism in Punjab was constrained by the very men who provided the physical power of the imperial state

in British India.

Early Administration and ‘Settling’ the Influential The British annexed the whole of Punjab in 1849. The economic benefit of controlling the territories west of the Sutlej river was an

additional consideration in extending the boundaries of the empire to its logical geographical frontier. Henry Lawrence, then Resident 12

at the Sikh Durbar in Lahore, calculated that an annual income of Rs 7 lakh13 over and above the expenditure would accrue from the area of the Lahore state alone. 14 Therefore, a very careful policy towards land revenue was pursued after annexation. Amongst the first administrative tasks was to ascertain the

way rural society functioned, who owned the land and how revenue was paid (Punjab Administration Report, 1849–51: 30).15

The state concluded that ‘Punjab is essentially an agricultural country owned and tilled by landowners’ (Douie 1908: 8) who were peasant proprietors, or zamindars (Punjab Administration Report, 1854–56: 22). The land was in joint ownership in the ‘village

community system’ that had developed over centuries in ‘tribal

settlements’ (Baden-Powell 1882: 396–99). Land revenue was not paid by proprietors individually but by co-parcenors, who were

jointly liable for the revenue payments (Punjab Administration Report, 1854–56: 23). Under the early British administrators, ‘the political advantages

of maintaining the old framework of society’ was ‘fully recognised’ (Douie 1908: 4). This was the phase of ‘personal rule’ enforced by

isolated district officers keen and willing to ‘perpetuate Punjabi customs and indigenous institutions’. 16 The settlement system of the North-Western Provinces was adopted (Douie 1899: 8). The Punjab government commuted superior rights where they were established into a percentage of the revenue, and ‘inferior proprietors’ were

allowed ‘the sole management of the estate’ (Douie 1899: 57). As a reliable record was lacking, it also took the initiative to award

ownership to tenants who could prove that they had been cultivating for twenty years. It was believed that such proprietors would provide a stable base for the British administration. Thus, ‘In one stroke

the first settlement produced thousands of new landowners with the rights and privileges of sale, mortgage and hereditary transfer’

(Barrier 1966a: 5). The decision to acknowledge Punjab as a land of small zamindars

living in village communities and to award ownership rights to the peasant proprietor was derived from the compulsions surrounding annexation in 1849. The Sikhs had been acknowledged by governor-

general Dalhousie to be ‘the most formidable enemy we have yet encountered in India’ (in Domin 1974: 15) and the British were keen

to ensure that they did not have reason for further discontent. To keep the demobilized Sikh army from causing trouble it suited the colonial government to award zamindars the right of ownership

and, by reducing revenue demands, to enable them to take part in profitable agriculture (Ibid.: 24). The first Punjab Administration

Report was self-congratulatory: That large bodies of brave men, once so turbulent and formidable … should lay down their arms, receive their arrears and retire from an exciting profession to till the ground, without in any place creating a disturbance, is indicative of the effect which has been produced by British power, of the manly forbearance which characterizes the Seikhs [sic], and the satisfaction felt at the justice of the government. (Punjab

Administration Report, 1849–51: 22–23)

John Lawrence’s17 mistrust of the Sikh nobility also led to a

prejudice against the aristocracy and to a preference for the peasant

proprietor in central Punjab ( Gilmartin 1988: 23). There was, in

addition, the fact that such peasant proprietors cultivated their own lands in closely-knit village communities in these districts (Douie 1899: 67–68). Lawrence’s political acuity led to land rights

being provided to that section of Sikh society which had formed the Sikh army and had been retained by the British, and which was to

become the ‘flower’ of the Indian army after 1857. In contrast to the above, it was found that the ‘true village

community’ was a ‘rarity’ in the southwest of Punjab. The right over land was divided between ‘two distinct classes having separate proprietary interests in the soil’ — ‘certain dominant families and clans

enjoying an admitted social superiority over the larger body of men

of very miscellaneous castes’. However, despite the difference in

climatic and tenurial conditions here, ‘the village system [applied to eastern Punjab] was forcibly engrafted on a form of property with which it was incompatible’. The large landlords ‘vehemently

contested’ sharing proprietary rights with the cultivating tenant communities at the first regular settlements18 in Rawalpindi and Jhelum (Douie 1899: 73–78). However, the Mutiny of 185719

interrupted the completion of the settlement. The British were not surprised that the Sikh peasantry should

support them through the upheavals of 1857.20 What could not be so readily explained was the invaluable assistance volunteered by tribal chieftains and the large landlords of western and southwestern Punjab.21 The colonial state’s gratitude towards these superior landowners,

whose right it had been in the process of curtailing, was apparent in the concessions given to them after 1857. British perceptions of

the dominance of tribal alliance, embodied in Tupper’s22 Punjab Customary Law, influenced the structure of administration set up

by incorporating the influential elements of rural Punjab. According to him, forms of political or social bonding as in Europe were absent and therefore the British had to be extremely careful because, If you weaken the sense of tribal fellowship the only thing that could be put in its room would be religion … and here the British Government could take no part…. [However] the maintenance of the tribe, the village, and the clan would not impede, but further the sort of progress that is most wanted in this part of India. The tribe may be utilised without,

of course, carrying on with it all the incidents of the tribal state of

society…. [Also] everything that a body of men can do better than as individuals will be better done by coherent tribes than if they have been suffered to break up…. [Therefore] this expedient codification could be used to strengthen and improve the forms of society already existing, and from whose maintenance and amelioration many public benefits might be anticipated. (Tupper 1881, Vol. I: 19–21)23

This corresponded well with the ‘martial races theory’ that justified recruiting policy: a kind of fictional conservatism, working ‘with the

grain’ of Indian society. Many indigenous communities —Jats, Jat Sikhs, Rajputs, Pathans, Gurkhas, Dogras, Marathas included — had a pre-colonial ‘martial’ self-perception, and this was easily with nineteenth-century European anthropological wisdom

assimilated into the ‘martial races theory’ (also see Omissi 1994: 24).

A more benign attitude towards the big landlords was seen

only after 1857, paralleling the concession in land rights to them.

Peasant proprietors in Punjab ‘proper’ and the great landlords of the western half of the province were amalgamated into the same administrative system by the brilliantly astute use of the office of

the zaildar. A zail consisted of two to forty villages and thereby accommodated the leaders of the smaller, caste-based village

communities of central and eastern Punjab as well as the clan chieftains

of the west and south-west whose influence spread over vast areas (Gilmartin 1988: 11–26). A zaildar was more influential than a simple lambardar (village headman) because a zail included many villages under it. The

position was quite important as it extended the influence of the colonial

state right into the villages. Zaildars ‘represent[ed] the chaudhris

of former times’ and were hand-picked by the deputy only after consideration of ‘caste’ or ‘tribe’, local influence


(‘influence is very commonly hereditary in certain families’!),

extent of landholding, services rendered to the state by him or his family, and, lastly, personal character and ability. They were paid a

certain percentage of the land revenue of the zail. Quite often they were pensioned native officers. The zaildars and lambardars formed ‘a very valuable unofficial agency, through which the Deputy Commissioner and the tahsildar convey the wishes of


Government to the people and secure the carrying out of their own

orders’ (Douie 1908: 84, 125–28). In Gujrat it was reported that ‘The zaildars are very useful in all branches of local administration’

and ‘amply justify themselves’ because of their position as ‘go-

betweens the Government and agricultural community’ (Gujrat District Gazetteer, 1921: 114). As mentioned, the British felt a ‘disposition, stronger towards their close [of settlement operations] than at their beginning, to

concede something to the descendants of the men who had been stripped of their influence by the Sikhs, while at the same time maintaining the cultivators…’ (Douie 1899: 78).24 In those cases where the dispossession of the old landlords was considered to

be ‘complete’, the government granted inams to ameliorate the situation for their new allies (Douie 1908: 128).25 In ‘contending claims’, a compromise was worked out by making talukdars (superior proprietors) of the clan leaders and assigning them a proprietary

fee while the management of the estates was left to the cultivating communities. In case the ‘former landlord’ and tenants resided in the same village, the latter were only given title to their separate holdings, were excluded from rights in the common wastelands and

made ineligible for the post of headman. A grateful government re-invested the status of those who were ‘descendants of persons who once exercised political sway or enjoyed a lordship over the soil’ (Douie 1899: 67). These ‘tribes’ of West Punjab — the Tiwanas, Noons, Gakhars, 26

Janjuas, Awans, Baluchis, Khattars, Sials, among others — were the main recruited ‘martial races’ from the region.27 At first sight, the government policy of investing rights to peasant proprietors in

Punjab ‘proper’ and to landed clan chiefs in the west and may seem contradictory. However, it was from the peasant proprietors (Jats, Jat Sikhs, Rajputs, Gujars, Ahirs, etc.) of the


central and southeastern districts and from the clans of the tribal

leaders in western areas that the British Indian army recruited the bulk of its soldiers after 1857. In both regions, the state attempted to entrench itself through the collaboration of those wielding influence in the countryside. In the aftermath of the Mutiny, the Punjab

government was quick to retract its earlier policy of creating ‘village communities’ throughout the province. It was then conceded that the settlement brought from the North-Western Provinces had been ‘sometimes pushed too far [and] after the Mutiny a considerable

change in official opinion is observable…’ (Douie 1899: 57). The apparently conflicting nature of settlement policy before and after

1857 had the single motive of investing the socially powerful and also the militarily important with right in land.

Recruited Peasantry and Agrarian Unrest:

Indebtedness, Alienations and State Intervention Strong customary laws of pre-emption and the poor value of land had prevented land from becoming a ‘commodity’ during Sikh times (Barrier 1966a: 5–6). With stability and peace under the British, an increase in cultivation, a reduced but regular revenue demand, the creation of road and rail networks, and the extension of irrigation, the value of land began to increase (Barrier 1966a: 5–6; Calvert 1936: 245–46; Darling 1925: 206–208). Moreover, debt was not serious for some years after annexation and the creditor remained simply ‘the petty money-lender, and nothing more; he was hardly yet a usurer’ (Thorburn 1904: 230). Much of the following draws on Thorburn’s writings. He had an

essentialist view of the noble (Muslim) peasants being ruined by rapacious (Hindu bania) traders under the aegis of an unsympathetic Punjab government — a view based on his early experiences as settlement officer. It is not a judicious account of developments in rural moneylending, nor of the role of credit in agricultural However, the very existence and subsequent impact of Thorburn’s diagnoses are more significant than their validity. When he began writing, Thorburn was among a minority of junior officers whose personal experiences in western districts made them question the smug belief in the benefit of laissez faire policies carried by much of Punjab’s senior bureaucracy. Thorburn’s importance here is in his representation of the principles of the ‘Punjab school’ (see below). More significantly, the power of his arguments eventually and indirectly led to a rejection of laissez faire and the passage of the highly interventionist Punjab Alienation of Land Act, 1900.28 To administer the province, it was thought that recourse to a systematized, codified and easily enforceable legal structure was necessary. In the beginning, the ‘Punjab school’ of administration meted simple and direct justice through the office of the district officer29 and by a brief code made up in 1853 to guide the courts.30 This uniquely informal legal system was soon transformed, and a ‘disposition to look on unlimited power of transfer as an essential feature of proprietary right and a necessity of economic progress was strengthened by the assimilation of the law and procedure with


that of the older provinces’, particularly after the introduction of the Punjab Code of Civil Procedure in 1862 and the establishment of the Chief Court in 1866 (Douie 1908: 4). The institution of a lieutenant governorship also made the administration ‘lose its early simplicity of character’. Further, the limitation for claims was from twelve to three years, forcing the creditors to the courts at much shorter intervals. Thorburn claims that this led to a ‘flood of litigation’ which ‘appreciably embittered the relations between lenders and borrowers’ (Thorburn 1904: 233–34).


In 1884, Thorburn wrote an unsolicited report to the Punjab

Financial Commissioner on the situation in Dera Ismail Khan where he was posted at the time. He warned that the government was failing in its duty to protect the Muslim peasants from Hindu banias and if the exploitation continued the former could rebel. Lieutenant Governor Aitchison rejected Thorburn’s thesis and sent the correspondence to the Government of India, mentioning that no further debate was required (Barrier 1966a: 19–22). The persistent Thorburn revised his findings and published it as Musalmans and Money-lenders in the Punjab in 1886, to force the Punjab government to come out of its misplaced and ‘persistent optimism’ about the conditions in rural areas.31 The Muslim peasantry under his jurisdiction had included Pathans, Baluchis, Muslim Jats, Muslim Rajputs, Awans and Gakhars, among others. It is significant that he assumes that it would make a difference to higher authorities if he pointed out that these ‘tribes’ provided ‘the bulk of the Mahomedans serving in the Bengal Army, in the Punjab Frontier Force, and in the Punjab Constabulary’ (Thorburn 1886: 20–32). He goes on to echo the fear of public discontent everpresent after 1857 and used the fear of jacquerie to force notice of his polemics:32 I think that those who best know the peasantry there [in West Punjab], will agree with me that without some radical changes in the substantive

civil law and its mode of administration, and for certain tracts in the revenue system, the impatience which now finds expression in the murder, mal-treatment or plundering of an obnoxious or in resistance to the attachment of cattle or grain, or other necessary of life, will soon grow into widespread disaffection. The fuel will then be ready for ignition, and a spark — a sympathetic breeze down the

occasional moneylender, frontier from that hot-bed of Mahomedan fanaticism — Afghanistan —

a famine, the exhortations of an agitator, whether aspiring Mahdi or

land-law reformer — will kindle such a flame that Government will, in

order to quench it hurriedly and fearfully, pass some Act of Bunniah spoliation more drastic than the famous Deccan Ryots Act of 1879. (Thorburn 1886: 40–41)

James Lyall became lieutenant governor when Thorburn’s book was being circulated in England, and when land transfers doubled in the first two years of his administration he had to reconsider his belief that alienations were not politically dangerous (Barrier 1966a: 23). The average number of ‘compulsory’ sales increased from 13,661 over 1878–83 to 20,156 during 1888–93, while the average area sold increased from 93,000 acres over 1874–78 to 3,38,000 acres in 1888–93.33 The ‘impatience’ which Thorburn referred to was the recourse

to violent action by aggrieved peasants who resorted to arson, looting of banias’ property, the burning of their books, and even dacoity.34 The violence led to fear of the disaffection spreading to those units of the army which recruited in the region (Banerjee 1982: 97). In the eyes of the officials, the loyalty of the moneylenders was suspect, particularly in the frontier regions (Ibid.: 89). A district officer’s wife captured the feelings of most of the British officers:


In the Punjaub[sic] the hereditary land-holding classes who compose the

people of the country are ousted by 20,000 to 30,000 moneylenders, all men of no political weight. The loyalty of the vast majority has been seriously affected. Their discontent is a greater danger than the fear of any Russian invasion.35

The Secretary of State for India36 read Musalmans and Moneylenders at the time the violence in Punjab was growing, and questioned the Government of India regarding alienations and loss of popular support because of it. Lyall could not ignore the summons from London and undertook ‘perhaps the most exhaustive study of land transfer carried out in the Punjab’ (Barrier 1966a: 25). The revenue secretariat supported Thorburn’s views and was to his suggestions, and Lyall was forced to acknowledge the extent and danger of land transfers and the necessity for judicial intervention (Barrier 1966a: 25; Douie 1908: 5). The subsequent consultations and political and ideological positioning between the Punjab government, the Government of India and between the advocates of paternalism and laissez faire in


both governments, leading, eventually, to the passing of the Punjab Alienation of Land Act XIII of 1900, are well-recorded.37 Once more, arguments for strategic considerations of colonial rule were used by the paternalists in an attempt to convince opponents: The Punjab lies on the rear of any British army operating in Afghanistan and on the path of any army invading India from that quarter. A very large proportion of the flower of the Indian army is recruited from the Punjab. The spirit and tradition of the fighting races of this part of India are neither dead nor sleeping. Of no country, at any rate of no part of

India, is the old aphorism more true — ‘so many ruined fortunes, so many votes for trouble’. Our own title here is one of conquest. Before our day the tribal lands were won and held by physical force. Remove, even temporarily, the superintending pressure of British rule, and the of lands lost under our system will be sought by violence. I do not think this will be doubted by anyone who knows what was the state of the Delhi territory and the North-West Provinces in 1857…. It is of supreme political importance that if British rule should ever be permanently or temporarily in danger in this part of India, we should have on our side the great agricultural tribes who still hold the country, and that they should not be seeking in our downfall or difficulties an opportunity of recovering their ancestral lands. (C.L. Tupper quoted


in Dewey 1972: 194)38

The significance of the army was also considered critical for intervention by Ibbetson, one of the most influential men on the enquiry commission set up to go into alienations in Punjab: To secure the contentment of the masses is our first duty in India: in it lies our safety. As long as they are loyal to and contented with their rulers, the internal peace of the country is secure, and the professional

agitator powerless. And most of all is the loyalty and contentment of the sturdy yeomanry from whose ranks we draw our native soldiers, the safe foundation upon which our rule can rest secure. (Denzil Ibbetson quoted in Barrier 1966a: 37–38)39

The Punjab Alienation of Land Act was considered ‘reactionary, almost revolutionary, for in a few clauses it superseded much of the elaborate legislation of the previous forty years’ (Thorburn 1904: 256). The truth of Thorburn’s statement is borne out in policy because viceroy Curzon was unable to overcome official uncertainty and resistance in other provinces in getting similar measures passed (Barrier 1966a: 114–15). The anticipated political


reaction to such intervention in Bombay restrained the Government of India from similar legislation there. The recruited peasants of Punjab carried far greater political weight than the Bombay ryot (peasant), who was simply a ryot, ‘not a soldier’.40 The direct military argument about the proportion of Punjabis in the army and the broader impact of the Land Alienation Act on the province’s recruited peasantry, in the context of the localized jurisdiction of the Act, once again bring forth the special nature of colonial intervention in the militarily important province. The Land Alienation Act legally recognized ‘agricultural’ and ‘non-agricultural tribes’ and created a new category, ‘statutory agriculturists’, who had been landowners or occupancy tenants during the first regular settlement in their districts, whether belonging to an ‘agricultural tribe’ or to a commercial or moneylending caste (Douie 1908: 11). A Punjab Financial Commissioner, writing much later, thus summarized government perception and policy: The agricultural tribes are generally distinct, easily defined bodies, possessing valuable martial qualities which endow them with considerable

political importance. To secure their contentment and prosperity has for nearly seventy years been the main object of the administration. Their expropriation by tribes of non-cultivating capitalists would obviously have proved a grave source of embarrassment…. (Calvert 1936: 214. Emphasis added)

A district-by-district classification was published. The ‘agricultural tribes’ included: Ahir, Arain, Awan, Baluch, Dogar, Gakhar, Gujar, Janjua, Jat, Kamboh, Khattar, Khokhar, Labana, Mahton, Mughal, ‘Musalman Jat’, Pathan, Qureshi, Rajput, Saini, Sial, Syed, Thakur (Anand 1924: Appendix A).41 The significance of ‘agricultural tribes’ is that the ones so notified were synonymous with the ‘martial races’ the army almost exclusively recruited from.42 Members of ‘non-agricultural tribes’ required the deputy sanction to purchase land from a member of an ‘agricultural tribe’, but could sell their land to anyone. The latter could sell land to any member of his ‘tribe’ or of a ‘tribe’ of the same group in the same district, or to anyone who was an ‘agriculturist’ in the same village. It was soon realized that the inclusion of ‘statutory did not provide adequate protection against the (as ‘non-agriculturists’, too, could be ‘statutory agriculturists’) and the category was dropped in an amendment to the Act in 1907


agriculturists’ moneylender

(Douie 1908: 12–13; Barrier 1966b: 171–72). Thereafter, the

permission to purchase land from ‘agricultural tribes’ became restricted

to members of the ‘tribe’, or of the group to which they belonged. These restrictions were valid for sales, exchanges, gifts and even wills. Further, sales to ‘non-agricultural tribes’ were allowed only if the deputy commissioner considered them advantageous to the seller and no person of the same group as the seller had come forth as a purchaser. Sales which would reduce the amount of land held to less than subsistence levels were disallowed (Douie 1908: 12–13). Members of ‘non-agricultural tribes’ faced identical on mortgages, too. Moreover, restrictions were put on terms of usufructuary mortgages for all ‘tribes’, the term was fixed at a maximum of twenty years, deputy commissioners could revise the terms of any unauthorized mortgage by a member of an ‘agricultural tribe’, and they had to be consulted if a clause for sale was inserted in a contract. Leases were restricted to a maximum of twenty years with no extension. Finally, members of ‘agricultural tribes’ were forbidden from alienating the produce of their land for more than two successive harvests without the deputy commissioner’s permission. Other protective measures included the exemption of all property, including implements, dwellings, and cattle and seed, in execution of a decree. It was also ordered that members of ‘agricultural tribes’ cultivating their own lands ‘must’ not be arrested during harvests except in emergencies (Douie 1908: 15–18). The problem of indebtedness could not be solved simply by restricting the rights of alienation by moneylenders. The Act was ‘satisfactory’ as a ‘demolition’ of moneylender’s powers but had not been followed by the ‘construction’ of alternative means of credit (Thorburn 1904: 256). What it facilitated was the replacement of the bania by the ‘agriculturist moneylender’ and indebtedness, and alienations of land, continued to increase after 1900 (Darling 1925; see also Barrier 1966a: 81–85 and Mukherjee 1989). Though the government realized that alternative sources of credit were necessary, and the co-operative movement was strongly pushed in Punjab, it did not take off. The political compromise involved in the passage of this legislative measure is brought out in the fact that despite five amendments after 190043 no restrictions were put on the ‘agriculturist moneylenders’ even though indebtedness and land transfers continued to increase

restrictions conditional

unchecked. It seems that the state had been preoccupied not with indebtedness or alienations but with the identity of those involved in the process. Once the ‘outsider’ bania had been restrained, alienation of land was not a matter of concern because alienations were now effected by the dominant elements of rural Punjab — and allies of the ‘paternal’ government. The British were motivated by the need ‘to save themselves and their loyal subjects, the landlords, from the wrath of the peasantry’ and therefore portrayed themselves as the ‘benefactors’ of the peasantry and the moneylenders as the peasants’ ‘main enemy’ (Rai 1984: 16–17; also see Barrier 1966a: 91). The Punjab government was not principally concerned with the plight of the peasantry; its primary motivation was the need to eradicate the major cause for rural unrest — unrest that had the potential to turn into a deadlier version of the Mutiny of 1857.

Military Districts and ‘Political’ Assessment: Revenue Demand and Revenue Remissions Revenue assessment in Punjab was very carefully conducted, the state being aware of the dangers of excessive demand. In the first summary settlement after annexation, the land revenue was decreased by nearly Rs 50 lakh compared to the demand under Sikh rule ( Thorburn 1904: 183). The government acknowledged, too, that sometimes assessments had to be altered because of natural or financial calamities, and that even though this was not good for ‘the system’, it had to be done: ‘the good of the people is paramount…. And, viewed by the light of the recent events [of 1857], this policy has proved most fortunate’ (Punjab Administration Report, 1856–58: 14). Accordingly, between 1863 and 1870, E. A. Prinsep, Settlement

Commissioner of Punjab, reduced the demand in Amritsar district from a fourth to a sixth of gross produce, because of previous overassessment and a heavy fall in prices after 1853.44 He considered the old settlement had been too short at ten years, and made his assessment for twenty, ‘so as to give the country a longer breathing time, and defer the increase to a progressive arrangement’. 45 Punjab’s financial commissioner, Egerton, disapproved of the reductions,46 and considered Prinsep’s assessment lower ‘than was necessary or advisable’.47 Lieutenant Governor Robert Davies agreed fully with Egerton, and ordered that the term of assessment be limited to ten years, as any longer would be ‘unnecessary

and imprudent’.48 The governor general in council was, in turn, ‘convinced’ that Davies’ steps were ‘the wisest that could have followed’, and ‘entirely approved’ the orders. The governor general noted that the ‘lamentable dilatoriness’ of Prinsep had ‘compelled’ the sanction of ‘an inadequate assessment of six of the richest districts of the Punjab’ and recommended that ‘under no ought Prinsep to be permitted to resume the office of settlement commissioner’.49 In the meanwhile, the post-Mutiny policy of military recruiting by replacing the ‘disloyal’ Purabiyas 50 with Punjabis continued. The need to ensure that there was no cause for grievance in military districts forced the commander-in-chief to intervene over Prinsep’s settlement:


The contentment of the Punjab is perhaps more important to the peace of India than that of any other Province, but the impending reduction

of the term of Settlement from twenty to ten years is not regarded without uneasiness as indicating an increased demand. In the beginning of the year, when I visited Hazara — a frontier mountain district, which Sir Henry Lawrence often said would be cheaply governed

if it paid nothing and remained quiet, and which has often brought its clans into the field at our summons — the Chiefs and people evinced deep disappointment and depression at the increase of assessment from which they believed their loyal attachment and services would have protected them.51

The governor general, during a visit to Hazara, asked Davies to

personally institute an enquiry without delay. 52 Within three weeks,

Davies replied that he had no ‘categorical contradiction’ to offer the commander-in-chief, but ‘strongly’ objected to the ‘implication suggested … that there is a reasonable fear of the Sikhs breaking out into rebellion on account of the term of settlement being abridged’. A settlement for twenty years ‘would have been preferable’ if the assessment had been ‘anything at all near the mark’ but as zamindars felt ‘duty bound to pay the sum required’ no unrest was anticipated.53 The Government of India was apparently not satisfied and asked the Punjab government to ‘confidentially’ ascertain popular reactions from the deputy commissioners of the six districts concerned.54 The local government replied: ‘There is disappointment no doubt and grumbling, but no serious discontent’.55

But, later, the Punjab government contradicted this and reported that in two districts ‘the people regard the shortening of the term of settlement as a breach of faith’. It claimed the lieutenant would be ‘the first to recommend a revision’ if that charge had been reasonable. However, there were ‘other grounds which make it incumbent upon the Government to accept Mr. Prinsep’s assessments’. Prinsep’s recommendations had been ‘based upon principles approved by the Government of the day’. Therefore, reconsideration of orders already approved by the Government of India would destroy ‘public confidence in the finality of decisions’ on land revenue. The lieutenant governor was, nevertheless, ‘quite willing to make concessions on minor points’ and would reconsider the higher demand in Gujranwala and Gujrat districts.56 The position of the Punjab government became dubious when the Government of India pointed out that the governor general and the secretary of state, in sanctioning Davies’ earlier orders, had not been aware that Prinsep had ‘solicited instructions’ from the then Punjab government prior to giving his assessment, and had ‘received definite official authority to make a settlement for a term of twenty years’.57 This order had been given in all cases of settlement and though the ‘amount’ of assessment was liable for revision ‘the term of the settlement would not be altered’. The matter was ‘much to be regretted’ for the people had been given ‘reasonable grounds for dissatisfaction’. The lieutenant governor was therefore requested to supersede former orders and to continue the term of settlement for the twenty years ‘originally conceded’ — even at the risk of the ‘appearance of a difference of opinion between the Governments of India and the Punjab’. The original point — that Prinsep’s settlement had been thought too low — was ignored in the haste to avoid discontent. Orders were passed reducing the assessment in Gujranwala and Gujrat districts to Prinsep’s original proposal, and the term was extended to twenty years in all six districts.58 The Punjab government then went further. The ‘progressive jama’59 of Gujrat district would be taken at the end of ten years as Prinsep had recommended, and not at once as the government had ordered, and the amount already collected would be credited in partial payment of the next installment.60 Only then was the secretary of state satisfied that the arrangements ‘[were] the best which, under all the circumstances,


immediately thereafter

could be concluded’ and accorded his approval.61 It is germane to

ask whether the matter might not have ended in 1872, with the governor general approving Davies’ recommendations and censuring Prinsep, had not the commander-in-chief intervened in as provincial a matter as local revenue assessment.

Revenue assessment in Punjab was a political issue and involved more than just the calculation of the new demand. Until 1885, it had been ‘established policy’ not to hold settlement operations simultaneously in more than five districts out of the thirty-one

that made up the province.62 Raising the revenue was a matter of concern anywhere in the province but became crucial in the military districts, for the settlement operations were considered ‘harassing’ even by colonial officials. Therefore, confining settlement operations

to five districts was a way of containing potential dissent and to a limited area. Dunlop Smith had had personal experience of Sialkot where


revenue had been increased by 20 per cent between the second regular

settlement of 1863–66 and the ‘current’ one of 1888–95.63 The rise in prices was the main reason given for the increase. But the there had small holdings, averaging only three acres. The other

peasants ‘disturbing’ factor was ‘that the district practically contributed one

regiment of Infantry and one of Cavalry to the Indian Army, while there were in addition close on 1,000 pensioners’. The other five were ‘all great recruiting centres’, too. Therefore, Dunlop Smith


asked the viceroy whether the government should ‘again encounter

the grave political risk of raising the revenue by the harassing of new settlement operations in this great recruiting ground of the Punjab, or should the revision of the assessments be postponed


indefinitely or for a fixed term of years, say ten?’64 As explained by the Punjab government in 1906 and noted in

the Batala assessment report of 1910: ‘…it has always been recognised that in the central Sikh districts political considerations are of exceptional importance and that leniency of assessment is

essential’.65 The Batala settlement officer even complained that it was ‘unfair to other tracts that this rich and fertile tahsil should escape with a demand proportionally much lower than that imposed elsewhere…’. A policy of leniency for certain districts dated back

at least to Lyall’s governorship and Table 5.1 shows the instance of Amritsar in 1893.

The total possible revenue demand for the district was Rs 20 lakh but only Rs 12.47 lakh were demanded: the question was not how

much was possible but rather how much ‘would be prudent and politic to take’. Lyall ‘considered that an increase of 32 or at most 33 per cent was the utmost that should be taken’ which is why the assessment was fixed at the lower figure (Tarn Taran Assessment Report, 1912: 36). Table 5.1 Table 5.1 Revenue Demand Demand in Revenue in Amritsar Amritsar District, District, 1893 1893

A. Half netTahsils

Ajnala Amritsar Tarn Taran



5,00,000 9,00,000 6,00,000

3,07,184 5,40,343 4,00,000

Source: Financial Commissioner's Review p.



if of


assets estimate





% rise-: on existing demand 13.$





of the Ajnala Ajnala Assessment Report, 1893.

Tahsil Assessment


In 1914, these considerations were still in force (Table 5.2). The proposed demand did not even reach the same proportion of the

estimated Assessment Report, 1912 : 2). Orders had come from the Government of net assets as in 1893, and the overall demand for the district was only 26 per cent above the existing level (Tarn Taran

India that the overall assessment of the Amritsar district was not to exceed 25 per cent of the existing demand after the assessment in Amritsar and Tarn Taran tahsils had been completed (Ajnala Assessment Report, 1913: 34). The settlement officer was,

therefore, pleased to note that ‘the leniency of the new assessment’ in the

district ‘was generally recognized’ by the people who had ‘certainly apprehended that a larger enhancement would be taken’ (Amritsar Settlement Report, 1914 : 34). Tarn Taran’s reputation as a great military area affected its revenue settlement. 66 The reasons for justifying lightness of the present assessment were mainly the political considerations which applied and still apply to all Central Punjab districts…. But I would urge that there is no tahsil in which they should have more force than in Tarn Taran, which contributes in such abundance to the strength of our armed forces. The right policy is one of moderation, and I have therefore framed my proposals to the limits laid down by Sir James Lyall twenty years ago. (Tarn Taran Assessment Report, 1912 : 36)


Table 5.2 Revenue Demand in Amritsar District, District, 1914 1914 Table 5.2

Revenue Demand in Amritsar

A. Half netTahsils

Ajnala Amritsar Tarn Taran


ff an existing


assets estimate


7,25,000 12,44,000 11,74,000

3,17,088 5,38,644 4,00,483


o n.









Ajnala Assessment Report, 1913: 33; Amritsar Assessment Report, 1912: 33; Tarn Taran Assessment Report, 1912: 35; and Amritsar

Source: Calculated from Settlement

Report, 1914-


The present demand amounted to about 35 per cent of the

possible demand, and an increase of about 185 per cent ‘could therefore

be justified’. The settlement officer in Ajnala similarly reported

that the proposed demand could have been ‘doubled’, had not the Government of India limited enhancement to 25 per cent for the entire district (Ajnala Assessment Report, 1913 : 34). Revenue policy could also be used as a means of financial reward for services — for example, for extraordinary assistance during

World War I. Rawalpindi district ‘stood first’ in recruiting

throughout British India67 with the Kahuta tahsil sending 21 per cent of

all men of military age to the battlefields.68 Villages in the tahsil were given revenue remissions of Rs 8,244, the highest amount in the district, though every tahsil received some benefit.69 The

government also granted muafis to individuals.70 According to the lieutenant governor, ‘Two districts of the Punjab — Rawal Pindi

and Jhelum — stood out pre-eminent in all India, and for these, in addition to other rewards, I obtained sanction to the extension of their revenue settlements for an extra ten years — a concession representing £20,000 to £30,000 annually’ (O’Dwyer 1925: 224). Similarly, Shahpur district sent over 14,000 men to the colours

over the period of the War and the revenue remissions gifted in the district amounted to Rs 70,000 while muafis were given to

individuals in all tahsils. 71 In Shahpur, the remissions in the districts were directly proportional to recruitment. Khushab tahsil supplied 6,704 men and received Rs 35,733 in remissions, while Bhalwal

tahsil, with only 2,342 recruits, was granted Rs 7,837. Even within Khushab tahsil the relation with numbers recruited and revenue

remitted was direct. The Hill Circle had sent over 30 per cent of men of military age and its villages received Rs 17,369 in revenue remissions, whereas the Thal Circle ‘did very poorly’ and therefore

was awarded only Rs 1,250.72 This policy was not restricted to the highly reputed recruiting districts only, for villages in Hissar in southeast Punjab also received remissions because they had men.73

supplied According to a government report, the total land revenue remissions for military service amounted to over Rs 15 lakh, divided

thus over the five divisions of the province: Ambala — Rs 3 lakh, Jullundur — Rs 3.75 lakh, Lahore — Rs 2.5 lakh, Rawalpindi — Rs 5 lakh, and Multan — Rs 0.75 lakh. Life assignments to the value of Rs 25,000 had also been made throughout the province (Leigh 1922: 283). The settlement operations in Shahpur began in 1911 but were

incomplete when the War began. Acknowledging that its constituent subdivisions had not been equally generous in providing soldiers, the government was discriminatory when the settlement was concluded in 1916. The term of settlement was increased from twenty to thirty years in the Salt Range and riverain circles which had sent the bulk

of the soldiers, but in the Thal circle, ‘where recruiting was very poor’, it was reduced to fifteen years. The Mohar circle also had its term fixed for fifteen years, but because ‘recruiting was good’ there, it was recommended that it be extended to thirty years in those villages which would not get water from the proposed Sind Sagar Doab Canal.74 The policy of politically motivated assessment in Amritsar

district continued into the 1940s. The last Settlement Report noted that

only 23 per cent of the true net assets was taken from landowners in Tarn Taran. The demand had been tempered by a reduction in cultivation, a fall in canal water, lack of recent rainfall, and a increase of 35 per cent. In addition, ‘Other levers towards


moderation on which no exact value could be placed were the military tradition of the tahsil and the inevitable strain of adjustment to a new rural economy which agrarian legislation was likely to impose’ (Amritsar Settlement Report, 1940: 26).75 The significance of Punjabis in the Indian army affected every aspect of revenue policy, including considerable financial loss through deliberately forfeited revenue. According to the Viceroy’s secretary, ‘The content of the Punjab is worth thousands of men and lakhs of rupees. I believe the prosperity of the country as well as the of our rule depend more on the quality and quantity of our land assessment than anything else.’76 The colonial state calculated that it was more critical to earn less but for longer than risk extracting


the maximum possible and confront likely unrest among the peasantry. The question inevitably emerges: did Punjabi soldiers represent the strength of the colonial state or its greatest weakness?


Electoral Policy: Empowering the Allies The need to have absolute control over strategically important Punjab was reflected in the delayed introduction of constitutional developments that had been initiated elsewhere in British India. The Indian Councils Act of 1861 provided for legislative councils in the Bombay and Madras presidencies.77 Bengal got its legislature under the Act in 1863, and the United Provinces in 1866. It was only in 1897, nearly four decades later, that Punjab was permitted a circumscribed legislative council of nine members, all nominated by the lieutenant governor.78 The trend continued with the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909–10.

The Punjab Legislative Council was expanded to 24 members of whom only five were to be elected. The elected representatives were increased to eight in 1912 and to 16 in 1916. Punjab had one of the lowest proportions of elected legislators in all of British India. 79 The official opinion was that want of education and limited in all-India politics ‘tended to confirm their impression of a lack of active interest among the people at large in regard to activity’.80

influence political

This was not true. The Punjab government itself acknowledged

that the Land Alienation Act had resulted in the ‘quickening’ of the ‘class consciousness’ of the agriculturists, that ‘that Act became at once a rallying point and a fixed article of faith with them’, and that ‘we appeared to have here, even before the days of the Reforms Scheme, the makings of a division which possessed both force and reality’. 81 This division was the rural-urban split of political interests and political affiliation. While urban politicians were vocal about their demands for greater political freedom and while they embraced nationalism, rural Punjab did not see mass support for nationalism and was content to support the paternal colonial state. 82 The next landmark was the Montagu-Chelmsford83 reforms of 1919 that finally brought Punjab’s legislature into line with those of other provinces — with 94 members, only 23 of them nominated.84 The expansion of the size of the Council, and in the number of elected members to 71 seems substantial, but was designed neither

to foster the development of democratic principles and practices, nor

to be inclusive. The state attempted to empower its traditional allies and restrict the influence of potential adversaries. The recruited peasantry and the landed gentry automatically gained franchise and/or had seats reserved for them, but urban classes had their

rights severely restricted. The rural-urban divide, born with the Land Alienation Act, came to maturity with the franchise policy and deeply influenced subsequent politics in Punjab. In proposals to the Southborough Committee, the Punjab government recommended

that the council should consist of 51 members only — two-thirds elected, 11 officials, and 6 nominated non-officials. The elected seats would be divided amongst 15 ‘rural constituencies’, 3 each for the 5 divisions, 5 ‘special Sikh constituencies’, 5 ‘large land-holders’

constituencies’, 2 trade and industry seats, one seat for the Punjab university and only 6 ‘urban constituencies’.85 If the number and distribution of seats do not clearly reflect the designs of the colonial state, then the justifications given for the

various constituencies certainly do. The ‘landed gentry were for ‘a landed aristocracy who, in a country where feudal traditions are still strong, are the natural and acknowledged


leaders of the people in most of the rural areas’. Most significantly,

‘They invariably reside on their estates and as a class have always been distinguished for their military traditions and their loyalty to the British Raj…’. These men were certified to be ‘of character and intelligence’, whose sons joined the Provincial Civil Service ‘or

the commissioned ranks of the Army’. However, their lack of ‘an English education’ meant that they required ‘a special constituency where the electors were for the most part men of their own class’. (In other words, they would not be able to compete with the urban,

educated classes.) Further, the Punjab government was concerned that ‘Anything like touting for votes among their social inferiors would be abhorrent to them’ 86 and thus, their interests as well as those of their tenants, ‘deserve[d] adequate representation’. Behind

all this reasoning was the real motive: ‘Their representatives will form a valuable steadying influence in the council chamber where their practical experience and conservative tendencies should prove a healthy check to the impatient idealism of the educated middle-class

politician.’87 Conservative and feudal interests with a strong military tradition were to be bolstered by the ‘modern’ colonial state.

‘Interests to be represented in rural constituencies’ were ‘agriculture’, ‘rural trade and industry’, the ‘co-operative interest’, ‘tenants, artisans and menials’ and ‘the military interests’. the Punjab government proposed that no ‘special representation’ was required for tenants in this ‘country of small proprietors’ that did not possess a ‘special class of tenants’ as in the United Provinces. This was incorrect. The cultivating occupancy of Amritsar district indicates that cultivation under tenants-at-will increased, particularly from the closing decades of the nineteenth century to the first two of the twentieth. Moreover, cultivation had always been undertaken by tenants in western districts dominated by feudal landlords (Mazumder 2003: 150–61, 179–85). The state had no intention of empowering tenants, and crudely brushed aside their legitimate right. No specific representation for artisans and menials was recommended because their interests were said to be ‘generally speaking identical with those of the landholders’! The interests of tenants, artisans and menials would have clashed with those of zamindars and the state would not risk empowering these groups — which could become a source of potential challenge through their opposition to landholders, the government’s main ally. The ‘military interest’ was said to be ‘of great importance, as the agricultural community provides practically the whole of the Punjab contingent in the army. Retired military men would form an element in the electorate whose intelligence has been sharpened by contact with the outside world and has moreover been subjected to the wholesome influence of regular discipline’.88 The rural franchise would be extended to all males above twenty-one years of age who were ‘not disabled by insanity, or serious criminality’, were British subjects and any of the following:89



(i) Lambardars. Each of the 33,421 villages would receive a direct vote through their headmen. The incumbent had the crucial qualification of being ‘the agent of Government for certain purposes’. Therefore, all 65,327 lambardars90 would be eligible to vote. Furthermore, a headman of more than a single village would be allowed to vote in each village, ‘as the intention [was] that headmen should vote not in their individual but in their representative capacity’. Moreover, there would be no minimum property qualification for

them because a situation where one was excluded could

not be permitted.91 Approximately 65,000 headmen would be enfranchised. A lambardar was an integral part of the colonial state’s infiltration of the Punjab countryside and his position had to be strengthened, even by exceptional rules,

to ensure that his vote, too, counted in the state’s favour. (ii) Owners of land paying revenue of an annual amount to be fixed, and crown tenants holding land under the Punjab Colonisation of Land Act of 1912, or lessees for a term of not

less than ten years, subject to a similar property qualification. O’Dwyer recommended a limit of Rs 75 per annum, which would give a net total of about 60,000 voters.92 Once again, the bias was in favour of the larger landlords, those almost

certain to support their paternal government. (iii) All zaildars, sufedposhes,93 and inamdars. These ‘rural notables’, though selected from the lambardars, were ‘of a superior class in consideration of their merit, influence and

property’. Although nearly all of the 1,636 zaildars, and the 2,671 sufedposhes and inamdars were already enfranchised as lambardars, the lieutenant governor wished to form a special category to include exceptions. These dominant

elements of rural society, invested with additional prestige by the colonial state, were similarly incorporated into the electorate for mutual benefit, though only about a hundred would be additionally enfranchised.

(iv) Those receiving assignments of land revenue. They ‘are an important class, the grants being generally hereditary and dating from the time of native rule’. These grants ranged from many thousands to a few hundred rupees annually, and a

minimum limit of Rs 200 per annum was recommended, giving an electorate of about 900 in the category. (v) Non-official members of district boards resident in rural areas. As they voted for the present Punjab legislative council, there

was no need to disenfranchise them, even though only 200 additional men would be given the vote. (vi) Honorary magistrates and honorary sub-registrars resident in rural areas. Again, most would already be voters; it was

desired that ‘the official status in question should qualify the holder for a vote’. The clause would add only about 60

to the electorate. Some of these government appointees were

retired military officers.94 (vii-a) ‘Retired and pensioned Indian Military officers above the rank of Jamadar (i.e. the lowest commissioned rank)’. ‘These would help to represent the military interest…’. Though

many would qualify as landowners, at least two thousand would ‘be added to the electoral roll on account of military rank alone’; this was an ‘underestimate’, as hundreds more would be eligible once ‘present hostilities’ of the War ceased.

The local government was not in favour of enfranchising anybody below the rank of jamadar ‘for fear of enfranchising too large an electorate’.95 The simultaneous desire to keep the franchise to a ‘manageable’ limit and to include the

important military class into the new scheme was achieved as the Punjab government gave the vote to the most important section of pensioned soldiers, retired Indian officers. (vii-b) In contrast to military pensioners, civil pensioners of a

government or a local body residing in rural areas, eligible only

if they drew a pension of not less than Rs 500 per annum. This was a very high limit indeed, enfranchising only about 250 men in the whole province.

(viii) All rural residents paying an income tax, recommended at the same level as the property qualification in case of landowners. There were only 5,500 men in all of rural Punjab paying income tax above Rs 52 per annum.

(ix) All presidents of agricultural co-operative societies registered under the Co-operative Societies Act. Many of them would qualify either as headmen or landowners, yet this category would yield a further 2,000 voters.

(x) All ‘registered’ graduates of an Indian university residing in rural areas. These numbered about 600 in Punjab. The electorate by the above qualifications would make a grand

total of 161,610. Only 1 per cent of the rural population of over 18 million would thus be given the right to vote.96 This was surely not an electorate that would adequately represent the 3.5 million landowners to whom the government itself wanted to give a voice.

However, it did accommodate sections allied to the state, including military men.

Urban franchise was even more limited. All ‘able’ male British subjects over twenty-one years would be eligible if they belonged to any of the following categories: 97 (i) all income tax payers — but no limit was set, as it was for rural income tax payers, as it was declared that ‘Income-tax payers are as a class essentially an urban interest’; (ii) registered graduates; (iii) retired military officers and pensioners, as in rural constituencies; (iv) non-official members of municipal and notified-area committees; (v) honorary magistrates and honorary sub-registrars; (vi) presidents of urban co-operative societies; (vii) owners of immovable property;98 (viii) lambardars as such and owners of agricultural land situated in urban limits with same property qualification as in rural areas; (ix) persons paying direct municipal tax of Rs 50 per annum or more; (x) persons occupying premises of an estimated annual value of not less than Rs 120. This way, the urban electorate would consist of a total of 70,060 men, enfranchising only 3 per cent of the two million urban population.99 The qualification of candidates for rural constituencies also required state intervention to ensure that urban or nationalist influence did not seep into the countryside. ‘It seems to His Honour obvious that some special precautions must be taken to prevent so far as possible the capture of rural seats by “carpet baggers” with purely urban interests or by the nominees of a party caucus.’ Lack of education in rural areas meant that it was the state’s duty to aid ‘the political education of the rural masses’ by ensuring that their candidates were men ‘fit to represent them in the reformed councils’. Therefore, candidates in all constituencies were required to be above twenty-five years of age, have a voter’s qualification in that constituency, be literate, and have been resident for three years in a rural, or one year in an urban, constituency. In addition, in rural constituencies only, retired civil pensioners, but not military income tax payers, and graduates would have to have an additional voter qualification to be considered as a candidate.100 Each of these categories — civil pensioner, income tax payee, graduate — was likely to have qualified urban people, and the state precluded any possibility that they might be elected from rural seats, despite the strict three-year residence requirement. Military pensioners were, of course, no such threat. Moreover, if all the above did not ensure that military interests were represented in the electorate, it was even incorporated that



‘The six nominated non-official seats would be utilized to represent the interests of the Army — there are now about 400,000 Punjabis serving in the Indian Army…’.101

The combined influence of military and rural interests is best seen in the seats allocated to the Sikhs as a ‘special’ community. The Chief Khalsa Diwan, the most important social organization of the

Sikhs, had ‘earnestly urged that separate communal representation be allowed to the Sikh community’, recommending that the council be made of 75 members of which 50 would be elected, of which Sikhs

should be given 15 seats.102 Moreover, ‘There was a very strong feeling indeed against amalgamating the Sikhs with the Hindus or the Muhammadans.’103 The official representative of the Chief

Khalsa Diwan claimed one-third of the seats for his community on the basis of Sikh representation in the army and in Punjab’s aristocracy, the community’s educational achievements, and their

influence in the canal colonies. He also complained that the Sikhs ‘had been entirely left out of the consideration’ in the Lucknow pact104 between the Congress and the Muslim League. 105

Government officers also indicated that the Sikh demand was valid. The financial commissioner was against communal

representation as a system except to provide a ‘security’ for Sikh demands

because proportional representation would not give them a ‘fair’ share. ‘The Sikhs on grounds of larger revenue payments, 106 of military services, and of political and historical importance, claim

one-third of the representation: and perhaps expect one-fourth or one-fifth’. 107 Another senior official spoke of the ‘strong possibility’ of the Sikhs receiving another seat, making the total six.108

The Punjab government proposals to the Southborough

Committee reported that ‘Sir Michael O’Dwyer has already expressed … his agreement … that the Sikhs should be given communal representation, and he does not think this proposal requires further

justification.’ Just such a proposal had been defeated at a recent meeting of the non-official members of the existing Punjab

Legislative Council but the Punjab government wished to argue the case for the community. It was stated that the Sikhs were only two million strong, or 11 per cent of the population, did not form the

majority in any district, ‘and could not hope to secure adequate save by means of communal electorates’. On the basis of


their population, they were entitled to between three or four seats

of the thirty-four to be elected. The government, however, argued for more seats:

But their influential position in the province, which is based partly on historical and political factors, partly on their military prestige and partly on their comparatively high educational-level and economic in the central and colony districts entitles them to a considerably greater degree of representation than is indicated by numbers alone. The number of Sikhs in the army is now believed to exceed 80,000 — a proportion far higher than in the case of any other community — and the amount which they pay to the State in the form of land revenue and canal charges is out of all proportion to their numerical strength.


These considerations, in His Honour’s opinion, justify the allocation to them of as many as 5 special seats.109

The recommendations of the Punjab government have been enumerated in detail not only because they highlight the means by which rural and military interests were incorporated into the ‘reform’ of the legislature, but also because these recommendations remained the basis of future legislative reforms. The Southborough Committee acknowledged that it had been able ‘to adhere to the general lines of the schemes which the local governments prepared for our consideration’ in the case of Punjab, too.110 It made a few modifications, but none contradicted the principles of the ruralurban differentiation enunciated by the Punjab government. For the urban electorate, the only change was the halving of the immovable property qualification of Rs 10,000 that had been proposed. For rural franchise, a property qualification of land revenue of Rs 50 per annum was accepted and no changes were made to any other Punjab government recommendation. It was specified that ‘Separate electoral rolls will be kept for Muhammadans and Sikhs. All other electors will be entered in a general roll. No Muhammadan or Sikh elector will be entered in the roll of the general electorate.’ Of the four seats in the ‘landholders’ constituency’, two would go to Muslims, one to the Sikhs and one would be chosen by the ‘remainder’ on the landholders’ electoral roll. The only change that was made to the latter was increasing the value of assignment to Rs 500 from the Rs 200 per annum that the local government had proposed. All the proposals recommended for candidature were accepted in full. In numerical terms, these recommendations increased the urban electorate proposed by the local government by only 7,000 (to 77,000) while the rural franchise remained unchanged. The urban electorate was 7.5 per cent of the urban male population, and

the rural electorate was only 1.6 per cent of the rural male

population, while the total electorate of 2,37,000 was only 2.2 per cent

of the male population or 1.2 per cent of the total population. 111 The government’s control over the province would not only

remain unchallenged, but would also be strengthened by the

disproportionate inclusion of allies into the electorate behind the reformed council. The efforts of the Punjab government in creating a council where its main allies would be easily accommodated and its potential

opponents limited were successful. In the first council in 1920, there were 39 landowners, while the second council in 1924 had 31 landowners. ‘The result of the constitution of the electorate and the constituencies is that the Council is on the whole predominantly

representative of the larger land-owning classes, the legal profession is also well represented and to some extent overlaps the former class.’112 The next major political reforms took place as a result of the

second Round Table Conference.113 The Lothian Committee, set up in December 1931, asked the local governments for their recommendations and submitted its report in 1932. The Punjab Provincial Franchise Committee’s recommendations for rural

constituencies included reducing the property qualification for landowners from Rs 25 to Rs 5 per annum in land revenue; decreasing the property qualification for tenants from 24 acres of irrigated or 48 acres of unirrigated land to 6 and 12 acres


enfranchising all village servants who paid professions tax (haisiyat) and all village shopkeepers and artisans who paid haisiyat at or above the land revenue qualification for landowners. The total number of non-agricultural tribes given the vote was

6,41,000. This meant a net rural electorate of 24,82,000. For urban constituencies, the income tax qualification was reduced, which meant a total of 2,63,000 voters. The total proposed electorate of 27,45,000 was only 11.7 per cent of the population.114

The Lothian Committee was not satisfied with these proposals. ‘It is, however, a most serious defect of the Punjab Government’s scheme that only about 25 per cent of the electorate will consist of members of non-agricultural tribes, whereas the non-agricultural

tribes form about half the population of the province.’ There had been some difficulty in compiling this information and the

Committee only received the data a few days before submitting its report. It then stated that: We feel convinced, however, that its significance is such as to necessitate further consideration of the whole scheme. The Punjab Land Alienation

Act confers great advantages, social and economic, on the members of the agricultural tribes, and it would not be right to give them in addition the political predominance they would gain if they formed three-quarters of the electorate. We recognise that the non-agricultural tribes contain a considerable element of the depressed classes and landless labourers who would not obtain the vote under any franchise system based on

property and literacy qualifications, but even so it should be possible to do more than has hitherto been attempted to correct the discrepancy between the agricultural and non-agricultural tribes.115

This was not only an acknowledgement of the paternalism of the

Punjab government but also an indictment of that policy. Therefore, the Lothian Committee recommended that ‘If it is found impossible to secure a substantial increase in the number of members of

nonagricultural tribes on the electoral roll, it may be necessary to

consider a reduction in the voting strength of the agricultural tribes.’

It suggested that the land revenue consideration be increased from Rs 5 to Rs 10 per annum, which would reduce ‘agricultural votes’ by half a million ‘without disturbing the communal proportions produced by the local government’s scheme’. 116 However, the Lothian Committee did not alter any of the other

principles first embodied in the Punjab government’s proposals to the Southborough Committee in 1918. The majority favoured

‘retaining special representation for landlords’ even as it asked that the representation be made ‘increasingly popular’ so that domination by ‘great landlords’ became ‘correspondingly less’. The abolition of

this group was ‘not fair’ because they were ‘men of position who exercise[d] an important influence in the countryside’, travelled and

acquired experience beyond their immediate locality, and were ‘well qualified to speak with authority on matters affecting agriculture and rural life’. In fact, the committee recommended that the number of landlord seats be increased in proportion with the increased size of the provincial legislature.117 The Southborough Committee recommendation that all retired and pensioned non-commissioned and commissioned military officers

be enfranchised had been accepted for all provincial legislative

councils and approved by the British parliament in 1920. Punjab was the only province where military men made a significant electorate, numbering approximately 190,000. Madras had the next highest at 20,000, many of whom were ‘not independently qualified to vote’. The army department, however, said that the withdrawal of the military service qualification for provincial legislatures ‘would be likely to give rise to resentment in the army. All local governments and provincial committees agree to its retention, and the majority of us accept their unanimous recommendation’.118 The more far-reaching recommendations of the Lothian

Committee concerned the ‘communal award’. The number of seats in

the Punjab legislative council was expanded to 175 but distributed along communal lines. Thus, the Muslims received 79 seats, the Sikhs had 32, and the ‘general’ category received 43. The remaining went to landholders (5), Indian Christians (8), Anglo-Indians (2), Europeans (1), commerce and industry (1), ‘special’ seats for university (1), and labour (3).119 By the Government of India Act of 1935, Punjab got a unicameral

legislature, thereafter called the Punjab Legislative Assembly, and the seats were thus distributed: ‘General’: 8 urban and 34 rural; Muslims: 9 urban and 75 rural; Sikhs: 2 urban and 29 rural; and 18 ‘special’ seats. The franchise was extended, too. In rural the right to vote was given to: (i) persons passing a primary or a higher examination; (ii) literate women, or mothers or wives of soldiers killed in the War, or wives of voters other than income tax payers; (iii) income tax payers; (iv) owners, assignees of land or lessees or tenants of crown land assessed for a minimum land revenue of Rs 25 per annum; (v) title-holders; (vi) retired military officers and non-commissioned officers; (vii) public servants in government pay in local bodies (Yadav 1981: 16–18).120 Thus, no change was made to the Punjab government’s first recommendations accepted by the Southborough Committee.


The traditional allies — the landed aristocracy, government

appointees, military men (and their women), and title-holders — remained on the electoral roll and continued their loyalist politics through the Punjab Unionist Party (see Mazumder 2003: 247–56). The opportunities for others, mainly urban, educated, and ‘nonagricultural tribes’, were not increased in the same proportion as those for rural Punjab. Despite its criticisms, the Lothian Committee initiated no substantial changes to either the provisions or the

impact of the earlier recommendations. Its censure of the existing dominance of the ‘agricultural tribes’ seems hollow, suggesting it was only paying lip-service to the increased political ambitions of Indians. Perhaps the special nature of Punjab restricted the award of greater political freedom, particularly to those who did not belong to the ‘agricultural tribes’.

Other Paternal Policies Other concessions also sought to ensure that military districts provided recruits and that the recruited peasantry remained quietly prosperous. These measures, specifically targeted at ‘agricultural tribes’, also strengthened the position of the ex-servicemen in rural society and, thereby, their appreciation of the benevolence of the colonial state.

The Support of the Indian Soldiers’ Board The Indian Soldiers’ Board was established in 1919 with ‘its duties centre[d] around the home welfare of the Indian soldier, past and present, and his dependants’ (Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1929: 1). Although it was for the benefit of all soldiers of British India, Punjab naturally had a pre-eminence, reflected in the fact that its governor was the only head of a province on the Board.121 The Provincial Soldiers’ Boards were directly under the aegis of the Indian Soldiers’ Board, and had the task of creating District Soldiers’ Boards. The object was to build up the latter in all the areas where the army recruited (Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1929: 2). The ‘welfare scheme’ of these boards indicates the advantages to its members: to maintain as complete as possible a list of serving and deceased soldiers in the district and of their dependants; to circulate information regarding educational concessions to their children; to circulate information regarding employment, training for civilian vocations and concessions to discharged soldiers; to with the absent soldier and his family and pass news from one to the other;122 ‘to procure legal advice in the case of a law suit against an absent soldier where there is no male member of his family capable of protecting his interests’; to assist absent soldiers’ families in times of disease or famine; to investigate applications for various military charitable funds; and to assist ex-soldiers get their medals, pensions, arrears, and so on (Indian Soldiers’ Board Report,


1929: 2–3). Treatment and provision of artificial limbs was made available, as was instruction in suitable trades to add to the means of livelihood of the disabled.123 In 1926, the Punjab Soldiers’ Board distributed 3,638 medals, investigated 1,486 pension cases (relief was granted in 285 cases), perused over 1,100 scholarship claims, secured 1,355 in government service and disposed of ‘a large number’ of miscellaneous cases regarding applications for land grants and revenue remissions (Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1926: 2). By 1930, Punjab had active District Soldiers’ Boards in twenty-six of its twenty-nine districts. The disproportionate focus on the province that the Indian Soldiers’ Board maintained is provided in its allocation of funds, too. In January 1929, it disbursed Rs 12,000 to Punjab. The North-West Frontier Province, a part of Punjab till 1901, was the next highest recipient with Rs 4,100. Amongst some of the works undertaken by the District Soldiers’ Board in Punjab was the construction of a ‘Soldiers’ Home’ in Shahpur, to mitigate accommodation problems faced by military men from the rural areas of the district during visits to the town. Rest-houses for pensioners were also built in Mianwali, Gujranwala, sanctioned for Attock, and proposed for Hissar by 1930. The Jullundur District Soldiers’ Board arranged for free advisory services from legal practitioners when necessary. In the North-West Frontier Province, investigations led to the sanctioning of 56 pensions.124 In 1919, a pension of Rs 5 per month for life, in addition to any other pensions held, was provided to those totally blinded during the war. After 1922, it was paid for by the Indian Soldiers’ Board Fund. By 1926, the market value of the Fund was Rs 11,29,862 (Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1926: 4). The Indian Soldiers’ Board also administered the Indian Army Benevolent Fund, begun in 1914 from ‘subscription from various sources’ to ‘afford further assistance, through various official agencies, to the dependants of combatants and non-combatants belonging to the Indian Army … who had lost their lives as a result of the war and also to assist those suffering from disabilities due to the war’.125 Resources from the surplus funds of the Indian Soldiers’ Board were invested to form the Indian Army Benevolent Fund, particularly to alleviate the hardships of those military men whose ‘distress cannot be attributed to field or foreign service’ and


who are consequently ineligible for any government assistance. This amounted to a not meagre Rs 5.3 lakh, to which the capital of Rs 59,100 of the Indian Followers’ Relief Fund was added. The state was providing not only for those who had served in war or those who had been injured in active service, but also for those military men who were not eligible for such assistance because their regiments had not seen action.

Preferential Employment The government’s policy was to provide preferential positions to war veterans: Instructions have been issued to give, where possible, a preference to ex-soldiers for vacancies in government employment: lists of men desiring work have been maintained: district committees have, in many cases,

been formed with the object of assisting soldiers to find work: the help and co-operation of business firms and Chambers of Commerce has been freely enlisted and readily and generously given.126

That this was not being pursued satisfactorily is evident from the curt note from the recruiting officer, Jullundur, to the secretary of the Punjab Soldiers’ Board, where he alluded to the Punjab letter specifying such preference, and alleged that military men were being deliberately kept out.127 Similar, though official, correspondence was sent from the Punjab home secretary to the registrar of the High Court and all heads of departments, deputy commissioners, and district and sessions judges to redress ‘in some districts [the] real destitution owing to lack of employment among families whose only subsistence has been service’.128


commissioners, military The recruiting officer’s letter resulted in the secretary of the

Punjab Soldiers’ Board sending a circular to all those concerned, requesting details of the number of vacancies that came up in the last year, how many veterans applied and how many of them were employed. The police had appointed the highest number, 1,119 out of 2,729 applicants in 1921–22 alone, and there were 2,159 exsoldiers already employed in the force.129 The soldiers were not only given special preference in government

employment but were also excluded from involuntary labour. This was no doubt a social privilege and the policy was not restricted to British India but applied in princely states, too, where soldiers

lived.130 These exemptions went back to 1891 when the Home Department exempted soldiers, reservists and pensioners of the native army from impressment. The state clearly indicated that military men were not to be treated as ordinary peasants — neither in its own territory, nor in those of Indian princes.

Protective Legislation In order to shield soldiers from revenue litigation in their absence, the Indian Soldiers’ (Litigation) Ordinance was promulgated in May 1915, which later became the Indian Soldiers’ (Litigation) Act. The object of the Act was: ‘…to safeguard the interests of those soldiers who are unable to attend their cases. Soldiers are serving the cause of the State at the cost of considerable personal sacrifice, and it is but natural that the State should be anxious to safeguard their interests as best as it can’ (Goswamy 1945: 20–21). The Act included the compulsory mentioning in any plaint, application or appeal that a soldier was an ‘adverse party’ in the proceedings; the suspension and postponement of proceedings to which an Indian soldier was party if he were unable to attend court because of active duty; the power to cancel decrees and orders passed against a soldier serving in war or under special circumstances; and the power to apply provisions of this Act in Indian states, too (Goswami 1945: 2–4). In Rohtak district, ordinances were issued safeguarding soldiers’

interests in civil disputes before the Soldiers’ Litigation Act was passed.131 However, several disputes ‘of a domestic nature chiefly’ were addressed to the deputy commissioner, who was expected to provide relief. Out of this arose the Special Branch Office in the district, ‘a kind of legal and miscellaneous advice Bureau to look after the interests of absent sepoys’. This office dealt with ‘military petitions’, ‘verification rolls’, family pension papers, applications for relief, enquiry into status of dependants of soldiers, ‘distribution of estate money’ and distribution of relief money. Thus, not only the Government of India but also deputy commissioners on the spot were sympathetic to the difficulties faced by soldiers’ families and took proactive measures to provide succour. These may have been seen particularly in the context of the World War I, but that conflict had resulted in an unprecedented situation at home in Punjab, and the colonial state was keen and quick to proffer support to its recruited peasantry.

Bureaucratic Connections Access to various levels of the bureaucracy was yet another way soldiers’ influence in the villages was strengthened. The appointment of ex-servicemen as zaildars, tahsildars, and other native members of civil administration ensured that families with military connections had easier access to these petty, but locally influential, officials.

However, the military nexus with Punjab’s civil administration went all the way up to the Indian Civil Service, too, and this was particularly strong until the last decades of the nineteenth century, when many army officers were appointed to civil positions in the

Punjab government. One of the salient features of the early civil administration of

Punjab was the high number of military officers that made up the

local government. This was not unexpected on the crucial northwestern frontier, but there were military men in interior districts, too. There was a definite policy towards including military officers; some of those who had performed well in the Second Anglo-Sikh War were directly inducted into the early administration.132 By

1855, 13 of the 21 deputy commissioners and 14 of the 17 assistant commissioners held military ranks (Punjab Administration Report,

1854–56: 119). In addition to the above, the officers of the Corps of Guides, a

purely military body, had ‘magisterial powers to enable them to be

employed if needful in police duties: indeed, Lieutenant Lumsden had civil charge of all Peshawur for a year after Lieutenant

Colonel G. Lawrence’s departure, and has since continued in civil and military charge of Eusufzye [Yusufzai]’ (Punjab Report, 1849–51: 40). It was difficult to say whether some of Punjab’s districts were under a civil or a military administration!


The prevalence of ‘military civilians’ (van den Dungen 1972: 13)

in the bureaucracy reduced over time, but it did not cease totally. Provincial administration continued to be carried out partly by

men in the Indian Civil Service and ‘partly by men selected from the Army for civil employment’ and, according to one lieutenant governor, ‘the administration was all the better for this broad system

of recruitment’ (O’Dwyer 1925: 28). It is not easy to quantify the import of having military men in

the civil administration in terms of the benefit of it to the recruited peasantry. The following may be a pointer. The district soldiers’ boards held monthly meetings in the presence of the deputy

commissioner, the commanding officers of units in the locality, and

recruiting officers.133 It was through such interaction that soldiers and pensioners were able to have their voices heard and grievances aired to a degree perhaps impossible for the lay peasantry. Military service not only brought economic benefit; it also enabled relatively substantial connections with the civil bureaucracy, at all levels,

adding to the social prestige of recruited groups and extending their influence. Further, while the government may have gained some

hold over rural areas through the native bureaucracy, it had also enabled access to the state, particularly by those whose brethren were appointed to these posts.

Education Education was an expensive undertaking, and additional incomes from military service may have been one of the reasons why soldiers

were able to invest in the schooling of their children (Mazumder 2003: 42–43). The state was also willing to provide special privileges

to military families: free education up to the high school level was promised for the children of deceased or disabled soldiers, with the additional possibility of ‘adequate scholarships’ for college for those qualified.134 Furthermore, subsidized education was


provided for the children of deceased or incapacitated soldiers after

the World War I.135 Moreover, there were army school(s), dating back to the 1870s, in every cantonment and it was recommended

that their funding ought to be regularized, and be a minimum of the Cantonment Fund.136 The King Emperor’s Patriotic


Fund for the building and equipping of the King George’s Royal

Indian Military Schools ‘for the education of the children of Indian soldiers’ had paid Rs 7,84,874 by 1926 for a school each in Jhelum

and Jullundur, both in Punjab (Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1926: 4).

Punjab, the Indian Army and British Colonialism The above account has covered a lot of ground from the post1849 settlement of land rights to electoral reforms in the 1930s. They indicate the direct and indirect connections between state directives and military imperatives. The considerable help of the tribal chieftains of western Punjab during the Mutiny was repaid by moulding settlement policy to include the state’s new-found allies, rather than restricting it to peasant proprietors. Zails and

zaildars were used to incorporate both the petty zamindars of

the eastern half of the province and the feudal lords in western districts. These peasant proprietors and tribal chieftains belonged to the ‘martial races’ the Indian army exclusively recruited from. The Punjab government successfully managed to penetrate rural

society through its pragmatic land settlement policy. Its allies, in turn, provided both rural stability and sufficient recruits. More direct provisions for soldiers were made by the various soldiers’ boards, in preferential employment for them in government

service, in legislation protecting them from litigation while on service,

and in providing for the education of their children. Access to all levels of the bureaucracy and the benefit of preferential grants in the canal colonies were yet more ways in which servicemen were

made better-off than non-recruited groups. However, the Punjabization of the army led to the predicament, previously encountered in 1857, where highly skewed enlistment restricted to a limited area and specific groups could always fan

another revolt, if sufficient cause for discontent was present: Northern India, i.e., the Punjab and the United Provinces, is the region

in which a successful rebellion would be fraught with the most serious consequences. It is the great recruiting ground of the Indian army, and a revolt of its martial population, which might easily spread to the troops, would tax the military resources of the Government to the uttermost. Delhi is the strategic centre of Northern India upon which the railways from Bombay and Calcutta converge, and from which other lines radiate to Peshawar, Quetta, and Karachi. To hold Delhi, the Imperial capital, is to dominate Northern India, and to dominate the latter is to ensure the submission and tranquillity of less warlike portions of the country, such as the Dekhan, Bengal and Madras.137

A paramount concern of post-1857 government policy was to prevent any grievance that could lead to such agitation. This was

among the strategic concerns of the ‘Punjab school’, epitomized in Thorburn’s stubborn persistence and dedicated polemics, that became a major catalyst in the passage of the uniquely

interventionist Land Alienation Act. ‘Political’ revenue assessment in military districts indicated that economic loss was preferred to possible disaffection, even as the state tried to pre-empt that very possibility. The case of Prinsep’s settlement suggests that just

the suspicion of discontent was enough to force the state to take

ameliorative measures, even if it entailed reversing previous policy. The electoral reforms indirectly highlight the strategic compulsions of the colonial state, but the underlying paternalism is more easily discerned. The preferential rural representation in the electorate

and the limited urban franchise was another means of investing the allies with greater power, even as it extended the state’s The success of the Punjab Unionist Party, a staunch ally of


the British, had much to do with the constitution of the electorate,

and its loyalist politics reinforced the reciprocity. 138 Paradoxically, colonialism had become circumscribed by the Indian army, the institution that most unambiguously represented the coercive might of the British Raj.

The great extent to which policy could be adjusted to assuage disaffection in militarized districts is brought about in the withdrawal of the Colonisation Bill and reduction of water rates in 1907, and the passage of the Gurdwaras Act in 1925 (Mazumder 2003: 202–30).

Both reflect the faith of the ‘Punjab school’ in the benefits of paternalism, their complacent trust in their beneficiaries, and their disregard for urban political movements. These agitations indicate that paternalism did not guarantee everlasting, unquestioning

harmony. In 1907 and in 1925, a highly recruited community forced the imperial governments of the day to compromise, and on its terms. Colonialism in Punjab was restrained by the very men who provided the state with its armed forces.

Concluding Remarks The impact of military expenditure and access to military funds

created a social and economic base on which a particular loyalist ideology emerged among Punjab’s recruited communities. The soldier was made to, and did, see that his advantage lay in being the loyal and obedient servant of an indulgent master. However,

it was not a simple patron–client relationship, for the recruiting districts were potentially more ‘dangerous’ than the rest of Punjab. The many layers of interaction the state had, and had to have, with the military classes show that a militarized province needed

special nurture and extremely careful treatment of its peoples. This affected the subsequent nature of colonialism in Punjab.

A curiously symbiotic relationship between the state and its

militarized peasantry emerged that led to a unique colonial experience for Punjab as well as for the ‘martial’ Punjabis.

The state realized the critical importance of Punjab in its

capability to enforce imperial rule and this coupled with the zeal of colonial officials to give rise to the ‘Punjab school’ of administration. The ideology of these civil servants was based on the belief that greater consideration of existing social and other norms ought to be given when governing the ‘loyal’ province in order to maintain the mutually beneficial relationship. 139 The state nourished rural Punjab through economic and legal concessions, embodied in the Punjab Alienation of Land Act, the franchise policy, ‘political’ revenue assessment, canal colonization, in compromise during agitations by recruited groups, and so on. In turn, the province continued to provide increasing revenue — and more recruits. The reciprocal relationship was not uncomplicated. The of 1906–7 and the Akali movement show the precarious balance between favoured groups and the colonial state (Mazumder 2003: 202–30). However, the state successfully contained discontent as soon as the Punjab government saw the real nature of the respective agitations, and compromised. The fact that disaffection did not spread to the regiments during both instances, and that peace returned almost immediately after the government accommodated demands, suggests that opposition to the government was based on limited grievances over particular, localized issues. The above analysis highlights the interaction between the army and certain sections of society that resulted in a unique political environment in Punjab under colonialism. The colonial military budget may have been detrimental for the Indian economy as a whole but military expenditure benefited Punjab and the recruited Punjabis (Mazumder 2003: 19–46). The ramifications of the special relationship between militarized peasants and the British government affected colonialism and politics in Punjab. In every instance of policy initiative analyzed here — from settlement in the 1840s to legislative reforms ninety years later — the imperial state in India showed that its main concern in Punjab was to keep the recruited peasantry in good humour. This raises doubts whether either of the ‘modernization’ or the ‘world

improving colonial



systems’ approach can single-handedly explain diverse modernities.

The periphery here (Punjab) was dictating to the centre (the

Government of India) in policies concerning revenue, law, employment and education.140 That as significant a pillar of British economic policy as laissez-faire could be overturned to placate local groups only points to the validity of the thesis that


every empire, ‘western’ or ‘oriental’, has had to negotiate with its constituents. Moreover, in every instance of legal intervention seen

in this essay, local, pre-colonial, and non-European modes had to be accommodated into the ‘western’ legal interventions made. At times, the new laws either ignored precedents established in Britain as well as in other provinces in India, or were never instituted elsewhere in the subcontinent. What evolved in British Punjab was the result of the interaction of a powerful, global, ‘western’ empire

forced to compromise with dynamic local communities and deeprooted, resilient traditions. Mr Kipling was incorrect: ‘East’ and ‘West’ did meet. The result was a hybrid — neither fully ‘western’ nor completely ‘eastern’. Who is to define what this hybrid represents? How is it to be analyzed? Can or should we call this process ‘modernization’,

resulting in some kind of ‘modernity’ for the concerned society? The answers will remain opinions — complicated by the debilitating contradiction that the language in which we are conducting this conversation remains one of the abiding legacies of the hegemonic power of the ‘West’.

Notes * The following convention was followed in quoting from Government of India or Government of Punjab files: the relevant government

(GoI or GoP), followed by the department (Revenue and Agriculture, for example), the proceedings volume (A, B or C), month and date, file number(s). Thus, the ‘Proceedings of the Government of India in the Revenue and Agriculture Department, Land Revenue Branch, B Proceedings, July 1922, nos. 12–14’, is quoted as, ‘GoI, R&A (LR), B, July 1922, nos. 11–14.’

† While quoting official correspondence, only the title of the

correspondents has been used, unless the names are relevant. Further, the

correspondents’ designation has been standardized and simplified. Thus, ‘From J. Wilson-Johnston, Secretary, Department of Home, Government of Punjab and its Dependencies to Secretary to the Government of India in the Home Department, 23 February 1915’

is quoted as ‘Home Secretary, Punjab to Home Secretary, India, 23 February 1915’. 1. ‘India’ in this essay will hereafter refer to ‘British India’, the subcontinent

under British rule: chronologically, 1757–1947; geographically, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. Post-1947 India will specifically be referred to as such.

2. Some of the following arguments were first made in my monograph (Mazumder 2003). I am grateful to the publisher for permission to

include extracts here.

3. Punjab, the region analyzed in the following, was an exception proving the rule of an otherwise exploitative regime. Even in Punjab, however, policies were directed to promote or placate specific groups, and excluded the majority. See Mazumder (2003). 4. The nature of the state in British India thus changed over time. Its coercive power also fluctuated with Britain’s industrial strength and its position in the international economic order. The illogic of positing such vast entities as ‘the West’ in static, undifferentiated terms becomes apparent. Moreover, there was a stark contradiction in the fact that Britain, arguably the world’s most ‘progressive’ democracy of the time, was simultaneously acquiring its global empire. This contradiction was eloquently highlighted by the early Indian nationalist Dadabhai Naoroji (Naoroji 1901). 5. The rise of Germany and the United States as economic and military

rivals, the two World Wars with the intervening Depression, and the spread of socialist ideologies are just some of the factors. 6. Warren Hastings, governor-general in 1774–85, wished to create an

‘acculturated’ British bureaucracy combining practices and knowledge of the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. There was a marked difference between British attitudes toward India and Indians in this phase (dominated by the ‘Orientalists’) and in the ‘Anglicist’ era that followed. This era was one of confident superiority, influenced by patronizing Evangelism and supported by the evergrowing power of industrializing Britain. In 1835, Anglicization resulted in Thomas Macaulay’s famous Minute on Education, which persuaded the government to promote the extension of western subjects in the English language, and led to the replacement of Persian with English as the official language of governance. Thus, South Asian history also vindicates the notion of a ‘late divergence’ between the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. 7. Indicating that perhaps Hegelian dialectics fits diverse global ‘modernities’, at least in terms of states and state-formation, better than the Weberian ideal-type of ‘the’ rational state.

8. Situated in the northwest of British India, Punjab became the favoured recruiting ground of the British Indian army after 1857. It featured prominently in the Great Game as it bordered Afghanistan, and its military significance rose substantially as it became the focus of the struggle between imperial Britain and Tsarist Russia for influence in

central Asia. British Punjab was partitioned between India and Pakistan after independence in 1947. In this essay ‘Punjab’ refers to the undivided province, unless otherwise mentioned. British India was made up of many provinces; Punjab was one of them. The provinces were further subdivided into districts, which were made up of tahsils, and a few ‘circles’ constituted a tahsil. 9. This essay restricts itself to commenting on the nature of colonialism and state policies. For a discussion of other issues, see Mazumder (2003). 10. The Sikhs were the erstwhile rulers of Punjab, and made up the community in the eastern half of the province. They remain one

dominant of the most intensively recruited communities in the world.

11. For the military influence on canal colonization, see Mazumder (2003: 64–68). The remaining issues are discussed in the following. 12. A ‘Resident’ was the official representative of the British Government of India in the court of independent princely states. 13. 1 lakh = 100,000.

14. Henry Lawrence to Secretary to Government of India, with the

15. 16. 17. 18.

Governor-General, 2nd October 1847, Note on the Revenue and the Resources of the Punjab. Also see, Domin (1974: 15, 24–26). Domin further argues that revenue and other resources of Punjab were necessary for the financial health of the colonial state. The title of this report changed over the years, and it became an annual publication from 1859; to maintain consistency it will hereafter be referred to as Punjab Administration Report. Barrier 1966a: 3–5. A Punjab officer called it ‘the patriarchal system’ where the people acknowledged the district officer as their ‘ma-baap’ [mother and father]. Thorburn (1886: 116). He was one of the seniormost officials in Punjab in 1857, and viceroy of India during 1864–69. The first ‘regular’ settlement was made between 1840–60, depending on when the district came under British rule. Only three districts, in West Punjab, had their first regular settlement after 1870 (Douie 1908: 12).

19. The Mutiny is one of the most important events in British Indian history. Begun as a revolt by certain regiments of the native army, it spread to become a general rebellion to overthrow British supremacy and re-install the Mughal emperor. Its importance lies in the fact

that it affected subsequent policy-making, because pre-empting such a conflagration remained uppermost in colonial considerations.

20. Prudent government policy that had removed any cause for agrarian discontent was held to be one of the reasons (Thorburn 1886: 52). Sikh dislike of Hindustani troops, the opportunity to avenge Mughal atrocities, particularly the murder of the last Guru Gobind Singh, and the prospect of sacking Delhi, were cited as additional reasons why

the Sikhs sided with the British (Thorburn 1904: 197–98). 21. The following families among others supported the British: the Tiwanas of Shahpur, the Khokhars and the Janjuas of Jhelum, the Gakhars of Rawalpindi, the Khattars and the Awans of Attock, the Sials of Jhang, and the Quereshis of Multan (Griffin and Massy 1910: 180–82, 209–10, 216, 239, 266, 270, 301, 306). This assistance was unanticipated by the Punjab government, for the Mutiny aimed at re-establishing the Mughal emperor and all the above-mentioned clans were Muslim. 22. A Punjab government official, Tupper, rose to become Punjab’s commissioner. Hereafter, financial commissioner = FC. 23. Also see Ibbetson (1916: 5, 10–11, 14–16). 24. For the change in the inclination of Arthur Brandreth, the settlement


officer of Jhelum, from favouring ‘small holders cultivating their own land’ before 1857 to becoming ‘an adherent of an aristocratic land policy’ thereafter, see van den Dungen (1972: 32–33). Among other reasons, small holders were disregarded because Brandreth had come to believe that ‘In any case they exerted no influence, they were apathetic and would not help the British in a crisis’. 25. Douie describes an inam as ‘a cash allowance paid to secure the of a man of influence’ (in Douie 1899: iv). Aninamdar (mentioned later in his essay), was someone who held an inam. The position of inamdar was similar to that of a zaildar. 26. They were reputed to make ‘capital soldiers and the best light cavalry in Upper India’ (Ibbetson 1916: 168). 27. See, for example, Annual Class Returns 1919, pp. 364–67: Awans (26,691), Biluches (4,271), Gakhars (4,888), Khattars (1,362), Syeds (4,399), Musalman Rajputs (29,441 + 8,360 of Cis-Sutlej Punjab). Janjuas, Noons and Sials were all Muslim Rajputs. These were purely Punjabi ‘classes’. The following is the number of men from the ‘classes’


of the peasant proprietors, referred to subsequently: Ahirs (6,061), Hindu Jats (24,914), Jat Sikhs (56,205), Kambohs (1,057), Labanas (5,041), Mughals (5,522), ‘Musalman Jats’ (15,827), Gujars (10,001 Muslims + 3,228 Hindus), Hindu Rajputs, excluding Dogras (8,016), Sainis (2,435). Figures in brackets are Punjabis in the army from these ‘classes’ on 1 January 1919. There were 29,584 Dogras, 36,573 ‘Pathans’, and 1,669 ‘Multani and Derajat Pathans’, too — all of whom were given land rights. The 1919 figures are obviously exceptional,

but highlight the contribution of these communities. For numbers in 1925, showing the same trend, see Note 42. For other years, see any

of the Annual Class Returns. 28. For a detailed analysis of the impact of the ideological and intellectual training of British officers on policy formation in Punjab, see Dewey 1972. For the argument that ‘Practically all the ideas which suggested that legislation was feasible or desirable were drawn from Punjab and

Indian experience’ of British officers, and the ‘social influence’ of this local experience, see van den Dungen (1972) (quotation on p. 300). It is not suggested that military matters were solely responsible for the shift in policy that culminated in the Land Alienation Act of 1900. The apprehension that the alienation of land from the ‘martial races’ by the bania was a potential for rebellion was an additional factor in the reversal in government policy from laissez faire to protective legislation. 29. ‘The Board [of Administration, for Punjab] desire that substantial justice should be plainly dealt out to a simple people, unused to the intricacies of legal proceedings. Their aim is to avoid all technicality, circumlocution and obscurity; to simplify and abridge every rule,

procedure, and process.’ (Punjab Administration Report, 1849–51: 76) Moreover, it was expected that ‘the presiding officer should throw his whole mind into the case, and should thoroughly realize to himself the position and feelings of both the plaintiff and the defendant, the credibility of the witnesses, the authenticity of documents, and the

probabilities of the case’ (Ibid.: 79). Also see Thorburn (1886: 75). 30. The code required that Punjab administrators ‘should not only know something of the European jurisprudence, the Indian Regulations, and the Oriental system of law, but also that they should have some insight into the usage of trade, the practice of the land-holding community, the

tenets of the Seikh [sic] sect, the manner of Hill and Frontier tribes’ (Punjab Administration Report, 1851–53: 89. Emphasis added). 31. See Thorburn 1886. The whole book deals with the issue, but of particular significance is ‘Chapter VIII. Present Condition of the Musalman Agriculturists of the Western Punjab’, pp. 73–92, which quotes settlement reports for all the districts to prove that the government had ignored what the Settlement Officers had been

reporting for at least a decade. The following chapters bring out the extent of the author’s concern and the direction he hoped government would move in: ‘IX: Restrictions in Free Trade in Land Necessary’; ‘X: Restrictions on the Free Transfer of Land’; ‘XI: Reform in our Land Revenue System in Rainless Tracts’; ‘XII: Civil Justice for

Agriculturists’; ‘XIII: Reform in Civil Law and Procedure’. 32. He was factually correct, though. See Notes 27, 42 or any Annual Return Showing the Class Composition of the Indian Army. Therefore,

it was not merely rhetoric on Thorburn’s part to outflank official

opponents — the possibility of unrest spreading from their homes to the

regiments that recruited among these groups was not insignificant. 33. Note on Land Transfer and Agricultural Indebtedness in India, pp. 47, 249, in Government of India, Revenue & Agriculture (Land Revenue), A, October 1895, Nos. 72–73. Hereafter, Note on Land Transfer. Also, hereafter: Government of India = GoI; Revenue & Agriculture Department = R&A. 34. Banerjee 1982: 97; Barrier 1966a: 23–24; Bhatia 1987: 94–96. Three

instances were quoted in confidential government reports: the Mahsud Waziri raid on Tank in 1881, the Isa Khel affair of 1893, and the Mohmand raid on Shabkadar in 1897 (Dewey 1972: 9). According to Dewey,

only the second was like a riot, but he agrees that the ‘bureaucracy’s sensitivity to agrarian unrest’ had ‘increased’ (Ibid.: 9–11). 35. Anne C. Wilson, writing in 1895, quoted in Barrier (1966a: 25. Emphasis added). While reflecting the stereotypes carried by colonial officials, it lays the blame on the moneylenders. Thorburn, in contrast, had the honesty and courage to lay the blame for land transfers on British government policy. The italicized sentence highlights yet again the relevance of Punjab’s recruited peasantry on official perceptions, a reading that eventually affected government policy. 36. After 1858, India was directly administered by the Crown. A member of the ruling British cabinet was appointed secretary of state for India [SOSI], and headed the India Office in London. Reporting directly to the SOSI was the viceroy of India — to whom reported all the and lt. governors of the Indian provinces. 37. Barrier (1966a) is the most exhaustive study of the history of the Act. Also see Note on Land Transfer and GoI, R&A (Revenue), A, December 1891, Nos 10–11 for some of the official correspondence relating to


it. The intellectual positioning is more detailed in Dewey (1972), and experiential influences are studied in van den Dungen (1972). 38. C. L. Tupper, FC, Punjab, 7 September 1896, refuting F. A. Robertson

(one of just three laissez faire proponents among Punjab revenue

39. 40. 41. 42.

officers by this time, who believed that transfers allowed better agriculturists take over land from inefficient ones). Emphasis added. Also see ibid.: 192–93. Ibbetson, a Punjab officer (later its lieutenant governor) and a proponent of state paternalism, was the revenue and agriculture secretary of India when he made this argument. GoI note [by Ibbetson?] quoted in Barrier (1966a: 115). See, Anand (1924): Appendix A — Notified Tribes. Each of these groups was enumerated in the Annual Class Return, 1925, pp. 96–99: Ahirs (1,922), Arains (915), Awans (9,409), Baluchis

(430 + 1,827 ‘Hill Baluchis’), Gakhars (1,934), Gujars (2,478 Muslim + 423 Hindu), Hindu Jats (5,114), Jat Sikhs (18,017), Kambohs (338), Khattars (247), Labanas (2,206), Mahtons (486), Mughals (1,967), ‘Musalman Jats’ (2,918), ‘Punjabi Pathans’ (1,360 + 20,750 ‘Pathans’), Qureshis (426), Hindu Rajputs, excluding Dogras, (1,372), Musalman Rajputs (15,099 + 2,019 Ranghars), Sainis (808), Syeds (1,223).

Figures in brackets are Punjabis in the army from these ‘classes’ on 1 January 1925. Janjuas and Sials were Muslim Rajputs. Dogras were Hindu Rajputs and Brahmins, and they numbered 14,307. ‘Thakur’

could mean either Brahmin or Rajput — both recruited ‘classes’. The 43. 44. 45. 46.


classification in the Class Returns, which included the above groups, did not change after 1914. For the numbers in 1919, see Note 27. After the Act was passed in 1900, the Government of India let it be amended in the Punjab Legislative Council in 1907, 1919, 1920, 1927 and 1931 (Barrier 1966a: 114). Prinsep’s Settlements: 1092. Prinsep to Secretary to Financial Commissioners, Punjab, 7 June 1871 in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1079. Prinsep had reduced the government’s share from 66% of net assets to 50%, and the revenue demand for Amritsar division was less than this share. Officiating Secretary to FC, Punjab to Officiating Secretary, Punjab, 17 August 1871 in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1094. However, 50% of net assets was to become the norm for maximum assessment hereafter (See Douie 1899: 142–43). Officiating Secretary to FC, Punjab to Officiating Secretary, Punjab, 17 August 1871, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1098, 1101.

48. ‘Proceedings of the Hon’ble the Lieutenant-Governor, Punjab in the Department of Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce, No. 879 dated 24 June 1872’, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1103–104.

49. Secretary to the Government of India to Secretary to Government, Punjab, 25 September 1872, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1104–105. 50. Lit. ‘easterners’, a reference to the region from which the Bengal Army had recruited. 51. A minute by the Commander-in-Chief quoted in No. 303, from Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce Secretary, India to Secretary to Government, Punjab, 10 April 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1105. 52. Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce Secretary, India to Secretary to Government, Punjab, 10 April 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1106. 53. Secretary to Government, Punjab to Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce Secretary, India, 2 May 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1106. 54. Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce Secretary, India to Secretary to Government, Punjab, 26 May 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1108.

55. Secretary to FC, Punjab to Secretary to Government, Punjab, 8 September 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1109.

56. Paragraph based on Secretary to Government, Punjab to Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce Secretary, India, 16 September 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1119–20, 1122–23. 57. Paragraph based on Secretary to Government of India to Secretary to Government, Punjab, 29 October 1873 in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1124.

Italics in original. In its defence, the Punjab government explained that Col. Lake’s letter of 27 July 1865 to Prinsep was not available to them and had only emerged accidentally in a vernacular darkhast [petition] which had come up for inspection in 1872. No reference to the letter was available in government correspondence, as Lake had sent the letter on the verbal orders of the then Lieutenant, Secretary to FC, Punjab to Secretary to Government, Punjab, 24 December 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1124–26. 58. Secretary to Government, Punjab to Secretary to FC, Punjab, 7 November 1873, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1123. 59. ‘Jama’- revenue demand. 60. Secretary to FC, Punjab to the Commissioner and Superintendent,


Rawalpindi Division, 6 January 1874, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1126–27. 61. Secretary of State for India to the Governor-General in Council, 30 July 1874, in Prinsep’s Settlements: 1127. 62. Paragraph based on Dunlop Smith, Note, p. 2, Morley Collection, Vol. 12. Dunlop Smith was private secretary to viceroy Minto; Morley was SOSI. 63. DunlopSmith, Note: 3–4. 64. This question came up at the time of the 1906–7 disturbances in both rural and urban Punjab (see Mazumder 2003: 203–13) but the military angle is clearly evident. 65. Paragraph 6 of Punjab Government letter No. 20 R. I., 21 January 1906, quoted in Batala Assessment Report 1910: 41. Emphasis added. 66. The disproportionately high increase there, compared to the other two tahsils, was because of the extension of canal irrigation over the two assessments, which similarly increased the estimate of assets.

67. The History of the Great War, Rawalpindi District, p. 1, in Punjab District War Histories. Hereafter, Rawalpindi War History. 68. Rawalpindi War History: 4. 69. Appendix VI, List of Villages in the Rawalpindi District Where the Remission of Revenue Have Been Granted, in Rawalpindi War

History. 70. Muafi = remission of revenue. The title of the list is telling: Appendix VII, List of Muafis proposed for wounded soldiers with small holdings,

war widows or war orphans or parents who have induced sons to enter the army for Rawalpindi District, in Rawalpindi War History.

71. War Services of the Shahpur District, p. 15, Appendix III: Statement of 72. 73.

74. 75.

Village Remissions and Appendix IV: Life Muafis, in Punjab District War Histories. Hereafter, Shahpur War Services. Shahpur War Services: 16 and Appendix III. Hissar officers were ‘surprised’ to find 2,400 men in service at the beginning of the War, and Hissar received Rs 6,996 in remissions. Hissar’s War Work: The Effort of a Punjab District, pp. 1, 7 and Appendix II: List of Villages Granted Remission, in Punjab District War Histories. Shahpur War Services: 51. Probably anticipating the roll-back in favours to rural Punjab through legislative measures forced by the compulsions of World War II.

See Talbot (1988: 143–54). 76. DunlopSmith, Note: 4. Emphasis added. 77. British India had a complicated administrative hierarchy. It consisted of three major ‘presidencies’ — Bengal, Bombay, Madras — each ruled by a governor. Governors reported to the governor-general of

India (also called viceroy from 1858). Presidencies were divided into provinces under the charge of a lieutenant-governor, who reported to the governor of his presidency. However, there were certain provinces, like Punjab, that were ruled by a governor who reported directly to the viceroy, and did not come under any presidency. The governor of a presidency was superior in rank to the governor of a province. 78. Yadav (1981: 3–4); Punjab Government Memorandum to Indian Statutory Commission: 2. The Indian Statutory Commission, better known as the Simon Commission, was set up in 1927; its Punjab committee met in 1928. 79. The proportion of elected to total strength was 53% in Bengal, 48% in Bombay and Madras, 42% in UP, and only 19% in Punjab.

(See Yadav 1981: 20, footnote 6.) 80. Punjab Government Memorandum to Indian Statutory Commission: 3. 81. Ibid. 82. ‘As a result of the [Punjab Alienation of Land] Act the Punjab landowners, the finest body of peasantry in the East, who but for it would now be largely a landless discontented proletariat … have been staunchly loyal to the British Government’ (O’Dwyer 1925: 39). For specific instances of such loyalty, see Mazumder (2003: 230–57). 83. Montagu was secretary of state for India; Chelmsford the viceroy in India. 84. The other legislatures in British India received the following number of seats: Madras, 120; Bombay and Sind, 113; Bengal, 127; the United Provinces, 120; Bihar and Orissa, 100; Central Provinces and Berar, 72;

85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90.

Assam, 54. Report of the Franchise Committee, 1918–19: 24, 34, 41, 49, 64, 72, 78. It was also known as the Southborough Committee after its president. Evidence Taken Before the Reforms Committee (Franchise), Volume I: 147, [hereafter, Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I ]. The same argument was used to favour the selection of zaildars by district commissioners rather than their election by lambardars. Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 149–50. Ibid. 151. All the following categories (i) to (x) are taken from Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 151–53. Villages usually had two lambardars though one could sometimes be headman of more than one village.

91. A property qualification of a minimum land revenue of Rs 25 per annum would exclude over 38,000 lambardars while one of Rs 50 per annum would exclude over 50,000. It was admitted that, ‘The urban politician will no doubt criticize the inclusion in the electorate of some 65,000 voters who can be represented with some plausibility as owing their votes to an official appointment’ (Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 151). However, the state was willing to face the ire of the urban politician if it could ensure that its rural allies were adequately represented in the electorate. 92. Average land revenue payments were between Rs 10 to Rs 12 per annum. Only 8.5% of landholders and crown tenants paid revenue in excess of Rs 25 per annum. The non-official members of the Punjab

Legislative Council therefore wanted the limit to be Rs 20 per annum, but this would give over 4,00,000 voters, which was too large a number for O’Dwyer (Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 151–52). 93. A ‘yeoman grantee’ in canal colonies, with an allotment of 50–150

acres. 94. H. D. Craik’s evidence in Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 208. He was Acting Secretary, Government of Punjab [hereafter, GoP]. 95. Ibid.:208. 96. Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 153. 97. Urban voting qualifications (i) to (x) are taken from ibid. 98. The Provincial Franchise Committee recommended a value of Rs 20,000, which would give about 10,000 voters, half of whom would qualify through the income tax category. However, O’Dwyer felt that this was too high a qualification and proposed a limit of Rs 10,000 that would give a net electorate of 20,000. 99. Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 153–54.

100. Ibid.: 154. 101. They would also look after the interests of the European and

Anglo-Indian communities, Indian Christians and the ‘more backward and inarticulate classes, such as village menials’. The remaining 11 official nominations would represent the main government Ibid.: 150. 102. Written Statement by the Chief Khalsa Diwan, in ibid.: 221–22. Of the 35 remaining elected seats, 30 would go to ‘non-Sikh Indians’, one each for the University, the Punjab Chamber of Commerce, one each for a ‘landlord and chiefs’ seat for the three communities. Sixteen of the 25 nominated seats would be for officials and nine for nonofficials. 103. Evidence of Sewaram Singh, representing the Chief Khalsa Diwan in Report of the Franchise Committee, Evidence Vol. I: 223.


104. The Congress had accepted Muslim League demand for separate representation, and, in Punjab, agreed to sharing 50% of the seats with the League. Sikh demands had been completely ignored. See Tuteja 1981: 128–29. 105. He claimed that Sikhs supplied a third of Punjab’s and a fifth of India’s

military recruits, and that half the Punjab aristocracy was Sikh. They were, with 3% literacy, the most literate community in Punjab; the Hindus and Muslims only had 1% literacy each. In addition, there were over 250 Sikh educational institutions including two colleges. The Sargodha Colony alone had 33,000 Sikhs, who formed a high proportion of the population in other colonies, too (Sewaram Singh’s evidence, Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 223). This was not hyperbole and underlines the military, economic and social significance of the community in Punjab. 106. By 1930, the Sikhs paid 26.3% of total land revenue, while they constituted only 17.5% of the total of landlords and crown tenants in Punjab. In contrast, the Muslims made up 52% of all landlords

and colony tenants and paid 50% of land revenue, while the Hindus constituted 30% and contributed only 23.2% of total land revenue. Calculated from Memorandum Submitted by Local Governments and Provincial Franchise Committees: 24, Vol. III of the Report of the Indian Franchise Committee, 1932. 107. Evidence of H. J. Maynard, FC, Punjab in Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 212–13. He employed almost identical indicators of Sikh importance that Sewaram Singh had used! (Note 105 above.) 108. Craik’s evidence in Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 207. 109. Paragraph and quotation from Report of the Franchise Committee 1919, Evidence Vol. I: 147–48.

110. Report of the Franchise Committee, 1919: 2–3. It had not done so for all the provinces. Rest of paragraph based on ibid.: 53–56. 111. Ibid.: 59. 112. Punjab Government Memorandum to Indian Statutory Commission: 18, 57–58. There were 24 lawyers in the first and 31 in the second Council. Some of them were landowners, as well. 113. Three such conferences were held between 1930 and 1932 to bring

about a compromise between the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, the princely states and the harried British Government of India. 114. Report of the Indian Franchise Committee, 1932: 65–66. 115. Ibid.: 68. Also see Memorandum Submitted to the Franchise Committee by Pandit Nanak Chand, M. L. C. in ibid.: 75. Nanak Chand, a

member of the Provincial Franchise Committee, complained against the

‘arbitrary division of the Punjab population’ into agricultural and non-agricultural tribes based on a person’s birth, and that ‘it becomes a source of political grievance when the Franchise is to be determined by a person’s property qualifications’. He also alleged that the Land Alienation Act ‘has created privileged castes which seek to rule the Punjab to their own exclusive advantage...’. 116. Report of the Indian Franchise Committee, 1932: 68. The limit was raised to Rs 25 per annum when the Government of India Act of 1935 came into operation (Yadav 1981: 18). 117. ‘Report of the Indian Franchise Committee, 1932’: 136–37.

118. Ibid.: 141–42. 119. For details of the communal award and its impact on Punjab politics, see Rai (1984: 178–211). Seats from ibid.: 182. 120. Similarly, no significant alteration or admissions were made to the qualification for urban franchise. The property limit for immovable property was reduced to Rs 4,000 and more, all others remained

unchanged, and the qualifications for rural voters were applicable to urban areas, too. 121. The others were: the Law, Finance and Revenue members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, the Army Secretary, India, the AdjutantGeneral in India, and the Financial Adviser, Military Finance (Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1929: 1). 122. Postcards with the address of the regiments printed on them were issued free at depots and post-offices accepted them free of charge (A Brief Account of the Work of the Indian Soldiers’ Board [1919]: 7 Hereafter, Brief Account of Indian Soldiers’ Board). 123. Ibid.: 5. 124. Paragraph based on Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1929: 3–6; 1930: 4.

125. Paragraph based on No. 1132, GoI, Army, 10 September 1927, enclosed with GoP, Home-Military, B, November 1927, No. 31. Emphasis added. 126. Brief Account of Indian Soldiers’ Board: 4. 127. Recruiting Officer, Jullundur to Secretary, Punjab Soldiers’ Board, 2 August 1922. GoP, Home-Military, C, 1923, No. 301.

128. Home Secretary, Punjab to Registrar, High Court of Judicature, Lahore, and All Departmental Heads, Commissioners, DCs, and District and Sessions Judges, 16 October 1924. GoP, Home-Military,

B, 1927, No. 89. 129. Inspector General of Police to Secretary, Punjab Soldiers’ Board, 4 December 1922. GoP, Home-Military, C, 1923, No. 301. 130. Paragraph based on GoP, Home-Military, A, September 1906, Nos 19–21 and GoP, Home-Military, A, May 1907, Nos 1–3. 131. Paragraph based on War History of the Rohtak District: 37–41, in Punjab District War Histories. 132. General van Cortland who had been in the Khalsa army was ‘taken by Lord Dalhousie into the British service on the same pay that he enjoyed in the Sikh army … and is now the Deputy Commissioner of Dera Ghazee Khan’. Further, Lieutenants Young and Pearse ‘were rewarded with an Assistant Commissionership’ for their distinguished service (Edwardes 1851: 732). Edwardes, one of the most important figures in the Second Anglo-Sikh War, was made the Deputy of Bannu, a critical frontier district. 133. See, for example, Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1931: 2. 134. Speech of Lieutenant-Governor, Gurgaon Recruiting Durbar,

Commissioner 18 January 1919, GoP, Home-Military, B, July 1919, No. 266.

135. Primary education was made free and fees were ‘greatly reduced’ in secondary schools. Brief Account of Indian Soldiers’ Board: 5.

136. Report of the Cantonment Reform Committee, October 1921: 22. 137. The Army in India Committee Report, 1912, Vol. 1-A, Minority Report: 18. It did mention that Punjab’s present importance was equivalent to that which ‘Oudh [had] to the army of 1857’. Ibid.: 11. Oudh (or Awadh) had seen some of the severest fighting during the upheavals of 1857. 138. See Mazumder 2003: 247–56. 139. Their brand of bureaucracy was not appreciated by British officials in other provinces. In 1907, Viceroy Minto reversed some of the Punjab government’s policies and criticized its administrative style (Ibid.: 203–13). 140. Indicating that Ronald Robinson’s thesis of ‘informal’ empire may be applicable in particular instances.

References Primary Sources Private Papers Morley Collection: Papers of John, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn as Secretary of State for India from 1905 to 1910 and from March to May

1911. IOR/MSS/Eur/D 573.

Unpublished Government Records, Punjab Proceedings of the Government of Punjab in the Home Department, Military Branch, 1890–1930.

Ajnala Assessment Report, 1893. Ajnala Assessment Report, 1913. Batala Assessment Report, 1910. Tarn Taran Assessment Report, 1912. [Princep’s Settlements] Mr. E. Prinsep’s Settlements, 1863–1870 — Principles of Assessment and term of Settlement in Selections from the Records of the Financial Commissioner, Punjab . [Dunlop Smith, Note] Dunlop Smith, J. R., Note on Land Assessment in the Punjab, enclosed with Minto to Morley, 3 July 1907, Morley Collection.

Unpublished Government Records, India [Annual Class Returns] Annual Return Showing the Class Composition of the Indian Army, Imperial Service Troops, Military Police, and Militia , 1910–40. Proceedings of the Government of India in the Department of Home, Political Branch, 1905–30. Proceedings of the Government of India in the Military/Army Department, 1875–1930. Proceedings of the Government of India in the Revenue and Agricultural Department, 1880–1905.

Published Government Records, Punjab Amritsar Settlement Report, 1914. Amritsar Settlement Report, 1940. Gujrat District Gazetteer, 1921.

Punjab Administration Reports , 1849–1939.

Published Government Records, India The Army in India [Nicholson] Committee Report, 1912. Indian Soldiers’ Board Report, 1919 –34.

[Punjab Government Memorandum to Indian Stautory Commission] Indian Statutory [Simon] Commission. Volume X. Memorandum Submitted by the Government of the Punjab to the Indian Statutory Commission, 1929. Report of the Cantonment Reforms Committee, 1921. Report of the Franchise [Southborough] Committee, 1918–19. Report of the Indian Franchise [Lothian] Committee, 1932.

Government Publications A Brief Account of the Work of the Indian Soldiers’ Board [1919]. Baden-Powell, B. H. 1882. A Manual of the Land Revenue Systems and Land Tenures of British India . Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing. Douie, J. M. 1899. Punjab Settlement Manual. Lahore: The ‘Civil and Military Gazette’ Press. Douie, J. M. 1908. Punjab Land Administration Manual. Lahore: The ‘Civil and Military Gazette’ Press. Griffin, Lepel H. and Col. Charles Francis Massey. 1910.Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab, Vol. II , revised edn. Lahore: The ‘Civil and Gazette’ Press. Leigh, M. S. 1922. The Punjab and the War. Lahore: Superintendent of Government Printing, Punjab.


Punjab District War Histories. Tupper, C. L. 1881. Punjab Customary Law , 3 vols. Lahore: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing.

Secondary Literature Anand, Nihal Chand. 1924. The Punjab Alienation of Land Act, XIII of 1900. Lahore: Amrit Electric Press. Banerjee, Himadri. 1982. Agrarian Society of the Punjab (1849–1901). New Delhi: Manohar. Barrier, N. G. 1966a. The Punjab Alienation of Land Bill of 1900. Program in Comparative Studies on Southern Asia, Monograph and Occasional Papers Series, No. 2. Durham: Duke University. ———. 1966b. ‘Punjab Politics and the Disturbances of 1907’. Ph.D. Thesis. Durham: Duke University. Bhatia, Shyamala. 1987. Social Change and Politics in Punjab, 1898–1910.

New Delhi: Enkay Publishers. Calvert, H. 1936. The Wealth and Welfare of the Punjab, 2nd edn. Lahore: The Civil and Military Gazette Ltd.

Darling, M. L. 1925. The Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt. London: Oxford University Press. Dewey, Clive J. 1972. ‘The Official Mind and the Problem of Agricultural Indebtedness in India, 1870–1910’. Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge.

Domin, Dolores. 1974. ‘Some Aspects of British Land Policy in Panjab after

Its Annexation in 1849.’ (Punjab Past and Present : April 1974). Edwardes, H. B. 1851. A Year on the Punjab Frontier, in 1848–49, Vol. II . London: Richard Bentley. Gilmartin , David. 1988. Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan . Berkeley: University of California Press. Goswamy, B. L. 1945. The Indian Soldiers (Litigation) Act (Act IV of 1925). Lahore: Starlight Publishing Co. Ibbetson, Denzil. Reprint 1916. Punjab Castes . Lahore: Superintendent of Government Printing, Punjab. Mazumder, Rajit K. 2003. The Indian Army and the Making of Punjab. Delhi: Permanent Black. Mukherjee, Mridula. 1989. ‘Rural Indebtedness in Colonial Punjab.’ Punjab Past and Present (April 1989). Naoroji, Dadabhai. 1901. Poverty and Un-British Rule in India . London. O’Dwyer, Michael. 1925. India as I Knew It 1885–1925. London: Constable & Co. Omissi, David. 1994. The Sepoy and the Raj . London: Macmillan.

Rai, Satya M. 1984. Legislative Politics and the Freedom Movement in the Punjab. New Delhi: Indian Council for Historical Research. Talbot, Ian. 1988. Punjab and the Raj, 1849–1947. New Delhi: Manohar. Thorburn, S. S. Reprint 1983 [1886]. Musalmans and Money-lenders in the Punjab. Delhi: Mittal Publications. ———. 1904. The Punjab in Peace and War. London: William Blackwood

& Son. Tuteja, K. L. 1981. ‘The Sikhs and the Nehru Report.’ ( Punjab Past and Present, April 1981). van den Dungen, P. H. M. 1972. The Punjab Tradition: Influence and in Nineteenth Century India . London: George Allen & Unwin. Yadav, Kripal C. 1981. Elections in the Punjab, 1920–47. Monograph Series No. 16. Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.


6 Administering the City, Policing Commerce Peter J. Carroll In June 1906, writing from the Jiangsu provincial capital Suzhou,1 the recently installed governor Chen Kuilong reported to the Court on the current state of modern policing in the city, i.e., within the city wall. He noted that three years had elapsed since Suzhou had initiated an intra muros police force (jingcha, xunjing) in response to the late 1902 imperial edict that had prescribed the creation of police in provincial capital cities throughout the empire according to the Japanese and European-derived model established in the Zhili province by viceroy Yuan Shikai. Despite the passage of time and some progress, Governor Chen frankly admitted that the force still exhibited a variety of shortcomings. Many of the new Japanese-style sentry-boxes marking city streets were not in order. Badges and insignia were in short supply. Some individual constables failed to meet minimum standards for physical condition. These problems, while troubling since they detracted from the majesty and readiness of the force, were largely attributable to dearth of funds, the signal problem that plagued the development of police systems and the myriad other reform initiatives undertaken during the New Policies Period (1901–1911).2 There was, unfortunately, also a more general substantive failing:

cumulative problems were such that the police, ‘an institution intended to protect the people had, instead, ended up aggravating them’. Chen explained that this predicament was partly due to lack of discipline within the force; the commanders were not familiar with their constables and thus failed to quell abuses. On a similar note, he suggested that the problematic relations between Suzhou’s people and its police essentially stemmed from misunderstanding: ‘since the police and people are not familiar with one another ... when the people have a pressing problem, the police do not understand’ (Chen 1912: juan 7, 4b–5a. GX32. run4.16/7 June 1906).3


Peter J. Carroll Governor Chen’s paternalistic assumption that the interests and reform policies of the state bureaucracy and its new administrative arm, the police, were coeval with those of ‘the people’, an but, in the light of recent troubles, hardly inert mass, clearly deserves some interrogation. On the one hand, there was likely much truth to Chen’s contention that three years was, as yet, an insufficient span of time for Suzhou’s ‘people’ and their new guardians, the police, to become accustomed to one another. The speed and ambition of the state’s promotion of the police as an instrument of social control gave both the constables and the public little time to establish a comfortable modus vivendi. Since its inception, the nascent police system had enforced an everchanging array of novel regulations regarding street circulation and sanitation, the conduct of commerce, the licensing and taxing of brothels, teahouses, theatres, and all other commercial properties, and assorted other matters. Indeed, in addition to these duties and core functions such as apprehending suspected malefactors, settling disputes and patrolling streets, Suzhou late Qing police were also responsible for the maintenance of population registers, repairs to the city’s one macadam carriage-road, the inspection and licensing of buildings, the administration of a workhouse for homeless indigents and other poor-relief activities, enforcement of hygienic standards regarding food and public toilets, and censorship. Dressed in neat blue European-style tunics, wearing the regulation straw hat for government office runners, carrying a nightstick and sporting a belt buckle with ‘Good Luck’ inscribed in English, the force was unusual in appearance and training (‘Soochow: In line; the police’). Furthermore, by 1906, the police, originally numbering 423 in 1903, had increased to 700 men, who were divided among 12 stations located throughout the city. (By 1910, one year before the Xinhai Revolution which ended Qing rule, the force had grown to 1,189 men, who patrolled a population of several hundred thousand people.) On account of its size, functions and scattered deployment, the force projected a ubiquity unprecedented for imperial state agents in the city. The large and growing numbers of police and their increasing intervention in quotidian matters, especially around the use of streets and other public space for commerce, somewhat belied Chen’s claim that the populace’s resentment of them was due to lack of If anything, it seems that mutual misunderstanding between



Administering the City, Policing Commerce Suzhou residents and the city police was based not on lack of contact,

but on just the opposite. The population and the state officials were sufficiently familiar with the police and their actions, to the point of being variously dissatisfied and distrustful of their character and capacity to both shape and safeguard a nascent urban order. The shifting arrangements for urban security provide another

index to the fraught relationship between the business community and local authorities over control of the city. This essay focuses on merchant concerns regarding the inadequacy of police protection for

commercial needs, the deleterious effect of state security on economic life and shop owners’ demands for better treatment. The vexed relationship between the forces of order and those of economy also highlights a growing division between elite merchants, the intended

beneficiaries of many urban reforms, and low status business people, such as street vendors and food mongers, who found themselves and their commerce targeted by new policing regulations. The public currency and significance of the business community’s

concerns regarding policing were evident in actions such as the 1906 creation of a police advisory guild (Susheng jingwu gonghui), composed of leading merchants, under the aegis of the local selfgovernment movement. The group was intended to ensure that

the nascent police force responded to business concerns regarding security and that its actions facilitated economic exchange and development (Zhang H. 1999: 165). The police, for their part, also in 1906, initiated regular two-hour bi-monthly meetings with

merchants and gentry at the city’s Xuanmiao guan Daoist Temple to assess the effect of policing on business and other broad ‘public’ concerns (Zhang K. et al. 1991: 701. GX32.7/Sept.–Oct. 1906). The

dominance by businessmen of the ranks of a police advisory body

and the alacrity with which the police liaised with the merchant community may seem relatively unremarkable, yet both actions attest to the central roles that the two groups played in realizing a broadly shared vision of economically vibrant, urbanist modern

development. At the same time, the degree and constancy of dissatisfaction

with urban policing and safety on the part of businessmen and other civil groups bespoke the existence of many tensions among state and

civil authorities over the explicit development, aim and control of the police. In particular, during the late Qing and early Republic,

Suzhou businessmen critiqued current forces as inadequate and

as often acting against what local merchants saw as urban policing’s raison d’être, facilitating and fostering commerce. Confrontations over the methods and aims of urban security thus reveal a more general contest between state and business institutions for control over the direction of economic and political power. To paraphrase Frederic Wakeman, the creation of policing


represented a fundamental increase in both the Qing state’s ambition and its capacity to intervene in the lives of its people— though the former often outstripped the latter (Wakeman 1991; Wakeman 1995). To centralizing-minded officials, the police were a force whereby social order and public service functions were safely within the hands of professionally trained state agents (as opposed to

the military forces previously responsible for urban policing). Thus the police offered a system for effectively combating the creeping influence and stridence of networks of business and gentry elites who increasingly sought an active role in provincial and local affairs despite the wholesale lack of representative government. 4 In Shanghai, where police in the Chinese-administered portion

of the city were partly under merchant control, the police provided business interests with a mechanism for achieving a rare degree of autonomy in local governance, though these functions remained under the steady and sometimes intrusive ‘supervision’ of Qing officialdom. In Suzhou, the police force was firmly controlled by the provincial and county officials seated within the city, though the

unusually activist local Chamber of Commerce and other business groups prominently negotiated with the authorities to influence the use and function of the police, especially regarding the regulation of streets as arteries of transport and prime sites of commerce. Indeed, a good deal of the conflict arising from the development and function of police regulation in Suzhou may have stemmed from the fact that

the city’s business community had coalesced into several powerful groups: the Chamber of Commerce (founded in 1905), the Citizen’s Communes (an association of city planning/street improvement groups, founded in 1908) and the Chamber of Commerce’s own militia, the shangtuan (founded in 1907, reorganized in 1912). All of these actively supported and remonstrated with police officials

in defense of ostensibly collective (yet often nakedly partisan) or greater civic interests.


The Advent of Modern Policing The promotion of foreign models of modern policing was part of an increasing late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century turn by maverick state officials, industrial entrepreneurs and politicaleconomic writers to focus on urban structure and reform as a means

to stimulate economic expansion and to order society for advantage in the Social Darwinist military, economic and political competition against imperialist powers. Indeed, modern police, with their

multiple administrative duties, were de facto municipal governments and

their establishment marks an important shift from urban countylevel government and institutions to municipal ones. Given that late Qing police in Suzhou and other cities emphasized increased

circulation of goods and the improvement of roads for the purpose of industrial and greater economic development as one of their prime functions, the police represented a decided urbanist reorientation in the state’s vision of ideal political–economic structure. From the

initial 1902 blueprint regulations promulgated by the Court and

the later national and local emendations, it is clear that the police were an intensely urban organization in several senses. Unsurprisingly, during the Qing, police systems were initially deployed in Beijing, provincial capitals and main trading cities, where population size and

strategic importance made the need to resolve the plethora of ills particularly acute. Officials hoped that the improvements in capital and key commercial cities would provide successful models of


new techniques of social control and organization that would then

be emulated in other cities and the countryside. As Qing glumly noted, this incremental deployment and consequent reliance on symbolism was mainly due to financial strictures. Yet,

commentators there was also a logical imperative propelling this method of

developing policing: as conceptualized by leading reformist officials, the police were an expressly urban force — and not merely by virtue of their location. They were deployed not so much to maintain urban social order as to change it through the reordering of urban space

for the combined purposes of local, provincial and greater imperial political–economic development. As such, the police were conceived as a disciplinary instrument whose primary functions included instructing the population in the correct uses and ordering of the


Before the advent of modern ‘police’, anti-crime and civil-order patrols in Suzhou had been carried out by an amalgam of professional forces: (1) a small official constabulary run along military lines; (2) army soldiers, who guarded and collected internal transit taxes (lijin) on goods at the 6 city gates and 17 canal-based tax stations, and who, along with the several units stationed outside the city, provided a defense and emergency public order force; and (3) a state baojia bureau, which ostensibly administered the Qing of mutual supervision groups — which, by the late nineteenth century, had fallen into desuetude in Suzhou if not in most other cities — but was actually dedicated to sponsoring urban patrols of army forces. Even as they supported the creation of police, earnest officials continued to emphasize, right until the end of the dynasty, the reinvigoration of baojia as something of a political ideal.5 to the basic Qing system, ten family units were grouped together as a pai unit and made responsible for mutual supervision. Ten of these pai groupings (i.e., 100 families) were joined together to constitute a jia, with ten jia combined to make a bao of 1,000 families. Misconduct or disputes within each grouping were to be reported to leaders, chosen from among the heads of member households, who would either settle the conflict or report it to the head of the next higher administrative level. At the end of each month, each bao head was required to submit a guarantee to the authorities that all male members of the group were acting properly. Ideally, the population would thus be self-policing with only the most violent, or criminal infractions or disputes coming to the attention of authorities. Qing officials themselves had found this ideal impractical and reorganized the state’s baojia apparatus to supply a professional patrol force; unfortunately, by the late 1890s, the population in Suzhou and many other parts of Jiangsu found this and all other state arrangements for public security woefully inadequate. As newspapers and other contemporary writings attest, late nineteenthand early twentieth-century Jiangsu, and Suzhou in particular, was mired in a crisis of lawlessness due to marked increases in banditry and violence. For example, describing the scene in 1896, the Shanghai daily Shenbao commented, ‘The hoodlums in Suzhou city including “female hooligans, heretofore unknown” [sic] exceed those of other places. The gangs are legion, and they are shamelessly bold’ (‘Heshi shuangge/Crane market divided by frost’); (‘Wuyuan qiusheng/

system According


Suzhou gardens autumn voices’). This predicament was popularly attributed to the corruption and collapse of the state’s capacity to project coercive force. While the actual dimensions of social are difficult, if not impossible, to gauge, the sense of crisis and resultant anxiety, being immediately palpable in contemporary commentary, are not. It may be that this increase in violence was such that it overwhelmed the capacity of relatively well but limited mechanisms of public order. Nonetheless, the of state measures to order society was widely perceived as resulting from a vacuum in state power. Discredited by the recent, ignominious 1895 defeat by Japan, military forces were described as being ineffective guardians of national defense or domestic social order. In fact, demobilized soldiers turned to banditry and active soldiers operating from army encampments were popularly identified as the source of much of the current outbreak of violence and theft. As for baojia as organized by contemporary provincial bureaux, as one editorial in Shenbao succinctly put it, ‘it exists in name only’. (E.g., ‘Zhao yong buruo lianbing shuo/Raising braves not equal to drilling troops’; ‘Lun Zhongguo yingyong bu zushi/On the undependability of Chinese banner troops’; ‘Lun jinri daofei zhi duo/On the recent numbers of bandits’; ‘Yu ke lun baojia tuanlian/ Discussing baojia and militia’). Boding ill for urban policing reform, contemporary analysts the crisis of violence and crime, in part at least, to state attempts to improve security. During the latter 1890s, old-style banner troops were often disbanded in the interest of military reform. Yet, even troops recently trained in foreign methods at great expense were on occasion demobilized out of concern for As a result, the equation between soldiers and disorder was not limited to impoverished retrograde military units, but could, in light of contemporary experience, be applied to modernized forces as well. During these years, mass demobilization of soldiers produced sporadic uprisings, such as the 6,000-strong rebellion outside Shanghai in May 1897, as well as a swell in banditry Jiangnan (Cunningham 1899: 58–68). This instability provoked a raft of anxieties regarding the latent potential for urban disorder, and acute concerns regarding the integrity of commerce and concerns that prompted the provincial government’s 1903 decision to create a Suzhou city police force. These same of disorder likely affected both official and public opinion


functioning inadequacy

attributed economy.

throughout industry, perceptions

(which seems to have been somewhat accurate) that the city’s police were an inferior, undisciplined corps incapable of redressing the crisis of banditry, and that they were, moreover, ominously suspect in light of their presumably intimate associations with thieves, the discarded baojia, and soldiers.


In contrast to the general disparagement of baojia and the army

as mechanisms of public order, western-style policing, at least as practiced in the Shanghai foreign concessions, had acquired a reputation for being extremely effective in preventing and solving crimes. In the ebullient opinion of one 1899 newspaper editorial, western policing in Shanghai, with its combination of police, and undercover cops, had proven so potent that ‘in the foreign concessions there is no case that is not immediately solved; there is no place for them [criminals] to hide’ (‘Lun zujie baotan yi yan jia yuesu/Foreign concession detectives enforce order’). Such spirited descriptions in the press and elsewhere, of the mechanisms of social order as moribund or inferior to western police administration greatly exaggerated their decrepitude and ineffectiveness. Certainly, to those unfortunate enough to be caught in the web of Qing justice, the ‘empty’ and ‘ineffective’ baojia and constabulary were terrifyingly real and potentially lethal. Perusing Suzhou local items in newspapers from the latter half of the 1890s is a bracingly visceral experience. The press seems divided between stories of gruesome murders, rapes, and violent robberies and a seemingly endless trove of accounts detailing the apprehensions of ‘infamous cruel bandits’, which are inevitably followed by news of their spectacular deaths by beheading (or the occasional at the public execution ground in the north of the city. One feels covered in blood. More than a century later, Suzhou’s baojia and constabulary seem sufficiently competent, if not fearsomely efficient, at delivering suspected malefactors over to the dynasty’s stern justice as dispensed by county magistrates, provincial governors, jail wardens and bailiffs. Nonetheless, newspaper reports and editorial pieces attest to a dual crisis in the actual prevalence and public perception of violence and crime in Suzhou as running rampant due to the impotence of state institutions. Among all of these protests, the voice of businessmen was particularly acute in calling upon the state to discard or reform unsatisfactory, suspect security bodies like the baojia and soldiery in order to safeguard commerce.





Deficiencies of the New Police In the fall of 1904, Viceroy Duanfang was asked to respond to

allegations separately forwarded to the Court that public order in

Suzhou continued to be mired in chaos, a situation that revealed the new police force as ineffective. Maintaining that ‘the people have never known such a period of peace and tranquility’, he

nonetheless admitted that ‘catching and jailing criminals has had no effect; thieves are everywhere’. The city, he conceded, had recently endured some 300 known robberies, while the number of those who did not report crimes for fear of retribution made a true total impossible to compute. Especially troubling for local commerce, the banks and pawnshops which lent capital to local enterprises had been

targeted in a flurry of robberies, though Duanfang disputed that the

reported figure of more than 50 was actually only slightly more than 30. Neither the number and target of robberies nor the

reluctance of crime victims to contact the authorities endorsed the effectiveness of the new police force. On this note, the details of the report were even more troubling. The Viceroy reported that the mastermind behind the pawnshop robberies, a local army soldier, was now in custody. The origin of disorder in the local army camps

was no surprise, for Duanfang alleged (perhaps with a fair amount of accuracy) that recently ‘salt smugglers, the desperate poor’ and ‘hoodlums’ (i.e., members of secret societies) had all infiltrated the army camps so that it was difficult to differentiate between soldiers and thieves — if there was, indeed, a difference (Duanfang 1918:

juan 4, 8a–11a, 22. GX30.7/Aug 1904, GX30.8/Aug 1904). Such allegations were hardly novel. The affinity and easy familiarity

between men of violence, such as between thieves and soldiers, had long been identified as a nexus of crime in statecraft writings and passed into general cultural stereotype. Despite a series of reforms

and demobilizations designed to cull criminal elements from local military units to improve discipline and combat readiness, army

units were, regardless of the merits, popularly perceived as dens of iniquity. This infamy proved especially troubling with regard to the character and quality of the new police, which included hundreds of soldiers from local army encampments. Provincial officials staffed the new police units with soldiers

chosen from among the baojia patrols and local army units. As a result, in their reports to the Court, provincial officials readily

admitted that for its first years, Suzhou’s police were ‘police’ in name only. They had yet to discard the practices of the earlier baojia patrols and were ill-trained, if not completely ignorant of the crime fighting methods and regulatory duties of modern police work.6 ‘And can the untrained people stop thieves? How can officers who have not studied regulate people?’ Governor Chen wrote, admitting to a host of inadequacies and tensions (Guoli gugong bowuyuan 1973–75, Vol. 22: 714–15. GX31.12.24/18 Jan 1906). Yet, even after the founding of a police academy in 1905 to train new constables, the need for more troops moved provincial officials in August 1906 to convert several hundred soldiers to police (Chen 1912: juan 7, 32a-32b. GX32.6.24/13 Aug 1906). Whether this growing, uneasily hybrid academy trained/army

soldier constabulary force was more successful in fighting crime is not terribly clear. Nonetheless, it is clear that the police continued to be viewed as inadequate at meeting public safety needs: throughout 1907 and 1908, business leaders were particularly unconstrained in criticizing the Suzhou force as inferior to its Nanjing and Shanghai counterparts for continuing to rely on questionable elements like former baojia and soldiers. (Local officials did not dispute the crisis and issued permits to businessmen in the northern section of the city to carry knives and guns to protect themselves and their merchandise.) (Zhang K. et al. 1991: 705–707; GX34.2.19/21 March 1908). These travails took place in the context of an claimed by both the state and media in the perennial crisis of Jiangnan banditry, which had prompted officials to deploy more forceful tactics. The Chamber of Commerce warned that the recently completed railway link to Shanghai, which had long been desired by the business establishment, had provoked undesirable side-effects. Railroad mechanics, porters, and others toiling in the newly created transport jobs were quickly branded ‘workers by day and thieves by night’, thus joining established menaces, such as disbanded soldiers, members of the notorious Green Gang and local idlers. These groups, along with local military units, which despite their role in policing the city were assumed to be in league with brigands, were blamed for a new rash of robbery and violence (Ibid.: 701–702. Late GX32/1906). According to media analysis, the current wave of ‘bandit and thieving chaos’ was due partly to the effectiveness of military campaigns against robbers and smugglers in the adjacent Zhejiang province, which had caused them to move


into Jiangsu (‘Lun zhifei buyi zhufu/On the difficulty of managing bandit control’). This latter attribution of the local security crisis to Qing public safety countermeasures resonated with analyses of the later 1890s instability. This pattern of unintended consequences spoke badly of the state’s capacity to secure lives and property, even when these were its explicit aims. These dissatisfactions underlay merchant leaders’ analysis of the debilitating effects that police malfeasance and incompetence wrought on the city’s civic and commercial life. For instance, in responding to a 1907 incident involving the beating of a group of students and teachers by the police, ‘which has insulted the community and made businessmen wary’, the Chamber of Commerce wrote to the governor that the only area in which Suzhou was relatively deficient, compared to other cities, was its police. The reason: ‘Since the police officers and constables alike come from old [unreformed] army units [sic, they had been successively reorganized since the loss to Japan] they are extremely crude and violent. Everything relies on the efforts of officials to control them in order to avoid such incidents.’ The situation was so dire that the same petitioners excoriated the provincial police authority (Xunjing zongju) and requested that it cease oversight of the city police because its attempts to reform itself had come to naught. Reiterating a common refrain, the businessmen emphasized that the military background of most police made them corrupt beyond redemption (Zhang K. et al. 1991: 703–705. GX33.4/May 1907, GX33.4.30/10 June 1907). Dissatisfied with the capacity of police and army forces to commerce, business leaders had already made their own bid to reform urban security by forming a physical fitness association, tiyuhui, in 1906. Modelled after foreign merchant militia and their Chinese imitators in Shanghai and elsewhere, the Suzhou enlisted shop assistants and a few business owners to practice calisthenics and military manoeuvres during their off-time for the purpose of patrolling the city centre Guanqian street business (An increasing number of professional militiamen would be hired and added to the force over time.) The initiative required and duly received state approval. Not only were precedents for such well-established, but business financial and personnel support for urban militia dovetailed with other state security measures. The governor had recently announced a solicitation of funds from



association district. associations

merchants to increase the number of police and distribute permanent police substations along major commercial streets as well as alleys. Indeed, both government and merchant leaders glowingly described the association as an adjutant to state security forces, yet tiyuhui leaders also intended their militia to serve as a rebuke to official incompetence and malevolence. Although usually tacit, the association’s cooperation, over the years, with state policing efforts would also contain an undercurrent of rivalry over the direction of public safety and city leadership.


This remonstrance was heard. Bowing to merchant and popular

criticisms of the police, city officials, in 1907, enlisted the tiyuhui to augment, if not replace, the police in enforcing the Court-mandated closure of public opium dens at the end of the sixth month of the lunar calendar. The operation was the keystone of the Qing for the gradual prohibition of opium and was anticipated to be controversial and unpopular. (Correctly so, yet the measure was enforced with some strictness.) In addition, the police force largely consisted of Green Standard soldiers, many of whom were from other areas and therefore unable to communicate easily with local people. As such, officials deemed it prudent to entrust the job to locals so as to not further tarnish the relationship between state security forces and the city populace.7 It seems unclear whether local officials necessarily considered the tiyuhui morally superior to the soldiery and police and thus more reliable in combating vice, but this claim constituted a prominent aspect of the Chamber of Commerce’s selfperception and public presentation. This deployment of the tiyuhui in support of Qing opium policy augured future attempts by the local administration (especially after the 1911 Revolution) to deploy the association as a regular adjutant to state police forces.8


Policing the Street: Protecting or Harming Commerce? Contemporary observers remarked that, from the very beginning of police administration in Suzhou, the focus of their energies and their most tangible results were in the area of street order. To a large extent, this pattern was common to the many new forces founded in response to the 1902 imperial edict. After all, the street was the prime site and focus of policing, as envisioned by the regulations originally promoted by the Court. As the main conduit of urban

social life, streets were naturally the principal venue for general

surveillance and anti-crime activities, as well as the focus of an array

of initiatives to reform urban space. In the wake of these changes, previous patterns of urban use commanded decreasing legitimacy, in the light of the intensifying influence of modernist urban ideals regarding the promotion of street circulation as a means of economic development.9 In many ways, these activities merely extended recent local experience: the connections between policing, road order and economic development were particularly resonant as Suzhou’s first experiment with modern policing. In the wake of China’s defeat by Japan in 1895, Suzhou was opened to Japan and other imperial powers as a treaty port. Concerned that the Japanese might not be satisfied with their isolated located on paddy land beyond the southern city wall and encroach upon the city, Viceroy Zhang Zhidong and a formidable co-hort of modernizing officials oversaw the building of a carriage road outside the southern and western portions of the city wall for the dual purposes of maintaining sovereignty over the city and promoting economic development. Local authorities, dissatisfied with the street’s lack of administration and concerned that the road, outside the normal range of baojia patrols, had become a haven for thieves and bandits whose notorious activities hindered the street’s prime purpose as an industrial/commercial zone, a western-style police force of some 40 Chinese constables under the leadership of a Mr Olsen — a Norwegian who training in European policing techniques and whose foreign identity served as extra insurance against Japanese attempts to take over the street. By late 1904, in the wake of the 1903 creation of the much larger Qing-led force within the city wall, Olsen’s leadership had been radically curtailed by the governor, who hoped to invest more policing powers in Chinese hands and be rid of the foreign police chief. Olsen benefitted from the fact that his senior Chinese superintendent had embezzled a large sum and disappeared, leaving the force without senior Chinese leaders. He thus held on to his position until the fall of 1909, when the announced that policing would now be placed entirely in Qing hands. The specific policies of this force, which continued as a entity until it was subsumed by the city force in 1910, are not very clear. Nonetheless, within the first year, local officials were with both the efficiency and effect of the foreign-modelled


established provided

governor separate impressed

force’s policing (‘Caiju jiefei/Trimming bureaucracy to cut fees’; Cao et al. 1933: 54: 20b-22a; A. W. Cross to Robert Bredon, Maritime Customs Reports 1907–1909, No. 2 Archives, 20 February 1908, Fall 1909, Nanjing, 679 (1) 32205; Yu 1911). security and attention to street circulation had engendered a commercial boom along the road.

Semiofficial Increased

The new police force’s emphasis on creating a novel street

order can, therefore, be seen as having helped extend the spatial and commercial order of the carriage road to the rest of the city itself. This was controversial and particularly difficult. Unlike the macadam road beyond the city wall, city streets were extremely narrow and crooked. Reordering an unreconstructed cityscape along the lines of a modern improved carriage-road involved a large expenditure of regulatory power and occasional brute force in removing streetside peddler stands, enforcing new sanitation codes and directing the circulation of urban traffic. Many sources note that upon its 1903 founding the nascent intra muros police force achieved dramatic and immediate results by carrying out frequent campaigns to disallow or regulate street stalls, which sold all manner of goods, in order to end the ‘blockage’ of roads caused by traditional modes of street commerce — which accounted for a sizable percentage, if not the bulk, of business activity within the city. (While not discounting real improvements in the flow of street traffic, it is worth asking what exactly these policies were Streets were so narrow and unstable that they prevented the passage of animal-drawn vehicles or rickshaws, none of which were allowed within the city.) The effects of this new mode of street regulation were so marked that, in a 1906 report, the Japanese consul approvingly reported, ‘Recently, due to the strict prohibition by the city police, the open air stalls that previously took up both sides of the streets have been reduced so that there is now twice as much road space as before’ (Shirasu 1907: 4). According to the urbanist notions guiding the police regulation of street order, increased capacity for the flow of goods would provoke an increase in consumption. People therefore had to be instructed that many of the more common uses of the street, such as sleeping, conversing and threshing grain, were no longer considered proper. Certain businessmen also found that their commercial claims to the street were curtailed. Successive attempts to relocate small-scale street merchants, especially vegetable mongers, into special markets


away from the street, and to remove gates, stands, awnings, signs and any other objects extending from shop-fronts into the street’s police-defined circulation corridor had varying, often temporary, effects. Such initiatives were denounced as invasive and rigorously contested. For instance, 1907 regulations that removed vegetable stands from their established spots and relocated them to statedictated centralized locations prompted a riot in which sellers and their supporters lobbed fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish while storming a police station (Carroll 2006: 85–90). Street regulation became a regular flashpoint between sectors of the business and the police.


This regulation, carried out in the name of promoting street

circulation, sanitation and commerce, was embraced and further promoted by city merchant mandarins, who were endeavouring to encourage ‘enlightened’ modes of commerce. As the heads of native banks, textile factories, and major stores, which were sometimes in competition with street merchants, many commercial leaders complained that street ‘blockages’ prevented the circulation of goods and materials and detracted from the business of large, capital-intensive, fixed shop-front enterprises. It soon became clear that police regulation in support of increasing street circulation promoted some commercial activities and harmed others, thus truly ‘aggravating the people’. This partiality begged the question as to whether police street regulation was truly for the promotion of commerce and protection of goods and capital, or was merely for the benefit of a few, or even, perhaps, antithetical to the needs of business. For instance, in a 1909 letter informing the Chamber of Commerce of a new campaign to remove commercial blockages from the street, the police bureau wrote, ‘Honorable merchants from the substantial commercial houses thoroughly understand just principles and have not usurped authority as in the past [by blocking the street with signs, stalls and other commercial implements placed in front of their store-fronts], however small-scale businessmen and ignorant, obstinate people consider only their private interest and do not consider the public good. Recently, this attitude has resurfaced and railings, signs, and other objects are being put into the road’, with food establishments being the worst offenders. The Chamber of Commerce later reported back to the police that it had urged member proprietors to follow the new order and informed them that

police enforcement would be strict (Zhang K. et al. 1991: 695, 696. Xuantong1/1909). As it was indeed. Having issued several orders — all blithely ignored — to the shops in the southeast quarter of the city to remove shop stalls illegally occupying the street, the police were angered when they arrived to inspect the area and found the unchanged. Feeling provoked, they threatened the proprietor of a shop which was blocking a good portion of the street; they told him to take the offending stall down by nightfall or face prison. The neighbouring shop owners, indignant at what they viewed as by the police, immediately closed their shops and struck in protest. According to a newspaper account, the large numbers of bystanders on the street at the time all complained that the police were ‘arbitrary, unreasonable, and brutish in their actions. They maintain an enormous gulf with businessmen, thus this incident’ (‘Xunjing yu chai guilan bashi zhi fengchao/Police demolish stall market strike controversy’). While the police’s actions may have been judged excessive by bystanders and shop owners, it is unclear if the witnesses on the street shared the merchants’ sense that, in addition to being imperious, the constables had un-rightfully transgressed accepted means of doing commerce. Yet, to the merchants who fell afoul of police regulations — who were, more often than not, smallscale sellers and the ‘ignorant and obstinate’, who often sold low status goods such as food or small items capable of being peddled — the police ordering of the street proved to be an attack on commerce. As such, it seemed to contravene one of the police force’s raison d’être. Few commodities possessed meaner status than nightsoil (human waste collected and sold as fertilizer), though not many other were either as necessary — Suzhou had no sewerage — or as reliably remunerative. After the creation of the police, nightsoil businesses (which held state-issued franchises to collect human waste from specific areas of the city) and their workers faced an increase in regulation: citing health and traffic concerns, the police required the carriers, who collected waste from household commodes and public latrines into large buckets carried on shoulder poles, and the barges on which the combined nightsoil was shipped out of the city to complete their business and remove their cargo at increasingly early hours of the morning. In addition, the nightsoil companies were required to maintain higher standards of at the public latrines by washing them down twice a day.



common, industries



Infractions detected by the police received fines. Originally

resistant — the companies cited precedent and complained that they could not complete their collection by the increasingly early deadlines of 10, 9, and 8 a.m. — the nightsoil operations quickly

conformed (by necessity) to the police force’s active enforcement.

As the regulations and police enforcement grew more stringent, unsurprisingly, confrontations, sometimes violent, would break out between police and morning nightsoil collectors accused of tardy collection, spilling their cargo on the street, or various other

infractions. These confrontations began to be reported to the Chamber

of Commerce and in the press. In one particularly egregious incident, a nightsoil collector in his sixties was brutally beaten by a

policeman and arrested. Allegedly, injuries from the incident left him, for a certain time at least, unable to move, let alone resume work. In its letter of complaint requesting that the Chamber of Commerce intervene with the police, the nightsoil business guild asked, ‘Since the police were originally established for the purpose of protecting

businessmen, how can there be such lawless incidents as audaciously bullying ignorant people on a busy street?’ (Zhang K. et al. 1991: 687, 688. GX33.1/Dec. 1906 – Jan. 1907). In addition to raising concerns regarding basic decency, this

resonant question touched upon the fraught relationship between the Suzhou police force, perceived as and here proven violent, and the citizenry they protected. Could such lawless incidents be legitimate to the exercise of power by the modern police and, by

extension, the modernizing state? As a confrontation between the state and its citizens, this incident shows that the police, though powerful and violent, were not perceived as inviolable. The nightsoil company heads invoked new (police?) regulations on behalf of

the injured nightsoil carrier and sought either monetary damages or hard labour for the violent constable as compensation for the beating. The final outcome of the case is unclear, though the few extant documents suggest that an official investigation produced

reports, which provoked an exchange of letters, which then led to some unknown juncture or conclusion. Nonetheless, the fact that the nightsoil companies sought damages from the police raises interesting questions regarding the relative power of police constable,

citizen, and the business community, as well as the extent and effect of contesting the operation of modern police in the city.

More particularly, and perhaps more immediately troubling for the nightsoil guild heads lodging their complaint with the Chamber of Commerce, was the question whether such ‘regulation’ conformed to the police’s basic function to protect merchants, their goods and commerce as a whole. If so, it seemed improper that one of the city’s most essential and highly remunerative industries should suffer at the hands of those dedicated to improving the commercial order. What these men may or may not have realized was that police ordering of the urban environment, like the greater regime of modernist urban development, tended to favour business deemed modern and progressive. As such, in practice, the police offered seemingly little protection to nightsoil carriers or small merchants as a whole.10 This bias did not, however, convince large-scale that the police and, by extension, the state could be trusted to act as a reliable guardian of commercial interests.

businessmen The State Attack on Businessmen

On March 27, 1912, a large group of soldiers from units permanently assigned to urban defense and policing were unsuccessful in forcibly gaining free admission to the evening opera at the Daguan Chunxian Theatre along the horse-road beyond the city’s northwestern Chang Gate. Angered at the management’s refusal, a good number stormed in during the performance. The arrival of M.P.s, who attempted to deter them, only stoked the intruders’ rage. In the ensuing brawl, arms were brandished and shots fired, spreading the panic from inside the theatre out into the street, and, shortly thereafter, throughout the Chang Gate horse-road corridor, Suzhou’s premier shopping and entertainment district. Word of the altercation quickly spread back to the army barracks and brought hundreds of soldiers from different units to the scene, where they joined the melee and set to assaulting pedestrians and relieving them of their clothes, money and other valuables. The bulk of the soldiers’ ire, however, was directed toward the area’s shops, native banks, hotels and brothels, which the rioters pillaged and burned. From 9 p.m., when the riot began, until 5 a.m. the next morning, when it finally petered out, the night was punctuated by almost constant gunfire. Civilians, a mix of night-time revellers, merchants, brothel and bar staff, and residents were forced to make the difficult decision of when and how to flee, or, if particularly unlucky, how to face the

marauding mob of soldiers, who violently entered some houses and shops a half dozen times or more. By dawn, several hundred businesses within a 3–4 li radius had been looted or destroyed. Seven people, including a teenage boy shop assistant shot while attempting to escape, a prostitute, and a girl toddler, among others, had lost their lives. Also, an uncertain number of women had been raped. Chang Gate stayed shut and most area businesses remained shuttered for several days. By the end of the following week, some 200 soldiers had not yet returned to camp. Generally believed to be perpetrators of violence, they became subject to arrest and execution (Ma and Su 2004: 609–10; ‘Suzhou bingbian jinghao’ (Shocking report on Suzhou soldiers’ mutiny); Suzhoushi dang’an guan 1986: 114–15, 124). The damage immediately became an affaire d’état and media sensation. The haphazard violence against city residents and, as some perceived, the pointed fury against the business community highlighted the inability of government forces to secure the city and encourage commerce. Disillusionment, in Suzhou and elsewhere, with the state was exacerbated by the fact that police units had been deployed in the area, but they had refused to intervene in the light of the number and ferocity of the marauding soldiers. Area business militia (shangtuan, former tiyuhui) had similarly neglected to quell the gathering violence, though they redeemed themselves in the immediate aftermath. Noting that they had been betrayed by the military and police, the business community took matters into its own hands. The Chamber of Commerce dispatched the shangtuan to police the area and seek out rioters who remained at large. 11 Their efforts were supported by a variety of contributors, including the official Shanghai Armory (Shanghai zhizaoju), which sent five Gatling guns, ammunition and other supplies to help the shangtuan keep the peace. In the wake of the riot, city officials were so eager to restore normalcy that within a few days they ordered all businesses to re-open and threatened to fine those that did not. In the light of the damage suffered by various enterprises and the complete failure of the police to act, this directive seemed not only punitive, but shameless. One Shenbao commentator noted with understated incredulity, ‘The state cannot protect people’s lives or property, yet it will impose fines if businesses do not operate. How this could be a policy for recovery, I don’t know’ (‘Ziyou tan: wu bugan zhi/ Free talk: I don’t dare to believe’). Within days of the riot, the

business community had assessed the damage and demanded restitution from the state. Some 499 business claimed more than 500,000 yuan worth of damage (actually, more than 700,000 yuan by one tally), and by August the state had paid a couple of hundred thousand yuan in compensation — but this remuneration did little to improve the standing of state security forces among Suzhou merchants (Suzhoushi dang’an guan 1986: 124–25, 135–47). On a national level, similar outrages in Beijing and Tianjin during the first months of the new Republic highlighted concerns that urban policing needs should be met by specially trained police forces, not soldiers (‘Yangbing weiyan/Warning re: training of soldiers’). In Suzhou, the conflagration additionally underscored the popular lack of satisfaction with the quality and effectiveness of the police force and reinforced the notion that perhaps only merchant militia could be entrusted with guarding commercial property and interests.


The recriminations of the Chang Gate incident were revived a

year later in August 1913. In response to an upsurge of banditry along city and suburban canals, the provincial government soldiers on anti-crime manoeuvres with city police. Harsh words between the forces of order led to a violent clash on Guanqian Street, the main central city shopping street, and caused the entire market to shut down for prudence’s sake and in protest. The did not end there. That same day, a contretemps between soldiers and businessmen provoked a commercial strike on the Xu Gate horse-road. Assessing the damage, the Chamber of Commerce caustically noted that as Suzhou businessmen had recently been left bereft on far too many occasions, the police and military force amongst them made them feel anxious and ‘battered by storm winds’ (Ma and Su 2004: 322–24, 18–19 Aug. 1913). Rather, it seemed that other guardians might better protect the people — both the general urban populace and, more particularly, the city’s merchants.



Conclusion The establishment of a novel, modern police force was intended to serve as an instrument for transforming urban infrastructure, society and economy in pursuit of the New Policies vision of Qing imperial rejuvenation and transformation. In Suzhou, the police force’s many practical achievements were strikingly counterbalanced by the

popular suspicion that the police could not be trusted to safeguard the public weal. This dissatisfaction was particularly pronounced among businessmen, who criticized the police and the military for being hostile towards merchant interests and the conduct of commerce. The Chamber of Commerce thus called out for police reform and promoted the shangtuan as a special adjutant to and trusted substitute for the police. Indeed, due to financial strictures and manpower shortages, the police would, over the next two and a half decades, delegate special responsibilities for business district security to the shangtuan, which effectively became a key component of the urban police force while remaining ambiguously autonomous of the state. The tensions between Suzhou business interests and the police highlighted the more general competition between the state and business elites for urban supremacy, a contest that extended beyond the late Qing to throughout the Republican period and ended only with the consolidation of economic and political power in the hands of the CCP in the early 1950s.

Notes 1. The city was also the seat for a prefecture and three counties. As with

many Ottoman cities, the city did not have juridical status as a coherent political entity and thus did not have a municipal government. Urban infrastructure, security and various other services were provided by the provincial- and county-level administrations and a variety of civil society groups. Suzhou affairs were also overseen by a viceroy seated in Nanjing.

2. The ‘New Policies’ period refers to the last decade of Qing rule, when a host of political, administrative, educational, legal and other initiatives were promoted by central and provincial authorities in the wake of an imperial edict of Guangxu [GX] 26.12.10/29 Jan. 1901 requesting reform measures. Note: Dates, if originally calculated according to the Chinese lunar calendar, are given as such in year–month–day format, followed by the Gregorian calendar equivalent. Thus, the above date is the 10th day of the 12th lunar month of the 26th year of the Guangxu reign. 3. Traditional butterfly-bound Chinese books are divided into ‘juan’, which can variously correspond to chapter, section, and volume. Pages numbers are given in terms of the verso (a) or recto (b) side of the page. 4. This function became even more pressing after the Court bowed to popular pressure in 1908 and announced a schedule of successive political


reforms leading to the promulgation of a constitution, which included provincial, city, town and village ‘local self-government’—narrowly understood by the Court and many officials as granting rights of and limited self-regulation instead of a full sharing of power. Indeed, as local business and gentry leaders were being trained to take on limited self-regulation of education, public works and other areas, the Suzhou police assumed responsibility for several public welfare initiatives theretofore under gentry control. 5. The police did not replace baojia, which continued to exist nominally to the end of the dynasty, was reinvigorated during the Republic, and


effectively continued, though on a variant Japanese model, during the first decades of the PRC. 6. This stopgap plan contradicted the principle that the adoption of modern policing signalled a fundamental disavowal of military forces as the state’s prime means of domestic social control. As the 1902 set of centrally recommended police regulations noted, it was essential

to distinguish between the military, which was to be used for defense against foreign enemies, and the police, which deployed a novel set of security and investigatory techniques for keeping domestic peace, especially in densely settled cities. In addition, during the first decade of the twentieth century, the police increasingly assumed an exclusive prerogative over weaponry and coercive force, signalling a reorientation of state policy away from the proliferation and importance of elite-led citizen militia (tuanlian) as an augmentation of state military power in response to the mid-nineteenth century Nian and Taiping Consolidation of domestic security in state hands was now a fundamental, if elusive, state objective. The Court forwarded Yuan’s

rebellions. regulations with an accompanying edict to each province, making them

the template for police reform throughout the empire (Yuan 1987, Vol. 2: 604. GX28.7.5/8 Aug.1902). 7. This calculation seems wise, as the den closure particularly affected the mass of the urban poor, whose relations with the police were markedly antagonistic. As elsewhere, lower-class people bore the brunt of police

violence and had rioted against successive new urbanist economic and sanitation measures. Poor people generally could not afford to purchase their own pipe and other equipment necessary for the private consumption of opium, which remained available to those of means— including, according to contemporary rumour, not a few Chamber of Commerce worthies and officials—through licensed opium shops. As a result, lower-class people constituted the vast majority of those who died from withdrawal (A. W. Bredon to Robert Cross, Semi-official Maritime Customs report, 20 Sept. 1907, No. 2 Archive, Nanjing, 679 (1) 32204; Cheng 1990: 224; Zhang K. et al. 1991: 702–03. GX33.1.27/11 March 1907, GX33.4/1907).

8. Kristin Stapleton’s work on urban reform in Chengdu, in which she describes the introduction of new style policing as relatively rancourfree, provides an interesting counterpoint to the experience of Suzhou. Stapleton argues that the Chengdu police quickly secured the goodwill and acceptance of the general population. While certainly not devoid of social tensions, such as upper-class resentment of the authority and official state position of the new police, whom many viewed as their social and intellectual inferiors, the deployment of police in Chengdu seems to have been largely placid, with relatively little initial contestation of the goals and methods of policing. In both cities, however, the advent of muscular urbanist reform promoted by state and business

actors alike increased ambitions for police administration. In Suzhou, these ambitions engendered a fair amount of social conflict, especially during the Republican period. To some extent, this may be due to the particularities of Suzhou: the differences between the ambitions and capabilities of late Qing Jiangsu and Sichuan administrators (Chengdu seems to have been blessed or cursed, depending on your

attitude toward state regulatory capabilities, with more conscientious and gifted planners), the high level of Suzhou social violence and resultant public anxieties, the police administration’s activist stance towards street regulation, and the role of the city’s powerful Chamber of Commerce (Stapleton 2000). 9. Starting in the late 1890s, principles of urbanist street order, which emphasized the importance of roads as a vector of economic and thus at the crux of nation-building, became an explicit topic of theoretical and policy discussion in Jiangsu provincial and national circles. For instance, in their reports on conditions in Japan, the US and Europe, the commissioners sent abroad to study constitutions in


1905–06 identified road administration as one of the signal achievements of foreign governments in recent decades, the lack of which left China in a precarious condition. The commissioners identified modernist road administration as one of the most important tasks of government to enhance urban sanitation and economic growth. In addition, they argued that improved transport would alter the balance of power: under

local self-regulation, local authorities and community figures would gain greater responsibility and autonomy for local goverance, yet roads would assure that the central state preserved the power to supervise local conditions. 10. Regulation of nightsoil operations became a protracted point of between police and the Chamber of Commerce. During the 1920s and 1930s, police vigilance against ‘bandits’, communist and otherwise, made nightsoil carriers particularly vulnerable to suspicion and arrest. The fortunes and power of nightsoil rackets began to wane by the mid1930s, as city authorities and the merchant establishment considered



nightsoil as an important but irredeemably backward business unsuited

to the modernist aspirations of the commercial establishment. 11. The tiyuhui had been reorganized and renamed in 1911, when the militia stood in the breach and helped police the entire city when local military units decamped in a campaign to bring Nanjing to the side of the revolution.

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(Secret Palace Memorials of the Guangxu Period). 24 vols. Taibei: Gugong bowuyuan. Jiangsusheng difangzhi. 1991. Jiangsusheng tongzhi kao (Draft gazetteer of Jiangsu province), Vol. 1. Nanjing: Jiangsu guji chubanshe. Ma Min and Zu Su, eds. 2004. Suzhou shanghui dang’an congbian, di’erji, 1912 nian–1919 nian (Archival documents on the Suzhou Chamber of

Commerce, second collection 1912–1919). Wuchang: Huazhong shifan daxue

chubanshe. North-China Herald. 1903. Shanghai. Reynolds, Douglas R. 1993. China, 1898–1912: The Xinzheng Revolution and Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Semi-official Maritime Customs Reports. 1907–1909. No. 2 National of China, Nanjing, China. Shenbao (Shanghai journal). 1895–1912. Shanghai. Shibao (The Eastern Times). 1910. Shanghai. Shirasu Tadashi. 1907. ‘Zai Soshu teikoku ryojikan kankatsu kuikinai jijo’ (Conditions within the sphere of jurisdiction of the Japanese consulate


in Suzhou). In Gaimusho Tsushokyoku (ed.), Shinkoku jijo (Conditions in the Qing Empire), Vol. 2. Tokyo: Gaimusho Tsushokyoku.

Stapleton, Kristin . 1997. ‘ County Administration in Late-Qing Sichuan:

Conflicting Models of Rural Policing.’ Journal of Asian Studies 18 (1): 100–32. ———. 2000. Civilizing Chengdu: Chinese Urban Reform, 1895–1937 . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Suzhoushi dang’an guan, ed. 1986. ‘ Suzhou Changmen bingbian dang’an shiliao xuanji’ (Selected archival materials re: the Suzhou Chang Gate Soldiers’ Mutiny), Xinhai geming shi congkan, 6 ji (Collectanea of Xinhai Revolution History, Collection 6), pp. 106–75. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju. Wakeman, Frederic Jr. 1991. ‘ Models of Historical Change: The Chinese State and Society, 1839–1989.’ In Kenneth Lieberthal, Joyce Kallgren,

Roderick MacFarquhar and Frederic Wakeman Jr. (eds), Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries, pp. 68–102. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe. ———. 1995. Policing Shanghai, 1927–37. Berkeley: University of California Press. Wang Jiajian. 1984. Qingmo Minchu woguo jingcha zhidu xiandaihua de

licheng (The modernization of our nation’s police system in the late Qing and early Republic). Taibei: Taiwan shangwu yinshuguan. Wang Shuhuai. 1984. Zhongguo xiandaihua de quyu yanjiu: Jiangsu sheng, 1860–1916 (Regional research on Chinese modernization: Jiangsu province, 1860–1916). Taibei : Zhongyang yanjiuyuan Jindaishi yanjiusuo. Yu Zhen, ed. 1911. Wumen congzheng lu (Record of Suzhou Administration). Jiangning: Shangyang yinshua guanchang. Yuan Shikai. 1987. Yuan Shikai zouyi (Yuan Shikai’s Memorials). 3 vols. Edited by Liao Yizhong and Luo Zhenrong. Tianjin: Tianjin guji chubanshe. Zhang Hailin. 1999. Suzhou zaoqi chengshi xiandaihua (Suzhou’s early urban modernization). Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe. Zhang Kaiyuan, Liu Wangling and Ye Wanzhong, eds. 1991. Suzhou shanghui dang’an congbian, diyiji 1905 nian–1911 nian (Archival documents on the Suzhou Chamber of Commerce, first collection 1905–11). Wuchang: Huazhong shifang daxue chubanshe.

Newspaper Articles ‘ Caiju jiefei’ (Trimming bureaucracy to cut fees). Shenbao GX25.9.8/ 12 Oct. 1899, 2. ‘Heshi shuangge’ (Crane market divided by frost). Shenbao GX22.11.6/ 10 Dec. 1896, 2. ‘Lun jinri daofei zhi duo’ (On the recent numbers of bandits). Shenbao GX25.7.18/23 Aug. 1899, 1.

‘Lun Zhongguo yingyong bu zushi’ (On the undependability of Chinese

banner troops). Shenbao GX25.12.19/18 Jan. 1900, 1. ‘Soochow: In line; the police.’ North-China Herald 4 June 1903, 1090. ‘Suzhou bingbian jinghao’ (Shocking report on Suzhou soldiers’ mutiny). Three articles published over three consecutive days. Shenbao 29 Feb. 1912, 2; 30 March 1912, 2; 31 March 1912, 2. ‘Wuyuan qiusheng’ (Suzhou gardens autumn voices). Shenbao GX22.10.1/ 5 Nov. 1896, 2. ‘Xunjing yu chai guilan bashi zhi fengchao’ (Police demolish stall market strike controversy). Shibao Xuantong 1.12.19/29 Jan. 1910. ‘Yangbing weiyan’ (Warning re: training of soldiers). Shenbao 10 April 1912, 1.

‘Yu ke lun baojia tuanlian’ (Discussing baojia and militia). Shenbao GX25.7.10/15 Aug. 1899, 1. ‘Zhzo yong buruo lianbing shuo’ (Raising braves not equal to drilling troops). Shenbao GX21.7.18/6 Sept. 1895, 1. ‘Ziyou tan: wu bugan zhi’ (Free talk: I don’t dare to believe). Shenbao 1 April 1912, 3:2.

7 Formal and Informal Mechanisms of Rule and Economic Development: The Qing Empire in Comparative Perspective R. Bin Wong

Two Problems: A Theoretical Prologue The creation of stable political systems and economic development share certain important abstract characteristics. Both depend, at least in part, on different parties satisfying the expectations of others. Effective rule requires officials to strike understandings with elites

and common people about the acceptable parameters of their

relationships. When these exist, peace and order are more likely; without

such understandings, the likelihood for conflict rises. Turning to economics, commercial expansion depends in part on people

believing that those with whom they buy and sell will honour their agreements. If people fear that agreements are likely to be broken, they

will not easily enter into them; the number of transactions taking place will be correspondingly fewer and commercial expansion

therefore limited. It often seems as if the most important way in which mutual expectations are stipulated and enforced in most societies today is through the force of law. Regulations and legal mechanisms are

formal means through which people specify both political and economic

relationships. Many influential theories about modern state formation and economic development give pride of place to the

development of formal rule-governed mechanisms. Think only of the role of

Weberian bureaucracies in many accounts of historical change and the stress on property rights in the new institutional economics, and one can quickly recall the key role that formal enforceable rules play in explaining political and economic change. What we see, of course,

is the identification of modern states and economic growth with institutional features discerned in European history. This comes

R. Bin Wong as little surprise since the empirical basis for social theory comes from

the western past, but it does create serious problems when we consider what kinds of state transformation and economic change we expect to observe elsewhere. 1 By ‘formal’ mechanisms, I refer to procedures and organizations

using clear rules to address specific issues. More ‘formal’ tend to stipulate particular actions to be taken given certain conditions. A contract in a system with well developed courts, for


instance, is an instrument that affirms obligations and intent; it

is also used to seek remedies for what are deemed violations of its promises. ‘Formal’ mechanisms are often created by governments, but not exclusively so. Social groups can create instruments with some of the same

features. Indeed, local levels of political authority often develop, at least in part, out of group formations that have become more formal. ‘Informal’ mechanisms are practices that have fewer explicit topicspecific rules. They rely on both oral and written sources of custom

and local practices. This article addresses a series of questions about formal and informal mechanisms. How do these mechanisms relate to each other in the realms of political and economic activities? What is the relative importance of each in Qing China and early

modern Europe? When do formal and informal mechanisms compete and when do they complement each other? How does this ratio change over time and what do substitutions between them tell us about larger issues?2

Modern European state formation was generally about the growing capacities of certain territorial rulers to consolidate their control over a number of smaller polities. This process was, in large measure, achieved through the creation of new bureaucracies and the

stipulation of new relationships in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries between rulers and their elites, who were often organized as corporate groups (aristocracies, urban elites and clerical leaders), and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries between rulers and a

broader range of people who were increasingly conceived of as individual ‘citizens’. The use of law and other formal procedures were basic to the extension of state power. Similarly, state-enforced institutional arrangements were important for reducing transaction

costs in economic activities; formal property rights regimes were key components of these changes. Because formal mechanisms are salient

Formal and Informal Mechanisms of Rule and Economic Development for both political and economic changes, we are ill-prepared for thinking about non-European situations where informal mechanisms play a far larger role. The problem is twofold. First, we have to analyze the range of

political and economic activities for which informal mechanisms are employed — how do we evaluate their successes and limitations? Second, we have to think about how political and economic changes are conditioned by the existence of informal mechanisms — are we to expect a gradual displacement to more closely resemble European practices, or some hybrid formations of native and western or yet some other possibility? The payoff for grasping political and economic change in the context of both formal and informal mechanisms should be a richer kind of social theory, grounded more widely in different historical experiences.

practices, The Qing Political Construction of Social Order: The Roles of Law

One of the challenges in sorting through the relations between formal and informal mechanisms is our frequent assumption that formal mechanisms have functions defined by their operations in European settings or that the European experience is both desirable and typical. Deviations from these norms then become problems, or obstacles to the set of historical changes that we expect. In order to avoid this difficulty it may be helpful to approach more openly the contexts within which a particular formal mechanism takes on its roles and meanings. Consider for a moment the subject of law. The stereotype of Chinese people as non-litigious has taken a beating in recent years, owing to a number of marvelous studies that show the use of courts by common people in order to press any number of issues. At the same time as we have a clearer appreciation for the presence of law in local society and its use by common people, there remain important issues to clarify about the significance of law. In European state-making narratives, the provision of law was a key element in the consolidation of centralizing power — kings sought to replace more local courts with king’s law as the proper jurisdiction for adjudicating disputes. The king’s law was as much a sign of his authority as of his ability to raise ever larger amounts of taxes. It was centralizing states that synthesized and


codified legal practices in a more uniform and consistent manner; much of this process depended on recognizing customary practices and making them the basis for law. To create centralizing states, European monarchs turned to lawyers as skilled men who could serve their state-making projects of bureaucratic expansion. Moreover, the relationship between officials on the one hand and elites and common people on the other was often articulated in terms of legal relationships — for instance, contracts were often drawn up to specify agreements between a territorial ruler and urban elites over an of taxes for some set of rights — the ideas of rights, liberties and representation were conveyed by legal principles. In China, there is little sign of customs or formal legal relationships playing such important roles; the provision of law and justice was not enmeshed in a constellation of political ideas or institutions similar to those of Europe. Law does not appear to be as central to defining the relationships between the ruler and his elites and commoner subjects, as it was in Europe. Before considering Chinese law let me briefly sketch the ways in which Chinese officials did engage elites and common people.

exchange however, directly,

As important means to secure social stability within a Neo-

Confucian agenda for rule, officials and elites began, in the twelfth century, to promote a number of local institutions, including village compacts and schools. The relative importance of officials and elites to the creation and maintenance of these fluctuated over time. In general, periods of strong state initiative were marked by larger official efforts to foster institutions of local order. There was also an important spatial variation to official and elite efforts. As the abundant eighteenth-century evidence clearly shows, officials played less of a role in richer parts of the empire where elites were expected to shoulder these responsibilities and more of a role in poorer, often peripheral, parts of particular provinces and the empire as a whole. The state’s capacity to reach into society depended on elites acting in concert to implement a Neo-Confucian agenda of local rule. The structural complementarity of officials and elites as the actors promoting these institutions of local order problematizes efforts to consider European categories of ‘public sphere’ and ‘civil society’ as frames of reference for Qing China (Wong 1993; Wong 1997: 105–26). This complementarity doesn’t mean, of course, that official and elite preferences and goals were always the same. Elites constructed

granaries, institutions

realms of activity beyond this agenda. For their parts, officials a continuum of activities ranging from those the state to those it restricted; between the extremes lay an area of shifting size, within which were found activities pursued by elites and common people that officials could usually tolerate. Law fails to fit neatly within this Neo-Confucian framework for local order, for two sets of reasons. First, in Qing-dynasty China, the state’s statutory law focused much concern on regulating social practices through the threat of punishment. Penal law directly moral exhortations to live in ways deemed proper by a Confucian social logic. When people failed to honour Confucian expectations of acceptable behavior, they were to be punished according to the severity of the crime, defined in part by the between the perpetrator and the victim in a Confucian social order. Punishments aimed to put back in balance a moral social order. Only officials had the authority to use violence and torture, not elites.

perceived promoted



Second, as many commentators on Chinese law observe, officials

expected much dispute-resolution to take place informally without matters reaching the county magistrate and his court. Among those disputes that did reach the court, many were still settled through mediation rather than by court verdict. Were law part of the Neo-Confucian agenda for creating local social order like granaries, schools and village compacts, we might expect officials to rely more on informal mechanisms of mediation in economically richer and socially more complex situations. At first glance, it seems that Philip Huang’s suggestion — of Qing law working in simpler social situations, more innocent of commercialization and social change than was typical of many parts of the eighteenth-century empire — might support such a set of possibilities ( Huang 1996: 139–70). But that turns out to be false; we don’t clearly find informal elite activities solving the problems intended to be addressed in courts in economically prosperous areas. Law was not conceived as an instrument of social order in the same manner as various local NeoConfucian institutions. There was a sharper conceptual gap between officials and their law on the one hand and elites and their informal mediation on the other than obtained for Neo-Confucian institutions of local order. Statutory law and principles of mediation distinguished official and elite roles from each other in a way not found among principles for Neo-Confucian institutions of local order. As a

consequence, it is more difficult, in many ways, to assess the range of formal and informal adjudication mechanisms in Qing China than it is to recognize a basic continuum between formal and informal institutions of local social order. Not surprisingly, therefore, analysts disagree on how best to characterize the nature of Qing law. Philip Huang, for instance, has proposed fundamental distinctions

between magistrates’ decisions according to formal law and the informal mediation within communities and by elites according to informal conceptions of justice. He further suggests that formal law and informal mediation meet in a ‘third realm’ distinct from either of the other two. As part of an effort to paint stark contrasts, Huang creates a series of ‘paradoxes’ between ‘representation’ (by which he means the categories of law which don’t include clear definitions of property or civil disputes) and ‘practice’, which includes adjudication of both property issues and other disputes, especially regarding marriage related matters and loans. He ends up endorsing what he calls ‘Weber’s tentatively paradoxical formulations’. Combining Weberian categories in an unusual way, Huang states, ‘The Qing legal and political systems can be seen as a combination of patrimonial-substantive representations with bureaucratic-rational practices’ ( Huang 1996: 236). His interpretation moves from the construction of ‘paradoxes’, that is, phenomena that cannot be easily explained within western categories, to their resolution by a redeployment of Weberian theoretical categories. Several Chinese and Japanese scholars have taken issue with Huang’s interpretation. Liang Zhiping’s study of Qing customary law rejects the ‘third realm’ as unclearly defined and empirically inapplicable to the Qing dynasty (Liang 1996). In contrast to Huang’s insistence that magistrates made decisions according to state law, Shiga Shuzo has shown ways in which magistrates used principles of to achieve settlements acceptable to both parties (Shiga 1996). Liang stresses the ways in which customary law regarding property transactions, marriage disputes and loans all develop out of practices. The development of this kind of law is part of the broader dynamics of social and economic change. For Liang, customary law and statutory law are linked in ways that make any simple conceptual division between them empirically false. He further agrees with Shiga Shuzo that magistrate decisions are much more connected to informal mediation than Huang believes. Shiga explains how the magistrate’s decision was less a judgement than



a mediated settlement because he had to persuade both sides to accept the court’s decision. The sharpness of the debate between Huang, Liang and Shiga derives in part from competing understandings of the relative of formal state law and informal principles of mediation to the adjudication of disputes. A partial resolution to the debate may come through a recognition that both formal and informal mechanisms were present in varying degrees in different legal decisions. This is not an issue of choosing between the two perspectives as substitutes, but rather of seeing that both were potentially present in any given decision and could in fact complement rather than substitute for each other. Beyond the magistrate’s proceedings themselves, the themes stressed by Liang and Shiga support a vision of complementary of formal and informal adjudication that make sharp divides between the state and social actors, a divide in part created by law in European history, seem foreign to the Qing situation. Important differences between the Qing and Europe have been recently exposed by Jerome Bourgon (Bourgon 1999). He explains the very different relationship between customs and law in Chinese history, compared to that found in Europe, where state-makers gained control over local areas by recognizing and codifying popular customs and making them the basis of law. The weakness of wouldbe state-makers made it imperative for them to accept local customs as the basis of law in a manner that was simply not the case for the Chinese. To the contrary, ‘customs’ were the object of control and by officials. Customs, thus, never had the autonomy from state intervention in Chinese history that they enjoyed for the preceding state-making initiatives in European history. The efforts by the state to fix customs were not, of course, always successful. Melissa Macauley has shown just how intractable the of land property transmission was during the eighteenth century in the southeastern province of Fujian, where parties frequently the conditions under which the use of a piece of land could be re-acquired by the party who had previously parted with such use for some sum of money. Officials aimed to simplify the conditions these land transfers and to reduce the number of ambiguous situations in which it made sense to parties to bring suit in order to seek advantage (Macauley 1998: 228–78). What matters for my argument here is less the success or failure of state efforts than the presumed role of the state to straighten out ‘customary practices’ in



correction centuries problem disputed governing

a manner it deems sensible and proper. While there certainly could be conflict between state aspirations and popular practices, the logic is one in which state efforts aim to guide and standardize through active interaction with popular practices. The results were expected to be ones where officials and elites could play complementary roles because their perspectives on issues would be similar, if not the same. This is quite different from European customary law, where we find the active co-optation of custom into law and the substitution of local practices by governmental principles. The dynamics are different. The Chinese state’s effort to systematize and regularize customary practices into law has a partial parallel to the state’s efforts to manage popular religious practices. Beyond a set of deities that the state insisted on receiving recognition, officials were eager to co-opt deities enjoying popular belief as part of an officially approved pantheon. At the same time, officials were vigilant in circumscribing the worship of deities deemed dangerous for their ability to incite people to and potentially oppose the established order. In between the of some popular deities and the periodic prohibition of a handful of others, there existed a largely untamed landscape of other popular religious figures whose worship the state tolerated as long as such activities did not openly collide with official visions of proper beliefs. Similarly, perhaps, some practices became customary law, while a few others were decried and outlawed; at the same time, many others existed in a realm of activities that were neither supported nor prohibited. Creating customary law and linking it to statutory law was part of a larger state effort to order society by molding social practices, but people had their own private uses for the law. As Melissa Macauley and Madeleine Yue’s works have shown, people, including officials, used litigation as a means to advance their interests at the expense of others (Macauley 1998; Yue 1995). In so doing, they subverted the purposes to which law was put by officials. From the vantage point of contemporary Euro-American of law, it isn’t surprising that people would seek to use the law instrumentally to serve their own purposes; nor is it shocking to discover that powerful people are able to use the law in ways that poor people cannot. In our interest-based societies, the pursuit of individual or group interests is assumed and the law is understood to be one vehicle through which this can be accomplished. Indeed, we


mobilize cooptation


imagine formal legal mechanisms to be intended to mediate among

interests and, through this process, for social order to be maintained. Our ability to make this assumption develops out of a tradition in which much of law was historically directly about interests, about their specification and protection. Elites were anxious to protect

their ‘liberties’ and ‘freedoms’ that were under attack by monarchs’ and negotiated to protect them; a legal dimension to the framing of relations between monarchs, and their elites was, not


surprisingly, going to focus on these interests. What is difficult for

us to accept, both because of what European history teaches us and how our contemporary lives are structured, is that the use of the law to negotiate public and private interests, between people as well as with the state is only one way in which law can be conceived. In Europe, there was a general trend of the king’s law displacing

courts and law at lower levels; in addition, there was an increasing incorporation of custom into law. The net result of these processes was the substitution of more formal institutions for less formal ones, most

of which recognized ‘interests’ as basic. In Qing China, in contrast, there was statutory law promulgated by the imperial government that was joined for non-criminal issues by local custom and practices, to provide guidelines for magistrates to render decisions.

Imperial law doesn’t seek to displace some other sources of law but to complement and anchor efforts at mediation and dispute resolution through local customs. Different kinds of state transformations follow from the dynamics typical of these Chinese and European situations for

law. When we turn to issues of economic change, issues of interest are prominent in both China and Europe, but the importance of law and other formal institutions compared to informal social institutions appears to differ.

Facilitating Economic Development: Formal and Informal Mechanisms The new institutional economics stresses property rights because it envisions the specification of enforceable property rights to be the basic means to create growth. Transaction costs can be reduced, thereby allowing more efficient use of resources on ever-larger scales.

Enforceable property rights presume a state with not only a well-articulated set of laws but also the infrastructural capacity to make people obey

them. The basic achievement of secure property rights is to reduce

risks encountered when entering into contracts with people one doesn’t know well. The new institutional economics often makes it seem as if formal property rights regimes are the only way risks can be reduced and hence transactions increased. But historically,

in medieval Europe as well as in late imperial China, it turns out that trust between individuals could be achieved through informal networks that promoted common standards and expectations of credible and acceptable behaviour. In the Qing dynasty, both kinship groups and native place

associations provided opportunities for individuals to forge

connections in which expectations were reinforced by networks of social relations. Whenever some commercial venture came to require more

than just a few people, individuals often turned to relatives outside the immediate family to find additional personnel. Kinship networks provided a considerable pool of people for whom social bases of accountability existed quite separately from those of state law. Kin

could be trusted with commodities in long-distance trade because they were tied to each other by more than the specific transactions themselves, and thus would have fewer incentives to cheat than people without such ties would have. But kinship networks could

not on their own create a large enough pool of people within which a merchant and his relatives might find people with whom to do business. To increase the numbers of commercial relations that could be entered into with a higher degree of trust than would

otherwise exist in the absence of effective formal state institutions, the Chinese relied upon native place associations. These located in different cities where people from the same locale


could expect to make contacts with people from their home areas,

performed a variety of social as well as economic functions. In some cases, there was an overlap between occupation and native place association; sometimes a native place association might include several discrete occupations. Beyond these occupational

functions, native place associations were information nodes for new immigrants. Such associations could help immigrants in making the transition to a new environment, thus making possible migrations that would otherwise be far more difficult. For the purposes of this

essay, the most relevant activities of native place associations to look at are those related to economic activities, production, trade and finding work.3

Dealing with kinsmen and people from the same native place helped reduce risk in many commercial transactions, but merchants in the Qing empire, like those in other places, still found it necessary to deal with people who were neither relatives nor members of the same native place associations. In these situations especially, they faced the problems of assuring performance by others as written in contracts. Usually, contracts stipulated a middleman, often from the same guild or native place association, who guaranteed a person’s meeting contractual obligations. Beyond these kinds of guarantees, a merchant could reduce the likelihood of contractual problems by dealing with merchants with reputations for honesty. Not therefore, merchants were counselled by writers of merchant handbooks to develop good reputations. Being known as honest, fair and trustworthy was a sound strategy for increasing business (Lufrano 1997).

surprisingly, What is striking about the general range of mechanisms

employed by Chinese merchants to reduce risks in commercial transactions is the absence of state adjudication and enforcement. This

is quite distinct from saying the Chinese didn’t use contracts. We are learning about many social and spiritual arenas as well as ones in which the Chinese, even when dealing with close kin, used contracts (Hansen 1995). What we don’t see is frequent court litigation over contracts regarding long-distance trade. From a European perspective,this seems counter-intuitive, for just as we expect state-formation to be accompanied by the imposition of amounts of rule-governed behaviour, we expect economic change to depend on legally specified and enforced property rights and contract law. Informal mechanisms lacking state-enacted legal procedures were adequate in China to facilitate tremendous expansion of long-distance trade. A combination of occupational guilds, native place associations and contracts with middleman guarantors made an increasing number of transactions possible frequent recourse to courts. To the surprise of those looking at the Chinese situation from a European perspective, recent has shown us a considerable number of legal disputes centred on property exchanges and transmissions as well as others concerning loans. If these latter sorts of economic matters became subjects of litigation, why not the merchants’ commercial transactions? Here is a possible explanation. First, parties to trading had many incentives to honour their commitments. Sometimes this was because their commercial commitments were with people



without scholarship transactions

with whom they expected to do business again. Even if not, their

reputation for fair business could be associated with their guild or native place ties; failure to sustain honest practices may have their position in these voluntary associations. In short,


people intending to do repeated business transactions had strong

incentives to act in a manner to promote such activity — they didn’t need a county magistrate and the state’s formal law to encourage them to honour their contracts. In contrast, people who entered legal cases regarding land transmissions or loans were not people seeking

to resolve activities that they performed on a routine or repeated basis, but rather people troubled by an unusual if not, for them, unique situation. Their self-interest lay in achieving justice in the specific situation for which a lawsuit had been started. Moreover, it

was easier for courts to gather information on, and judge the merit of, local disputes. Cases that would have emerged from long-distance trade would have been more difficult to adjudicate because the court would likely need information from parties located in widely

separate places. A second reason for the modest state role in commercial disputes

in the Qing dynasty is revealed when we consider more carefully the relationship between customary commercial practices and the state

in both the Qing dynasty and early modern Europe. Both European and Chinese merchants developed customary practices to promote their commercial activities. A larger difference concerns the ways in which these activities were related to officials. In European cases,

the development of commercial law and the adjudication by of their own disputes was done on the basis of legal authority, authority that merchants themselves often had a major hand in

merchants creating. Analytically, the provision of law by merchants themselves, and

later by governments, was a process of substitution made plausible because political authorities had initially recognized the capacity of merchants to engage in legal activities regarding commerce. In China, there was no such relationship between government leaders and

merchants, no similar logic of authority and, consequently, it would not prove as easy conceptually to create a substitution at a later point in time. The Qing state expected the rules of lineages and merchant groups

to follow the same general Confucian precepts that officials used in their principles and practices of governing. From the vantage point

of the state, merchant-group regulation of business activity the activities undertaken by officials, or those undertaken by elites or lineages to promote policies designed to assure social order. From the merchant’s point of view, officials were often to be avoided for fear that engaging officials with their commercial problems could provide officials with the pretext to extract funds from them. So, Chinese merchants had both incentives to solve their own and a reluctance to engage officials. From a broader perspective, nevertheless, officials recognized the importance of merchant capacities to manage their own disputes, and could consider such efforts as part of the larger project of officials and elites to create and sustain social order.



Despite the reluctance smaller merchants appear to have had in

turning to officials for adjudicating their disputes, the eighteenthcentury state did not prey upon commercial wealth to the same degree as was often the case in early modern Europe. Perhaps European merchants could expect their states to create stronger property rights regimes because these states themselves were so interested in extracting revenues from these merchants. Commercial revenues were less important to the Qing state, at least before 1850. The state used voluntary merchant organizations as vehicles through which it collected routine levies and extraordinary taxes. From the official point of view, this taxation function was part of a larger expectation that merchants would help maintain social order (S. Mann 1987). Officials lacked the infrastructural capacity to regulate merchants more closely. The lack of an intrusive state meant that merchants had fewer incentives to delineate their sphere of authority more sharply from the state. The likelihood of legal or other forms of selfdefinition and protection were lower than they were in European settings. Qing officials could expect to use merchant organizations to raise taxes and keep social order, extending their capacity to rule through informal mechanisms, at the same time as these mechanisms facilitated economic growth without a large government role. Europeans developed formal mechanisms for promoting economic expansion. In part, governments did so for self-interested reasons. In order to make increasingly large claims on merchants, European states either sought to establish government monopolies from which they received rents, or they sought to more clearly delineate and minimize risk in trade transactions, in order to have an ever-growing base to tax. As Douglass North has repeatedly stressed, the different

choices had larger implications for the possibilities of economic growth

of different European states. Spain did more poorly than England because it relied on rent-seeking rather than property-rights Quite separate from these formal institutional developments


that favoured economic growth were informal mechanisms that

facilitated long-distance trade. Among the most famous were those of the Italian city-states in the sixteenth century that guaranteed both personal and group reliability of merchants. Some substitutions of formal for informal institutions occurred in the succeeding three

centuries, but even in the nineteenth century the family networks utilized by the Rothschilds clearly mattered to their commercial expansion. The differences between the ranges of formal and informal institutions in Chinese and European commercial situations can thus

be easily exaggerated. Closing the gap further, research on Chinese law has pointed out that the Chinese had a much more developed property-rights regime than we had previously imagined. These

important correctives to earlier, more stark, contrasts encourage us to specify more precisely what, if any, important differences remain between the use of law in the Chinese and European cases of commercial expansion. Substitution and Complementarity of Formal and Informal Institutions The differences I’ve been sketching in this article concern the

differences between substitutability and the complementarity of formal

and informal mechanisms. In the former case, which more clearly describes European possibilities, some formal and informal are developed independently of each other. While certainly


there are connections between them, it is the ability to move back and forth between them and to change the relative reliance on either of them as conditions change that marks European cases. Moreover, there is a general shift, for many activities, from informal

mechanisms to formal institutions, which is an even more important feature of substitutability. At the same time, there usually are sharp distinctions between what is formal and what is informal so that the shift from informal to formal is clearly part of the state-making

process for many activities as well as part of the development of capitalism as an economic system.

The Chinese case of complementarity between formal and

informal mechanisms helps us understand how the Chinese empire was ordered and how its economy could grow despite the absence of the kinds of structures we expect in the European case. While between the formal and informal institutions can, in be easily drawn, the historical relationships between them deserve more careful analysis. I pose, as a hypothesis, the possibility that there is a complementarity of formal and informal institutions in late imperial China where a substitutability between the same is more common in early modern Europe. Substitutability assumes a prior but creates possibilities for greater flexibility and change because one kind of mechanism can more completely displace the other for particular purposes. In particular, formal mechanisms create common standards and norms, as well as support their while informal practices sustain greater degrees of diversity. The shift from less formal to more formal institutions in Europe is commonly associated with the centralizing of power and authority by a larger territorial state at the expense of a multitude of smaller political units. Compared to an agrarian empire, we see how the European processes of centralization worked on a limited spatial scale. It is far more difficult to imagine moving from informal to formal mechanisms on an empire-wide basis. On this spatial scale, it is the complementary use of both formal and informal practices that creates the possibilities for rule. Certainly ‘indirect’ in key ways, imperial rule also included crucial ‘direct’ official impacts on the local social order.

distinctions principle,

complementarity, implementation,


Political Campaigns and Formal and Informal Mechanisms of Rule Formal institutions of rule, such as law and rule-governed allow the effective emergence of routine government. Departures from routine procedures in the contemporary world oftenrequire suspension of certain laws and the redefinition of certain bureaucratic powers. Yet, in ordinary times, present-day conventionally have far greater powers and authorities than the governments of two or three centuries ago. The paradigmatic European cases define this process of modern state-making. In a range of European cases we see, among other phenomena, the of various informal and often local mechanisms of rule




by formal and spatially extensive institutions of rule, including both law and bureaucracy. On the other hand, the Qing state had an impressive bureaucracy, vertically integrated across some five levels of administration, with functionally specific bureaucracies for particular activities spanning a territory as vast as Europe and its many independent states. Large compendia of administrative rules and regulations framed Chinese official decision making on complex and diverse topics ranging from funeral customs to taxation and public works. Yet the reach of the Chinese state was quite modest, given the vast extent of the empire. There were constraints of technologies of communication and transportation, and the organizational limitations of bureaucratic decision-making and implementation. To meet these limitations, the eighteenth-century state depended greatly on Confucian elites to shoulder part of the burden of creating and sustaining institutions of local social order that made up the Neo-Confucian agenda of rule already discussed briefly above. The complementary nature of official and elite efforts meant that the institutions they created were neither simply nor informal; rather, they spanned a continuum between formal and informal. The same quality of transcending a binary contrast of formal institutions and informal mechanisms applies as well to political campaigns in the Qing dynasty. The implementation of the Neo-Confucian agenda for social order depended on campaign-like mobilizations of resources and manpower. Our image of the activist nature of eighteenth-century emperors rests at least in part upon the implementation of campaignlike initiatives in civilian government. These campaigns mobilized men and resources across the divide between formal and informal institutions of rule, in ways that once again show the assumption of complementarity among formal and informal bases of rule. Consider briefly two arenas, those of surveillance and subsistence security, in which campaigns alert us to some important characteristics of the eighteenth-century Qing state. While routine surveillance of people could not keep track of all their activities, the emperor could mount massive official efforts to root out extraordinary dangers. The Qianlong emperor may have been especially likely to anticipate trouble because he was sensitive to indications that Manchu authority was not being properly respected. We know that he was certainly determined to affirm the distinctiveness of Manchu rule (Crossley 1997: 122–30). His anxieties



erupted in a 1768 scare that sorcerers were stealing people’s spirits

by cutting off their queues, a symbol of Manchu authority. The Qianlong emperor set in motion an elaborate effort to search out and arrest those believed responsible for this activity. To do so, he mobilized his officials to make extraordinary efforts to identify

possible problems. In the end, the scare was nothing more than a scare and the campaign to find the perpetrators became awkward, since no perpetrators were found, and it was difficult to admit that such individuals did not exist (Kuhn 1990). Other state campaigns had

somewhat different results. A second example of campaigns comes from food supply management issues. The granary system depended for its expansion on periodic campaigns to mobilize and store additional amounts of grain. These succeeded between the late

seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries in amassing hundreds upon hundreds of tons of grain. The challenge of creating routine maintenance and supervision proved, in some ways, more difficult than mobilizing men and resources for campaigns to establish

granaries and subsequent campaigns to augment their reserves. Nevertheless, the government made great efforts, through the first half of the eighteenth century, to expand its routine use of granary capacities. Serious questioning of the system, especially in 1748,

was later followed by renewed efforts to expand stocks in many provinces. These campaigns succeeded in ways the routine use of granary reserves did not, because as the system expanded in scale, its routine use became increasingly complex. By the end of the

eighteenth century, both the Jiaqing emperor and many officials believed that the granary system was too complex; community in particular were left more fully in elite hands without official


oversight. Institutional fragility led to more permanent decline; no

more large-scale campaigns were mounted to rebuild reserves across the empire (Will and Wong 1991). Nineteenth-century campaigns had other more familiar concerns: foreign threats and domestic rebellions. Campaign initiatives of the Qing state often required the

mobilization of extraordinary revenues. But unlike seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European state-builders who sought to routinize

initially extraordinary sources of taxation, the Qing state preferred

to maintain a low statutory rate of land taxation; in addition, there were various land surtaxes and other taxes on an as-needed basis,

which, before the mid-nineteenth century, did not become a constant basis. Many specific institutions of local order, including granaries, schools and the baojia system of household registration for mutual surveillance were created through intensive efforts but unlikely to be sustained at a high level of effectiveness for more than a few decades without infusions of resources and organizational energy. The combination of civilian campaigns and fragile institutions creates superficially contradictory images of an aggressive and interventionist state on the one hand and a weak and ineffective, even barely present, state on the other. Both images have their foundation in realities that vary both spatially and temporally across the empire. In general, the eighteenth-century state was more activist toward local social order than its nineteenth-century state efforts were more salient in the peripheries of provinces, regions and the empire than in economic and political cores. But even when eighteenth-century officials embarked on major to promote domestic social order, they recognized a tension between increased official efforts and reliance upon local elites and communities to be more self-regulating and self-sustaining. The Yongzheng emperor’s expansion of official interventions led to some routinization of expanded official responsibilities in the early Qianlong reign, but, by the 1760s and 1770s, officials were more likely to rely upon elites and communities to manage local institutions on their own. To recognize a continuum of complementary efforts doesn’t mean there weren’t competing and changing ideas about how the division was to be made. The bursts of government energy that made sharply visible the presence of official activities to large numbers of people were often prompted by imperial decisions. The ability of eighteenth-century emperors to invoke large-scale bureaucratic responses to their directives evokes for outside observers images of autocracy and despotism. But we should note, as well, the limited duration of these intensive government-led campaigns and the uneven results they produced — uneven by design as much as by default. Neither the emperor nor his officials generally favoured expanding the government’s tax base beyond what was deemed minimally necessary. The limited temporal duration of political and of much of the financing associated with them means that the abilities and intentions for what some observers have as despotic behavior were less present than we might expect.

successor; campaigns

institutionalized campaigns conceived

At the same time, the repeated mounting of political campaigns for a wide variety of purposes means that images of a lumbering and ineffective state, distant from the people and largely irrelevant to them, also fail to focus on the full range of activities undertaken by the government. The crucial importance of political campaigns to the Qing strategies of government undermines two additional contrasts. First, there is a contrast between ‘arbitrary’ power and ‘infrastructural’ power as alternative forms of political power (M. Mann 1986). We tend to think of the capacity of rulers to their personal whims to be the opposite of bureaucratically organized power-generating rule-governed operations. But what the example of the Qing state suggests is a far more complementary relationship between the two forms of power. The eighteenthcentury government bureaucracy responds to a range of initiatives, those prompted by the emperor being among the most important. For their parts, the Qing emperors increased and improved the structures through which they could amass information from and deliberate on appropriate policy choices across a wide range of subjects. Imperial capacities for effective intervention crucially on expanding bureaucratic infrastructures. Such interventions were ‘arbitrary’, in the sense that they were not simple outcomes of law-like rules, but they were not often ‘arbitrary’ in the sense of being taken on whim and without careful reasoning. A second binary between ‘extraordinary’ and ‘routine’ operations is also undermined by Qing state activities. Chinese bureaucratic infrastructures expanded in the eighteenth century, but these were not utilized in the same manner from year to year. Many activities, including some of those associated with water control and food supply management, were too infrequent to be labelled annual or ‘routine’, and yet they took place more commonly than seems to fit the conventional meaning of ‘extraordinary’. The repeated use of political campaigns and their different institutional outcomes fall along a continuum, with routine and extraordinary as simply the two distant endpoints. By the late nineteenth century, there were important social and economic changes, resulting in part from engagement with One of the key features of these changes was an elaboration of new social networks and associational forms. These changed the relationships between informal and formal mechanisms of control.

dynasty’s binary


officials depended



Where previously there had been a complementary relationship, there were increasing efforts, beginning with late nineteenth-century

elites, to demarcate a separate space for social actors and to redefine more explicitly the relationship they enjoyed with the state. But this was not a set of changes that officials were anxious to support. In general, they remained in favour of elites and their informal

activities extending the reach of the state. Consider briefly an example from the late Qing campaign to suppress opium. The state’s strategy for suppressing opium depended fundamentally on mobilizing gentry elites to share in this project of recreating a social order morally reinvigorated by the eradication of the opium blight. In pursuit of this end, the government promoted the founding of anti-opium societies to be headed by gentry leaders. Gentry elites had been entrusted with the Neo-

Confucian agenda for local order in earlier centuries; they were now called upon to combat a threat to social order as great as any danger the empire had ever experienced. By the late nineteenth century, gentry elites had come to play more formal roles in politics


and social life. The formation of assemblies and various new societies marked the greater participation of elites in politics, and a contest

between elites and the state over the definition of elite roles in governing. The government wanted to mobilize elite support for promoting social order, without sanctioning a more formal political role with enhanced and specified powers.4 Thus, a set of government


on opium suppression with regard to anti-opium societies states: ‘Such society shall be purely for the anti-opium smoking, and

the society shall not discuss any other matter, such as political questions bearing on topical affairs or local administration, or any similar matter’ (International Opium Commission 1909, Vol. 2: 81). Another set of regulations called on all local officials to ‘instruct reputable gentry and merchants in their jurisdictions to organize Anti-Opium Associations and to publish pamphlets and magazines in simple

language to exhort people to break off opium smoking. These publications should not interfere with politics or subjects outside of their province’ (Ibid.: 85). From the government’s point of view, these anti-opium associations were an extension of government capacity and commitments to eradicate opium use. Indeed, a 1906 edict granted anti-opium societies ‘full authority to enter any place

for examination and placed at their disposal officers to enforce their demands for admittance or to make arrests where ordered by such committees’ (Ibid.: 115).

Political campaigns depended on a combination of formal and informal mechanisms of rule. Late imperial Chinese patterns of rule

depended more generally on both formal and informal mechanisms. There was certainly variation across space and changes over time regarding the particular constellations of formal and informal deployed with respect to specific situations. Moreover, there


were clearly disagreements among officials and elites regarding their respective roles, as well as their uses of formal and informal means

to pursue competing goals and interests. The framework offered in this essay could be elaborated on another occasion to consider those contests more closely and to look at other examples. I will conclude this essay by looking briefly at twentieth-century China and suggesting some implications of the approach I have employed

for considering the Ottoman empire.

Concluding Speculations The relationship between formal and informal mechanisms of order have changed in twentieth-century China, in part due to foreign-induced processes. But the persistence of the earlier logic — of formal and informal mechanisms as complements along


a continuum rather than as substitutes separated by demarcated

spaces more typical of western social scenarios — means that the trajectory of twentieth-century Chinese political change has been

subject to two vectors. The western vector has been been well studied, the Chinese less so. But for the actual trajectory to be plotted, both

vectors need to be recovered and their mutual influence explored. As for economic matters, late imperial economic expansion in large measure on informal mechanisms, with formal

depended mechanisms complementing them in ways conducive to expanding and

sustaining an agrarian empire. In the first half of the twentieth century, new formal mechanisms were proclaimed and economic expansion was due in part to new processes and institutional practices imported from the West; but the uncertain connections

between these new mechanisms and earlier indigenous ones created a confused situation in which the degree of integration between

countryside and city and among different regions may well have been less than had existed in late imperial times. The post-1949 state created a political economy in which few of the informal

mechanisms of the late empire or formal mechanisms of the Republic were retained. Since 1978, a new effort to construct formal and informal

mechanisms for economic growth has been undertaken, but this time there isn’t the same degree of complementarity between formal and informal mechanisms — accusations of corruption related to the use of guanxi, or connections instead of activities conducted according to formal rules, have marred development possibilities. Considering both the political and economic themes in this paper,

there are few reasons to anticipate that the relationship between formal and informal mechanisms for creating social order and economic expansion will be the same in the Ottoman empire as those in the Qing empire. But we might hypothesize that mechanisms have to be more important the larger the spatial scale of a polity, especially before the mid-nineteenth century, when the technologies of communication and transportation began to make it easier for states to reach more broadly and deeply into Sorting out how informal and formal mechanisms are related to each other could prove a fruitful approach to examining the Ottoman experience, if my sketch of such an approach for the Qing dynasty has some merit. We could compare the spatial and functional dimensions of formal bureaucracy, contrasting patterns of official recruitment, relations with local elites and capacities for different kinds of action. We might also consider the ways in which informal mechanisms created by local customs become more structured, with the nature of the relationships between these mechanisms and formal government rule being a crucial nexus. Such an approach might succeed in identifying both the common challenges faced by large-scale empires such as the Ottoman and Qing empires, and the distinctive capacities developed to address these challenges. How states in each empire responded to the opportunities and offered by commercial expansion and broader economic changes might alert us to ways in which their longer-run political trajectories differed. Of course, many other factors not part of the approach I’m outlining certainly matter to comparisons of empire, including the contextual differences that define quite distinctive sets of political challenges, such as the Ottomans facing European powers, and the Manchus facing both sedentary Chinese and a range of Inner Asian peoples.

promoting informal



Whatever we learn from comparing these two agrarian empires

with each other, the Qing case already suggests possible implications for social theory. The standard story of how formal and informal are increasingly demarcated from each other, with the substitution

of one for the other regarding particular activities, seems

particularly powerful for explaining changes in European, and later in

American, history. The Qing case suggests that formal and informal

mechanisms can be complements rather than substitutes and exist

along a continuum rather than in two distinctly demarcated spheres. Accommodating the greater variety of possible relationships formal and informal mechanisms seems a desirable

between development, if social theory is to escape the limits of its European past

and make good on its aspirations to account for patterns of historical change on a global scale.

Notes 1. A second set of problems about which I’ll say little here concerns the many misunderstandings of the European past that derive from the view offered by typical social theories. 2. For a direct comparison of the patterns of Chinese and European political and economic change, see Wong (1997). 3. One of the striking features of Chinese native place associations was the degree to which they represented different spatial scales of ‘native’; in general, the further away the migrant place or the smaller its size, the larger the spatial catchment area of the native place association. This suggests some effort to create networks of some minimal size in order to be useful. 4. Interpreting the growing formalization of political and social roles for elites in late Qing China has been the subject of some debate. Some scholars see a process of political and social change parallel to the European development of a ‘public sphere’. I have argued for crucial between the Chinese and European cases (Wong 1993). The



nature of official and elite efforts to suppress opium conform to those

distinctions between European cases, where an effort is made to demarcate rights and claims as elites wage battle to limit state penetration, and a

Chinese situation, in which elites and officials share a common agenda for social order despite conflict and competition over defining their roles.

specific References Bourgon, Jerome. 1999. ‘La coutume et le droit en Chine a la fin de l’empire.’ Annales HSS 5: 1073–107. Crossley, Pamela Kyle. 1997. The Manchus . Cambridge, MA : Blackwell Publishers.

Hansen, Valerie. 1995. Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China: How Ordinary People Used Contracts 600–1400. New Haven: Yale University Press. Huang, Philip. 1996. Civil Justice in China: Representation and Practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. International Opium Commission. 1909. Report of the International Opium Commission, Shanghai, China. February 1 to February 26, 1909. London: P. S. King and Son. Kuhn, Philip . 1990. Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Liang Zhiping. 1996. Qingdai xiguan fa: shehui yu guojia (Qing dynasty Customary law: society and state) Beijing: Zhongguo zhengfa daxue

chubanshe. Lufrano, Richard. 1997. Honorable Merchants: Commerce and Selfcultivation in Late Imperial China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Macauley, Melissa. 1998. Social Power and Legal Culture: Litigation Masters in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Mann, Michael. 1986. The Sources of Social Power: A History of Power from the Beginning to A.D. 1760. New York: Cambridge University Press. Mann, Susan. 1987. Local Merchants and the Chinese Bureaucracy, 1750–1950. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Shiga Shuzo. 1996. ‘Shindai no minji saiban ni tsuite’ (On civil adjudication in the Qing dynasty).’ Chu–goku shakai to bunka 12: 226–52. Will, Pierre-Etienne and R. Bin Wong. 1991. Nourish the People: The

State Civilian Granary System in China, 1650–1850. Ann Arbor:


of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies. Wong, R. Bin. 1993. ‘ Great Expectations: The “Public Sphere” and the Search for Modern Times in Chinese History.’ Chu–gokushi gaku 3: 7–50. ———. 1997. China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Yue, Madeleine. 1995. ‘Communities and Communication: A Study of the Case of Yang Naiwu, 1873–77.’ Late Imperial China 16 (1): 79–119.

8 Heaven and the Administration of Things: Some Remarks on Law in the Tanzimat Era Şerif Mardin

Introduction How Muslims — and in that connection — Ottoman Muslims make sense of the pattern of values which frame their everyday life, and how they learn to play the game of socializing is often explained in terms of their religious beliefs or ritual practices. Often, the regulatory of Islam are seen as extensions of commands originating in the text of the Qur’an. These general explanations about Islamic societies, in which religion is given a justified prominence, rarely go on to look at the infinitely complex finer meshes which together make up what we may call Islamic culture. At that level, we a sophisticated world of juridical practices, differentiated spheres setting the field for the performance of hermeneutical skills and an interpretation between the elaboration of an understanding of Islamic values and the language of the Qur’an. The gap between the invocation of Islam as an explanatory key and the specificity of the processes it subsumes is a void which even the best intentioned anthropologists have had difficulty filling, primarily because of the limitation of the use of language as a different type of tool in their own society — let alone the linguistic insufficiency of many of these scholars (Gerber 1994: 26–29, 50–54). Islamic society allows Doctors of Islamic Law to bring in their own original interpretation of the law in specific instances, something Max Weber, despite — or maybe because — of his legal background, never understood. This is a second level at which modern western scholars of Islam encounter difficulties which traditional Islamists of an orientalistic background never had to face. But the most misconstruction of Islam appears when an expert on Islam attempts to describe Ottoman society. In such endevaours, the fact that the Ottoman state used the training of Doctor of Islamic Law






for the very purpose of administration, and that the magistrates felt themselves to be an intrinsic part of the mechanism of the state, is a characteristic which is seldom retrieved. The idea is that the judicial everywhere is a faint copy of the western judiciary. I attempt here to underscore all of these elements. But I believe

that for Turks of today the most important aspect of my theme is the fact that the centralizing — also secularizing — drive of the Ottoman reform movement known as the Tanzimat (1839–1876) not only disrupted the pyramid of the employment of the Ulama (Doctor of Islamic Law) but also dismissed an extraordinarily culture, in the absence of which all modern Turkish secular culture has suffered, from the grossness of which it is only slowly recovering.

complex In 1962, I published

the first set of Ottoman literati promoted constitutional-representative system in the Ottoman empire ( Mardin 1962 ). The group was formed in the mid18608 and declared it would bear the name of Türkistanm erbab-i şebabi (Young Ottomans), an echo of tliesBarlier 'Young Italy' and 'Young France'. The oppositional activities; of the Young Ottomans lasted not more than a decade. Nevertheless, when the first Ottoman constitution was proclaimed in 1876, this document was due as much to Young Ottoman ideas as to the more pragmatic views of a military junta, which had gone on to dethrone the reigning Sultan to have





Abüdulaziz (1861-1876) in the months preceding the proclamation of the constitution. 1 The move on the part of the military was also the outcome of the even more down-to-earth aim of deflecting an impending European military intervention.


Representative government was an innovation for the Ottomans;

the idea that the subjects of the sultan had a collective voice to be heard was not (Watt 1998, 2000). But the specific form of vox populi as embodied in representative institutions from the West altogether raised important foundational issues of sovereignty and legitimation for Ottoman Muslims. For many centuries in the Ottoman empire, the core of the discourse of legitimate rule had been the sultan’s role as a provider of justice. Justice, in the most abstract sense, was the criterion for deciding whether the sultan’s rule was legitimate ( Tezcan 1996). That there was another foundation of Ottoman government linked to its praxis, namely the acceptance of force as an aspect of legitimated authority, can be seen to constitute the reverse of this coin, but

representative imported

Heaven and the Administration of Things that is another story which shall not be covered here. But 'justice as an essential requirement of rulership' ( Tezcan 1996 : 104), which we may draw out of the political writings of the sixteenth-century Doctor of Islamic Law Kmahzade, one of the most widely used Ottoman 'mirror for princes', is only a very general statement of the workings of Ottoman justice. What the maxim meant in practice can only be retrieved by focusing on its staffing by the ulama and their making up a hierarchical body with a semi-autonomous position once: they had been appointed by the sultan. In this hierarchy of men of religion, a, central place was occupied by the justice of the peace (kadi). The characteristic of the position of the kadi was that it combined an administrative ag well as a, judicial function. The kadi was also the head of air administrative unit. He was the channel for relations between I lie Ottoman state and its subjects, he was responsible for the proclamation of sultanic ordinances (ferman), matters regarding military mobilisation, he followed the application of ordinances in the smaller towns and villages under their jurisdiction, he supervised the imams (prayer leaders] assigned to quarters of towns, he followed the .activities of guilds, he oversaw the exploit0ftion of minerals, and he was in charge of land surveys (Arik 1997 : 25-31). Even though the magistrate was classified in a category separate from that of 'men of the pen' (i.e., bureaucrats attached to the centre) and the military, the Ottoman ulama were, he


nevertheless, part of the body of official structure.

The Ottoman reform movement, which owed much of its impetus

to the Ottoman officials’ alarm at defeats by western armies, was initiated by reformist sultans in the late eighteenth and early century. The movement thereafter acquired a more cogent rationale in what is known as the reform charter of 1839. The sequel to the reform movement, which now took a definitely imitative, western-oriented character, is known as the Tanzimat. It may be said without much exaggeration that, from then on, the higher officials gradually established de facto control of Ottoman government even though monarchs like Sultan Abülaziz did show their frustration by engaging in episodic feats of capriciousness. The somewhat unusual stance adopted by the Young Ottomans the Tanzimat was a protest against the new role of officials. Such an attitude allowed them to remain legitimists with regard to the monarchy, even though constitutionalists in their demand for a parliament.Their primary targets were the implementers of the



policy of reform, to whom they imputed ineptitude and They also advocated the grounding of democratic institutions on Islamic cultural foundations rather than what they saw as a mechanical, vapid imitation of the West. Charles Mismer, a positivist and a secretary of the reforming Grand Vizier Fuad Pas¸a, was already, at that time, advising reformists to incorporate Islam into their scheme but was not heard by his employers (Georgeon 1995: 126–57). The Young Ottomans’ proposal to recapture and reintegrate elements of Islam into the new reformed Turkey is difficult to critically, since it was both a sympathetic gesture to the Muslim population from which they expected support as well as a carefully argued thesis about the richness of the Islam as a religion and a culture. There were also a number of Doctors of Islamic Law who supported them, for reasons to be discussed below.


appraise The Young Ottomans’ ideas of representation seem to have

involved two basic elements: on the one hand, they saw it as a means

to integrate into the empire the non-Muslims who were in the process of constructing their own separatism and nationalisms; on the other, there was a sincere endorsement of liberalism as a more progressive and human approach to government than reform from the top down. They also shared many elements of liberal romanticism. The Young Ottomans’ attack on ‘command’ reform was not in itself uncommon. The well-ordered police state, as it appeared in the reform of Prussia and Peter the Great, had already found critics in western Europe. But what is remarkable is that, among Ottoman conservatives opposed to the reformist movement but who also supported the Young Ottomans, the Young Ottoman critique was transformed into a more pointed censure of bureaucracy as such. It was the unchecked growth of the bureaucratic structure and practice that the more traditionalist allies of the Young Ottomans, i.e., religious leaders, saw as the real enemy of the people. A careful reading of the Young Ottoman themes allows us to

separate two distinct groups whose members attacked the imperial administration. On the one hand figured those who berated those higher officials who had consolidated their position and filled their pockets once they had taken the lead in the reform movement. The Young Ottomans bitterly criticized what they saw as these leaders’ policy of compromise, which encouraged, they stated, the then current image of the Ottoman empire as the ‘sick man of Europe’.

The Young Ottomans, having themselves emerged from the lower ranks of officialdom, seem to have had enough inside information to make a case against what they saw as the sluggishness of the The Doctors of Islamic Law who supported them targeted the bureaucracy more clearly; their bias is understandable if one remembers that traditionally the judges, i.e., the ulama2 also the functions of administrators and that these functions of the magistrates had been gradually shorn since the introduction of reform.

reformists. assumed

The institutional status of the ulama had progressively declined inception of reform. In the past, they had filled

since the earliest

positions as magistrates, jurists, professors, historians, agents of government, librarians, astrologers and, often, members of mystic (sufi) orders which were not only centres of reunion for religious but also crossroads of political networks. At one time, the head of the hierarchy of ulama had been a powerful figure, bridging religious and secular politics. During the Tanzimat, most of the positions normally staffed by the ulama were gradually filled by Secular employees of the state. Probably more important was the


fact that the structure and function of many of these positions had also changed. The kadi, who had performed administrative tasks as well as judicial functions saw the administrative pendant of their authority taken over by new men, when administrative positions became Secularized and were gradually filled by the professional administrators who, after 1859, were trained in a special collegey, the School of Administration, with a primarily secular curriculum. The ulama, who taught from an existing stock of Islamic knowledge in Islamic educational institutions, were displaced by school teachers, who brought in a new stock of knowledge to a set of newly established Tanzimat schools and by hommes de lettres of a new type, who wrote for an increasingly influential press read by many officials. There in fact, an extraordinarily interesting manuscript written by member of the Naqshbandi 'mystic' order 3 who was close to the Young Ottomans but who expressed a critique of the bureaucracy much more trenchant than theirs, calling its members 'parasites' of a new type, and Setting out an ideal of Islamic government led, by the ulama, an ideal which had hardly been expressed with such force in the past ( Kaplan 1976 : 275-86).

exists, a

What was happening to the ulama as a result of the changes initiated by the era of reforms was the destruction of an equilibrium

which, despite many ups and downs, had characterized the Ottoman ruling class. In fact, the entire pre-reform Ottoman system may be characterized, as that of a tug-of-war between the military, 'the men of the pen', i.e., staffers of the bureaus of the place, and the ulama. In this tripartite equilibrium, the men of the pen were the group where secular statutes of limited coverage originated, mostly directed to the maintenance of patterns of taxation and other local usages in the


conquered by the Ottomans. The new reformist legislation constraining, limiting and eroding the power of the local religious magistrate, the kadi, was clearly a triumph of the 'men of the pen'. The power of these 'clerks' had been on the rise since the eighteenth 4

century and it was in their ranks that the reform movement had taken shape. Clearly, this tripartite equilibrium was now being since the elite corps of the Ottomans, the janissaries, had been destroyed in 1826, and the clerks had found the field clear of

shattered, any


for their further rise.

Competition for status, protests flaring up because one’s

profession and career is endangered, and resentment because one’s controlling position in a system is under attack are situations, which,

as students of society, we encounter everyday. But there is more than meets the eye in the case of ulama dissatisfaction in the wake

of the reform of the Tanzimat. In the years that had followed the inauguration of reform, much even in the less visible cultural underpinnings

had, indeed, changed of the Ottoman

judiciary. At one level, these changes amounted, broadly be described as the structural centralization and the secularization of the judicial system, which clearly worked counter to the interest of the magistrates. But: the changes were also accompanied by the deep erosion of the discourse that had set the principles of ideation within which the earlier political system and its kadis operated. These reformist strategies, related to thought patterns and stocks of knowledge, gradually dislodged a more tacit foundation of political legitimation and a judicial culture, a that may have been as important as changes in the and status of the ulama and, particularly the kadi. This essay argues that this happened at a number of levels: the kadi lost his

to what may


position preponderant role

gradually faded was replaced by


society, Islamic law and

away, the a



specific character

magistrate's decision-making practice

western-oriented 'rational' practice, and

his ability to operate on multiple levels of reality also became less relevant. The contrast between the earlier mental universe of the Doctors of

Islamic Law in their role as magistrates and their new diminished role was, indeed, stark. Earlier, the foundation of law, which reappeared in practice as principles of justice, reposed on an interpretation of the sources of Islamic revelation, yet the scope of this practice was enlarged by an unstated annex, namely, the methodology which underlay the magistrate’s ‘praxis’, and, in addition, by the parallel, often unorthodox, universe of Islamic mysticism which allowed Doctors of Islamic Law to work with multiple levels of reality. This aspect of the turn of events for the Ulama, namely the disappearance of a world of ideation together with their loss of status, is one which a simple description of changes in the judicial structure during the Tanzimat does not capture. In Habermassian language, my focus could be described as that of ‘knowledge constitutive interests’ of two groups clashing in a ‘modernist’ encounter. This approach may incidentally reveal a new way of looking at the history of social strata in Turkey (Habermas 1973: 313).

Structural Changes During the Tanzimat, the most important structural changes which affected the magistrates emerged from the work of the many committees of officials where the new principles of reform were elaborated by decree. While this was not a complete innovation of Islamic or Ottoman policy, from the 1830s onward the issue of ruling by decree was enforced in an unprecedented way. As the reform proceeded, the prestigeof the ulama suffered (they accused of widespread corruption) and their dual roles as administrators and judges came under attack. In 1837, what were


then described as 'administrative cases' were taken over by the newly created Supreme Court of Judicial Ordinances: (Meclis-i Vâlâ-yi Ahkâm-i Adliye). From then on to 1855, this body took

the regulation of the structure of the judiciary itself. In much stricter regularization of the career of magistrates 1855, was enacted. A further framing of religious courts occurred later in 1859 (pin 1992: 24). In 1838, an edict usually described in Turkish upon itself a

as i lie first modern penal code, setting I lie of all officials as well as magistrates in their personal conduct



(bribery, influence peddling, etc.) was adopted by the Sultan’s

administration (Ceza Kanunnâme-i Humâyunu). Berkes has called this a first step towards establishing a separate public law in the Ottoman empire, a law which invaded part of the area that had been the province of judicial decisions ( Berkes 1978: 173) and a

new frame that, by definition, made public employees of those to whom it applied. In Ottoman

practice, Islamic law did not recognize a


private: public imperial boundary

and between were used by courts as well


law. Collection of edicts compendia on Islamic law and fetva

of jurisconsults), and, in particular, imperial edicts such kanunname5, firmans 6 adaletname (Ịnalcik 1967: 49-145) and

(opinions as


'at. Now, a considered to be part of the yasakname to be between and established public private law since the began earlier extensive interpretation of Ottoman 'religious' and 'statute' law was transformed into two increasingly distinct, spheres. were

boundary şeri

In 1840, the edict of 1837 concerning administrative matters

was expanded to cover local administration. New, local, partly administrative councils (Meclis-i Muhassilin) were established. In 1858, the power of Islamic courts to try criminal cases


became a dead letter (Cin 1992:19). Between 1846 and 1858, the

regime of state lands was gradually changed, leading to the issuing of the Imperial Land Law of 1858 (Arazi Kanunnâme-i Humâyunu). Cases pertaining to state land were now severed from the purview of şer’i courts. In 1855,, the French Commercial Code was adopted as the in Code for cases on a Commercial Code of the Sea was adopted (Cin 1992: 23). The exponential growth of decrees,

Commercial Land, and, 1864,

which either directly or tangentially affected the judiciary, continued between 1840 and 1865. In 1867, administrative courts operating independently of şer'i courts were established (Ibid.: 24). In 1868, a

Supreme Court of Cassation (Divan-i



established specificallyAhkâm-i, by şeri'at, i.e.,

the covered to take up all cases not marriage, inheritance, (and cases specifically mentioned as şer'i, such as adultery). The Court was empowered in civil disputes between non-Muslims in commercial


The new reform edicts were not anymore rulings which could be

checked in şer’i compilations or notebooks consulted by the Ulama; they were printed in the series of the Ottoman Official journal

published since 1831. The texts were now to be found in the bound volumes of state documents establishing the Law of the Land. 7 The administration of judges had been a practice in which the actions of the sultan’s subjects were weighed according to — if flexible — norms. Following the adoption of the Code for the Administration of Provinces of 1864 (Shaw 1992: 33–49, 41), a shift took place in the administrative function itself. It now consisted in the redrawing of socio-economic structures: the creation of new consultative committees, the expansion of a new secular system, the introduction of measures of public health and the publication of ‘official’ local journals. Finally, the establishment of the School of Political Science in 1859 to train administrators (Mekteb-i Mülkiye-i Şahâne) rounded the process begun in the 1830s.


The elimination of the administrative functions of the magistrate involved more complex issues than is first visible. In the earlier

situation, the magistrate's administrative power placed him



position legitimately

balance the interests of local groups. where he could Baber Johansen provides the example of a müftü (jurisconsult) who took up this role. But there may be more to this than the power. Further analysis may uncover that a went back to in the for this role of the sense that what the kadi was using was 'distributive justice', i.e.,


legitimation Aristotle, magistrate

measuring various parties' contributions to total solidarity and 8 working for the equipoise of society. The Tanzimat model, which the to settle relegated magistrate disputes rather than think of the constitution of society, was not only demotion but an erosion of basic Ottoman

political theory.



officials of the Tanzimat

determining the equipoise of society with what some may as a somewhat thin legitimation, but Ihe real point is that the concept of law as justice and justice as the; justification of political were


and power



Figh In the


system of secular codes of law which



done to

was taking over, fiqh (often described as the 'methodology' of Islamic law), since a new methodology, that of western legal was infiltrating the judicial process. But more Was afoot: the disappearance of fiqh erased the earlier organic bond between law and justice or law as justice. Fiqh can be better understood if seen as 'not the name of a particular discipline or objective system but only


of a process or activity of understanding and deducing' (Rahman 1979: 114). Ideally, this activity demands an immersion in the original sources of Islam: the Qur'an, the example of the



Prophet (Sunna) and the Apostolic tradition, in order to formulate a solution to a legal problem. In the Ottoman empire, the extent to which various collections of enacted imperial edicts figured among the sources consulted by the kadi did somewhat secularize this inspirational source and ethical frame. It also had been established that certain compilations of jurisconsults were to be preferred to others (Cin 1992: 14). The number of parallel sources from different Schools of law enormously increased the source material available tp judges, but, in any case, it was justice not the expansion of the function of the state that was expected to emerge from this and justice was thereby closely connected to the everyday of Ottoman society. What 'justice' meant was thexuler's responsibility for combatting misrule and misgovernment, for taking the side of the oppressed and protecting the life and property of his subjects. While this was primarily an ideal that stood behind the Ottoman practice of justice, it was also a capstone of Ottoman political theory (Ịnalcik 1967: 49—53). There was an addendum to this fremiss which gives us a more precise picture of the system:


The doctrine of siyasa ... is the fundamental doctrine of Islamic public law which defines the position of the political authority vis-à-vis the shari’a and which grants him the right to take such administrative steps as he deems to be in the public interest provided no substantive of shari’a is thereby flagrantly infringed. One important aspect of this prerogative of the sovereign is his power to define the jurisdiction of his courts, in the sense that he may set limits to the sphere of their competence. It was on this ground, of course, that the public lawyers had recognized the validity of the ‘etza-shari’a’ tribunals of medieval times, which had exercised jurisdiction in matters withdrawn from the competence of shari’a courts. (Coulson 1964: 172)


But what unnerved western observers more than this absence of a separation of powers was the supposedly random workings of the judicial system, an issue that has been taken up by Max Weber with his formula of Kadi-justice (Turner 1974 ; Schluchter 1996: 160-78). For western observers and advisors to the men of the Tanzimat, who unsuccessfully tried to discover a rationale in

the Ottoman system of law, the existing situation, differing as it

did from the ‘rational’ interpretation of law, pointed to oriental wrong-headedness. Yet, if they had studied the Ottoman system more carefully, they would also have made two discoveries which, without assuaging their fears, would have at least led to more

understanding. The first would have been the organic link between law

and the eliciting of justice which was so fundamental in Ottoman juridical thought. In Islam, justice as best expressed by Ghazzali (d. 1111) is an emanation to mortals of the name of God as ‘the

Just’. Consequently: Justice is not one virtue but the ‘whole of the virtues’. It is the perfection of all virtues consisting of the ‘state of balance’, equilibrium and in the conduct of personal and public affairs. Above all it is an attribute of fairness (‘insâf) which urges man to pursue that which may

moderation be described as the ‘path of justice’. (Khadduri 2002: 109)

We may characterize Islamic derivation of human virtues from absolute virtue which I emphasize as a spirit of justice the universe and looking for a locus on which to fix itself.


pervading Aristotle


which he

deeply committed






finding such a locus for justice community to achieve a

common the fulcrum of the project' (MacIntyre 1984: 151). This was

Ottoman theory of government as described by the sixteenthcentury Ottoman political theorist Kmalizâde, who also saw justice as the fulcrum of sultanic legitimacy. In a passage the intent of which may be misunderstood, because it refers too directly to the solution of the nineteenth century western ghost, the 'question



Ottoman Greek


to the

complexity of fiqh

has underlined the way in which the ethical-idealistic aspects of the Qur'an established a necessarily more humane approach to relations between the haves and the have-nots (Sava Pasa 1955: 225).

In, fiqh the literature of rules (furu') began with the major topics of purity, prayer, alms, fasting and pilgrimage along with 'loosely connected' topics of law, such as family law, mercantile law, law to agency, landownership, compensation for injury, penalty


and judicial procedure. But the practical side of justice was in tight integration with the plasticity of everyday life, another element that did not fit in easily with the new regulative understanding of law:

The topics and concepts of the law were closely allied to life experience

or could be made so by systematic explanatory thought. But a work of furu’ was never a set of rules goveming practice in the way the and statutes do. In a given city, at one time, different jurists produced different works, reflecting different concerns, intended to influence certainly, but also to provoke thought and delight. The actual realization of the law depended always on personal and local factors: the custom of a family or quarter, the tradition of a city or a region, the specific rules and practices of a judge, a governor or a sultan. The pluralistic and exploratory aspect of the law had a varied and unpredictable relationship to the necessary single and pragmatic actuality. (Calder: 325)


But we may go further in the investigation of the kadi's practiced method of adjudication by referring to an item which has often been invoked recently in studies of the scope of justice, that of the central virtue of phronesis. Phronesis is the Aristotelian point where practical intelligence is connected with moral virtue. In Book 6 of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle analyzes an approach to truth he calls phronesis, i.e., a form of reasoning yielding a type of ethical knowhow in which what is universal and what is particular are (Bernstein 1983 : 146). Aristotle contrasts phronesis with what he describes as the intellectual virtues, in particular, episteme and techne (Ibid.).


Aristotle characterizes all of these virtues (and not just episteme) as being related to “truth” (aletheia). Episteme, scientific knowledge, is

knowledge of what is universal of what exists invariably and takes the form,

the telos and the way in which episteme is learned and taught differs from phronesis, the form of reason appropriate topraxis which deals with what is variable and always involves a mediation between the universal and the particular that requires deliberation and choice.

So that In ethical knowhow there can be no prior knowledge of the means by which we realize the end in a particular situation. For the end itself is

only concretely specified in deliberating about the means appropriate to a particular situation. (Bernstein 1983: 147)

What the judge uses in the case of Islam, in addition to Islamic sources, is phronesis; that type of knowledge is the very core of Ottoman–Islamic knowledge as used in the judicial or political sphere.


of the first Islamic


to elaborate


Fârâbi,metaphysical system, complex (Risalah, in his




fi'l-Aql) specifically

referred to the 'reason which is generally in common parlance' as that which of virtuous the predicated Aristotle called phronesis and made it the leading, form of reason


1983 :

1'21). Phronesis, however,





Islamic form and entered through the interstices of fiqh, such as the principle of Istihsan, which covered the magistrates' right to 9 disregard the postulate of analogical reasoning (kiyas), and which used a number of correlative guidelines, such as express statements (nass), established unanimous Muslim opinion (icma), necessity



legal analogy (gizli kiyas),




and useful purpose (maslahat) (Coulson 1964: 9-71: Saban 1996: 178-94). The categories which the âlim (scholar) uses as a, testing agent for his act of judgement is one where his analysis as well as so to his evaluation of the meaning of his pronouncement are his of interfused with evaluation of the speak meaning Qur'anic —

and the vocabulary used in the treatment of the Sunna of the Prophet. This fusion requires a profound study of the language of Islam and Arabic. suras

What one observes here is a special reading of the Word (of the

Qur’an) as a treasure out of which one can draw patterns of the universe but also representations of the physical and the social world. This hermeneutic element was sought as among the qualities required from learned and sensitive ulama (Coulson 1964: 55; Olson

1996: 165). It was also a practice which merged with theories that related to tasavvuf (Schimmel 1975: 25). Any interpretation of the work of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, a Turkish Islamic reformer (1876–1960), which does not rely on this hermeneutic vantage point

to understand his ideas, is bound to remain superficial (Mardin 1989: 207). The language of the new statutes, with its matter-offact, regulative approach completely erased the sophistication of the magistrates’ approach to language (Haydar Efendi n.d.:

22–25; Saban 1996: 311–91). Such language, therefore, propelled the statutes into another, self-referential, secular world of analysis. The point is that the Muslim judges’ attitude was not, as western secular observers thought, random, but structured by a theory of

knowledge that Cartesianism, the theory of knowledge underlying reformist thought, was in the process of erasing.

Mystics A further level of the operation of justice may be found in the mystics’ conception of justice. Among them, God’s attributes are not described in theological terms like Will or Wisdom, ‘nor indeed in anthropomorphic terms, but in highly abstract and poetic symbols like Light, Beauty and Love’ (Khadduri 2002: 71). The mystics’ view of law and justice, which would appear to navigate in the celestial realms of an ethereal sphere, does, however, have an interesting practical importance in the history of Turkish modernization. In modern Turkey, a whole school of persons trained in the religious law or persons with deep religious beliefs (Başgil 1998; Mardin 1946) have made the remarkable leap from teaching the to recognized experts in the Swiss Civil Code adopted by Turkey as the only legitimate civil code after 1926. This was a singular modernizing achievement of the Turkish Republic. Although much had been changed already since the beginning of the nineteenth century which the Republic took over, the change of venue by these erstwhile teachers of şeri’at was a real wager.

becoming şeri’at

For many years, I pondered over the rationalization that these could have used for such a daring Step. A possible explanation of this transformation does exists however, if one remembers that many of them were suffused with the culture of mysticism as part of their fund of 'tacit' knowledge. 'Justice' is an earthly emanation of a quality of God; Islamic law, derived from revelation, is a terrestrial form of this principle. But the sublunary world consists of degrees of distance from its extramundane inspiration. In this sense, Islamic law is a 'first degree' emanation from God but there are other degrees of emanation of the principle of justice and thus present no difficulty for a learned ălim. This is one of the ways in men

which Islam could be used by sophisticated jurists to legitimize change at a time when Islam was still thought of as a rich cultural

receptacle. In short, the rationale of the cohort of university professors I have mentioned above is explainable in. terms the concept of multiple layers of reality deeply embedded in Islamic mysticism. Victoria Holbrook, in a book about the Mevlevi poet Şeyh Galib, has, in her infallibly elegant style, brought out how this view connects with our subject. In her comments on Şeyh Galib, Holbrook points out that

Referring to the prophetic saying as “spiritual [esoteric] law” (Ser’i mâni)

the poet presumably intended to make a distinction between modes of divine law, between the spiritual and the historically determined (exoteric) Şeri’at, the basics, in a general sense for all application of Muslim Law. (Holbrook 1994:100)

And explaining the more general theory, she states, The cosmogony that Galib inherited may be described as an ontological rather than a temporal narrative. It described an order in progression of being, rather than an order of the events of time. He did not see things developing organically, like a butterfly from a cocoon, or as parts of a

machine made up of simultaneous parts. Empirically observable causality is belied by an originary relationship between God’s self (zat) divine names (esma) or attributes (evsat) and each “site of manifestation” (mazhar) that they require. Plurality emerges through the requirements of the divine qualities (= attributes) contrary to what appearances may lead us to believe. (Holbrook 1994: 88–89)

Conclusion From the writings of Ahmet Cevdet Paşa, himself a prominent âlim, know that the Ottoman ulama, with positions at the centre of the state, were in a state of decline in his time (Ahmet Cevdet Paşa 1967: 6-7). Presumably, not many in the entire hierarchy eould take we

of the subtleties of fiqh (Neumann 2000 : 54). My own here, however, has been to investigate the type of resources available to the ulama in an ideal Islamic setting. The moral I draw from the materials I have gathered is that the complexity

advantage purpose

of Islamic Ottoman culture demanded from would be modernizers a similarly complex, many-tiered culture. This was a task the Ottoman modernizers of the Tanzimat did not or, because of the immense task of administrative centralizing reform,

replacement by

could not take into account. Rather than a lack of will, it was the complexity of western culture, also a product of centuries of accumulation, which forced modernizers to skim only its surface. The Young Ottomans' proposal to use the foundation of Islamic culture —



synthesis with western representative institutions



because of the problem of fitting the western principle of representation with its Ottoman antecedent, namely the Sultan's distribution of justice.


This confusion is one which is still at the bottom of the present Islamists’ debate in Turkey, as to whether democracy is a system that can cohere within an Islamic society. The Turkish secular use of Foucault or Baudrillard as a prop for ad hoc sociologizing about contemporary Turkey is even wider off the mark. The issue of the superficiality of modern Turkish secular culture and the problems raised by the cultural foundations of knowledge is one which opens up many new avenues of research.


Notes 1. 2.

Karal, 'Abdülaziz.' Heyd and Kuran, 'Ilmiyye.'


Algar, 'Nakshbandiyya.'


Since the establishment, of a special bureau for international (AmedîOdasl, e. 1789) Gökbilgin, 'Amedci.'

correspondence .

5 Ịnalcik, 'Kanunname.' 6.



Düstur, 1862 -1884.


'The polis is a compound which requires men who are well-born (of good Stock) and hence capable of assuming the responsibilities of free it requires also men who are wealthy; it requires also men who are good. It requires all these things, in a certain proportion, a proportion which cannot be decided by abstract reasoning alone, but finally only by perception of the fact in each individual case' (Jaffa 1981 : 114). The main canonical sources being the Qur'an, the Traditions of the Prophet collective assent (veina) (Coulson 1964 : 1-20, 40-1, 78-9) and Kiyas (analogical reasoning) (Rahman 1979 : 9-71).





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Arik ,















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Philadelphia : University




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9 A World Made Simple: Law and Property in the Ottoman and Qing Empires Melissa Macauley When a student of Qing history (1644–1912) first turns to the study of Ottoman history, the similarities between the two empires seem

startling: the centrality of military conquest in shaping the empire; the relatively free rein given to guilds and local custom; capitulations and extraterritoriality; and the steppe traditions in governance. Even the Euro-American discourses, over the years, about the two

empires seem comparable: the now-discredited theories of ‘oriental despotism’ seem to have given way to preoccupations with the to which ‘civil society’ flourished in the realm. 1 Societies once


viewed as ‘changeless’ or ‘stagnant’ are now viewed as dynamic,

marked by genuinely fundamental transformations. When one turns to the realm of law and administration, the range

of possibilities for fruitful comparison appears limitless. The

differences, of course, are quite pronounced (nothing in China was comparable to the all-encompassing Seriat, Islamic law, for example). But both legal orders shared real similarities. Ottoman and Qing courts often served as unique sites of legal redress for women and,

consequently, the contestation of local male authority. Both legal

orders, moreover, were powerfully dominated by the written word. In both China and the Ottoman empire, various forms of legal documentation assumed immense juridical power to define criminal personalities, resolve disputes, and establish legal ‘facts’.2 This is

characteristic of most formal legal systems, of course. Nevertheless, it is perhaps more central to the legal orders of extremely large empires in which officials have no intention of directly controlling daily life and a paper trail is essential to bureaucratic governance.

The purpose of this paper is to explore comparatively one legal dynamic in what is commonly called state building. Clifford Geertz has argued that ‘law is … a distinctive manner of imagining the

MelissaMacauley real’ (Geertz 1983: 182–84). When state authorities seek to impose

a codified social order, they have already perceived a social reality that they believe exists, and anticipate a social reality they wish to create. This is a common characteristic of the legislation enacted

by state builders in a variety of historical contexts. In early modern Europe, new codes and procedures were part of a state-building process that was designed to ‘crush diversity and flexibility in society so that the way might be made smooth for the uniform rules of

the state’ (Strauss 1986: 24, 289). State building was predicated, in part, on state ‘simplifications’, central state efforts to legislate uniformity out of the chaotic and ever-fluid customary practices of local communities in order to ‘manipulate property from the center’.

One ultimate end of state simplifications was the creation of an system of freehold land tenure that was more easily taxed (Scott 1998: 35).


I specifically compare the Ottoman Land Law of 1858 and a series

of eighteenth-century Chinese efforts to regulate land tenure on the southeast coast. Both represented efforts to eradicate multiplicity in tenure and minimize ambiguities in land transactions. Both were clearly efforts at simplification in order to facilitate central state

extraction of local surpluses and to encourage rural stability. But the

Ottoman law was part of a conscious, European-style state-building effort. Often characterized as a ‘failure’ by historians of the Ottoman empire (it did not succeed in all of its goals), the Land Law was

nonetheless part of an ultimately successful, sustained series of efforts (often hit or miss) of legal secularization and simplification that culminated in the evolution of the modern Turkish state. The Chinese effort was more an instance of legal simplification without the state-

building dimension. The motivations were the same: facilitating taxation and guaranteeing social stability. But the continued to indirect rule and limited administration guaranteed


that the pre-twentieth-century Qing would not make the leap from

a state vision on paper to a human reality on the land. The Qing efforts at simplifications are thus more similar to the ‘constructions of customary law’ one associates with colonial rulership. After 1902, the Qing did embark on a state-building enterprise. This essay

concludes with some observations about the role law plays not only in attempting to simplify the property regime but also in the human personality.


A World Made Simple

Property and the State in

Eighteenth-century Fujian3

Fujian is a province on the commercialized southeast coast of China. The Manchus had conquered China and established the Qing

dynasty in 1644. But much of the Qing civil administration in the continued to rely heavily on the military throughout the


eighteenth century. This reflected what appears to have been a higher

level of social violence there than in other regions (more lineage warfare; a tendency to beat clerks collecting taxes; one of the highest murder rates in the empire; and the highest level of certain types

of abusive litigation). Civil administrators themselves felt with what they believe to have been the peculiarly

overwhelmed truculent ungovernability of Fujian and the southeast coastal region in general. In the sphere of judicial administration, officials were

particularly concerned with high litigation backlogs in local, prefectural and

provincial government offices. They attributed these backlogs to the incitations of litigation masters (illicit legal facilitators) and to the fluid, ever-negotiable, popular notions of property in the region that

had slowly developed after the fifteenth century. Officials felt that these property notions led not only to increased litigation, but also to confusion in the tax liability. In the eighteenth century, Fujian

provincial authorities and the imperial government in Beijing addressed these problems by passing laws to render the property regime ‘harder’,

more absolute and less fluid. These efforts were met with popular

disdain (in the moments when people were aware of the statutes at all). In fact, in spite of intermittent efforts over the course of thirtyfive years, these laws did not have any effect on customary practices

on the southeast coast. Land contracts in Qing Fujian can be divided into two broad

categories: contracts for ostensibly permanent sales of property

(duanqi) and the far more common huoqi or ‘living contracts’. Living contracts were usually conditional sales (dian) that involved fixed time schedules and guarantees of eventual redemption. Peasants

wrote up contracts governing the details of the sale: identifying the land, determining the price, deciding how many years actual control would be enjoyed by the conditional buyer, and clarifying that the seller had the right of redemption.

By the sixteenth century, most conditional sales in Fujian

conferred upon the conditional seller the right to demand extra payment

should the value of the land increase during the period covered by the conditional transaction. Judging from several series of contracts governing the same transaction, the process of ‘seeking increased value’ progressed in three successive increments. A peasant who had conditionally sold land could demand extra value payments up to three times. The third stage was considered the final stage and the land was supposed to become permanently alienated thereafter. Nevertheless, it was not at all uncommon for peasants to continue to demand extra payments even after this third stage of increments. In fact, a whole array of additional practices and sets of transactional vocabularies were deployed to guarantee that a household would never actually lose some socially-recognized claim to land ‘alienated’ by contractual language. Legally, the contract was binding, but it was customarily acceptable to renegotiate the terms, even in circumstances in which the contracts had all along been flatly stating: ‘after the seller seeks increased value, let it be the option of the buyer to control the property forever. The seller henceforth ought never to redeem it’ (Yang 1988: 275). 4 There was enormous flexibility protecting the right, eventually, to redeem family land. Customary practice in Fujian made it difficult to lose familial claim to land conditionally sold but never redeemed because of financial distress. Having studied almost four thousand Fujian land contracts, Chinese historian Yang Guozhen fondly repeats a popular aphorism which aptly characterizes the nature of land transactions in the region: ‘land is sold, but it is never alienated; it is alienated, but it never dies’ (Ibid.: 279). Japanese scholar Niida Noboru quotes another popular expression, ‘With one sale come one thousand blessings, never to continue on to redemption’ (Niida 1960: 377).5 Aside from the complexities of conditional sales, the complexity of property notions on the southeast coast can also be seen in the system of multiple land ownership. The practices of ‘two masters to a field’ (yitian liangzhu) and ‘three masters to a field’ (yitian sanzhu) contributed to the development of permanent tenancy on the southeast coast and were the subject of anxious consideration by imperial authorities. These were systems of land ownership in which taxpaying original owners held subsoil rights while renting to tenants holding topsoil or surface rights. The landlords, in turn, occasionally rented their subsoil rights to a third party who would



become responsible for the tax in exchange for a share of the rent. Tenants were also known to rent their own topsoil rights to third parties who cultivated the land in exchange for rent (Perdue 1987; Rawski 1972). Qing authorities strongly believed that the indeterminacies of conditional sales and multiple landownership complicated the collection of taxes and led to higher levels of disputation in the region. For example, in 1741, the provincial administrative commissioner for Fujian, Zhang Sichang, memorialized to the emperor on the problem the ‘evil practice’ of multiple land ownership posed for both national land-tax collection and Fujian’s ‘onerous’ problem with litigation. He theorized that split ownership in Fujian had originally developed out of a tradition of land reclamation in which tenants were hired to clear and till wasteland. Property owners continued to rent the land to successive generations of the original tenants until tenant households came to view their tenancy as a permanent right. ‘These wicked tenants,’ he continued, ‘at first seemed imbued with heavenly goodness.’ But they eventually began to renege on their rents, sending their outraged landlords to the official courts: ‘Consequently, those property owners who completely rely on rents to pay the land tax lodge a legal complaint. They state that those who enjoy production without a tax owe them the rent needed to pay the tax.’ the memorial, Commissioner Zhang indicated that he believed that ‘one master to a field’ was the only legitimate system of tenure; that master was the subsoil-owning taxpayer (Zhupi zouzhe.falü. qita, QL 6.11.10). The connection Qing officials made between the fluidity of the property regime in Fujian and the litigation rates in the region was not misplaced. Of the twenty-seven categories of civil disputes in the Danshui and Xinzhu county archives (Taiwan prefecture in Fujian province), conditional sales constituted the sixth largest category in terms of caseload (Dai 1953: 6–7). Moreover, contracts governing conditional sales and conferring topsoil rights in Fujian commonly contained clauses stipulating that the parties should ‘never again’ take recourse to formal litigation to resolve issues addressed by the contracts (Niida 1960: 213–14, 462–63; Yang 1988: 277). One cannot claim that conditional sales and multiple landownership were the primary causes of litigation in Fujian (in fact, the ‘causes’ of in southeast coastal China were simply routine disputes over land, inheritance, marriage and debts); nevertheless, they contributed



significantly to the caseload. Similarly, disputes over tax liability were not uncommon. But the palpable decline of Fujian as a land tax contributor to government revenues from a ‘medium revenue’ to a ‘low revenue’ producer had multiple causes (Niida 1960: 213–14; Wang 1973: 79–83, 98–101). It did not primarily stem from property disputes in the region. Qing officials in Fujian and Beijing nonetheless attempted to regulate customary property transactions to address judicial and problems. Much of this regulation involved some standardization, individuation and ‘hardening’ of the property regime in Fujian.6 More significantly, in 1765, the Fujian Provincial Administration reviewed provincial attempts during the previous thirty-five years to outlaw the two-masters-to-the-field system and other they felt exacerbated the problems of social violence, litigation and tax collection. In 1730, determined to ‘protect (or “integritize”) the people’s property (quan min ye)’, they had promulgated the first provincial substatute outlawing the ‘evil practice’ of between topsoil and subsoil rights. They also advised local district officials to reject litigation concerning ‘seeking increased value increments’ and redemption of conditional sales. Finally, these provincial officials called for tablets to be carved that if tenant households owed rent, then it should be the option of the landlord to contract another tenancy (Fujian shengli 1964, Vol. III: 445–46). In 1762, the provincial government renewed the proscription of these practices and called for new tablets to be carved in order to remind the population of its intentions. Two years later, the office issued circulars throughout the province, calling on local officials not only to erect tablets but ‘to personally explain the substatutes prohibiting these practices clearly’ (Fujian shengli 1964, Vol. III: 446). Significantly, the governor did not also call upon officials to recruit local elites to help propagandize in the antimultiple-landownership campaign. Occasional references to ‘gentry and local bullies’ (shenshi tuhao) as frequent offenders in these customs indicate that the provincial government did not feel it could rely on local elites to help enforce these regulations. Like the Fujian provincial government, authorities in the imperial capital at Beijing also tried to regulate these practices. The Qing began to promulgate laws concerning expirations of customary sales. A new substitute, added to the Qing Code in 1753, required that


Commission problems


proclaiming governor’s

contracts specifically explain whether the transaction would allow a redemption or whether it was a permanent sale. ‘If it is a contract for a sale, the contract must clearly explain that “this is an absolute sale and redemption is never to be made”’ (Duli cunyi chong kan ben 1970, 95: 07). Contracts routinely included such language. But, as we have seen, in social practice such contracts were always open to renegotiation. Officials were obviously calling not only for linguistic clarity but an absoluteness and inevitability that did not exist in the common practice of conditional sales. Finally, the most extraordinary part of the law concerned the

time frame for redemption of conditionally transacted land. It said that redemption could be made up to thirty years after a conditional sale had been contracted. It went on to state: ‘If the conditional sale is beyond thirty years, then although the contract does not have the expression “absolute sale” and is in fact a contract stipulating the of redemption, then decide that it is an alienated property. It will no longer be permitted to be redeemed’ (Duli cunyi chong kan ben 1970, 95: 07; emphasis mine). This was a law that demanded what no coastal farmer would ever willingly do: forego claim to inherited land that had not been redeemed after a governmentally determined passage of time. Other, similar substatutes were appended to the Code and to other regulatory compendia in the mid-eighteenth century. They included permission for conditional buyers to take full ownership of any land that had not been redeemed after the passage of time specified in the contract. Regulations also prohibited the redemption of any land sold when the contract governing the sale stated that the land was ‘alienated’.7 These laws worked against the interests of the conditional and were antithetical to customary sentiment. As we have seen, Fujian contracts often stipulated alienation without depriving sellers of some residual claim to own the land. On the southeast coast, at least, actual, permanent alienation of the land was quite difficult to achieve. Given their contradiction of local sentiment and practice, and in the absence of state-building efforts to force into practice a more individuated, less negotiable vision of property, these provincial efforts had no palpable effect in the region. For one thing, there was active resistance to the efforts. By 1765, Fujian officials were yet again up tablets ‘prohibiting these practices forever’. Apparently, the tablets that had been set up in 1762 ‘had been altered and destroyed,





rendering the country people lacking in respect and awe and making it impossible to completely eradicate the accumulated practices’ (Fujian shengli 1964, Vol. III: 446). It goes without saying that resistance — in which peasants continued to transact as they saw fit — doomed the legislation entirely. One Chinese legal scholar who considered one of these laws at the turn of the twentieth century, Xue Yunsheng, commented that officials and local people alike ‘do not even know that this substatute exists’ (Duli cunyi chong kan ben 1970, 95: 07). The Qing were not opposed to conditional sales per se; conditional sales were perfectly legal. But officials sought to regulate those relating to conditional sales that gave these transactions their fluidity and negotiability, the very attributes they identified with and tax evasion. For similar reasons, officials tried to outlaw multiple landownership. These official efforts evinced less more absolute conceptions of property. Alienated land meant alienated land. An expired conditional sale should work to the benefit of the conditional owner, not the seller. Multiple landownership was wrong. It should be abolished.

passive property

practices litigation ambiguous, Customary practice favoured ambiguity, multiplicity and

negotiability. Property transactions were rarely absolutely final. The claim of a peasant to inherited land was not automatically negated by contractual language stipulating alienation. In trying to eradicate the indeterminacies of these transactions, these Qing prohibitions struck at the heart of customary practice. Nevertheless, such practices prevailed because the Qing state lacked not the will or intention, but the administrative reach to transform the southeast coast into a taxfriendly, litigation-abjuring, ‘integritized’ property regime.

Legal Simplifications and the Half-hearted Hegemonic State What one sees in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Fujian is provincial and central government alike grappling with the of high-volume litigation, tax evasion, and violence on the judicial processes of the region. The ponderous task of reconciling statutory law with social practice resulted in some interesting imperial tendencies toward the creation of harder notions of This suggests an inclination toward one element of Europeanstyle state building. But significant differences underscore the Qing



preference for fiscal frugality and indirect rule in most matters of judicial administration. James Scott has recently depicted early modern European state

efforts to standardize and control local custom as state ‘simplifications'. These were efforts to legislate uniformity in the chaotic cusomary practices of local communities. Simplifications involved of customary property transactions, measurements, citizenries and vocabularies of space. They involved the individuation of property in order to clarify the tax liability. The modernizing state engaged in simplifications in order to create a state-controlled ‘simplified and uniform property regime’ that could manipulate property from the centre. The modernizing, extractive state could never have adapted to the multifarious property relations and land-tenuring systems of practice. Statutory law and taxation would literally have had to be adapted to these practices as they varied from village to village and region to region. Instead, states measured, codified and land tenure, ‘perfecting the legal structure of individual, freehold tenure’. Law courts, legal specialists, cadastral surveys, intrusive and the standardizations of the modern state reduced the ‘chaotic, disorderly, constantly changing social reality beneath it to something more closely resembling the administrative grid of its (Scott 1998: 11–52). 8 Simplifying legislation nevertheless requires the direct application of state power to take effect. Chinese officials were engaging in state simplifications. Provincial and central government substatutes were designed to eradicate from customary practice the very elements that made property ownership and transactions adaptive, open ended and responsive to claims by original landowners: namely, multiple landownership, efforts to obtain increased value increments, and conditional sales of land that were never redeemed or were redeemed years later than the time frame specified in contracts. But these laws were not designed so much to eradicate customary practice as to eliminate those elements that made taxation more difficult and led to more litigation than officials were willing to manage. The core of customary practices, the constitutive elements of ‘living’ sales, would continue in a codified system of ‘customary approved by the state.



simplified bureaucracies observations’


Nevertheless, these simplifications were not accompanied by the

expansion of the bureaucratic apparatus one sees in early modern European state building. This is not to suggest that there was necessarily

anything ‘wrong’ with the state administration in the eighteenth century. Indeed, indirect rule and limited formal governance were the preferred form of administration in China. Moreover, the state matched administrative reach with administrative need in any number of other enterprises, notably the maintenance of the system of (Will and Wong 1991). But the success of these simplifying legal measures, especially the eradication of multiple landownership, was predicated on the coercive capacities of the state, the ability of the state to transform the manner in which property was customarily In fact, virtually every solution proposed by Qing officials to address all of the legal problems besetting Fujian — lineage abusive litigation as a form of revenge, high homicide rates, and so on — would have required a stronger and larger official and a greater monopoly of state power in the region. If these Chinese simplifications cannot be subsumed under a of state building, then how does one understand eighteenthcentury efforts to regulate these customary practices? Scholarship on colonial and postcolonial governmental attempts to ‘construct’ customary law in sub-Saharan Africa is helpful in this regard. What one sees in this literature are state simplifications and of customary practice in a political, judicial and fiscal context of ‘indirect rule’. In sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya and Tanzania, for example), practices relating to landed property transactions were similar to those in Fujian in one general sense. As Sara Berry has described, property law was a ‘social process’, transactions were ‘subject to multiple meanings, and exchange was open-ended and rather than single-stranded and definitive’ (Berry 1993: 13). These processes were apparently exacerbated by the cash-cropping that had accelerated under colonial rule. Berkeley anthropologist Elizabeth Colson long ago identified ‘customary law’ as a ‘construction’ of the colonial state in Africa. This was not to assert that colonial and postcolonial states ‘created’ a set of customary practices which they then crystallized into law. Rather, colonial codes recorded common official understandings of what they took customary practice to be at one moment in time and incorporated these practices into an official set of laws that would serve as legal precedents in adjudicating disputes. The problem was that the actual conditions of colonialism and the resulting cashcropping tended to make sub-Saharan customary practice even more


transacted. warfare, apparatus rubric standardization customary


fluid and dynamic. ‘Customary law’ as projected by the colonial (and postcolonial) governments did not necessarily reflect popular about land tenure, property and kinship rights at any other given time (Colson 1971).

opinions Continuing in this line of analysis, Sally Falk Moore noted that

colonial administrators presumed that the application of ‘customary

law’ was an ‘effective and cheap’ way of maintaining social order. But these colonial governments deemed ‘customary law’ to be static, a set of popular practices that could be frozen, recorded and used to adjudicate the property disputes that had increased with the of cash-cropping under colonial conditions (Moore 1986).

development Berry herself demonstrates that colonial constructions did not

actually transform the dynamics of local politics and customary practices

in places like Kenya or Tanzania. She shows that the limited reach of judicial administrations and ‘indirect rule’ of the colonial powers limited their ability to regulate the customary practices of local areas. Working with limited funds and numbers of administrators, ‘colonial governors elaborated the principles and institutions for indirect rule, and tried to govern according to those principles and rules. [But] they rarely exercised enough effective control to exactly what they set out to do.’ And so, as we saw in the case of Fujian, the basic character of the customary practices of property remained the same: dynamic, fluid, continually negotiable, to multiple claims and linked to access to social networks (Berry 1993: 25, 120, 180). The efforts of eighteenth-century Fujian and Beijing officials to regulate, standardize and ‘simplify’ property ownership and in Fujian (and other regions of South China) were similar to efforts of colonial powers in sub-Saharan Africa. Regulations were passed in China to make property conceptions less fluid, more absolute, more individuated (by person or household) and therefore less subject to contestation. But the administrative challenges of ‘small rendered state rule indirect, unable to enforce a different form of property regime. Regulations concerning property transactions were actively or passively resisted and thus rendered irrelevant. The purpose of all these efforts had been to maintain the social order and extract local resources more efficiently. But it would take more than government regulation to force people to change the way they thought about their own property. What was needed was the application of direct, state power to transform state visions of

formalizing accomplish transactions subject transactions


individuated, non-negotiable conceptions of property into a reality in local arenas. But the Qing state was not interested in the and intrusion of a coercive state apparatus in the quotidian transactions of Chinese farmers. It was inclined to ‘simplify’ and regulate that seemingly chaotic world, but it was not willing to pay the price, in all its dimensions, of expanding bureaucratic power. In this sense, simplifications do not necessarily inaugurate the statebuilding enterprise, as Scott suggests. But the state-building enterprise brings them to completion.

construction property

State Simplifications in the Ottoman Land Law of 1858 It is ironic that modern Europeans should have depicted the Ottoman and Qing empires as ‘oriental despotisms’. When these two eventually embarked on the state-building enterprise, the centralized, all-encompassing bureaucratic power they sought to emulate was that of the modern European nation-state. In this section, I turn to one example of Ottoman state simplification as a fundamentally important step in the long-term effort to the political economy of the empire. The Ottoman government was clearly responding to domestic concerns, many of which were exacerbated by international pressures. Unlike the case of eighteenth-century Fujian, however, these Ottoman efforts were part of a conscious, European-style, state-building project and were designed to address, in part, the challenge of European expansion. State building is understood as the expansion of the reach of central governmental power to transform the property regime, extract surplus production and enhance revenues. 9 In China, one does not see this type of concerted effort (certainly not in the legal realm) until the turn of the twentieth century. The Ottoman Land Law was promulgated as part of a larger reform project of centralization and Europeanization called the Tanzimat Reforms (1839–1876). These reform efforts themselves unfolded within the context of profound historical transformations in the latter centuries of Ottoman rule. Institutionally, Ottoman rule underwent extensive decentralization. For example, until the seventeenth century, the Ottoman government had been served by the sipahis, cavalrymen who were assigned responsibility for vast tracts of land (timars) and therein acted as quasi-bureaucratic

governments transform


intermediaries between the peasants and the state. They collected

taxes and provided the sultan with military service. This system was undermined by a number of developments, including the decline of cavalry in modern warfare and the ascendance of a taxfarming elite (mültezim). These armed tax-farmers used their

officially sanctioned positions to hoard surplus wealth and control local territories (Faroqhi 1994: 537–38; Issawi 1966: 71–72; Shafir 1989: 31). Other forces in decentralization included the increasing autonomy of a variety of local notables, whose prominence was based

on local military power and extensive landholding. The state also lost control over state-owned lands that were turned into fictive waqfs. Waqfs were ‘pious foundations’ or estates that were exempt from taxation. The proceeds from these estates were supposed to

go to charitable causes, but fraudulent estates were established merely to evade taxation and state control. They also tended to be less productive than other forms of tenure (Davison 1963: 257; Faroqhi 1994: 565–68; Owen 1981: 12–15). Economically, sectors of the Ottoman economy had been

incorporated into the European-system of trade by the nineteenth century. Exports of raw materials increased, stimulating the production of such cash crops as cotton, silk, fruit, wool and cereals. Imports of European-manufactured goods like textiles also swelled in the nineteenth century. These long-term commercial changes exacerbated inflation and led to the shifting of partial control of the economy to foreign capitalists (Islamoglu-Inan 1987: 1–24; Owen

1981; Quataert 1994: 761–65). The challenges posed by European capitalism and colonial expansion cast a newer, more disturbing light on the decentralizing state structure and inclined the Ottomans to embark on a concerted programme of fundamental reform. The context of the promulgation of the Land Law of 1858 was

thus quite different from that of the eighteenth-century Chinese efforts. As Donald Quataert has commented, the Tanzimat reforms constituted a programme dedicated to ‘recentralization and

Westernization of government structures and the formation of a more

powerful and expanded state apparatus. This reorganizing state eliminated or weakened its domestic rivals — urban guilds, tribes, and provincial notables — while maintaining its place in the new

world order’ (Quataert 1994: 762). Although this programme only reached fruition after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey,

the Ottomans clearly were engaged in the state-building This was quite different from the rather routine administrative effort in China merely to address problems they believed impinged on fiscal rationality and social harmony. The Chinese government in the eighteenth century had not been subjected to the international pressures the Ottomans felt in the nineteenth century and was not inclined to pursue fundamental political reforms. The larger goals of the Land Law included ‘the centralization of authority in the central government’, the promotion of ‘the fiscal health of the imperial treasury’, and the ‘maintenance of rural stability’. More specifically, Ottoman legislators wanted to reassert the state ‘ownership’ of vast tracts of land that had slipped out of state control with the decline of the timar system (Davison 1963: 99; Quataert 1994: 857–58; Shafir 1989: 33; Sluglett and FaroukSluglett 1984: 413). The law was intended to promote greater stability of tenure and thereby stimulate greater agricultural Greater agricultural production would theoretically lead to increased government revenues through taxation. In classic state-building fashion, to achieve these ends, the law engaged in legal simplifications and constructions. The first act of legal construction in a code is to establish categories of land as the state needs to understand them for the purposes at hand. The categories established in the Land Law of 1858 were: first, mülk land (land held in absolute freehold ownership). It was to be regulated by Islamic law and not by civil statutes. The second category, the category with which the government was most concerned, was mirî land. In mirî land, absolute ownership belonged to the state but the usufruct rights were held by the individual. Usufruct rights in this instance were a form of heritable leasehold ownership in which the state leased land to the individual. The final three categories were waqf land (‘pious foundations’ for charitable purposes); matruka land (land dedicated to some local common purpose (e.g., village threshing floors); and mawat land (dead or unreclaimed land) (Corps de droit ottoman 1905–1906: Art. 1; Warriner 1966: 73). In a report on land tenure written in 1944, Doreen Warriner that these distinct legal categories did not seem particularly relevant to the actual practice of land tenure (at least in Palestine, Trans-Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq). Mülk and mirî lands were the two most common forms of land ownership; in practice they


traditional production. ownership



tended to be the same thing. Mirî holders, theoretically tenants of the state, were in fact ‘in the same position as mülk holders’, since they paid no rent to the state and their heirs could directly inherit the land. They could also sell this land. Moreover, she notes, in spite of the fact that leasehold tenancies were the most common form of land tenure, this ‘land law’ did not even concern itself with the relations between landlord and tenant. Warriner concluded that the Ottoman state established these limited categories for no reason other than to collect revenue. ‘The real purpose of the code was to tax every piece of land, and therefore to establish clearly the title to it by registering its legal owner as a mirî owner. The state’s claim to ownership really only meant that the state did not recognize ownership unless the title were registered and the land therefore taxable’ (Warriner 1966: 73).10 Warriner believed she was struggling with the incongruities of the

legal categorizations of the Ottoman Land Law. She was actually dealing with the incongruities of the legal categorizations of state building in general. That these legal categories did not necessarily fit actual tenurial practices is somewhat immaterial. One assumes that the landholding patterns across the entire, vast Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century must have been far more complicated and diverse than these five categories suggest. The purpose of the legal categories of the Land Law was not to describe actual social practice (as Warriner sought to do), but to set up categories that would enable the state to proceed with the project at hand: the individuation of title on mirî lands. The project was essentially legal simplification in the tenurial system over which the state had jurisdiction, state lands. The Land Law was encouraging a system of freehold marked by

transferable title. It governed ‘possessors of state land’ and ‘possessors by title deed’. Any transfer of title without government authorization was null and void (Corps de droit ottoman 1905–1906: Arts 8, 36, 59; Sluglett and Farouk-Sluglett 1984: 413).11 The law mandated that individuals, and not communal organizations, possess government-issued title deeds in order to have legal use of state land. The state sought firm, direct control over Ottoman and to eradicate the sway of the local notables. Clarifying mirî ownership through title deeds issued to individual cultivators ensured stability of tenure. It clarified who had rights to state land, who had the responsibility to keep it cultivated

cultivators cultivate

(the law’s only restriction on owners’ usufruct was that they could not allow the land to lie fallow for more than five years), and who was obliged to pay taxes. It also embarked on a centrally important (and extremely difficult) enterprise in legal simplification in land tenure: it carried out a census. Individuation of the property regime is a key component of state building on legal foundations and can be seen in other parts of the Ottoman Land Law. The law was opposed to any form of collective ownership. As Article 8 of the law stated: ‘The whole land of a village or town cannot be granted in its entirety to all of the inhabitants nor to one or two persons chosen from among them. Separate pieces are granted to each inhabitant and a title is given to each showing the right of possession’ (Warriner 1966: 73–74). Like the eighteenth-century Chinese government, the Ottomans were attempting to eradicate an entire category of customary practice: mushaa (‘shared ownership’), a communal style of common in some parts of the ‘Fertile Crescent’ (‘Greater Syria’) among poorer villages and certain Arab communities. In this system, individuals participated fully in communal ownership. But if an individual died or left the village, rights to communal land reverted to the village. The Ottoman government felt that communal discouraged the sorts of investments and improvements in agriculture that were necessary to increased production (Owen 1981: 258; Warriner 1966: 76–77). 12 I presume it also contributed to a lack of clarity in the tax liability. The state, nonetheless, was obviously trying to encourage an individuated property regime for the larger purposes of encouraging production and enhancing taxation. There has been quite a bit of scholarly debate about the consequences of this law. Many scholars claim it simply encouraged the further aggrandizement of large landowners because wealthy, educated people understood the benefits of registration. Conversely, most common cultivators were said to fear the intentions, preferring instead to register titles in the names of locally powerful people, transforming themselves into or simple labourers ( Davison 1963: 99–100; Lewis 1961: 117; Shafir 1989: 34–35; Warriner 1966: 76).13 Quataert challenges this assessment by drawing attention to regional studies that ‘demonstrate widespread registration by small cultivators and their eagerness to use the system to their own advantage’. In Lebanon from 1866 to 1914, there were 4,614 acts of transfer for 2,291 The region around Damascus in the 1870s demonstrated





government’s sharecroppers


‘similar peasant use of the new method of land registration’ (Quataert 1994: 859, 885). Quataert thus shows that there was some congruence of interest between common cultivators and Ottoman land reform. Generalizations like the ones he tries to counter with empirical often stem from the tendency of scholars to project a certain benighted innocence onto the peasant classes, assuming that they are not capable of discerning when their economic interests (in this case, property claims) are at stake.


Nevertheless, there was obviously widespread resistance to the

Land Law of 1858. Large, landed estates endured; wealthy people gained title to more land; mushaa endured in some regions; the was not perfect; and so on. Many scholars of Ottoman history appear to consider such resistance evidence of the ‘failure’ of the law itself (and of the larger reform efforts of late Ottoman rule).


But successful resistance to the laws of reformers should not be

interpreted as a sign of failure. It is a sign of the state moving into social realms it had previously avoided. It elicits resistance. In the Ottoman case, some people responded positively to state intrusions (those thousands of cultivators claiming title to mirî land); most local people invariably resisted. There were powerful social forces in Ottoman society that stood to lose power under the early statebuilding efforts of the empire: Islamic mufti (opposed to the entire programme of legal secularization inaugurated by the Tanzimat reforms), as well as the powerful notables. And common people held fast to their various social practices, impervious to state until literally forced to change. State building, with its legal simplifications and the accompanying need for a newer, more intrusive administrative style, took generations to build. Indeed, amendments to the Land Law of 1858, with the same simplifying tendencies, were promulgated in 1867, 1910, 1911 and 1913 (Lewis 1961: 452).14 The experience of the Ottoman empire seems similar in this sense to that of early modern Europe. The idea that a series of fundamentally transformative legal simplifications would actually succeed in one generation does not seem very realistic. In fact, it is historically unprecedented. 15


Conclusion: European Cultural

Hegemony Made Simple

Less than a century after the promulgation of this law, Turkey was a modern, secular state. The fact that the Ottoman empire had to

be overthrown does not seem particularly relevant to a historian of

modern China. Successful modern state building in China involved the destruction of two systems of governance, the Qing dynasty (1912) and the Republic of China (1949). In the China field, at least, many scholars are now convinced that the ultimately successful

project of state building under the communist People’s Republic of China was predicated on the earlier efforts of the late Qing and the Republic. Similarly, the individuated, simplified property regime of a late nineteenth-century country like Germany would not have

become possible had it not been for the efforts of the German of the Holy Roman Empire in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. Those German princes used Roman law as a


sort of legally sophisticated detour around Christian canon law and

the multiplicity of feudal legal authorities (Strauss 1986). Turkey continued in the European and Ottoman tradition of state-building on legal simplifications and attempting to

predicating develop a rule of law. There is a simplifying, state building continuum

that links the Land Law of 1858, the promulgation of the Civil Code in 1926, the compulsory adoption of surnames in 1934, and the gradual development of a more Europeanized system of law in Turkey.16

This essay has compared examples of state simplifications of land in the Qing and Ottoman contexts. In both cases, simplifications of land tenure are part of a process whereby the state legal

authorities imagine new legal realities and seek to create them. The Ottoman effort has to be understood in the context of state building. The Qing campaigns demonstrate, contra Scott, that state simplifications are not necessarily the project of modern state building.

But they are central to how certain systems of indirect rule (like

colonial governance) nonetheless engage in, what they view to be, a perfection of ‘customary law’. Such a perfection, in fact, is designed to facilitate state extraction of local surpluses but it does not, in the long run, actually have a significant social impact. Whatever the

many inadequacies of the Land Law of 1858, the larger project of legal reform in Turkey generally worked because state building in Turkey ultimately worked. The eighteenth-century efforts of the Qing disappeared from official consciousness because these legal

simplifications were not part of a long-term, sustained effort to transform the legal universe of Chinese customary practice.

By 1902, the Chinese were also reforming their legal system with a Europeanizing and state-building agenda similar to the Ottoman– Turkish one. In many areas of codification, the remarkable legists of the Republican era (1912–49) built on late Qing legal innovations

(1898–1911). There were, once again, important differences in the two reform efforts. For example, some of the cosmological elements of Chinese law may have been eliminated from the Code, but this was nothing like the arduous process of secularization in Ottoman

and Turkish law (Berkes 1964). Moreover, Chinese reformers did not have to contend with the multiplicity of legal systems in the Ottoman empire. But there were noteworthy similarities in the larger legal reform

efforts of Turkey and China under the late Qing and Republic (1912–49). Both projects were predicated on the transformation or creation of auxiliary institutions: police forces, prisons and European-style faculties of law (indeed, entirely new educational

systems were required for the training of judges, lawyers and citizenries).17 Legal reformers in both countries were galvanized by the desire to regain legal sovereignty that had been undermined by European capitulatory and extraterritorial rights. But eventually,

Turkish and Chinese reform elites also joined a cosmopolitan, global elite that embraced Enlightenment values and sought to establish what they viewed as ‘modern’ (not necessarily ‘western’) legal systems.

This latter development explains some of the extraordinary similarities in legal reform in the modern Ottoman empire, Turkey and China. Reform elites turned not only to European legal values in a general sense (appreciation of equality, political rights and

secularization of civil governance, among others) but they also proceeded

on common paths in legal reform and codification by studying the very same continental European law codes. At various times and in codifying various branches of law, Chinese, Ottoman and

Turkish legal reformers consulted the same codes of Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France, among others (Cheng 1930: 117–20; Versan 1984: 249; Zhou 1960: 25).18 French advisers to these governments also seemed to predominate. For a sense of the global impact of

some of these individuals, note the case of Jean Escarra, who was the French legal adviser to the Chinese government from 1921 to 1924, 1926 to 1928, and 1934 to 1936, and who also served in the

292 Melissa Macauley

same capacity in Egypt from 1949 to 1950, and in Ethiopia in 1954 (Hulsewé and van der Valk 1956: 304–10).19 After 1789, French codification was characterized by statism and ‘rampant rationalism’. That is to say, it was animated by the idea that history could be abolished by the institution of new statutes. Through ‘reasoning from basic premises established by thinkers of the secular natural law … one could derive a legal system that would meet the needs of a new society’ (Merryman 1994: 450).20 I have not been able to determine whether Turkish reform was also guided by the highly influential Euro-American ‘sociological school of jurisprudence’. But secondary sources suggest that Ottoman and Turkish reformers articulated the intellectual spirit of that school. And sociological jurisprudence, particularly its AngloAmerican pragmatic version, was very influential in China in the early twentieth century. One tenet of this system of jurisprudence was, to quote Roscoe Pound (as half the modern lawyers in Republican China seemed to do): ‘Law must be stable, but it cannot stand still.’ Efficacious law codes were understood to be simultaneously rooted in tradition and social realities, while, at the same time, adapted by the socially scientific legist to suit the new needs of a modern era. Modern codifiers influenced by the sociological school believed that law was both ‘found’ and ‘made’, and the basis for legal authority was the modernizing social ends that law served.21 The sociological school, in fact, was the perfect intellectual vehicle for disseminating the codifying traditions of modern, European nation-states to places like China and the Ottoman empire. It conceptually suited their natural inclination to reform legal traditions fundamentally but still retain some form of cultural ‘essence’. That is to say, one could radically transform one’s society and, yet, still claim to be building on a true ‘Chinese’ or ‘Turkish’ foundation. The legal simplifications and state building of early modern Europe had, in fact, a truly global dimension in the modern era. The cultural hegemony of European law has inclined much of the world toward a simplified property regime which, after all, also sanctifies private property and unencumbered trade (even more so now that communist societies worldwide are crumbling. Collectivist practices nonetheless do endure in both China and Turkey). The legal reformers of the Ottoman empire, Turkey and China embarked on a modernist European enterprise of expanding the

tremendous power of the central state. They sought to use the

power of codified law to transfigure their governments, their political economies, their cultures, really each individual person. The extent to which modern laws were intended to Europeanize the human personality is quite striking. In the 1920s in Turkey, turbans and

fezzes were prohibited, drinking alcohol was sanctioned, the Roman alphabet was adopted and so on. In both China and Turkey, the entire practice of marriage was reformulated in law — and resisted in practice — and the legal stature of women was elevated (Bernhardt

1999; Civil Code of the Republic of China 1931: Arts 972–1058; Ono 1989; Örücü 1996). Esin Örücü believes that the entire Turkish legal system was transformed in the 1920s by an ‘élite dirigeante’; it was a ‘prime example of social engineering through law’ (1996: 94).

The increasing uniformity of world culture — from political economy to personal appearance — can be attributed to many things of course (the ravages of popular consumer culture, for example). But there is a long, interrelated history here that begins with state building

and ends with the codified conformity of the modern world.

Notes 1. Haim Gerber argues that Ottoman law fostered autonomous guilds and a civil society that served as a precedent for modern Turkish democracy (1994: 113–26). The literature on ‘civil society’ in China is extensive. See, for example, the symposium volume ‘Public Sphere/Civil Society in China?’ Modern China. 2. On the power of legal documentation, see Gerber (1994: 79–112); Messick (1993); and Macauley (1998). On litigation as a challenge to male authority, see Macauley (1998: 146–66; 189–94) and Seng (1994: 252–81).

3. The following analysis of property in China is adapted in part from material in Macauley (1998: 228–48), with permission of Stanford University Press. (Copyright 1998 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.)

4. When conflicts over these contracts were taken to court, the Qing officials relied on the literal language of the contract. 5. The literature on living sales is extensive. For pioneering works in European languages, see Hoang (1921) and Kroker (1959). 6. In 1760, for example, the provincial governor attempted to impose a state-mandated uniformity in the language, form, and validation of contracts (Fujian shengli 1964, Vol. III: 442–43).

7. Board of Revenue regulation cited in Zheng (1988: 207–208). The efforts in Fujian were not unique. Across South China, eighteenth-century officials were calling for harder property notions. In 1743, for example, the governor of Hubei requested a law stipulating that if a contract stated land was to be alienated, it was alienated and could not be redeemed. A law to this effect was promulgated in 1753 in response

to a similar request by an official in Zhejiang province (Duli cunyi chong kan ben 1970, 95: 07 and Zhupi zouzhe falü.qita, QL 8.11.22). 8. European state building was obviously more complex than the process

of simplification and standardization. And, of course, it was not merely 9.

10. 11. 12. 13.

the state itself that determined the individuated property regime of liberal, bourgeois democracies. On state building, see Tilly (1990 and 1975). In this essay I do not address the war-making element of state building so central to Tilly’s formulations (and to the imperial enterprise of both the Qing and the Ottomans). Davison also critiques the law for not addressing other types of tenure (1963: 99). SeealsoCorps de droit ottoman 1905–1906: Arts 17, 31 (stating that no one could build a new building on state land without permission of the officials), and 37. Owen suspects that mushaa was probably a ‘useful mechanism for facilitating the colonization of newly secured land’ and, hence, had its uses to the state enterprise of expanding agricultural cultivation. Peasants feared a government ploy to identify military recruits or impose higher taxes.

14. The Land Distribution Law of 1945 redistributed state and foundation lands as well as huge estates. This seems to have been part of the longer process of creating a small, freeholding property regime.

15. For an example of European resistance to the legal regime of early modern state builders, see Strauss (1986). 16. The adoption of surnames is a classic state simplification. It enables the state to identify its citizens (and their line of descent) and accurately maintain tax rolls, conscription lists, and property deeds (Scott 1998). 17. In 1933, 37.6% of Chinese university students were enrolled in faculties of law (statistics culled from Escarra 1936: 372–83). In 1895, there were three times as many law students as medical students in Ottoman higher education (S. Shaw and E. K. Shaw 1977: Table 2.3). 18. Japanese codes were also influential in China up till 1928. 19. Similarly, the French adviser to the Chinese government in 1916, Georges Padoux, had earlier served the Thai government in the same


capacity (Escarra 1936: 133). But prior to 1921, Japanese advisers predominated in China.

20. I should add that Jean Escarra’s own writings seemed to reflect the ideas of the sociological school of jurisprudence described below. 21. The sociological school itself evolved from earlier Historical (‘found’) and Analytical (‘made’) schools of jurisprudence. For a general discussion of the sociological school, see Pound (1959). For the sociological school in China, see Macauley (forthcoming).

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10 A History of Caste in South Asia: From Pre-colonial Polity to Biopolitical State Ananya Vajpeyi

Part I Introduction Indian history as a discipline stands at an interesting juncture at

the present moment. After yielding a large body of work over the past quarter-century, postcolonialism and subaltern studies have reached a saturation point as theoretical frameworks, historiographical methods and ideological templates. The accidental coincidence of

sixty years of Indian independence since 1947, and 150 years since the Great Rebellion of 1857, made 2007 a year of anniversarial

excess, with historians of South Asia from around the world wanting

to say something momentous about what are increasingly billed

as the first (unsuccessful) and second (successful) moments of India’s struggle for independence from British rule. Meanwhile, there has been a small but growing trend among historians of the British empire to defend its depredations in India in the name of cultural

contact, productive encounter, romantic love, benign modernization and globalization avant la lettre. Postcolonialists and subalternists now find themselves challenged by a style of revisionist history that seeks to justify colonialism and imperialism by uncovering the

so-called ‘human’ flip side of the economic, political, military and cultural impositions of West upon East. In a global intellectual and ideological climate of conservatism and reaction, it is no surprise that Indian history too, has become the site for a contest between

the resurgent Right and a Left in retreat. A key intervention in what has suddenly — and, it is to be hoped, temporarily — become a rather acrimonious field, stands to be made by pre-modernists and early modernists. What did the state look

like in India over the two centuries between the ascension of the last

AnanyaVajpeyi Great Mughal, Aurangzeb (r. 1657/8–1707), and the establishment

of the rule of Queen Victoria in 1857? What was the state of production in the subcontinent on the eve of the arrival of European languages? What was going on in the arts and sciences?

literary What was the world, which was neither lost nor destroyed, but

decidedly and irrevocably altered by the coming of white people with

their friendly and not-so-friendly motives? How was it that India escaped the genocides that befell the native peoples of the Americas, and the deadly subjugation that benighted Africa, and yet things

were never quite the same again for South Asians, once the East India Company and the missionaries had turned their covetous or Christian gaze, and the prows of their ships, eastwards? Like other historians of pre-colonial India, I too am interested in the

continuities and disruptions that marked the seventeenth and eighteenth

centuries, a period of profound cultural churning, and of the power struggle between Europeans and South Asians, that changed both parties in ways that shape and affect our lives to the present day.

Moreover, I am keen to situate my findings and analyses in a context that would clarify the parallels between the of India and of other important Asian regions in the same

comparative experiences period: Turkey, China and Persia, all of which shared a certain historical predicament. Shivaji the Sudra King

The particular history I want to elaborate begins in the seventeenth

century in Maharashtra. Maharashtra is the linguistic-cultural of the Marathi language, corresponding to a large state in contemporary western India, with its capital in Mumbai. This


region has a sustained history of popular movements, religious

sects, state formations, legal discourses and literary production centred on the theme of caste, from at least the twelfth century. Caste has long been recognized in Marathi culture for its propensity to internally differentiate and hierarchically arrange Hindu society

and to act, for better or for worse, as an organizing principle for the social identity, ritual status, economic privilege and political power of different groups. Simultaneously, the struggle against the humiliation of the lowest caste, the Sudra, has been a long one in

Maharashtra. Starting with the radical works of the Marathi saintpoets of medieval times, this tradition of questioning and contesting

A History of Caste in South Asia caste hierarchy and caste oppression has continued right into the twentieth century.1 Sometime around 1650, a warlord in Maharashtra began his

dramatic ascent to political power. This man, by the name of Shivaji,

came from a family of chieftains who served local kings big and small, while his father, Shahji, also served, for a time, the Mughal emperor in distant Delhi. Like his forefathers, Shivaji was responsible for raising and managing seasonal armies, defending camps in thinlypopulated outposts of whichever kingdom he happened to be serving, and collecting revenue for his royal paymasters. Shivaji, however, had other plans. He spent some twenty-five years building forts of his own in hilly and coastal terrain, annexing new territories that no one save himself could properly map (leave aside control), securing the loyalty of the ordinary people of Maharashtra through his exploits, consolidating a fast-moving and recklessly brave personal militia, and freeing himself, sometimes gradually and sometimes through outright conflict, from the yoke of other rulers. By the year 1674, at the age of forty-four, Shivaji was thus ready to become king (Vajpeyi 2005). Kingship may have seemed to him to be the next logical step, but king of what kingdom? And king in whose eyes? What lands would he declare to be under his rule, and who would recognize his rule as legitimate? To answer or indeed pre-empt these questions, Shivaji decided to perform a royal consecration, an investiture ceremony that would confirm his kingship in full public view, with all of the apparatus of religion, ritual and political pageantry, to uphold his claim to royalty. In June 1674 Shivaji was joined, in Raigarh in western Maharashtra (just southwest of the city of Pune), by his personal pundit Gagabhatta, a Brahmin from Banaras, a town on the banks of the river Ganges not far from the Mughal seat of power, Delhi. Gagabhatta came from a Marathi-speaking family of Sanskrit scholars and, thanks to his own writings as well as the writings of his father and uncle, was recognized all over northern and central India as an authority on matters of law, dharma, and hermeneutics, mimamsa. Recently, Gagabhatta’s intellectual milieu in seventeenth century Banaras has been reconstructed and described in the greatest detail in the work of Sheldon Pollock ( Pollock 2000; 2001a; 2001b; 2002). On payment of a very large fee, Gagabhatta wrote for Shivaji the text of a coronation ritual, a personal eulogy in poetic form, and the programme for how

ceremonies were to be conducted over the course of seven days of

prayers, rituals, feasting and celebration in the high summer of 1674, between 29 May and 6 June. Shivaji, however, had many rivals in Maratha country. Other local warlords, some of them from distinguished families with serious

political aspirations of their own, questioned Shivaji’s claim to royal power. Who was he to be king over them? Did he not come from a family of uncertain pedigree? It was well known that Shivaji’s father and grandfather were powerful, but hardly aristocratic.

Shivaji therefore hurriedly sent an emissary to the Rajput kingdom of Mewar, and had the Sisodia family there, that ruled from the magnificent city of Udaipur, agree to the notion that he, Shivaji, was descended from one of their own ancestors. In other words,

Shivaji’s emissary returned to Raigarh with a genealogy that linked Shivaji to the Sisodia Rajputs, a clan of chieftains both actually powerful as well as universally recognized as being highborn. Gagabhatta of course, as a juridical authority on matters of both

birth and kingship, instantly ratified this genealogy, discovered in so timely a fashion! The genealogy proved, as it were, that Shivaji was a Rajput. What did this mean? ‘Rajput’, literally, means ‘son of a king’, and is the name for a number of powerful clans that in

the late medieval period controlled large parts of northwest India, called, eponymously, Rajputana, today Rajasthan. The Rajputs often worked under Mughal overlordship, but no one, including the Mughals themselves, denied that they were kings in their own

right, and of aristocratic stature. To declare Shivaji a Rajput was to say, effectively, that he was

a Ksatriya, a member of the second highest caste in the traditional Hindu scheme of four castes, below the Brahmin caste but above all

others and, most importantly, in the caste that is appropriate for kings. Gagabhatta had to transform Shivaji from a local warlord, of which there were many in Maharashtra at the time, into a Ksatriya king, of which there could be only one. Gaga performed

all the rituals proper to Ksatriya status. He invested Shivaji with a sacred thread and remarried him to his many wives by reciting mantras that are permitted only at high-caste weddings. Finally, he wrote a special ritual of royal consecration, endowing Shivaji

with a throne, a crown and, above all, a gorgeous canopy, called a chatra (literally umbrella), thereby anointing him Chatrapati Shivaji

Maharaj (Shivaji, King with the Royal Canopy), and ruler over all his dominions. In far Delhi, an imperial city, Aurangzeb was called Alamgir (Ruler of the World); in humble Raigarh, Shivaji was called Chatrapati, signifying a new centre of power to rival Mughal with a claim of Ksatriya kingship the likes of which had not been seen anywhere on the subcontinent for a long, long time. The Mughal emperor was the most powerful monarch in the civilized world during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, controlling the most land, population and wealth at a time when several important dynasts ruled simultaneously in Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Iran and the various capitals of imperial Europe, Eurasia and East Asia. Shivaji’s challenge to the last of the Great Mughals, then, was no mean accomplishment for a man of uncertain, indeed fictive lineage who spent most of his short life of fifty years on horseback and who never built a city, a palace, a temple or even so much as a library in his own name. I want to return us, however, to the figure of Gagabhatta (or Gaga), the pundit who made Shivaji not just king but a Ksatriya king, with all of the right trappings of ritually ordained kingship. What is so striking, actually, is not the spectacular birth of a king, which was the rebirth of a low-caste man as a high-caste ruler that Gaga managed to pull off in full view of thousands of spectators. That was no doubt a feat of, what shall we call it, pre-modern public and event management, not to mention social engineering, not to mention what could be described as ‘entrepreneurial kingship’, on the part of this winning team of Shivaji and Gagabhatta. But what is even more remarkable, for our purposes, is the fact that in his scholarly career, which was long and distinguished, Gaga in fact wrote entire works about the lowliness of the low-caste, the Sudra, and about how a Sudra is, precisely on account of low birth, prevented from access to the knowledge of sacred texts and the exercise of any kind of social or political power. Gagabhatta, personal ritualist, poet and priest to Shivaji, was also a legal expert on the subject of the Sudra, the lowest of the four castes of traditional Hindu caste society. I titled my dissertation Politics of Complicity, Poetics of Contempt: A History of the Sudra in Maharashtra, 1650–1950 CE, to try and capture, among other themes, the shocking contradiction between Gaga’s academic and political careers, wherein he functioned simultaneously as the



scholarly authority on Sudra subjectivity, with all of its attendant disempowerment, and the kingmaker, in the pay of the most important Sudra monarch of India’s early modern period. I read Gaga’s Sanskrit works as well as the oeuvre of his father, uncle and other Banaras scholars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in some detail, to see how they theorized and elaborated their ideas of social inequality, ritual hierarchy and political power, especially centred on the person of the Sudra. I call this set of texts, which has never been explored systematically in the South Asian scholarship up until now, the ‘Sudra Archive’, a corpus limited in time and space and serving the extraordinary function of reiterating the rules of Dharma at the very moment of their utter breakdown. This clash of abstract normative theory and on-the-ground politics, which illustrates the centrality of caste categories to pre-modern South Asia, was going on, I hasten to underline, before the colonial powers began to cast a greedy glance on our part of the world. At this point the colonial state was not even a threatening speck in the eyes of either Shivaji or Aurangzeb, one an upwardly-mobile Sudra, the other a pious Sunni Muslim, who between them controlled the greater part of what would, two centuries later, become the jewel in the crown of the British empire. Shivaji had some European ambassadors and observers at his royal consecration, who have recorded for us the splendid scenes before them; but what they witnessed was the enactment of social identities, political power and ideologies of state that had very little reference to the presence or gaze of foreigners. Gagabhatta was not one of those hundreds of Brahmins who would, throughout the latter part of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, interpret and translate Sanskrit texts and advocate their values to white masters, thereby reinventing and confirming for the consumption of the colonial state. Gaga was, rather, located squarely within the intellectual, social and political world of Indian pre-modernity, where caste was not a matter of trying to define and essentialize India to Europeans but, instead, a key factor in the pragmatics of identity and power framed in terms understood by all the actors, rulers and ruled, who inhabited and constituted this world. The salience of caste was such that the Rajput genealogy and without Gaga’s machinations in transforming him from a Sudra into a Ksatriya, it is not clear that Shivaji could have become Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, founder



of the Maratha dynasties, in that crystalline moment in early June 1674.

From Caste Disputes to Jotiba Phule In the centuries that followed Shivaji’s short but remarkable life — he lived from 1630 to 1680 — his Sudra kingship functioned as an important symbol, in Maharashtra, of the possibilities for selffashioning and self-transcendence within the limits of caste society. Indeed, Thomas Blom Hansen calls the figure of Shivaji ‘the master signifier’ of Maharashtra’s history; in some sense, he has served as a symbolic resource far outside his region, throughout the Indian subcontinent, over the past 350 years (Hansen 2001: 20). During his lifetime, Gagabhatta was repeatedly called upon to adjudicate legal disputes between various caste groups, wherein groups perceived as lowly demanded better ritual status and recognition of such status from Brahmin authorities, whereas rival groups asserted that caste was not a matter of negotiation and flux, and those who were low down on the social ladder should know their place and remain there. The disputes continued throughout the late seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, even as the law underwent radical changes, ultimately transitioning from a patchwork of local legal regimes, some Hindu, some Muslim, some other, into a more-or-less uniform Anglo-Indian system of law. What I would like to stress, again, is that caste disputes preceded, persisted into and through, and finally continued even beyond the period when India fell under the unified Anglo-Indian legal system used by the colonial state. This continuity of dispute over the categories and classifications of caste is something that we can trace, and I have tried to outline in my work, through the legal archive of Maharashtra, recorded in Sanskrit, Marathi and English over the course of three centuries. I have kept to the thread of cases in which the precedent of Shivaji and of his caste, the Marathas, is cited, and/or the cases that Gagabhatta personally presided over, but in fact many different themes of disputation and negotiation could be traced, to show the deeper, pre-colonial history of social categories in South Asia.2 By the mid-nineteenth century, the example of Shivaji was so well established in Maharashtra that the social reformer Jotiba Phule (1827–90), a man belonging to the humble mali or cultivator caste, wrote an entire ballad about the life of Shivaji, describing


him as a son of the soil, a ruler dear to ordinary folk and king of the Sudras (Phule 1869). Phule, was educated in a Christian school, wrote and spoke in English in addition to Marathi and was exposed to the modern ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity. For him, Shivaji embodied an early attempt to realize egalitarian values in Maharashtra’s political history. As a Sudra who became a monarch, Shivaji represented, to Phule, a perfect example of how low-caste people could take their destiny into their own hands and stake their claim to the realms of ritual prestige, social power and political participation. Phule can be described as an early democrat. Shivaji’s caste mobility, his success in making himself into a Ksatriya and a king, thereby defeating the forces of orthodoxy that would have resisted his rise to royalty, gave Phule a powerful literary and historical symbol to work with and to deploy in his polemics against the upper-caste monopoly of all kinds of power in South Asia. In my book (under preparation) I read Phule’s ballad on Shivaji at some length, building on the pioneering work of the British historian Rosalind O’Hanlon (O’Hanlon 1985).

Ambedkar and the Sudra But the real modernist capture of Shivaji as ‘master signifier’ came from the man whom Phule inspired, and who in turn changed the very terms of both the theory and the practice of caste in late colonial India: Dr B. R. Ambedkar. Ambedkar (1891–1956), a Maharashtrian like Shivaji and Phule before him, was the founder of the Dalit Movement, a leader of India’s anti-imperial Nationalist struggle, free India’s first law minister, the principal architect of the Constitution of the Republic of India, and, in his final years, the proponent of a new sect of Buddhism. Born into the Untouchable mahar caste, Ambedkar made sure that Untouchability, perhaps the single worst feature of the caste system that had adhered to Hindu society for well over two millennia, was both removed from practice as well as rendered illegal and unconstitutional in postcolonial India. It was this one man who ensured, together and often in conflict with Mahatma Gandhi, that even members of the lowest castes and former-Untouchables, in other words Sudras as well as Dalits, could enter into the framework of equal citizenship in democratic India. He also wrote special provisions into the Indian Constitution to recognize the historical injustice against low castes and Untouchables, and to compensate for centuries of oppression

with the help of reservations in various sectors of employment, education, government service and so on.3 It is only now, a good halfcentury after his death, that we are beginning to understand properly the full extent of Ambedkar’s contribution in revolutionizing the language of politics in modern India, changing the default from the language of caste to the language of citizenship. On the eve of India’s independence from British rule in 1947, Ambedkar wrote a book titled Who were the Shudras? (Ambedkar 1946). This work attacks the category of the Sudra from every conceivable disciplinary and historical vantage, until Ambedkar succeeds in deconstructing it entirely. He has no patience for inequality. He cannot condone it in the name of history, religion, ritual, law, science, culture or indeed any system for the regulation and amelioration of collective human life. For Ambedkar, while Dharma rests on the pillar of social inequality, the ethical society must be founded on the idea of equality. Hindu society is, according to Ambedkar, irremediably non-egalitarian. Again and again, its history, under different names and in different guises, in service of diverse ideologies but under the spell of the same values, it throws up its Brahmins and its Sudras, the oppressors and the oppressed. Sometimes these oppressed are altogether ground down, crushed — that is the literal meaning of the word ‘Dalit’.

throughout iniquitous outcaste,

In Ambedkar’s telling, Shivaji’s story is a part of this narrative

of persistent inequality: he is deserving of his power but unable to attain it without the help of a Brahmin, the conniving and unprincipled Gagabhatta, or without the entitlement that attaches to Ksatriya status. In a truly modern India, the attainments of a person like Shivaji would be freed from the thrall of both his previously low and subsequently high caste. Modernity is to be caste-blind; it is to create a society that allows equal opportunities to all citizens. For Ambedkar, the Shivaji story is important not for the account of what he did but rather as a cautionary tale, showing us exactly what it ought not be necessary for a leader of men to do, once India embraces equal citizenship, democracy, fraternity and freedom. Thus, Ambedkar’s interpretation of Shivaji’s Sudra kingship or of his belated and contrived entry into Ksatriya status in order to attain royalty is very different from Phule’s; in fact, it is opposed to Phule’s interpretation. For Phule, Gagabhatta was a practical

man, and his services to Shivaji were not so much a matter of

complicity as of compliance. For Ambedkar, Gaga was not the revisionist

he ought to have been — he did not change theory to fit history; rather, he changed the status of Shivaji to preserve kingship as an upper-caste, Ksatriya prerogative. Moreover, in Ambedkar’s

extraordinary work of deconstruction, the Sudra literally disappears

from both past and present — the Sudra is neither this or that person, nor this or that group, nor this or that race. Instead, the Sudra is the concrete trace, in history, of all the most regressive

and violent traits of Hindu society and, more broadly, South Asian culture. It is the Achilles’ heel of Indic civilization that will, one day, take down the entire edifice and force us to rebuild India from the ground up, as a place at once real and metaphorical that

accommodates both the strong and the weak, and allows each one the opportunity to become his or her own best self. The Constitution of India (1950), written under Ambedkar’s stewardship as the chairman of the Drafting Committee, could

have been the charter of this India — new, free and equal. But in fact Ambedkar himself lost faith in the idea of ever transforming a country composed largely of Hindus and of many others who were not Hindu but nevertheless shared Hindu social ideologies and

cultural practices, and who did not show strong signs of resistance, protest or dissent. Even Muslims and Christians in India practice caste. Towards the very end of his life, in the late 1950s, Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, taking with him many thousands of Dalits

and founding, in the process, a new sect that came to be called Ambedkarite Buddhism. To embrace Buddhism was to abandon all hope of reforming Hinduism and caste-based Hindu society; it was to repeat the Buddha’s own gesture, made 2500 years ago, of

rejecting the world of power and its pathologies, and retreating into a dispassionate contemplation of the relentless flux of identities, relationships and perceptions that constitutes human experience. Ambedkar’s Buddhist turn can be read as a rather unexpected

denouement, perhaps something of an anti-climax, to his otherwise decidedly worldly struggle with the pragmatics of social hierarchy and political power. Ambedkar wanted to achieve what he called, in the title of his essay, ‘The Annihilation of Caste’ ( Ambedkar

1991). But in the end, he left caste society, because caste society never left him, as indeed it never left India.

The Many Lives of Caste Perhaps it is appropriate to take stock of the period I have tried

very quickly to cover thus far; 1650 to 1950 is, we must admit, a long time. Luckily for us, the story of caste in this period, which

spans 300 years from the precolonial, through the colonial, into the postcolonial phase of Indian history, is for one thing located in

Maharashtra, and for another book-ended by two extraordinarily charismatic figures, Shivaji and Ambedkar, both of whom give to a historian a great deal of material to work with. I have also read

(though I have not discussed here) a number of texts in Sanskrit, Marathi and English, all of which address in some genre or other

the broad theme of the category of the Sudra and, in particular, the person of Shivaji as a Sudra king. In my work, I spend the most time setting up and then opening up what I earlier called the Sudra Archive, a body of ritual and legal texts in Sanskrit written by Gagabhatta and his relatives and colleagues, which elaborate

in painful detail the Brahminical conception of Sudra identity, rights, rituals, privileges, prohibitions, professions, etc. This corpus

of texts was produced in a small number during a limited period, from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries, most of them composed by Banaras scholars. In a sense, all these Sanskrit texts raise the very question that Ambedkar resurrected in 1946: Who is a Sudra? It is important to

take note of this moment of civilizational attention to the problem of low-caste subjectivity — attention that is entextualized in a limited body of works in Sanskrit, many of which have survived into the present. According to the dominant position in South Asianist scholarship at the moment, caste had very little meaning

before the exoticizing and essentializing gaze of the ‘ethnographic state’ created by the British in order to rule India, or, at least, little

meaning that historians can reasonably hope to recapture and All the more reason, then, for us to be alert to the textual

reconstruct. archive as well as the historical record on the Sudra available to us from, say, the seventeenth century. On the contrary, I have tried to show that caste was exceedingly

pertinent in a number of spheres of pre-modern life: scholarly debate, legal activity, political conflict, state formation and all manner of literary and cultural representation. This is best illustrated via the history of Maharashtra over the last three and half centuries, because Maharashtra has not only a polyvalent figure of authority

like Shivaji, who acts as a metonym for the history of caste, religion

and many other themes in his region, but also a radical leader like Ambedkar, who was both a masterful historian and a debunker of the forms of social inequality that had been cemented through history. Both Shivaji and Ambedkar are important cultural symbols in Maharashtra and beyond, and as such they mobilize communities of identity and affect, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.

However, I must note that similar narratives await elaboration from other parts of central and southern India in the same period. Kingship in the late medieval period was more often than not the prerogative of men of low or ill-defined caste, from tribal, pastoral or nomadic backgrounds, who nonetheless seized power and created a multitude of small to medium states all over peninsular India just

prior to the arrival of the British, French and Portuguese on Indian shores, and the disintegration of the Mughal empire in the north.

Part II Ambedkar and Caste in Modernity I want to turn now, once more, to Ambedkar. Ambedkar was not just a politician. He was also a scholar and a lawyer. He had a Ph.D. from Columbia University at a time when men from Untouchable communities were seldom even literate, leave aside educated, and

then he had his legal degree and license to practice from Gray’s Inn in London. Incidentally, his principal contemporaries in India’s nationalist movement, Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah, were all as well, and all educated in England. Like Gandhi and Nehru,

lawyers Ambedkar was well read, deeply immersed in Indian history and extraordinarily prolific in terms of his own scholarly, polemical and

religious writings. (At present there are fourteen volumes of his collected works, including a massive tome called The Buddha and His Dhamma, first published posthumously in 1957, that tries to re-tell the Buddha’s sermons for a modern audience.) Clearly Ambedkar was engaged, until his very dying breath, in the act of reinventing India’s long past, thereby acknowledging it to be, at every moment,

present. Central to this grappling with the presence of the past in the present was, for radical Ambedkar as for devoutly Hindu Gandhi and progressive socialist Nehru, the problem of caste. For no matter how it changes, from a set of orthodox ritual categories

to a set of post-Enlightenment political categories, from pre-modern

polities to first the colonial and then the postcolonial state, from religious community to secular society, it appears that at no point in South Asian history does caste simply go away. In the tenth mandala of the Rg Veda, the genesis of caste society

is described like so, as the four orders of men arise from the body of the Primordial Being, Purusa: With uncounted heads Uncounted eyes and

Uncounted feet He moves As all of Creation.

Verily is He uncountable Beyond the grasp Of the hands of men. From his mouth came forth The men of learning And of his arms Were warriors made From his thighs came The trading people And his feet gave birth To servants.4

In the Preamble to the Constitution of India, the genesis of society

is laid out as follows, as the body of equal citizens arises from the will of the people: WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity

and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

I am comparing these two very different fragments of what are, each in its own way, foundational texts of India’s sense of its own history and historicity, each in its own way a sacred text, an article of faith, because I want to illustrate, dramatically, as it were, how two absolutely opposed visions of social order — one radically one fundamentally egalitarian; one ancient, one modern — can and do coexist in the very same culture and drive, with equal force if in opposite directions, the nation’s advance into the future. The standing body of anthropomorphic but supernatural Purusa is the icon of hierarchical society — Brahmins at the head, Sudras at the feet — while in the sovereign secular democratic republic of India the principles governing the relations between people are those of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. With his unparalleled sense of history, Ambedkar grasped, at once, the reality of both these imagined communities, as well as their weird simultaneity in the ever-present past of India. In fact, we could say that Ambedkar was himself, as the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution, the author of one of these visions, one that subsequently was adopted by the entire nation, which is today, in 2008, one plus billion strong. The more abiding truth, however, is that even the Constitution of India, utopian as it may be, must remain attentive to caste and address it in a proactive fashion, which is does through the complicated legal and political apparatuses of reservation/affirmative action. The Constitution must recognize what it names the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, categories that rehabilitate former Untouchables and make them eligible for special protections and provisions. All the political will in the world cannot simply dismiss and undo, at the stroke of the midnight hour, as Nehru said on 15 August 1947, centuries of differentiation, hierarchy, othering and oppression. To make a truly equal society is, to paraphrase Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the everunfinished labour of democracy (Mehta 2003: ix–x).


Caste and Biopolitics In August 2007, India completed sixty years of independence from

British rule. In today’s India, political parties contest elections on a caste platform; voters constitute themselves into caste blocs; reservations are a burning issue in public debate over the distribution and redistribution of goods and resources in society; caste is firmly integrated into the new knowledge economy, the marriage market

and higher education; and state and corporate institutions are much more openly concerned with caste than they were, say, at the moment of the nation’s founding six decades ago. In other words, caste has become, along with religion and class of course, one of the organizing vectors of contemporary Indian social and political life. It is one of the mainstays of identity politics in India, the way race and ethnicity are in Europe or in the United States. Caste may not govern what people eat, how they dress, how they speak, how they carry themselves, how they perform rituals, how they worship and how they spell their last names, as it did two generations ago. But, paradoxically, caste does govern, very often, whom they vote for, whom they marry, how much they study and what work they end up doing. In other words, caste has a fully entrenched presence and a role to play in politics, in electoral democracy, in social reproduction and in the spheres of education and employment. It is in light of this salience of caste to both the life of the people and the operations of the state that I want to begin talking about caste as the form taken, in India, by what is elsewhere called ‘biopolitics’. Biopolitics, a term given to us by Michel Foucault and most recently used by Giorgio Agamben, seeks to capture how a population is constituted, classified, categorized, managed, manipulated and murdered by the apparatuses of governmentality. Taken literally, biopolitics is the politics of life, bios — life in the sense not of biological life but, rather, human life in its peculiar capacity to organize itself in ever more complex ways into abstract patterns that are displayed to a much lesser extent by other species of natural beings. If bios is the conglomeration of humans into a political collective, then biopolitics is the full array of institutions and entailed by the challenge of governing such a collective. Foucault is concerned with a particular subset of biopolitical practices and with the institutions associated with what he calls ‘biopower’, arising in eighteenth-century Europe: the prison, the penal colony, the asylum, the hospital and so on, as also demography, eugenics, criminal psychiatry, public hygiene and urban sanitation. The idea I am advancing is that biopolitics in South Asia cannot be understood absent caste. Whether in pre-modernity or in modernity, whether through Dharma or through democracy, for better or for worse, caste shapes the very bios, the political life of the human collective in India, permeating institutions, driving practices and



giving governmentality the specific form that it has in our part of the world. In its present-day avatar, caste has moved away from its traditional aspects related to religion, ritual, and corporeal it has become, instead, that which provides the grid for the organization of the political life of Indians, Hindus and non-Hindus, giving them a template for politics that shares many features with race as it operates in the West.

practices; Ambedkar, the Colonial State and Biopolitics

My principal claim is that caste in all of its meanings today is in the main biopolitical; it is about the organization of the political life of Indian citizens; it is also about the management of populations that exist as political entities, through a complex network of political parties, electoral democracy, identity politics, legal, juridical and legislative enactments, endogamy, group reproduction, and public and private institutions. Furthermore, it was Ambedkar, through his direct or indirect authorship of the Constitution of India, especially in its dimensions that deal with Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, reservations and other sorts of caste-based compensatory justice, who formalized the transformation of caste into biopolitics proper for the modern postcolonial Indian state. Ambedkar of course had no access to either this term or this concept, but rendering caste biopolitical was the principal contribution of his lifelong intervention in the politics and historiography of caste in late colonial as well as early postcolonial India. In my work, I focus on Ambedkar’s study of the meanings of caste in India’s past, and in particular on his book-length engagement with the category of the Sudra through history. For future research, I am interested in what Ambedkar did to change the discourse on caste and to transform the meaning of the categories of inequality, domination and violence from a traditional context of hierarchy and differentiation into the language of modern politics and equal citizenship, and more, biopolitics. It should be noted, though, that, before Ambedkar’s Constitution, the British in India had ushered the discourse of caste into its first biopolitical moment, linking caste to morbidity, mortality, birth and longevity. They had done so through what Nicholas Dirks has called the ‘ethnographic state’, with all of its apparatuses and of colonial governmentality, including the census, ethnology, linguistics, military recruitment, population studies, demographic statistics, the history of religion, Indology, and proto-Race Science


(Dirks 2001). 5This is precisely the kind of biopolitics that Foucault explores in Europe; for Britain, it unfolds in the colonies, first and foremost India. But Ambedkar debunks all of these Orientalist, Indological and pseudo-scientific discourses of caste invented by the colonial state, in his book Who were the Sudras? He wrests the idea of caste back from the realm of nature, natural — biological — life, whereby it attaches to people in the shape of their skull, the length of their nose, the colour of their skin and the texture of their hair, and places it squarely back in the realm of culture, cultural — political — life, expressed through higher order relations of hierarchy or equality between people and groups. The Census of India, too, stopped recording caste-related data in any direct fashion after the Census of 1931, a good decade and half before Independence. In time, I hope to flesh out how biopolitics changes, in India, from what it means under colonialism to what it comes to mean, postAmbedkar, covering the distance from the ethnographic state to the biopolitical state. If we return to the ‘Purusa Sukta’, the cosmogonic hymn to

Purusa in the Rg Veda cited earlier, we can see now that the vision of a fourfold hierarchy that is articulated there is also a vision of bios, of collective human life that is always already political, even at the very moment of the creation of the world or of the emergence of the world from the body of the Cosmic Being, Purusa. Society is extruded from Purusa’s supernatural body in its hierarchical form — there is no prior stage, as it were, of the pre-social, or the purely natural life of human beings without any sense of social order and social relations, whether equal or unequal. There they are, at the originary moment, at the beginning of the world as we know it — Brahmin, Ksatriya, Vaisya, Sudra: scholar, warrior, trader and servant. Ambedkar recognized that when the very foundational myths of a culture are about political and not about biological life, that when a culture always, from its earliest texts of cosmogony, presupposes a hierarchical bios, then it is imperative to address inequality, to write into the new text, the foundational text of the Constitution of the Republic, the instruments for the acknowledgement and the redress of historical injustice.

nationhood, Caste and Necropolitics

I am also interested in what Giorgio Agamben and Achille Mbembe call ‘necropolitics’ or ‘thanatopolitics’, the politics not of

life but of death (Mbembe 2003). Mbembe defines ‘necropolitics’

as ‘...contemporary forms of subjugation of life to the power of death...’ (Ibid.: 39), and is concerned with forms of sovereignty that are about ‘the generalized instrumentalization of human existence and the material destruction of bodies and populations’ (Ibid.: 13; emphasis in the original). I have begun to think about

extreme violence against Dalits in contemporary India as being necropolitical. The violence against Dalits, which very often takes

shockingly brutal forms — and I have in mind here what Arjun Appadurai has described as ‘ethnocidal violence’ — is precisely about the ‘instrumentalization of human existence and the material

destruction of bodies and populations...’ (Appadurai 1998; 1997). Caste violence in India results in news reports about the burning

of Dalit homes and villages, the rape of Dalit women, the lynching and murder, sometimes by mobs in full public view, of Dalit men or women who may have tried to, say, marry outside their caste, extra-judicial killings of Dalits, the illegal detention and torture of Dalits in prisons, and other forms of brutality that combine deadly

bodily harm to the targetted person with a symbolic message of threat, hate and hostility to the community as a whole. Entire

families and villages are punished for what upper-caste aggressors see as the transgressions of Dalit individuals. Middle and uppercaste landowning groups maintain private militias to terrorize Dalit

tenant farmers and landless agricultural labour into working under conditions resembling slavery and feudalism. Often, even the so-

called Other Backward Castes, the OBCs, former Sudras, turn on Dalits. This kind of extreme to fatal injury wreaked on Dalits is common in states like Bihar and Haryana. India’s infamous ‘caste wars’, especially those we witness nowadays in North India, may be identified as necropolitical.

Conclusion My purpose in this article has been to suggest the importance of developing a robust theory of biopolitics as the proper idiom in which to talk about the inequality, domination and violence we see in the context of caste in India. Whether we are interested in a philology of oppression in South Asian pre-modernity, or in the translation and historicization of necropolitics and biopolitics in contemporary India, caste remains relevant in South Asia before, through and

beyond the colonial moment. Caste is particular to South Asian cultures, and it responds to colonialism in particular ways. It ought to be comparable, then, to distinctive cultural phenomena in other parts of Asia that similarly preceded and survived colonial rule, but only by becoming radically redefined under the conditions of modernity.

Notes 1. Versions of this article were presented during invited lectures I gave at the Columbia University South Asia Seminar and the Fordham University Law School Global Law Seminar in New York in January and February 2007. I thank the organizers and audiences of both lectures. In this article I draw on research presented in my doctoral dissertation (Vajpeyi 2004). 2. The work of the legal historian Donald R. Davis, Jr. is instructive in this regard. 3. Reservations are, roughly, affirmative action in US terminology. 4. ‘Purusa Sukta’ is Sanskrit for ‘Hymn to Purusa’, and occurs in the tenth chapter (‘Mandala’) of the Rg Veda: 10: 90(1–16). Verses 1 and 12 are cited above. A reliable edition of the Rg Veda is Doniger O’Falherty (1981). 5. Dirks builds on the seminal contribution of Bernard Cohn to our understanding of the colonial state in India; Dirks’ colleagues have also touched upon this subject. See especially Appadurai (1993) and Chatterjee (2006).

Glossary Key Indic Terms Ksatriya (Sanskrit): Second highest of the four castes of traditional Hindu caste society; the warrior caste; the caste proper to rulers. Rajput (All North Indian languages): Literally, ‘son of a king’; a warrior caste found in many parts of India, but especially in Rajasthan; in medieval times, the caste most likely to constitute the service nobility under the Mughals. Sudra (Sanskrit): The lowest of the four castes of traditional Hindu caste society, the others being, in descending order, Brahmin, Ksatriya and Vaisya. Chatra (Sanskrit): Umbrella; canopy used as royal insignia. Chatrapati (Sanskrit): ‘Lord of the Umbrella’ or ‘Ruler with the Royal Canopy’; royal title of Shivaji and subsequently his descendants in the Maratha dynasties.

Alamgir (Persian): Literally, ‘Ruler of the World’; title taken by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (d. 1707). Dharma (Sanskrit): Law/religion/normative system/totality of natural and social order. Dharma also connotes righteous action. Mimamsa (Sanskrit): Science of Vedic hermeneutics, a central discipline in Sanskrit knowledge systems. Mali (Marathi): Cultivator/gardener; name of a Sudra caste in Maharashtra. Mahar (Marathi): Formerly, Untouchable, now Dalit caste in Maharashtra, a caste to which Ambedkar belonged. Dalit (Marathi): Literally, ‘ground down’, ‘crushed’, ‘oppressed’; a person below the lowest caste, an outcaste, an Untouchable. The four castes: Brahmin, Ksatriya, Vaisya, Sudra (in descending order

in the social hierarchy). Untouchable/outcaste: Someone below the lowest of the four castes, or outside the caste system altogether; in modern terminology, Dalit. The constitutional vocabulary is: Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled

Tribe (ST). Rg Veda (Sanskrit): The first of four Vedas, the earliest compositions in Sanskrit to be found on the Indian subcontinent, containing hymns, myths, mantras and a variety of other genres of text, conventionally dated to ca. 1500 BCE. The Vedas supposedly have no author. Purusa (Sanskrit): Cosmic Being; Primordial Man.

Important Dates Dr B. R. Ambedkar: 1891–1956; Ambedkar’s book: Who were the Sudras? 1946; Ambedkar’s book: The Buddha and his Dhamma : 1957. Aurangzeb: 1618–1707; Aurangzeb’s rule: 1657/58–1707. Constitution of India: 26 January 1950 (whereby 26 January became India’s Republic Day). Gagabhatta (different dates are available in the literature): 1620–1685/ 1640–1700. India’s independence: 15 August 1947; Pakistan’s founding: 14 August 1947. Jotiba Phule: 1827–1890; Phule’s ballad on the life of Shivaji: 1869. Shivaji: 1630–1680; Shivaji’s royal consecration: 1674.

References Ambedkar, B. R. 1970 [1946]. Who were the Shudras? How they came to be the Fourth Varna in Indo-Aryan Society. Bombay: Thacker and Sons. ———. 1991. ‘ Annihilation of Caste,’ in his Social Justice and Political Safeguards for Depressed Classes. In K. L. Chanchreek (ed.), Caste and Society Series: 1, pp. 23–74. New Delhi: Shree Publishing House.

Appadurai, Arjun. 1993. ‘ Number in the Colonial Imagination.’ In Carol Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer (eds), Orientalism and the Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, Ch. 10. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ———. 1997 [1996]. ‘ Life after Primordialism.’ In idem, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization , pp. 139–57. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ———. 1998. ‘Dead Certainty: Ethnic Violence in the Era of Globalization.’


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Index Abdülaziz 256–57

Abulhaj, R. 140n4 Adanir, Eikret 104n14 Afghanistan 157, 159, 191n8 Afghans 80 Afrasiyab dynasty 56, 58, 60 Africa 74, 75–76, 78–79, 85–87, 90, 102, 103n6, 282–83, 300 agriculture 2–4, 10, 37, 41, 50, 55–60, 62–63, 86, 92, 95–98, 117, 119–20, 123, 126–27,

129–31, 133–35, 142n20, 151– 53, 155–61, 163, 168–69, 171, 177–78, 192n20, 192n24, 193n31, 275–76, 284–89, 294n12, 316 Agamben, Giorgio 313, 315–16 Agmon, Iris 14 Ahir 155, 160, 192n27, 194n42 Aitchison 157 Ajnala 167 Akali movement 188

Akarl, Engin 12 Akbar, Muhammad 76, 94 Aksan, Virginia 32 Albania 89, 129 Alder, Ken 4 ‘Alamgir 94 Amasya 89 Ambala 168 Ambedkar, B. R. 16, 306–10, 312,

314–15 America 70n11, 74, 78–79, 86–87, 91, 95–96, 100, 102, 238–39, 253, 273, 292, 300 Amritsar 162, 165–68, 171, 195n46 Amsterdam 79 Anabaptists 88

Anatolia 68, 70n3, 89, 90–91, 97, 126, 139 Andalucía 96 Anglo-Sikh Wars 149, 184, 201n132 Angola 75 Annales 25 Anxi 33, 35

Appadurai, Arjun 316 Arabia 65–66, 68, 71n13, 71n16 Arabic 23, 53, 92, 132, 288 Aragon 85, 87 Arain 160, 194n42 Arakan 81

Argentina 86 Aristotle 263, 265–67, 270n8 Armenians 88 Asia 74, 102, 109, 115–16, 147, 150 Assam 81, 197n84 Atlantic Ocean 75, 77, 79, 84, 95 Attock 181 Aurangzeb 300, 303–304 Austro-Hungarian empire 102,

115 Avis, House of 75

Awadh 201n137 Awan 155, 157, 160, 192n27,

194n42 Baghdad 53, 60, 61, 65–66, 71n13,

71n16, 91 Balkans 41, 88, 90–92, 95, 97–98,

101, 104n14, 122, 129–30, 137, 139, 142n15 Baluch 155, 157, 160, 194n42 Banaras 301, 304, 309

banditry 210–12, 214, 217, 224 Bangladesh 190n1

Shared Histories of Modernity bania (Hindu trader) 156–58, 161–62, 193n28 Bannu 201n132 baojia 11–12, 210–14, 217, 226 n5, 248

British empire 6, 8, 9, 13, 16, 32, 75, 77, 79, 82, 100–102, 103n1, 147–89, 191n8, 191n19, 299, 304, 307, 309–10, 314, 315

Barcelona 85

149–50, 153, 155, 159, 165, 168, 175, 181–82, 186–87, 191n8 British Indian Army 9, 186-187 Buda 80 Budapest 91

Barkey, Karen 47

Barkul 35 Basra 48–49, 52–62, 66, 68, 70n6, 80 Batur Hungtaiji 27 Baudrillard, Jean 270 begs 41 Beijing 28, 41, 42, 209, 224, 275, 278, 283 Bengal 81, 93–94, 98–99, 169, 186, 197n77, 197n79, 197n84 Bengal Army 157, 195n50

Bentham, J. 124, 141n11 Berar , 197n84 Berkes, Niyazi 262 Berry, Sara 282–83 Bey, Koçi 140n4 Bhalwal 167

Biga 142n20 Bihar 93, 197n84, 316 biopolitics 313–16 biopower 313 Bolívar 100, 102 Bolivia 85–86 Bombay 160, 169, 186, 197n77, 197n79, 197n84

British Indian Army 147–48,

Buddhism 306, 308 Buddhism, Lamaist 27, 30–31, 33–34 Bulaq press 66 Bulgaria 89–90, 129 bullion 55 bureaucracy 2, 4, 7, 10–11, 14, 15,

40, 49, 68–69, 89–90, 92–93, 110–16, 121–22, 124, 129–30, 132, 134, 138–39, 140n1, 140n3, 183, 185–88, 190n6, 201n139, 206, 231, 234, 245–46, 249, 252, 257–61, 273, 281, 284 Burma 75, 81 Bursa 97 Byzantine empire 6, 23, 43n6, 51

boundaries 7, 10–11, 15, 31–32, 37, 43n5, 54, 136–37 Bourgon, Jerome 237 Braganza, House of 79

Cain, P. J. 79 Cairo 80, 91 Calcutta 186 Canton trade system 33 Caribbean Sea 85–86, 78 Carroll, Peter 11–12 Cartesianism 267 caste 16, 300–17 Castile 85, 95–96 Catholicism 82, 85, 87

Brahmin caste 301–302, 304–305,

Central Asia 8, 11, 38, 81, 92–93,

307, 309, 312, 315 Brandreth, Arthur 192n24 Braudel, Fernand 77 Brazil 75, 79 Brewer, John 4 Britain 3, 4, 33, 74, 81, 83, 189

123 Central Provinces 197n84 Ch’ü, T’ung-tsu 68–69 Chamber of Commerce, Suzhou 208, 214–16, 219–23, 225, 226n7, 227n8, 227n10

Bosnia 129

Index Chand, Nanak 200n115 Chang Gate, Suzhou 222–24 Charles I (of Spain) 80 Charles II 80 Charles IX (of France) 88 Charles V 80, 84 Chen Kuilong 205–206, 214 Chengdu 227n8

Crossley, Pamela 23, 26 Cuba 85 Cultural Revolution 34 Curzon 159 customary practices 49, 51, 53, 56, 68, 69, 70n5, 90, 110, 112–14, 119, 125, 156, 234, 236–39, 242, 275–76, 280–83, 288, 290

China 2–3, 6, 7, 11–12, 13–16, 21,

25, 28, 30, 33–35, 37–41, 47, 49, 67, 78–79, 82, 98, 101–102, 109, 114–16, 119, 123–25, 127–28,

140n1, 231–53, 273–86, 288, 290–93, 300 China, People’s Republic of 6, 13,

34, 41, 226n5, 290 Chinese Communist Party 225 China, Republic of 8, 207–208, 224–25, 226n5, 251, 290–92 Christianity 81, 85, 87–88, 91–93, 97, 101, 115, 119, 179, 190n6, 199n101, 290, 300, 306, 308 Christianity, Armenian 88

Christianity, Orthodox 88, 91 Citizen’s Communes, Suzhou 208 civil society 234, 273, 293n1 ‘clash of civilizations’ school 6 Cohn, Bernard 317n5 Cold War 74 colonization 21 Colson, Elizabeth 282-83 Columbia 86

Columbia University 310 Columbus, Christopher 87 commercial expansion 231, 252

commercialization 57, 62, 235 Confucianism 1, 2, 41, 119, 121,

127 contracts 232, 241–42, 275–76, 278–80, 293n4 Cooper, Fred 12, 17n3 Craik, H. D. 198n94 Crete 52, 59–60

Daguan chunxian Theatre 222 Dalai Lama 31, 33–34 Dalai Lama, Fifth 27 Dalai Lama, Sixth 28 Dalhousie 152

Dalits 306–307, 316 Damascus 288–89 Danube River 80 dates 56–59 Davies, Robert 162–65 Davis, Donald R., Jr. 317n2 Davison, Roderic 294n10 Deccan 94 deities 238 Dekhan 186 Delhi 150, 159, 186, 301, 303 Delhi, Sultanate of 94 Dera Ismail Khan 157 despotism 8, 14, 22, 25, 38, 109,

248 devshirme system 115–16

Dirks, Nicholas 314–15, 317n5

disease 85 Dogar 160 Dogras 154, 192n27, 194n42 Dom Henrique 75 Dom Sebastião 75 Domin, Dolores 191n14

Douie, J. M. 192n25 Duanfang 213 Dutch 77–79, 95 East Asia 76, 303 East India Company 83, 94, 148,


Economie politique by Jean Baptiste Say 141n10 Ecuador 86

Edwardes, H. B. 201n132 Egerton 162 Egypt 70n3, 97, 122, 292 England 4, 51, 70n11, 77, 79, 81,

95, 142n15, 158, 244, 292, 305, 310 Enlightenment 16, 291, 311 Escarra, Jean 291–92, 295n20 Estremadura 85 Ethiopia 76, 292

Euphrates River 54 Eurasia 303 Europe 1–4, 6–7, 13–14, 21, 37–39,

74, 77–79, 81, 83–84, 87–91, 97–99, 101, 109–12, 114–18, 121–23, 125, 137, 154, 179, 193n30, 205–206, 227 n9, 232–34, 237–47, 253, 253n2, 253n4, 256, 258, 273–74, 284–85, 280–81, 290–92, 294 n8, 294n15, 300, 303–304, 313, 315 European Union 102 executions 212, 223 extraterritoriality 273 Fârâbi 267 Faroqhi, Suraiya 2

Fazl, Shaikh Abu’l 93 Ferguson, Niall 74, 103n1 Fýqh (Islamic jurisprudence) 16,

263–67, 269 Fletcher, Joseph 6, 33 foreign concessions (China) 212 Foucault, Michel 141n9, 270, 313, 315 France 4, 47, 77, 79, 95, 128–29, 140n5, 140n6, 262, 291–92, 310 frontiers 21, 25–26 Fujian 237, 275–80, 282–83

Gagabhatta 301–309 Gakhar 155, 157, 160, 192 n27,

194n42 Galdan 27–28, 30

Galib, ªeyh 268–69 Gandhi, Mahatma 306, 310 Ganges river 301 Gansu corridor 33 Ganzhou 33 Geertz, Clifford 273–74 Genoa 88 Gerber, Haim 91, 293n1

Germany 23, 190n5, 290, 291 ‘ghazi’ thesis 22–23 Ghazzali 265 Goa 76 gold 97 Gordon, Robert 70n11 Gran, Peter 3 granaries 119, 121–24, 234–35, 247, 282 Gray’s Inn, London 310

Great Game 191n8 Great Wall 33, 35 Greeks 23, 88 Green Gang 214 Green Standard soldiers 216 Greene, Molly 60 Guanqian business district, Suzhou

215, 224 guanxi (connections) 252

Guha, Ranajit 3-4

Gujar 155, 160, 192n27, 194n42 Gujarat 93–94, 98–99 Gujranwala 164, 181 Gujrat 154, 164 Gurkhas 154 Gush Khan 27–30 Habermas, Jürgen 261 Habesh 90 Habib, Irfan 99

Habsburg empire 12, 40, 75–80,

82–87, 89–96, 101–103

Imin Kwaja 36 imperial formation 5, 26, 39–40

Han Chinese 23, 27, 32, 41

imperial formation, Qing 29

Hanafi school 50–51, 58–59, 64–65 Hansen, Thomas Blom 305 Hardt, Michael 74 Haryana 316 Hasan, Hussein bin (see Mimizadeh) Hastings, Warren 190n6 Hazara 163 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 190n7 Henru 312 Herder 23 Hijaz 76, 90 Hill Circle 167 Hinduism 92, 94, 156–57, 175, 199n105–106, 300, 303, 305–308,

Ýnalcýk, Halil 88, 96–97, 99, 103n11, 140n4 inamdar 172, 192n25

310, 314 Hispaniola 85 Hissar 168, 181, 197n73 History of the World by Sir Walter Ralegh 80–81 Hitler, Adolf 74 Ho Ping-ti 23 Holbrook, Victoria 268–69 Holy Roman Empire 290 Honduras 86 Hong Kong 42 Hopkins, A. G. 79 Hormuz 58 Huang, Philip 140n1, 235–37 Hubei 294n7 Humayun 80 Hunary 97–98

income registers (temettuat

defterleri) 132–33, 135, 143n27 India 3, 6, 8, 9, 13, 16, 32, 55, 66, 71n13, 71n16, 74, 80, 82–84, 92, 94, 98–99, 101–102, 147–89, 299–317

India, Republic of 101, 306, 312, 315 Indian Army Benevolent Fund 181–82 Indian Followers’ Relief Fund 182

Indian Ocean 54–55, 76–78, 81 Indian Soldiers’ Board 180–81 industrial revolution 2, 21 industrialization 4, 21, 99 industry 211

inheritance 51–52, 57, 59, 62, 69 Inquisition 87 iqta’ 61-62 Iran 6, 43n6, 83, 87, 91–92, 303 Iraq 7-8, 48–50, 52–53, 60, 65–68, 90, 286 Irbil 53 irrigation 156 Islam 8, 22–23, 27, 35, 41, 49–53, 55, 59–61, 64–68, 76, 83, 84,

87–88, 91–94, 97, 119, 126, 157, 175–76, 179, 192n21, 199n105–106,

Hung Taiji 36

255–70, 286, 289, 304–305, 308 9 11 , 15

Ibbetson, Denzil 159, 194n39 Iberia 80, 82, 84, 95 Ibn Khaldun 78 ibn Yusuf 65


imam (prayer leader) 132, 257

Italy 244 , 291

Imber, Colin 59

Izmir 97

Isma'il 91

Israel 16 Istanbul 51 63 66 97 134 ,




Jalili family 61, 63

Khattar 155, 160, 192n27, 194n42

janissaries 56, 115–16, 122, 141n8,

Khattri 101

260 Janjua 155, 160, 192n27, 194n42

Khokhar 160 Khoshots (Mongols) 27–30 Khoury, Dina 7–8 Khushab 167 Kiakhta 33 Kýnalýzâde 257, 265 kinship networks 13, 240–41, 244 Kipling, Rudyard 147, 189 Kirkuk 53

Japan 42, 87, 99, 205, 211, 215, 217,

226n5, 227n9, 294n18, 294n19 jasaks (Mongol banner commanders) 29–30, 36, 37 Jat Sikhs 154–55, 157, 160, 192n27,

194n42 Jebzongdanba Hutukhtu 33 Jerusalem 76 Jews 87–88, 93 Jhang 192n21 Jhelum 153, 167, 185, 192n21,

192n24 Jiangnan 211, 214 Jiangsu 205–25

Jiaqing emperor 247 Jinnah 310 Johansen, Baber 17n4, 263 Jones, Eric L. 125 Jullundur 168, 182, 185 Jullundur District Soldiers’ Board

181 kadý 14, 257, 259–60, 263–64, 266 Kafadar, Cemal 23, 78, 82, 104n16 Kahuta 167 Kamboh 160, 192n27, 194n42 Kangxi emperor 28, 30, 35, 38

Kitab al-Kharaj by ibn Yusuf 65 Kokand, Khan of 33 Konya 89 Köprülü 52, 59-61 Korea 13 Ksatriya caste 302–304, 306–308, 315 Kuch Bihar 81 Kumbum monastery 27 Kunt, Metin 89

Kurds 53 Labana 160, 192n27, 194n42 Labib, Subhi 99 Lahore 151, 168 lambardar (village headman) 154–55, 171–72, 174, 198n86, 198n91 land administration 10, 15–16,

29–31, 50–52, 57–64, 66, 69,

kanun (state law) 8, 49–53, 57–58,

85, 98, 104n14, 113–14, 119–20,

64, 66–67, 69 Karachi 186

123–31, 133–35, 137–39, 151–53, 155, 158–60, 141n7, 143n22, 161–62, 164–65, 168–69, 171, 179, 186, 188, 192n24, 192n27, 237, 239–40, 242, 262, 265, 274–93, 316

Kashgar 42 Kayastha 101 Kayseri 89 Kazakhs 27 Kemal, Mustafa 83 Kenya 282–83

Keyder, Caglar 4 Khalsa Diwan 175

land surveys 9–10, 30, 57–58,

60, 113, 124, 130–34, 136–39, 142n16, 142n19, 142n20 Latsan Khan 28

law 8, 13–16, 21, 47–53, 55–57,

59–60, 62–69, 71n13, 113–14, 117–20, 128–30, 134–35, 137, 156–57, 186, 193n30, 231–53, 255–70, 273–93, 305 Lawrence, G. 184 Lawrence, Henry 151, 163 Lawrence, John 153, 191n17 Lebanon 286, 288 Lerma 84 Lhasa 27–28, 34, 42 Liang Zhiping 236–37

lijin (internal transit taxes) 210 Lima 87 livestock 35, 131, 133, 161, 142n20 Lobzang Danjin 29–32 London 79

Lothian Committee 177–80 Low Countries 75, 77 Lucknow pact 175 Lumsden 184 Lyall, James 158, 165–66 Macaulay, Thomas 190n6 Macauley, Melissa 15, 127, 237–38 Macedonia 89–90 Machiavelli 6, 89 Madras 169, 179, 186, 197 n77, 197n79, 197n84 mahar caste 306

Maharashtra 300–302, 305–306, 309–310 Mahton 160, 194n42 mali caste 305

malikane (life tax farm) 62–64, 98 mamluk 88 Manchuria 23, 25, 36, 41 Manchus 23, 28, 32, 34, 38, 40–41, 67–68, 246–47, 252, 275 Manila 85

Mao Zedong 34 Maratha 154, 302, 305

Mardin, Şerif 14 Marx, Karl 2, 4 Marxism 79, 99 Mascarenhas, Dom Filipe 76 matruka (land dedicated to some

local common purpose) 286 Maurits, Johan 79 mawat (dead or unreclaimed land) 130, 286 Mazumder, Rajit 9 Mbembe, Achille 315–16 McGowan, Bruce 104n14 Mecca 80 Mediterranean Sea 76–77, 80, 82, 87–88 Mehta, Pratap Bhanu 312

mercantilism 96–97 merchants 2, 13, 33, 37, 54, 56,

58, 207–208, 215–16, 218–20, 222–25, 227n10, 240–44, 250, 265 Mewar 302

Mexico 75, 85–87, 95–96 Mexico City 96 Mianwalil 181 Microsoft 102–103 Middle East 41 military organization 8, 11–12, 15, 35–39, 67–68, 88–90, 94, 97, 100, 111–12, 115–22, 131, 133, 136, 140n4, 141n8, 142n16, 147– ,51 153–55, 158–59, 160, 163, 165–71, 173, 175–76, 179–88,

191n8, 194n35, 199n105, 208, 210–16, 222–24, 228n11, 257, 260, 284–85, 294n13, 301 militia 208, 215–16, 223–24, 226n6 Millward, James 6

Mimizadeh 48–49, 60–61 Ming dynasty 28, 78 mining 86, 95–96 Minto 201n139

mirî (state lands) 59, 127, 130, 286–87, 289 Mismer, Charles 258 modernization 188 modernization theory 1 Mohar Circle 168 Moldavia 91

Molla, ‘Izzet 74 monasteries 31, 33–34 money 91, 96, 119–20 Mongolia 12, 25, 41 Mongols 23, 27, 29–34, 36, 41, 92 Mongols, Khalkhas 30

Mongols, Zunghar 27–28 monopolies 243 Montagu-Chelmsford reforms

169–70, 197n83 Moore, Sally Falk 283

Morley-Minto reforms 169 Morocco 75 Mosul 48, 50, 52–54, 60–63, 65, 68, 70n4, 70n11, 80 al-Mosuli, Abdallah ibn Ahmad 63

muafi (remission of revenue) 167

müftü (jurisconsult) 263–64, 289 Mughal empire 2–3, 5–8, 11–16,

40, 75–76, 78–84, 89, 92–101, 103, 147, 160, 191n19, 192n27, 194n42, 299–303, 310 Muhammad Ali 66

muhtar (village headman) 132, 136 mülk (freehold) 126, 130, 141n14,

286–87 Multan 168, 192n21 Mumbai 300 Muntafiq tribe 54 Murad IV 60 musha’shi’in 54–55 mushaa (shared ownership) 288–89,

294n12 Muslim League 175, 200n113

Nablus 70n5 Nadir Shah 71n13, 71n16, 83

Nanjing 214, 225n1

Naoroji, Dadabhai 190n4 Naples 75 Naqshabandiya 65, 71n13, 71n16, 259 nationalism 39–42, 115, 130, 139, 149, 169, 174, 258, 306 native place associations 240–41, 253n3 necropolitics 315–16 negotiation 7–12, 14, 16, 17n4,

46–48, 53, 66, 69, 111–14, 116– ,22 125–27, 129, 134, 137–39, 140n3, 208, 289, 305 Negri, Antonio 74 Nehru 310 Neo-Confucianism 22–23, 234–35, 242–43, 246, 250 Netherlands 83–84 New Policies Period (1901–1911)

205, 224

Nian Gengyao 29–33 Nian rebellion 226n6 nightsoil 220–22, 227n10 Niida Noboru 276 Ningxia 35 nomads 23, 32, 36–38, 43n3, 43n5,

54–55, 92, 98, 310 Noons 155, 192n27

North, Douglass C. 125, 243–44 North-West Frontier Province

181 Nursi, Bediüzzaman Said 267 O’Brien, Patrick 4 O’Dwyer, Michael 175, 198n98 O’Hanlon, Rosalind 306 Olivares, Count-Duke of 78, 84–85 Olsen 217–18 opium 216, 226n7, 250 Opium War 33 Oran 80

Ordos 35

Oriental Despotism 6, 109, 125,

273, 284 Orissa 197n84 Örücü, Esin 293 Ottoman empire 2–3, 5–16, 21–23, 26, 32, 37–40, 43n3, 43n6, 47–69, 75–80, 82–84, 87–103, 109–10, 112–13, 115–40, 140 n4, 147–48, 225n1, 252, 255–70, 273–74, 284–93, 303 Oudh 201n137 Owen, Roger 294n12

population registers (China) 206 Portugal 54–55, 58, 84–85, 89,

310 Portuguese empire 75–76, 78–79 postcolonialism 299 Pound, Roscoe 292 Prinsep, E. A. 162–65, 186–87, 195n46, 196n57 Protestants 83, 87–88 Prussia 258

public sphere 234, 253n4 Pune 301 Punjab 9, 93, 147, 149–89, 190n3,

Padoux, Georges 294n19 Pakistan 12, 190n1, 191n7 Palestine 286 Panchen Lama 27, 33 parliament, British 179

Paşa, Ahmet Cevdet 269 Paşa, Fuad 258 Pathan 154, 157, 160, 192n27,

194n42 Perdue, Peter C. 7, 15, 67–69, 119, 141n12 Pernambuco 79 Persia 8, 11, 49, 53, 54, 61, 79, 92–94, 101, 190n6, 300 Persian Gulf 54–55, 76 Peru 75, 85, 87, 96 Peshawur 184, 186 Peter the Great 258 Philip II 75–78 Philip III 84 Philip IV 84–85 Philippines 75, 85, 96

191n8, 191n10, 197n79 Punjab Legislative Assembly 179 Punjab Provincial Franchise

Committee 177, 200n115

Punjab Soldiers’ Board 181–82 Punjab Unionist Party 179, 187 Purabiyas 163 Purusa 311–12, 315 Qianlong emperor 246–48

Qing empire 2 , 5 , 7 , 8 , 11–15,

21–23, 25–26, 28–30, 32–40, 42, 67–69, 78, 110, 115–16, 119–24, 127, 128, 138, 147–48, 205–25,

231–53, 273–86, 288, 290–93 Qinghai 25, 27, 29–33, 37, 42 Quataert, Donald 285, 288–89 Quetta 186 Qur’an 255, 264, 267, 270n9 Qureshi 160, 194n42 Ragusans 88

phronesis 266–67

al-Rahbi, Abdul al-Aziz bin

Phule, Jotiba 305–308 Phule, Jotirao 16 police forces 11–12, 205–25, 291 police, India 182 Pollock, Sheldon 301

Muhammad 65–67 Raigarh 301, 303 Rajasthan 302

Pomeranz, Kenneth 98 population movement 37, 41–42, 43n5–6, 85–87, 90, 120

Rajput 92, 94, 101, 154– 55, 157,

160, 192n27, 194n42, 302, 304 Rajputana 302 Ralegh, Sir Walter 80–81 Rawalpindi 153, 167–68, 192n21

Raychaudhuri, Tapan 3, 99–100 Raymond, André 90

Rechtstaat 6 Renaissance 6 Rg Veda 311, 315 Río de la Plata 76, 87 Robertson, F. A. 194n38

Robinson, Ronald 201n140 Rohtak 183 Roman empire 40, 81 Romanovs 26, 40 Rome 290 Rothschilds 244 Rumelia 89–90 Russia 6, 122, 150, 158, 191n8 Russian empire 32, 33, 43n3 Sa‘id Khan Chaghatay 93 Sabaen 55 Safavid empire 48, 53–55, 60–61,

75, 78, 81, 87, 89, 91, 97, 303 Saini 160, 194n42 Salars 27 Salt Range 168 Salvador 86 salyane system 70n9 Salzman, Ariel 39 Sarajevo 80 Sargodha Colony 199n105 Say, Jean Baptiste 141n10 School of Administration (Ottoman) 259 School of Political Science (Ottoman) 263 Scott, James C. 46, 110–13, 120, 137, 281, 284, 290

Selim II 88 Serbia 89 Shahji 301 Shahpur 167–68, 181, 192n21 Shanghai 208, 211–12, 214–15 Shanghai Armory 223 shangtuan (Chamber of Commerce militia, Suzhou) 208, 223, 225

sharia (religious law) 8, 47–53, 57, 59–60, 62–69, 264 Shatt-al-Arab 54

Shenbao 210–11, 223 Shi’i Islam 53–55, 60, 91, 92 Shiga Shuzo 236–37 Shivaji 16, 301–10 Sial 155, 160, 192n27, 194n42 Sialkot 165 Siberia 27 Sichuan 31, 42, 227n8 Sikhs 150, 152–56, 163, 165, 175–76, 179, 191n10, 194n42, 199n105–106, 201n132 silver 75, 97 Sind 197n84 Sind Sagar Doab Canal 168 Singh, Chetan 3 ‘Sinicization’ 23, 26 sipahis 284–85

Sisodia family 302 Sivas 80 Skinner, G. William 25

slave trade 86 slavery 88, 92 Smith, Dunlop 196n62 smuggling 213 social harmony 10–12, 93, 111, 119, 121–23, 139 South Asia 92, 94, 98–101, 147,

299–317 Southborough Committee 170,

175–76, 178–79, 197n84 Southeast Asia 76, 81 Soviet Union 102 Spain 23, 79, 81, 82, 84–87, 96, 244 Spanish empire 75–76, 78, 85–87, 100, 102 Spengler, Oswald 147

Sri Lanka 75, 81 Stalin, Joseph 74 Stapleton, Kristin 227n8

Steensgaard, Niels 77 steppe traditions 6, 273 Suakin 80 subaltern studies 3–4, 299 Sublime Porte 99 Subrahmanyam, Sanjay 3, 8, 12–13 Sudra caste 300, 303–307, 309, 312, 314–16 sufedposhe (yeoman grantee) 172

sufi Islam 65, 259 Süleyman 53 Süleyman the Lawgiver 60, 76 Suleyman the Magnificent 54 Sumatra 76 Sunni Islam 53–55, 84, 91–92, 304 Supreme Court of Judicial


(Ottoman) 261 Sutlej River 151 Suud, Ebu 63

al-Suwaidi, Abdul Rahman 71n16,

71n13 Suwaidi family 71n13, 71n16 Suzhou (Inner Asia) 35 Suzhou 11, 205–25 Swahili 76 Switzerland 268, 291

Syed 160, 192n27, 194n42 Syria 54, 70n3, 286, 288 Szekfû, Gyula 97–98 tahrirs (tax registers) 131–32 Taiping rebellion 226n6

Taiwan 12, 13, 28, 42, 277 talukdars (superior proprietors)

155 Tang dynasty 34, 38 Tanzania 282–83 Tanzimat reforms 8, 25, 256–70, 284–85, 289 Tarn Taran 166, 168 taxes 8–10, 15, 21, 30, 39, 43 n5,

49–52, 55–69, 88–91, 94, 96, 98, 111–14, 117–36, 139, 141 n7,

141n13, 141n14, 142n15–17, 151–52, 156, 162–69, 173–74, 176–77, 179, 188, 199n106,

206, 210, 233, 243, 247–48, 260, 274–75, 277–78, 280–81, 284–88 Thailand 294n19 Thakur 160, 194n42 Thal Circle 167–68

thanatopolitics 315–16 The Prince 6 Thessaly 90 Thompson, E. P. 51 Thorburn, S. S. 156–59, 186,

193n31, 193n32, 194n35 Thrace 90 Tianjin 224 Tibet 25, 27–31, 33–34, 42 Tigris River 54 Tilly, Charles 21, 46, 294n9

timar (tracts of land) 37, 284, 286 Timur 81 Tippera 81 Tiwanas 155 tiyuhui (physical fitness association) 215–16, 223, 228n11 Todorova, Maria 91–92 Tokugawa 87 trade 5, 10, 31, 32, 53–55, 96–98,

100, 117–18, 125, 206, 208–209, 211, 215, 218–20, 241–42, 244, 285 tradesmen 11 Trans-Jordan 70n5, 286 Treatise on Reason (Risalah fi’l-Aql) by Fârâbi 267 tribute 91 Trotskyists 102 Tsewang Rabdan 34–35 tuanlian (citizen militia) 226n6 Tungus 23 Tunis 91 Tupper, C. L. 153–54, 192n22, 194n38

Turfan 34–36, 42 Turkestan 27, 34–35, 37 Turkey, Republic of 285–86, 270, 274, 289–93, 293n1, 300, 303 Turkic states 6 Turks 23, 81, 88, 256 Udaipur 302 Uighurs 38 Ulama (Doctor of Islamic Law)

255–62, 267, 269 United Provinces 100–102, 109,

169, 171, 186, 190n5, 197n84, 227n9 United States 313 Urumqi, Xinjiang 27 Vaisya 315 Vajpeyi, Ananya 16

vakf 127, 130 Valencia 85, 87 Venezuela 96 Venice 78, 88 Victoria 300 Vidin 128–29 Vietnam 13 von Cortland 201n132 Wahhabi movement 65–67

Wakeman, Frederic 208 Wallachia 91 Walzer, Michael 40 waqfs (pious foundations) 285–86 Warriner, Doreen 286–87 Weber, Max 14, 77, 79, 139, 190n7,

231, 236, 255, 264 West Bank 16

West-Indische Compagnie 79 Wilson, Anne C. 194n35

women 58–59, 62 Wong, R. Bin 13-14, 37, 121, 140n3 Woodside, Alexander 13

world system theory 1, 188 World War I 147–48, 167–68, 183, 185 World War II 148, 190n5, 197n75 Xihai 27

Xin Guazhou 36 Xinhai Revolution 206, 216 Xining, Qinghai province 27 Xinjiang 25, 36–37, 39–42 Xu Gate horse-road, Suzhou 224 Xuanmiao guan (temple) 207 Xue Yunsheng 280 Yang Guozhen 276 Yavuz Sultan Selim 76 Yinti 28 Yongzheng emperor 28–29, 35–36,

248 Young Ottomans 256–59, 269

Yuan Shikai 205, 226n6 Yue Zhongqi 35–36 Yue, Madeleine 238

Yunnan 31 yurts 37 Yusufzai 184 zalidar 154–55, 172, 184, 186, 198n86 Zambezi valley 75 zamindars 93–94, 152, 163, 171,

186 Zhang Sichang 277 Zhang Zhidong 217 Zhejiang 214–15, 294n7 Zhili 205 Zunghars 29–30, 33–36