Voices From the Field (2022-05-10)

A New Publication on Wetlands and Conservation in the Marmara Lake Basin in the Ottoman Period

Gygaia Projects

We are pleased to announce a new publication on Ottoman-period environing, wetlands, and conservation in the Marmara Lake Basin appearing in the latest issue of Environment and History. See below for details!

Ottoman Lakes and Fluid Landscapes: Environing, Wetlands and Conservation in the Marmara Lake Basin, Circa 1550–1900

Semih Çelik, Christina Luke, and Christopher H. Roosevelt

Abstract: The study of Ottoman lakes and wetlands from the perspective of management and conservation is an emerging field. Scholars have explored Ottoman strategies for managing agricultural and extractive landscapes, yet detailed investigation of socio-political responses to dynamic wetlands, particularly during periods of drastic climate shifts, requires deeper investigation. Our research on wetlands and lakes moves from the purview of waqfs (pious foundations) to the emergence of the Ottoman Public Debt Administration (OPDA). By examining the shifting perspectives of institutional authority and community responses to it from the early modern period to the nineteenth century, we discuss the complexities of wetland management in the Marmara Lake Basin within the sancak of Saruhan (contemporary Manisa) in western Anatolia. We argue that intimate knowledge of this specific ecosystem played a critical role in mitigating attempts at reclamation and land grabbing and ultimately in developing legal structures of and policies for Ottoman conservation strategies. We situate our discussion within the paradigm of environing made possible by detailed longue-durée archival narratives; these micro-histories afford a dynamic perspective into non-linear responses to ecological and political changes and provide a local lens into the scalar impacts of human agency.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!