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The Development of International Relations in the Islamic World:
Emphasis on the Ottoman Empire

Islamic Area Studies Group 5b / Sixth Research Seminar
Joint Research Project of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies,
Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa

Date: October 30, 1999

Location: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa , Tokyo University of Foreign Studies


1) Kavkaz Society under Imperial Russia: Law and Justice in the Reinke Reports of 1910-11

by Junko NOSAKA (Joint Researcher, Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa / Graduate School of Tokyo Metropolitan Unversity)

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2) Urban Councils in the Balkans in the Tanzimat Period

by Tetsuya SAHARA (Joint Researcher, Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa /Research Associate, Tokyo Metropolitan University Department of Humanities)

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First, Junko NOSAKA provided a historical overview of foreign policy between Kavkaz and Russia since the 10th century. She summarized the history of research on the Russian regime in the Kavkaz, which progressed from the latter part of the 18th century to today. She further explained a continued lack of interest in research concerning the diversification of the local social structure in the Kavkaz, as well as in Central Russiafs implementation of innovative laws on Kavkaz and the nearby frontiers during the latter part of the 19th century. Developing on this point, NOSAKA further pointed out the discrepancy between two areas of Kavkaz; the Outer Kavkaz in the southern part of the Great Kavkaz Mountains, and the Northern Kavkaz. Whereas the southern part introduced various judicial and legal reforms in the latter part of the nineteenth century, no such judicial reforms were introduced in the northern part. The Reinke report, which was the subject matter of NOSAKAfs research, was a preliminary but highly localized analysis. According to this analysis it was advocated that similarly to the Outer Kavkaz, the northern part also had introduced a new legal system for policy reasons.

Formerly, the northern part consisted of a judicial district regime referred to as the gthrice adjusting systemh- a type of judicial system originating in Central Russia. However, the Northern Kavkaz only had an internally self-sufficient judicial system, the lawcourts for mountaineers. Under this system, rules that formed the legal basis and supported this overall system were the "local customary lawsh. These were non-imperial laws; that is, local judicial systems derived from a selection of various Islamic laws. Inevitably, the implementation of such local laws resulted in corruption and confusion.

The Northern part consists of a wide variety of linguistic and ethnic groups inhabiting the cities and surrounding localities, even within the Outer Kavkaz district alone. The Reinke report examines the judicial district of Kutaisi, an area located close to the Black Sea, and compares the ethnic composition of the residents of this district with that of the staff working in its judicial institutions. The residents consisted of eleven ethnic groups including Georgians and Imerethians. However, the majority of judicial institutions principally consisted of Russians and Iremethians, and it was pointed out that no Georgian worked in any judicial institutions, although Georgian population made up the larger part of the Kutaisi jurisdiction. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the introduction of such a legal system caused an ethnic division to develop in the Kavkaz area.

Following this presentation by Ms. Nosaka, various proactive discussions were conducted with respect to judicial reform and other related systematic reforms, "local customary laws" of the lawcourts for mountaineers and the relationship between the Islamic law and the court system.

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Mr. Tetsuya Sahara illustrated how the system known as Belediye Meclisi (Urban Councils) in the Balkans was constituted and operated during the period of modernization reforms (Tanzimat) that took place in the latter part of the nineteenth century. First, Mr. Sahara pointed out how the community of Turkish historians had held that there was no judicial system in districts other than in the capital city of Istanbul, and that the other districts lacked administrative institutions in its true sense. Mr. Sahara criticized this perception of the Turkish historians as the result of their communityfs failure to review local documentation. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Bulgarian historians had long stated that administrative reforms by the Ottoman government did not have a substantial operative role and that the Urban Councils had not survived. Nevertheless, according to Mr. Sahara, there are abundant references illustrating the continued existence of such Urban Councils, and there are more than 30,000 historical records in Skopie in Macedonia that show proof. Mr. Sahara finds that this discrepancy between the historiansf perception and the documentation of local historical evidence arose due to the following reasons: First, local references are not found easily in the central areas. Second, the historiansf views were heavily influenced by Balkan nationalism, causing the Urban Councils to be confused with communal institutions based on different religions. To further support these facts, Mr. Sahara analyzed records of the local State Administrations reported in the Ottoman Annuals (Salnameh) during the period between 1867 and 1877 and brought up research results through a database on the number of Urban Council members in the Balkan states and prefectures. Mr. Sahara supports that the existence of the Urban Councils in districts other than Bosnia was sufficiently established, and that, despite local differences, the number of Muslim members and non-Muslim members was considerably well-balanced. Although both the Turkish and the Balkan historians had overlooked this system, Mr. Sahara re-emphasized the importance of its study, which reflects how the multi-ethnic community functions under the modern system. Following this presentation by Mr. Sahara, various discussions were conducted concerning the present challenges confronted by the Turkish historians in determining the directions of their research. Discussions also were conducted on the financial sources, size and detailed functions of the Urban Councils as well as how the Urban Councils had dealt with the protection of non-Muslims in the Tazimat Period.