Beyond “the Desert and the Sown”: Peasants, Pastoralists, and Climate Crises in Ottoman Diyarbekir, 1840-1890
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This dissertation refocuses attention from a ‘clash of cultures’ to a ‘clash of environmental economies’ within the eastern regions of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire, particularly the province of Diyarbekir. An account of changing patterns of climate provides an alternative vantage point on the origins of inter-social relationships within this region. In the aftermath of intermittent climate-induced environmental crises, peasants and pastoralists confronted different challenges. Overall, crop-based economies could recover more quickly than herding-based economies. Given enough water and seed, and normal weather conditions, farmers could replant and expect good harvests the following season. However, pastoralists, who either lost or sold most of their animals as a result of lack of food and water needed many seasons of abundant grass and water to rebuild their herds to their former size. Examining episodes of severe climate in the Ottoman east in the 1840s and 1880s, this study presents evidence that the different timetables for recovery following episodes of environmental crisis were consequential for understanding changing relationships between people, land, and animals as well as relations between communities.