The Mountains are Ours: Ecology and Settlement in Late Ottoman and Early Republican Cilicia, 1856-1956
McNeill, John R
During its last century, the Ottoman Empire witnessed dramatic changes in settlement patterns due to migration, sedentarization, and the ascendance of commercial agriculture. Out of this process emerged new relationships between people and the environment, ecological questions of disease, land, and water management, and novel forms of social interaction. This dissertation examines that frontier ecology in Cilicia, a borderlands region of the Eastern Mediterranean situated at the historical juncture of Anatolia and Syria.Centered on the city of Adana, the Çukurova delta plain was home to small urban and village communities along with transhumant pastoralists who used the plain for winter pasture at the mid-19th century. The people of Cilicia migrated to the mountains during the summer to beat the heat, graze their flocks, and avoid the risk of malaria in the marshy lowlands. Following the Crimean War, this ecology of transhumance began to change through the expansion of cotton cultivation, the arrival of tens of thousands of Muslims migrants, and the forced settlement of pastoralists. Wheat, cotton, and sesame took over the former swamps and pastures. Settlers grappled with epidemic malaria as they sought to make a living on a sparse, fertile, and uneven plain. The seasonal migrations of pastoralists slowly gave way to the seasonal migration of agricultural laborers. And the region’s center of gravity drifted from the mountains to the plain.This process has been narrated through the various lenses of modernization, nationalism, imperialism, and global economic transformation, but this study approaches the remaking of Cilicia from the vantage point of vital issues in the quotidian life of its inhabitants from the late Ottoman period onward. This is the story of the people of Cilicia and their ever-changing relationship with the environment over the course of a century. It uncovers the activities of Muslim and Christian villagers and merchants, the journeys of immigrants from the Caucasus, the Balkans, and Crete, the labors of Arab, Kurdish, Armenian and Assyrian seasonal workers, and the enduring movements of pastoralists and their flocks. It studies how state and society confronted unique ecological questions like malaria that arose out of settlement. It explores a world born of rapid agrarian change, which became the stage for tales of economic triumph, physical struggle, and communal contention over access to land and resources. This study follows these themes through the tumultuous years of WWI and into the Republic of Turkey, tracing the shifts and continuities between the late Ottoman period and the post-WWII mechanization of agriculture and transport and the near elimination of malaria.In order to achieve a multivocal narrative, this dissertation draws on a wide source base from different state and non-state archives in Turkey, France, the US, the UK, and Lebanon as well as periodicals and published sources in a number of languages, especially Ottoman/Modern Turkish and Armenian. Perspectives from literature and folklore add further texture to this picture of agrarian change in a region of the modern Middle East.
Embargo Lift Date
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Cultivating Empires: Environment, Expertise, and Scientific Agriculture in Late Ottoman and French Mandate Syria Williams, Elizabeth Rachel (Georgetown University, 2015)The transition from the Ottoman Empire to post-World War I mandate states in the Middle East coincided with the emergence of agricultural technologies and the development of new strategies of rule and conceptions of expertise ...