the mountains are ours - Georgetown Library repository


A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Georgetown University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History


Christopher Gratien, M.A.

Washington, DC July 29, 2015

Copyright 2015 by Christopher Gratien All Rights Reserved


THE MOUNTAINS ARE OURS: ECOLOGY AND SETTLEMENT IN LATE OTTOMAN AND EARLY REPUBLICAN CILICIA, 1856-1956 Christopher Gratien, M.A. Thesis Advisor: Judith Tucker, Ph.D. ABSTRACT 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. iii

ABBREVIATIONS The following list corresponds to the most common abbreviations to be found in this dissertation. AGBU – Armenian General Benevolent Union Archives (Nubarian Library, Paris) AK – Atatürk Kitaplığı (Ataturk Library, Istanbul) AUB – American University in Beirut Library BCA – Başbakanlık Cumhuriyet Arşivi (Prime Ministerial Republican Archives, Ankara) BOA – Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (Prime Ministerial Ottoman Archives, Istanbul) CADC – Centre des Archives diplomatiques de La Courneuve CADN – Centre des Archives diplomatiques de Nantes CUP – Committee of Union and Progress (İttihat ve Terakki) FO – Foreign Office (UK) IP – Insitut Pasteur (Pasteur Institute, Paris) NARA – National Archives and Records Administration (US) RAC – Rockefeller Archive Center (NY) SV – Salname-yi Vilâyet (Provincial Yearbook, Ottoman Empire) TKA – Türk Kızılay Arşivi (Turkish Red Crescent Archives, Ankara) TNA – The National Archives (Kew, UK) USEK - Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik, Lebanon



Names of individuals or places with established spellings in English have been spelled using their conventional form in many cases to avoid confusion. Titles of foreign-language publications are translated in the footnotes upon the first citation of that work within the text.

Turkish All Ottoman Turkish words are transliterated in accordance with the spelling conventions of the modern Turkish alphabet. In some cases, spellings have been corrected or modified when quoting from Republican era sources to avoid confusion. Non-English letters and their approximate modern Turkish pronunciations are as follows: c – “j” as in “jam” ç – “ch” as in “cheese” ğ – elongated vowel (silent) ı – unstressed “e” as in “butter” ö – “eu” as in French “beurre” ş – “sh” as in “fish” ü – “u” as in French “sucre” Armenian There are many transliteration systems for Armenian language based on different dialects and conventions. For convenience, I have usually transliterated Armenian names using their approximate phonetic pronunciation in Western Armenian dialect. When providing the Armenian original for translated text, I have elected to do so using the Armenian alphabet except for in cases where there is a compelling reason to provide a romanized variation. For the purposes of bibliographical citation, I have used the transliterations of Armenian titles that are consistent with those in Worldcat to make them easier for readers to locate. Arabic and Persian In occasional references to Arabic and Persian words or titles, I have used the transliteration system employed by the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.


PREFACE This dissertation is a social and environmental history of an area of the Eastern Mediterranean historically known as Cilicia during the 19th and 20th centuries. For most English-language readers, this name and the place to which it refers may not be familiar. Centered on the city of Adana in the former Ottoman Empire, a region of the Turkish Republic known as Çukurova today, historical Cilicia occupies more than 40,000 km2 in Southern Anatolia and Northern Syria. If it were an independent country, Cilicia would be roughly as large as Switzerland. If you prefer a US state, Ohio. Yet, to encapsulate Cilicia’s position, geography, and all the historiographical baggage that it carries, a fine analogy might be the Mezzogiorno, a region that encompasses the southern portion of Italy that includes the great island of Sicily. Cilicia’s population today is around 6 million and contains eight cities with over 100,000 residents, making it similar in size and population to its Levantine neighbors of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, or Jordan, more populous than Denmark, Finland, or the Republic of Congo. As a region, it accounted for 6.5% of Turkey’s nearly $800 billion economy in 2008, meaning that historical Cilicia’s economy today is larger than the GDP of over 100 different countries, including Tunisia, Serbia, and Bahrain. The more qualitative comparisons made by commentators of the late 19th century offer other means of understanding Cilicia’s relative place on the planet during the period in question. The most common comparison, made by European capitalists and Ottoman statesmen alike, was to Egypt. For these observers, the giant plain of Cilicia crosscut by raging rivers had all the economic potential of the Nile Delta. Late Ottoman intellectual and physician Abdullah Cevdet opined in one article that the region was “the Egypt of tomorrow.”1 In a moment of colonialist Abdullah Cevdet, “Adana Ferdanın Mısırıdır [Adana is the Egypt of Tomorrow],” İctihad, no. 24 (1 Haziran 1327 [14 June 1911]). 1


nostalgia for France’s brief bid at ruling Cilicia following the First World War, one French author even referred to the region as “Egypt with the Alps,” alluding to the stunning contrast of a lush plain basking in the shadow of the towering Taurus Mountains.2 Other comparisons of the period, while less grand, were perhaps more precise. When state hegemony faltered in the Amanus Mountains of Cilicia or the region known as Gavurdağı during the 1860s, it was referred to as “the Montenegro of Syria.”3 This was a Eurocentric comparison, but the analogy was not lost on the Ottomans, who used an army with recent fighting experience in Montenegro to reassert their authority. Not far from Gavurdağı was Alexandretta or henceforth İskenderun, the largest port of the Cilicia region at the outset of the 19th century, once referred to as “the Sierra Leone of the Eastern Mediterranean.” 4 This was an allusion to it being a port insalubrious enough to ward off invaders. As Cilicia changed, so too did the comparisons, which frequently harkened to regions of colonial expansion. The explosion of agriculture in the lowlands of Cilicia from the 1860s onward conjured images of other frontier spaces for outside visitors such as the missionaries who declared that “we are confident that no prairie in Illinois could present a better display of wheat than we there saw.”5 These American comparisons appealed to Turkish agronomists as well, who when seeking to improve cotton cultivation in Cilicia during the interwar period, looked to parts of the American South such as Georgia and Texas, even daring to visit these states to learn more about the agricultural potential of the Çukurova plain.6 And while the malarial milieu of Cilicia was sometimes uncharitably likened to the sub-tropical climate of the Indian subcontinent, 2

Paul Du Véou, La Passion de la Cilicie, 1919-1922 (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1937), 312. NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6 (1856-1865), Johnson to Morris, Alexandretta (26 July 1862). 4 Andrew Archibald Paton, The Modern Syrians, or Native society in Damascus, Aleppe, and the mountains of the Druses, from notes made in those parts during the years 1841. 2-3 by an Oriental student (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1844), 215. 5 "The Physical Geography of Turkey," The New Englander 31, no. 120 (July 1872). 6 BOA, HR-İM 95/62 (23 January 1924). 3


echoes of more salubrious imperial ecologies were acknowledged where they were found. The town of Mersin, Cilicia’s Mediterranean port that sprung up seemingly overnight during the late 19th century, gave one British traveler the eerie sensation of strolling through an Australian town, mainly due to the proliferation of eucalyptus introduced with the intention of improving the local air.7 One of the contentions of this work is that there is a little bit of everywhere to be found in the story of Cilicia’s ecological transformation. The region’s historical geography and demography will no doubt offer a rich scenery and diverse cast of characters ideal for staging human dramas of the more universal variety. The more challenging demand that this study makes is to ask the reader to seriously entertain the notion that Cilicia is the center of a universe. This is essentially a prerequisite of suspending disbelief long enough to endure over six-hundred pages of narrative about an ultimately brief period in the history of a relatively small place. But I also ask the reader to put this region at the center because I genuinely argue through this work that while not quite the center of the universe, is much more central than has ever been recognized. Imagine the world as a portrait of the human body, each brushstroke representing a tiny but crucial piece of our known historiography. The face of history has long been Europe. That is where the most attention to detail has been concentrated. As for Cilicia, when we look at the portrait, we find that it is merely an appendage hanging from an appendage: the earlobe of Europe. This analogy is inspired by a creative collection of essays by Carlo Ginzburg, which has affirmed the importance of earlobes. In a discussion of the subject of clues, he described the innovative method for identifying the authorship of paintings pioneered by 19th-century Italian art critic Giovanni Morelli. His method had been controversial not only because it overturned 7

W. J. Childs, Across Asia Minor on Foot (Edinburgh; London: W. Blackwood, 1917), 341.


many assumptions and beliefs about authorship established by art historians past but also because it argued that a painter was best identified not by his or her motifs, colors, or medium but rather through inconsequential details such as the form of hands and ears. According to this Morellian method, the mundane and undeliberate aspects of the artist’s work were what truly betrayed his or her identity. Authorship was not revealed by artists’ acts of self-expression, but rather in the way that the brush moves when no one — not even the artist — is looking.8 This “Morellian” view provides a very good argument for studying the would-be margins of historical processes, places like Cilicia where many were not looking, even when these regions were so clearly close to the center of world events. 9 During the 19th century, Cilicia was in the very middle of an empire — the Ottoman Empire — which in turn was at the heart of many processes that contributed to the making of the modern world, so central at times that it was taken for granted. The specifics of these processes and that story will be revealed in time, but for now, the point is merely to ask that the reader pay attention to this earlobe. It just might have some surprising things to say about the authorship of the complex picture of the world we know. For a good five years now, Cilicia has in some way been the center of my own world. While I have only spent a few months there physically, my pursuit of its history has taken me to archives and libraries in Turkey and elsewhere across the globe, consuming the better part of my time and resources and arousing some of the most intense feelings of excitement, anxiety, and satisfaction that I have experienced during my doctoral education. Throughout my work on this project, my reading of numerous good and lesser works, and my conversations with innumerable brilliant students and scholars in Turkey and elsewhere, I have increasingly questioned what

8 9

Carlo Ginzburg, Clues, myths, and the historical method (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989). Also Donald R. Wright, The World and a Very Small Place in Africa (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1997).


right I have to narrate this story. After all, not everyone has the opportunity to conduct funded research about someone else’s earlobe. Maybe I have succeeded in convincing others of its importance. Yet I am not the first to see it, and long before I came there have been many people for whom Cilicia was already the center of the universe. For many, it was their home, and they lived by it, sometimes fighting and dying for it, even because of it. They knew its significance well before I did. It is my privilege to tell their stories, which have been transmitted not only through their words but through their actions as well, and though I cannot take each story at face value, I hope that I have succeeded at times in doing justice to the complexity of their experiences. Chris Gratien Syracuse, NY (14 May 2015)


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work represents the culmination of nearly a decade of graduate study, first as a student of Arabic in Wisconsin and in Egypt, then as a master’s student at Georgetown University, and with many significant detours in Syria, Armenia, and Turkey along the way, as a doctoral student at Georgetown. In my wake, I have left a shameful trail of indebtedness to people from every walk of humanity, most of whom have demanded little in return. This dissertation would not have been possible without numerous forms of financial and institutional support from the Department of History at Georgetown University. In addition, part of the research for this dissertation was funded by the SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the writing has been funded and expedited by an ACLS-Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship. I have also received language study fellowships through the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) program, the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), and the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT). During both my M.A. in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and Ph.D. in the Department of History at Georgetown University, I have been spoiled by the peerless mentorship of Judith Tucker, which has made my graduate experience infinitely more pleasant and rewarding. She has been giving with her time, attention, and when I needed a place to prepare for comps, her office. I also thank John McNeill, who has always been available to converse about and comment on my work, combining the critical savvy of a veteran scholar with the enthusiasm and energy of a fellow student. I am grateful for the additional guidance and feedback from Gabor Agoston and Mustafa Aksakal, who have contributed to this dissertation and my broader development as an Ottoman historian at Georgetown.


Additional thanks go to Alison Games, Aparna Vaidik, Osama Abi-Mershed, Sara Scalenghe, Rochelle Davis, Tommasso Astarita, and all of the other faculty at Georgetown who have helped this study along the way. I owe a special gratitude to Sylvia Wing Önder, a dedicated teacher who encouraged and supported my Turkish language study, opening a whole new world for me as a scholar. Finally, I have also been very humbled by the early support of Keith Watenpaugh and my undergraduate thesis adviser Meredith Terretta, who mentored me at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. In addition to these mentors past and present, three fellow graduate students have played an unusually significant role in shaping this study. They deserve special acknowledgement. Graham Pitts has been a dear friend and colleague from the beginning of the Ph.D. journey, and it is he who first persuaded me, despite my outright skepticism, to consider ecological perspectives in my work. At many points in my research, Graham has shown me the ropes at archives and libraries from France to Lebanon and has always been someone I could count on for a sympathetic ear or a place to stay. Much of the same could be said of Samuel Dolbee, who has somehow balanced the ability to never utter a hurtful word when it comes to friendship while wielding an incisive pen when it comes to reading drafts. He has contributed many ideas to this work both through conversation and through detailed comments on most of the chapters. Finally, I must praise Seçil Yılmaz, a likeminded scholar of medicine in the Ottoman Empire who has added so much this dissertation. Throughout this exciting and challenging period, she has gone well beyond what anyone should rightly demand from a partner in work, in travel, or in life. During the early 20th century, doctors experimented with malaria as a means of


treating syphilis, but quite inversely, Seçil’s own research and expertise on the history of syphilis have worked wonders for my case of malaria. There are many others who have contributed to this project in very important ways through feedback and collaboration. Special thanks to Meltem Toksöz for sharing her experiences with and ideas about the history of Çukurova during conversations in her office at Boğaziçi University. Also to Yiğit Akın, a scholar with an impeccable attention to detail and wonderful personality who has lent his expertise on numerous occasions and commented on my work. Similarly, comments from and conversations with Sam White have greatly helped sharpen the ecological and comparative perspectives in this dissertation. Others who have helped this study through conversation, feedback, leads, guidance, and inspiration include Taylan Akyıldırım, Lale Can, Beshara Doumani, Lerna Ekmekçioğlu, Madeleine Elfenbein, Hülya Eraslan, Neriman Ersoy, Kyle Evered, Ella Fratantuono, Gunter Hartnagel, Barbara Henning, Hadi Hosainy, Faisal Husain, Nurçin İleri, Polina Ivanova, Mehmet Kentel, Elektra Kostopoulou, Michael Christopher Low, Nazan Maksudyan, Sandrine MansourMérien, Alan Mikhail, Owen Miller, Micah Muscolino, Nilay Özlü, Daniel Pontillo, Kent Schull, Akın Sefer, Sherene Seikaly, Daniel Singer, Vahé Tachjian, Salim Tamari, Elizabeth Thompson, Zeynep Türkyılmaz, Heghnar Watenpaugh, Elizabeth Williams, and Murat Yıldız. Additional thanks to Ozan Aksoy, Ebru Aykut, Reem Bailony, Beth Baron, Debjani Bhattacharyya, Santanu Das, Jeffery Dyer, Robert Greeley, Zoe Griffith, Timur Hammond, Will Hanley, Mukaram Hhana, Onur İşçi, Nefise Kahraman, Vedica Kant, Selim Kuru, Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano, Aslı Niyazioğlu, Oktay Özel, Hande Özkan, Aurelie Perrier, Jackson Perry, Amy Singer, Serkan Şavk, Arianne Urus, Leili Vatani, Brett Wilson, and Majed Zouba.


During the spring of 2013, an exciting and tumultuous time in both the life of Turkey and my own, I spent over two months residing in Mersin and was welcomed by the community of bright and curious scholars at Mersin University, who were always available to offer valuable insights, exchange ideas, and keep very pleasant company. I have only fond memories of the hospitality and warmness of all my friends there, especially Zeynep Güler Sabancı, Mehtap Çelik, Doğan Gün, Melike Kara, Songül Ulutaş, Özlem Karasandık Yazıcı, Emrah Yıldız, Harika Zöhre, and Ali Batuhan Bardakçı. They are always welcome at my door. There are many other student colleagues who have offered their intellectual and emotional support throughout the making of this dissertation, especially my caring confidant Nir Shafir, whose friendship has laid the foundation for my own life in Istanbul on more than one occasion. Likewise, alongside the abovementioned, my numerous team members at Ottoman History Podcast, especially the irrepressible force of nature that is Emrah Safa Gürkan, as well as Nicholas Danforth, who commented on several chapters of this study, Michael Polczynski, Emily Neumeier, Zachary Foster, Elçin Arabacı, Heather Hughes, Susanna Ferguson, Graham Cornwell, Alma Heckman, Kalliopi Amygdalou and Sona Mnatsakanyan have helped transform what is often a very solitary endeavor of academic scholarship into a festival of collaboration and intellectual exchange. The often unsung heroes of historiography are language teachers, librarians, and archivists, and I have seen many heroic examples throughout this research. Special acknowledgement goes to my many Arabic teachers, notably Ghada Hossein, Manal Yousef, and Belkacem Baccouche, my many Turkish teachers, especially Hakkan Yılmaz, Sevim Yılmaz Önder and Abdullah Uğur, my Persian teacher at Georgetown Farima Mostowfi, and my Armenian teachers, especially Diana Hovhannisyan at Yerevan State University and Şuşan


Özoğlu, a radiant mind who spent many hours working with me on some of the materials that are in this dissertation. Finally, thanks to all the friends and teachers who tried to help me learn French over the years, especially Saida Erradi. To the extent these teachers have succeed, they have greatly enriched this study, and to the extent that I have failed, may it reflect on no one but myself. As for the archivists and librarians who have made this work possible, there are many whom I do not know by name, despite their great contributions behind the scenes. But this work owes so much to the extremely professional and qualified staff at the Başbakanlık Ottoman Archives at its former and current site in Istanbul, especially Didem Kesici, Aydın Kurt, and Umut Soysal, as well as the Interlibrary Loan Staff at Georgetown Lauinger Library. There are too many other people who have made this dissertation. They are Georgetown colleagues like Enass Khansa, Soha El Achi, Kelly Hammond, Dina Hussein, and Eric Gettig along with friends like Christine Fergus and Kellen Bucher. Many people have given their time, exchanged ideas, or let me sleep on their various couches not once but on countless occasions as I have pursued a heedless life of subsistence-level graduate transhumance. But most importantly, as I will explain in this dissertation, even would-be nomads possess a concept of home, and for me that has been my parents, Julie and Richard Gratien, and my grandparents, Peter and Dolly Monteleone, who in both my long absences and my sudden returns, have always been a mountain refuge from the vicissitudes of the open plain.


TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction………………………………………………………………………………… ..1 PART 1 (1856-1878).……………………………………………………………………….45 Chapter 1……………………………………………………………………………………50 The Political Ecology of Ottoman Cilicia Chapter 2……………………………………………………………………………………96 Behind the Veil of Illusion: a Microhistory of Empire Chapter 3…………………………………………………………………………………..136 The Book and the Sword: Ahmed Cevdet and the Civilizing Mission Chapter 4…………………………………………………………………………………..168 The Stench of Progress: Life and Death on the Ottoman Frontier PART 2 (1878-1914)……………………………………………………………………...215 Chapter 5…………………………………………………………………………………..223 The Uneven Plain: Agrarian Life in late Ottoman Çukurova Chapter 6………………………………………………………………………………….266 The Ottoman Quagmire: Malaria and Settlement in Çukurova Chapter 7………………………………………………………………………………….297 Plains of Contention: Conflicts in the Cilician Countryside PART 3 (1914-1922).……………………………………………………………………..350 Chapter 8………………………………………………………………………………… 356 Fallowed Years: the Ecology of War in Ottoman Cilicia Chapter 9…………………………………………………………………………………405 1916: Year of the Mosquito Chapter 10………………………………………………………………………………. 433 The Sick Mandate of Europe: France in Cilicia, 1918-1922 PART 4 (1923-1956).…………………………………………………………………….464 Chapter 11………………………………………………………………………………..470 Exchanging Peasantries: Change and Continuity in Early Republican Cilicia


Chapter 12……………………………………………………………………………....520 Natural Enemies: Çukurova and the War on Malaria Chapter 13………………………………………………………………………………569 A Modern Life of Transhumance: the Yayla in Early Republican Cilicia Chapter 14………………………………………………………………………………610 The Mosquito Speaks: Cilicia and the Anthropocenic Moment Epilogue………………………………………………………………………………...644 Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………651


INTRODUCTION The road between Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin is lined with factories and warehouses. Beyond these buildings lay acre upon acre of neatly cultivated land. Cotton and various produce thrive on rich soil, irrigated by machines, nourished by fertilizers, and protected by pesticides. The railway that has connected the rest of the Çukurova plain to the port of Mersin since the late Ottoman period runs parallel to this important thoroughfare. This landscape is a product of the radical transformation in human relationships with the land and water of the Adana region over the past two centuries, and the process that shaped it has been nothing if not thorough. However, in tiny patches of grass between the rails, highways, warehouses, and tidy fields that surround them today, you will find the few remaining representatives of a group that once dominated the plain. Small herds of sheep and goats are tended by families that eke out their living on the tiny margins of Çukurova’s industrial economy. For most of the Ottoman period, the Adana region was theirs, serving as annual winter pasture for hundreds of thousands of animals that migrated down from the Taurus Mountains following the warm months of the summer and early fall. What follows is a study of how their pasture became a sprawling planation and how the small communities of pastoralists that once rested on the back of this ungulate proletariat were settled uncomfortably on the margins.


This is not a history from below in the usual sense, although typically subaltern actors — from shepherds and cotton-pickers to immigrants and ethnic minorities — will indeed play a large role in what follows. The history I will narrate reaches even further below, beneath the hooves of herds, inside the soil of fertile fields, and between the reeds of the deep, dark swamps where mosquitoes lurk. Archaeologists and climatologists alike will attest to the historical richness of the many-layered sediment of time beneath city streets, silent meadows, and even the ocean floor. The layer that concerns this modest study is thin and close to the surface of the Çukurova plain, shallow enough to be excavated with garden tools or for those who prefer not to get their hands dirty, basic mastery of Ottoman Turkish. It corresponds to a century of ecological change that began following the Crimean War in the 1850s. Over this century, a steady flow of settlers and the gradual expansion of cultivation made farms out of the Adana region’s swamps and grasslands. These settlers grappled with disease, uncertainty, and each other as waves of political and economic change swept through the region. The ecological dynamics established during the initial period of settlement endured across generations and indeed even after the Ottoman Empire itself ceased to be. Most importantly, the impact of malaria, which was unkind to settlers, became a pervasive feature of society in Çukurova thereafter. This would not change in a fundamental way until after the Second World War, when the introduction of insecticides that could kill mosquitoes and many other organisms opened a new chapter of the region’s agrarian tale. During this century-long process, countless individuals endured sickness, poverty, and political marginalization as many others made their fortunes on the fertile frontier.


In the Lowlands: the Ecological Transformation of Ottoman Cilicia This study is concerned with ecological transformation, that is, the history of change in relationships between different organisms, geography, and climate. It considers concepts such as “environment” and “nature” inseparable from the realm of the social, cultural, or human under John McNeill’s broad definition of environmental history as the study of humans and “the rest of nature.”1 Much has been written on various political and socioeconomic developments during the late Ottoman period and thereafter, but these processes have not commonly been narrated from an ecological perspective that situates human societies in their lived environments.2 This an old theme in environmental historiography writ large, but within the historiography of the Middle East, the proposition of studying “the rest of nature” might at first glance seem even offensive. Ecological perspectives that place emphasis on the realm of the “non-human” may be received as environmentally-deterministic, naively empiricist, or contrary to the vital imperative of focusing on human stories within a field constantly fighting against the systematic misrepresentation and 1

J. R. McNeill, "The State of the Field of Environmental History," Annual Review of Environment and Resources 35, no. 1 (2010): 347. 2 Some notable works on ecological transformation in the Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East framed explicitly as such include Alan Mikhail, Nature and empire in Ottoman Egypt : an environmental history (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Alan Mikhail, Water on Sand : Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012); Alan Mikhail, The Animal in Ottoman Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Sam White, "Rethinking disease in Ottoman history," International Journal of Middle East Studies 42, no. 4 (2010); Sam White, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Faisal Husain, "In the Bellies of the Marshes: Water and Power in the Countryside of Ottoman Baghdad," Environmental History 19, no. 4 (2014); Diana K. Davis, Resurrecting the Granary of Rome : environmental history and French colonial expansion in North Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007); Diana K. Davis and Edmund Burke, Environmental imaginaries of the Middle East and North Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2011); Terje Tvedt, The River Nile in the Age of the British : political ecology and the quest for economic power (London: Tauris, 2004); Terje Tvedt, The River Nile in the Post-Colonial Age: conflict and cooperation among the Nile Basin countries (London; New York; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2010); Sandra M. Sufian, Healing the Land and the Nation : malaria and the Zionist project in Palestine, 1920-1947 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); Kyle Evered, "A Conquest of Rice: Agricultural Expansion, Impoverishment, and Malaria in Turkey," Historia Agrarica (2015); K. T. Evered, "Draining an Anatolian Desert: overcoming water, wetlands, and malaria in early republican Ankara," Cultural Geographies 21, no. 3 (2014); Kyle T. Evered and Emine Ö Evered, "State, Peasant, Mosquito: The biopolitics of public health education and malaria in early republican Turkey," Journal of Political Geography 31, no. 5 (2012); Alon Tal, Pollution in a Promised Land: an Environmental History of Israel (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2002); Timothy Mitchell, Rule of experts : Egypt, techno-politics, modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Yaron Ayalon, Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire : plague, famine, and other misfortunes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).


dehumanization of Muslims in Western societies. This study aims to highlight the ways in which environmental perspectives can be deeply human, as they require us to understand the complex and intimate relationships of past peoples with their environments. As relationships with the environment changed, so too did matters of political economy, gender and family structures, and the various ways in which people saw the world around them. Alan Mikhail notes in his introduction to Water on Sand that earlier studies on geography and ecology in the Middle East had tended towards static representations or deterministic explanations, often falling short of recognizing “the dialectical relationships between human beings and environments.”3 It is necessary to view environment and society as mutually constituted in the realm of culture. Environmental history is in this way essentially a form of cultural history, in that the human relationship to the rest of nature comprises one of the most important components of human culture.4 Different practices governing the use of land and water, patterns of migration, methods of cultivation, and diet are all ultimately cultural, and they are arguably more widely relevant to studying past human experiences than many of the conventional subjects treated by cultural history. 5 As I will illustrate, understanding past ecologies can help us to better examine the lives of historical actors who left behind little documentation. Fundamental ecological questions regarding climate, water, soil, disease, and


Mikhail, Water on Sand : Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa, 5. See Carolyn Merchant, Reinventing Eden : the fate of nature in Western culture (New York: Routledge, 2003); Wolfgang Behringer, A cultural history of climate (Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity, 2010); William Cronon, Changes in the Land : Indians, colonists, and the ecology of New England (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983). Also Richard William Judd, Second Nature : an environmental history of New England (Amherst, MA: University of Massachussets Press, 2014). 5 Here I refer to the fact that cultural history is often the study of cultural products or literature and the arts as broadly defined, i.e. written texts, songs, or artifacts that serve as human forms of expression. 4


animals that are distant from present conceptions of quotidian life were central to people of the past and matters of life and death.6 This study also highlights the ways in which some of the most important events and processes in the history of the Middle East possess unexplored ecological components. From changes in land tenure regimes and the expansion of commercial agriculture to migration and urbanization, every process that has shaped the late Ottoman and post-Ottoman world has occurred in an ecological context and borne environmental effects. 7 Some of the most studied and debated topics in the political historiography of the Middle East — from colonialism and rebellion to war and even genocide — have ecological dimensions concerning issues such as climate and disease. Located at the historical juncture between Greater Syria and Anatolia, Cilicia is just one small region of the former Ottoman Empire, but as I alluded to in the preface, its history is relevant to the study of many other parts of the Middle East today. This is the first study to

My view of ecology here is similar to Michel de Certeau’s emphasis that everyday practices are not the backdrop of human history but rather at the very center. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984). 7 While the relatively few works mentioned above comprise a narrowly defined field of environmental history, historians of the Ottoman Empire have been asking ecological questions for a very long time. As Onur İnal’s unpublished paper entitled “Environmental History as an Emerging Field in Ottoman Studies” (available on as of 14 May 2015) suggests, historians that have examined aspects of agrarian life, land, agriculture, local history, and disease have often studied subjects that may be viewed as environmental without explicitly defining them as such. For Cilicia, more below. For Anatolia, see Donald Quataert, Miners and the state in the Ottoman Empire : the Zonguldak coalfield, 1822-1920 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006); Donald Quataert, Workers, peasants, and economic change in the Ottoman Empire, 1730-1914 (Beylerbeyi, Istanbul: Isis Press, 1993); Huri İslamoğlu-İnan, State and peasant in the Ottoman Empire : agrarian power relations and regional economic development in Ottoman Anatolia during the sixteenth century (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1994). For Arab provinces Kenneth M. Cuno, The Pasha's peasants : land, society, and economy in Lower Egypt, 1740-1858 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Judith E. Tucker, Women in nineteenth-century Egypt, Cambridge Middle East library (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Beshara Doumani, Rediscovering Palestine merchants and peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900 (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1995); Dina Rizk Khoury, State and provincial society in the Ottoman Empire : Mosul, 1540-1834, Cambridge studies in Islamic civilization (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997); Martha Mundy and Richard Saumarez Smith, Governing Property: law, administration, and production in Ottoman Syria (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007). For disease, see Birsen Bulmuş, Plague, Quarantines and Geopolitics in the Ottoman Empire (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012); Nükhet Varlik, Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World : the Ottoman experience, 1347-1600 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016). 6


explicitly deal with the history of late 19th and early 20th century transformations in Cilicia as a subject of environmental history. But it is no accident that this region should be one of the first parts of the former Ottoman world to enter the environmental historiography. There is something about the region’s metamorphosis over the last two centuries that beckons historians to ask ecological questions. Like many parts of the Mediterranean that so inspired Braudel and those who have followed, the differentiated Cilician geography has offered the space for an array of lifestyles and economic activities as well as historical continuity and transoceanic contact. 8 Geography may have a hand in shaping human activity, but the history of Cilicia is a testament to the extent to which human beings develop a wide variety of interactions with their environments. The conventional narrative regarding the history of the Cilicia region is that the lowlands — namely the plain called Çukurova9 — have been radically transformed from an expanse of swamps to become one of the densest regions of population and cultivation in the Mediterranean. As a result, some of the works that have been written about Cilicia, while not explicitly touted as environmental history, have dealt with compelling questions regarding the nature of that fundamentally ecological transformation. To this effect, many have repeated the words of


See Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediteranean World in the Age of Philip II (London: St. Jamess Place, 1972); Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The corrupting sea : a study of Mediterranean history (Oxford [U.K.]; Malden, Mass: Blackwell, 2000); John McNeill, The Mountains of the Mediterranean World : an environmental history (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Faruk Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 1550-1870 : a geohistorical approach (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008); A. T. Grove and Oliver Rackham, The nature of Mediterranean Europe : an ecological history (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2001); J. Donald Hughes, The Mediterranean : an environmental history (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005); David Abulafia, The great sea : a human history of the Mediterranean (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Julia Ann Clancy-Smith, Mediterraneans : North Africa and Europe in an age of migration, c. 1800-1900 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011). See also Linda T. Darling, "The Mediterranean as a Borderland," Review of Middle East Studies 46, no. 1 (2012). 9 Çukurova means “lowlands” or “hollow plain” or literally “pit-plain”. An interesting indication of the meaning conveyed by this name can be found in the case of a playbill for the Turkish translation of the German opera Tiefland, which itself was based on the Catalan play entitled Terra Baixa, both names referring to “lowlands.” The Turkish translator, an opera actress named Saadet (Alp) İkesus rendered the title as “Çukurova.” AK, ME_Evr_010292 “Çukurova operası rol dağılımı” (1951).


Mübeccel Kıray that Çukurova amounted to “no more than a badly drained, fever-ridden, thinly populated country” at the beginning of the 19th century.10 I do not contest this statement but merely emphasize that contrary to the general view supported by modernization theory, which has weighed upon the historiography of Turkey in an unusually heavy manner, there is nothing that makes cotton fields inherently better than swamps or dense population preferable to sparse population. Moreover, the presence of fever, which here refers to malaria, resides not in a particular kind of geography per se but rather the ways in which human beings interact with that geography. In the case of Çukurova, the inhabitants of the plain, most of whom were pastoralists in the early 19th century, did not reside in the plain during the summer in part because of the perceived ill-effects of the season, which is the part of the year when mosquitoes (the vector of malaria) proliferate. For these reasons, the different inhabitants of Cilicia spent their summers in the mountains, and for those who had sheep and goats, this type of seasonal migration called vertical transhumance (more in Chapter 1) offered the additional benefit of expanded pasturage. In the 19th century, the equation began to change. The residents of Çukurova, who rose in number steadily until the First World War, expanded their cultivation of cotton, grain, and sesame, impelled in part by the growing demand of the world market. This process began to transform the plain. With time, agriculture came to dominate every aspect of life in Çukurova. However, the creation of that agricultural wealth was only a small part of the story. The transformation that came with cotton entailed a fair amount of destruction. The first form of


Mübeccel Kiray, "Social Change in Çukurova: A comparison of four villages," in Turkey : geographic and social perspectives, ed. Peter Benedict, Erol Tümertekin, and Fatma Mansur (Leiden: Brill, 1974), 179. Cited in Meltem Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants and Cotton in the Eastern Mediterranean : the making of the Adana-Mersin region 1850-1908 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 19; Haim Gerber, The Social Origins of the Modern Middle East (Boulder, CO: L. Rienner, 1987), 87. Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 220. However, Tabak points out that this phenomenon was by no means unique to the region, rather many regions of the Mediterranean experienced a similar decline in population density in the plains and coasts. Ibid., 198.


destruction occurred when the Ottoman government used military might to forcibly settle the pastoralist tribes that wintered in Çukurova during the 1860s. That military campaign killed a sizeable portion of those populations and led to their political and economic marginalization (more in Chapters 3 and 4). One of the early attempts at studying Çukurova’s transformation, Andrew Gordon Gould’s dissertation entitled Pashas and Brigands, dealt with the history of forced settlement in Cilicia and its legacy.11 That study was somewhat ahead of its time, which accounts for its best insights and certain shortcomings. Carried out during the early 1970s, Gould’s dissertation was situated in a field for which Ottoman history was largely the history of the Ottoman state and the study of the 19th century was in essence a study of the Tanzimat reforms and Ottoman attempts at modernization.12 As a result, his narrative was heavily state-centered and framed by the successive administrations of different governors in Adana and the implementation of specific policies. On the other hand, in his treatment of settlement’s impacts, Gould highlighted what I regard as the ecological nature of the conflict between the Ottoman administration and Cilicia’s pastoralists and why the settlement campaigns were so destructive and ineffectual.13 Seasonal migration was more than just an economic activity or a means of evading state control; it was Gould’s research built in part on the work of a number of Turkish scholars who researched various facets of Çukurova’s history during the Ottoman period. The foremost among those scholars was Taha Toros, who wrote about the history of the Adana region beginning in the 1920s and continuing until his recent passing in 2012. Another important early work in Turkish on aspects of Gould’s is Kasım Ener, Tarih boyunca Adana ovasına bir bakış (Adana: Bugün Matbaası, 1958). 12 See Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel Kural Shaw, Reform, Revolution, and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey 18081975, vol. 2, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977). 13 Andrew Gordon Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885" (University of California, Los Angeles, 1973). Also Andrew G. Gould, "Lords or Bandits? The Derebeys of Cilicia," International Journal of Middle East Studies 7, no. 4 (1976); Andrew G. Gould, "The Burning of the Tents," in Humanist and Scholar : essays in honor of Andreas Tietze, ed. Heath Lowry and Donald Quataert (Istanbul; Washington, D.C.: Isis Press, 1993). The anthropological research of Wolfram Eberhard is notable for highlighting some of the issues of settlement even before Gould, interestingly drawing in part on interviews with Cilician Armenians in the United States. Wolfram Eberhard, "Nomads and Farmers in Southeastern Turkey: Problems of Settlement," Oriens 6, no. 1 (1953). See also Daniel G. Bates, Nomads and Farmers: a study of the Yörük of southeastern Turkey (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 1973). See also Yusuf Halaçoğlu, "Fırka-i İslahiye ve Yapmış olduğu İskan," Tarih, no. 27 (1973). 11


part and parcel of local understandings of health, which were affirmed by the ways in which settlement led to high mortality among the forcibly settled tribes. By recognizing these facts at a time when environmental history was in its infancy and even the social history of the Ottoman Empire was scarcely studied, Gould can be credited with an important insight. Gould’s dissertation was never published as a book, but other authors have taken his work as a point of departure in studying the broader transformation of Cilicia. The most complete and well-rounded study regarding the transformation of late Ottoman Cilicia is Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton by Meltem Toksöz. In her monograph, Toksöz devotes considerable space to the emergence of Cilicia’s cotton economy and the rise of commercial agriculture around Adana and the port of Mersin.14 She situates the ecological transformation I will discuss here within the context of a changing world economy. One of the strengths of this study is that it balances the factor of state-driven administrative reforms and settlement policy with the commercial activities of extra-state actors such as bankers, merchants, and most importantly rich and poor migrants in facilitating the making of a new Çukurova. 15 By disaggregating the different state and non-state actors participating in Çukurova’s agricultural expansion, Toksöz complicates a simplistic narrative of modernization that portrays economic growth in an uncritically positive light and does not concern itself with differential outcomes and experiences of historical processes. Stephan Astourian is another scholar who has studied the economic transformation of late Ottoman Cilicia from a similar angle by employing a world-systems approach. His insights on the political polarization of Muslims and Christians in the region during that period have been 14

Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton. See also: Biray Kolluoglu and Meltem Toksöz, Cities of the Mediterranean : from the Ottomans to the present day (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010). 15 Another important work on the subject of settlement in Çukurova is the research of Mustafa Soysal, published in German during the 1970s. Mustafa Soysal, "Die Siedlungs- und Landschaftsentwicklung der Çukurova : mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Yüregir-Ebene" (Fränkische Geographische Gesellschaft, 1976).


especially valuable. In connecting that polarization to the differential outcomes of economic processes, changes in land tenure, and the effects of economic competition, Astourian has encouraged us to think about political changes in Ottoman society within the context of concrete transformations in local relationships with the land occurring in part through broader changes in the global economy.16 Though not expressly framing their studies as such, each of these authors are among those who have provided valuable insight regarding ecological questions in the history of Cilicia, and they will serve as important points of reference throughout this dissertation. I build on these works in a few significant ways. This dissertation covers a more extended time period, the century between 1856 and 1956, thereby bridging the Ottoman and postOttoman eras and studying the continuities and ruptures between the two. This includes a detailed examination of the World War I period in Cilicia and its aftermath. In doing so, I aim to study the long-term impacts of processes initiated during the late Ottoman period. I highlight many periods of distinct transformation as opposed to focusing on the teleological aspects of this process by examining the layers of ecological transformation visible in the palimpsest of the Cilician landscape. Rather than emphasizing activity in urban regions such as the port of Mersin and the provincial capital of Adana, my narrative centers on the margins of the expanding settlements in the Çukurova plain and changes in former regions of importance such as the villages and pastures of the Taurus Mountains. Although the processes associated with the economic transformations of the past two centuries were arguably less visible in such regions, I


Stephan Astourian, "Testing world-system theory, Cilicia (1830's-1890's) : Armenian-Turkish polarization and the ideology of modern Ottoman historiography" (University of California, Los Angeles, 1996); Stephan Astourian, "The Silence of the Land: Agrarian Relations, Ethnicity, and Power," in A Question of Genocide, ed. Ronald Grigor Suny, Fatma Müge Göcek, and Norman Naimark (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).


emphasize that the way those processes played out on the margins provides a very different perspective on the nature and outcome of historical change during this period. In addition to undertaking an ecological rereading17 of previously studied sources, this work also incorporates many new pieces of source material that has never been used to study the history of Cilicia, documents from not only the oft cited Ottoman and Turkish Republican archives but also materials from state archives in the US, UK, and France and other materials in Ottoman/Turkish and Armenian from non-state archives and libraries.18 By incorporating sources in a number of languages and non-archival materials such as newspapers, literature, and memory books written by descendants of Ottoman Cilicia’s inhabitants, this study presents a multivocal narrative of Cilicia’s past that I hope contains some of the special texture that is found in the


This entails reading the sources with an eye to what they provide about details regarding environment and climate as well as how ecological factors may impinge upon the contents of the historical documentation. In addition, I read the sources to derive conclusions about how individuals interacted with the environment and reconstruct their understandings of health and ecology. I look for clues regarding the environment such as information about agriculture and natural events like floods. Lastly, I have read my sources with an eye to the types of themes and events that are typical of particular months of the year and namely the different between summer and winter. 18 The most exhaustive research for this project was carried out at the Ottoman archives, where I believe I have located the majority of the sources most critical to the relevant periods in this study over the course of more than two years working in Turkey. My use of the Turkish Republican archives is less systematic and based on what has been digitized and cataloged for those archives. In terms of what is available and catalogued, the Republican archives are not on par with the Ottoman archives. I have also made very extensive use of local newspapers from the Adana region available at libraries in Istanbul. My research in Paris and Nantes that amounts to about two months of work has enabled me to additionally conduct a thorough perusal of the relevant archival and published materials in French, although I have not been able to systematically include everything that I have collected from that massive source base. A similarly good coverage can be found in my use of English-language sources based on research at The National Archives in Kew, UK and the US National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, MD. My use of Armenian sources has been less systematic, as they are for the most part published sources accessed through different libraries in my places of research. The Armenian materials found here are comparatively speaking only a sampling of what is available. Arabic was a major minority language in Ottoman Cilicia and as a result there are occasional references to relevant Arabic sources strewn about this dissertation, but due to constrained access and a relative paucity of those sources, they are not numerous, though one could potentially find more than I have used here. Gisela Prochazka-Eisl and Stephan Prochazka have carried out field research in Cilicia regarding the life of the Arab Nusayri community there that may be helpful, although their study reflects a similar unavailability of printed Arabic sources. Gisela Procházka-Eisl and Stephan Procházka, The Plain of Saints and Prophets : the Nusayri-Alawi community of Cilicia (Southern Turkey) and its sacred places (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010). There is a very great wealth of documentation in German that I was unable to access due to insufficient knowledge of German, but where I have located absolutely critical materials, I have tried to make use of them (see Chapter 9). General access to published sources in English, French, Ottoman, and Armenian has been greatly enhanced by the growing availability of digital resources over the past few years, including among Turkish libraries. See bibliography for a complete listing of other libraries and archives consulted in Turkey, France, UK, US, and Lebanon.


folklore and many great agrarian novels written about the region.19 In doing so, I highlight the multiplicity of historical actors and attempt to disaggregate certain groups of actors such as “the state” and provincial society. I also seek to do something that is categorically different from what has been written about the history of Cilicia and indeed most of the Middle East. This entire study is framed by the defining feature of ecology in Cilicia prior to the mid-19th century: seasonal migration (henceforth transhumance) as a response to malaria-prone disease environments. Although malaria, swamps, and seasonal migration barely earn mention in most works dealing with the late Ottoman countryside, there is no more salient theme in the numerous sources I have consulted in developing this study than the intolerability of Çukurova summers and ever-looming threat of malaria. I argue that malaria is not just an ignored factor in the history of Cilicia and many parts of the Ottoman world, but that when it comes to studying the important changes in settlement during the past centuries, malaria is the defining question in that experience. As the reader will discover throughout this study, seasonal risk of malaria played a fundamental role in nearly every major aspect of Cilicia’s history. When people were forced to spend the summer in Çukurova, there was a high chance that they would contract malaria, and for much of the period in question, that was a truly deadly proposition. Thus, malaria encouraged people to stay out of the plain during the summer, and when they began to settle, malaria The dozens of writings of Yaşar Kemal have been singularly influential on parts of this dissertation, although I have not had time to consult the author’s entire oeuvre. For every chapter of this dissertation, there is probably an entire Yaşar Kemal novel. Works of special relevance include Yaşar Kemal, Binboğalar Efsanesi : Roman (Istanbul: YKY, 1971; 2004); Yaşar Kemal, Memed, My Hawk (New York: Pantheon Books, 1961); Yaşar Kemal, Kimsecik (Istanbul: Tekin Yayınevi, 1980); Kemal Yaşar, Üç Anadolu Efsanesi : Köroğlunun meydana çıkısı, Karacaoglan, Alageyik (Istanbul: Ararat Yayınevi, 1967); Yaşar Kemal, Çukurova Yana Yana (Istanbul: Yeditepe Yayınları, 1955); Yaşar Kemal and Abidin Dino, Ağıtlar : Folklor derlemesi (Istanbul: YKY, 2004). The novels of Orhan Kemal and Hanna Mina have also been instructive. Songs and poems come from a variety of published sources. I have also used a number of books from the Armenian “memory book (յուշամատեան)” genre. These works are usually composed as village histories published in the diaspora and for each region of Anatolia where Armenians were present there is usually one or more such works. For more on this genre, see the Houshamadyan project edited by Vahé Tachjian: 19


epidemics were rampant. They wiped out vast swaths of settler populations, especially Muslim immigrants from the Caucasus and the Balkans, and malaria was the most common disease cause of death in Çukurova up until the period of the First World War. During the war, malaria achieved a new level of virulence, despite the development of medical solutions and forms of prophylaxis. The Turkish Republic inherited a Cilician geography in which the majority of people suffered from malaria annually. Anti-malaria campaigns became part of the nationmaking process. Even as certain factors discussed below reduced malaria mortality, the disease was a fundamental aspect of life in the Cilician countryside well into the 1950s. Placing the omnipresence of malaria at the center of Cilicia’s story restores the quotidian experience of the periods in question and gives new meaning to the history of settlement, migration, and displacement in this corner of the Mediterranean. Malaria has long been a feature of the Mediterranean lowlands, but the changes in settlement patterns that began in Cilicia during the mid-19th century augmented the role of malaria particularly within the rural sphere.20 As has often been the case in history, malaria disproportionately affect marginalized groups such as the inhabitants of remote villages, migrants, and agricultural laborers in Cilicia.21 The issue of malaria is especially relevant for regions such as Cilicia where significant changes in settlement patters linked local ecologies to a global phenomenon of frontier settlement.


See Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 189-241. For good comparisons, see Margaret Humphreys, Malaria : poverty, race, and public health in the United States (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2001); Arabinda Samanta, Malarial Fever in Colonial Bengal, 18201939 : social history of an epidemic (Kolkata: Firma KLM, 2002). 21


The Settler Revolution and the Ottoman Empire Everything about human history is rooted in the earth. 22 Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism

In addition to the approach to the social and environmental history of Cilicia outlined above, this study addresses a very important global context of frontier settlement in such regions. One of the central themes in this study of Ottoman Cilicia and its ecological remaking is the phenomenon of settlement. By this I mean not only changes in settlement patterns, but the specific subject of human beings forming new settlements on land that was previously not used for the purposes of settled agrarian cultivation. The expansion of settlement and agriculture, the use of violence to achieve state settlement goals, the implantation of new state institutions, and indeed, the confrontation with an emerging issue of malaria in settlement space were all fundamental aspects of broader historical experiences in colonial settings and the frontiers of expanding early modern and modern settler states.23 However, this phenomenon was much broader than the Columbian exchange of the early modern period or the rapid expansion of settlement in Anglophone territories during the 19th century.24 In fact, While Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis of US history has lost favor for some of the specific claims it makes about American exceptionalism and the foundations of American democracy, colonial frontiers are increasingly seen as important sites of socioeconomic and institutional transformation within


Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1993) 7. Cited in Henry Sivak, "Law, territory, and the legal geography of French rule in Algeria : the forestry domain, 1830-1903" (2008). 23 This is even true for regions of the world not typically associated with issues such as malaria. For example, David Blackbourn’s research on Germany illustrates the extent to which the relationship between malaria, settlement, and water was at the heart of Germany’s history from the early modern period into the twentieth century. David Blackbourn, The Conquest of Nature : water, landscape, and the making of modern Germany (New York: Norton, 2006). 24 For more on Columbian exchange, see Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: biological and cultural consequences of 1492 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Pub. Co., 1972; 2003).


the historiography of European states and their successors. James Belich has referred to this impact in the Anglo-world as a “settler revolution.”25 Although the historiography on this phenomenon has become increasingly global in its thinking, it has yet to embrace the Ottoman context as a significant area of focus. 26 John Richards’s The Unending Frontier was in many ways a breakthrough for the comparative study of the global settlement phenomenon. Richards used examples from outside Europe and the Americas, namely China, Japan, and Mughal South Asia, in order to study the simultaneous expansion of numerous early modern agrarian empires and their impacts on different


As James Belich argues in Replenishing the Earth, the settlement frontiers of the Anglo-world created what he dubs a “settler revolution” on the global scale and have played an enormous role in the transformations associated with industrialization and the making of the modern world. The implications of this argument are that the radical changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were made in the frontiers, colonies, and provinces, not in imperial metropoles. The cases in Belich’s study by and large represents instances in which colonization has become a permanent and incontrovertible reality. In other words, the settler revolution resulted in the permanent installation of settler communities in the frontiers of the Anglo-empire such as the United States, South Africa, and Australia. Belich may be somewhat over-occupied by culture, leading him to ignore important agrarian transformations that occurred under British rule in South Asia which may be seen as having contributed to the settler revolution. While he is keen to note where Indians migrated elsewhere or participated in British military institutions, developments in South Asia do not earn much treatment in his narrative of the Anglo-world. See James Belich, Replenishing the earth : the settler revolution and the rise of the Anglo-world, 1783-1939 (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 127. Belich’s argument is reminiscent of a similar strain of thought within postcolonial studies, which increasingly draws attention to the ways in which former colonies were instrumental in shaping modern nationstates. This historiographical trend may be especially strong among historians of the relationship between French and Algeria, who seek to uncover silences about how colonial practices returned to the metropole and Muslim Algerians have shaped modern France. See Todd Shepard, The invention of decolonization : the Algerian War and the remaking of France (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2006); Jim House and Neil MacMaster, Paris 1961: Algerians, state terror, and memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); Osama Abi-Mershed, Apostles of modernity : Saint-Simonians and the civilizing mission in Algeria (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010). The doctoral dissertation of Tom Hill, for example, has studied the relationship between French policies towards mobile populations in both France and Algeria during the nineteenth century, focusing on how the problematic poor became part of France’s failed scheme to settle the Algerian countryside and integrate tribal communities into a colonial utopia. Tom M. Hill, "Imperial nomads : settling paupers, proletariats, and pastoralists in colonial France and Algeria, 1830-1863" (University of Chicago, 2006). Some of this work is in the vein of Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, which in the wake of the horrors of fascism during the Second World War, reminded Europe that the barbarism of the war represented the very form of violence that European states long used in the colonies. Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Robin D. G. Kelley (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000). For the early work of William McNeill on Eurasian frontiers, see William Hardy McNeill, Europe's Steppe Frontier, 1500-1800 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964). 26 Alan Mikhail makes note of this “telling” absence in his overview of the MENA environmental history field, referring to the environmental history of the Middle East as the “fallow between two fields” of the historiography. Mikhail, Water on Sand : Environmental Histories of the Middle East and North Africa, 17.


environments. He illustrated how (perhaps with the exception of Japan27) this political expansion fueled settler movements and in turn facilitated an extraordinary harvest of natural resources that has left an indelible ecological legacy. Richards’s work expanded the conventional view of this process beyond the maritime empires that maintained some kind of geographical and administrative distinction between the colony and the metropole to include Russian territorial expansion and the intensification of agriculture in China.28 However, a notable absence in The Unending Frontier and most of the similar global historiography of the making of the modern world is the general omission of the Ottoman Empire or any part of the modern Middle East. The Ottoman Empire was, after all, an empire. How did that geography fit into a world where seemingly everyone was either colonizing or being colonized, and human beings harvested natural resources at an exponentially increasing rate? It merits mention that before the period of early modern frontier expansion by European states, various Islamic states and their institutions were clearly in a state of expansion that had socioeconomic and cultural impacts on various frontier regions. Richard Eaton’s work on the successive expansion of Islamic empires in South Asia, research on the spread of Islam in West Africa during the early modern period, and indeed, the well-documented rise of the Ottoman Empire in Eastern Europe and Anatolia followed by a further expansion into the Arab world point to a more or less shared trajectory between Islamic empires and other large empires into at least the seventeenth century.29 Similarly, while it is not necessarily a dominant paradigm within


This exception does not apply to the case of nineteenth-century Japan post-Meiji Restoration, during which the rise of scientific agriculture has been identified as the cause of certain forms of ecological change such as the extinction of species like the Hokkaido wolf. Brett L. Walker, "Meiji Modernization, Scientific Agriculture, and the Destruction of Japan's Hokkaido Wolf," Environmental History 9, no. 2 (2004). 28 John F. Richards, The Unending Frontier: an environmental history of the early modern world (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). 29 Richard Maxwell Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Wright, The World and a Very Small Place in Africa; Ghislaine Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails : Islamic law, trade networks, and cross-cultural exchange in nineteenth-century Western Africa (Cambridge;


the field of Ottoman studies, a number of scholars have examined the ways in which regions of the Ottoman Empire have functioned as frontier spaces, borderlands, or zones of contact.30 The ambiguity regarding the Ottoman Empire and the “settler revolution” arises from its history from the seventeenth century onward, which by contrast, has been draped in the discourse of Ottoman decline. That simplistic notion of decline has been thoroughly critiqued from various angles, but the history of the Ottoman Empire before the 19th century is in some ways still an open question with regard to many subjects, especially those relevant to notions of “expansion.”31 In broad terms, Reşat Kasaba has sketched the contours of how the Ottoman Empire was situated in the larger context of the settler revolution during the early modern period. His work entitled A Moveable Empire suggests a marked difference between other European empires of the early modern period in the presence of large nomadic populations living within the empire’s borders.32 Along with the work of Sam White and Faruk Tabak, who have studied the ecological context of comparatively lower population growth in the Ottoman Empire and the

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009). See also, Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam : conscience and history in a world civilization (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974); William Hardy McNeill, The Age of Gunpowder Empires, 1450-1800 (Washington, DC: American Historical Association, 1989). C.A. Bayly argues in The Birth of the Modern World that focus on the difference between these various empires and their European counterparts is misleading, as early modern empires the world over had more in common than has sometimes been noted and at any rate, European polities exhibit a very great amount of diversity in and of themselves. C. A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914 : global connections and comparisons (Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2004), 30-31. 30 See Kemal H. Karpat and Robert W. Zens, Ottoman Borderlands: issues, personalities, and political changes (Madison, WI: Center of Turkish Studies, University of Wisconsin, 2003). Special thanks to Linda Darling, who has shared her yet unpublished essay on approaches to borderlands and frontiers and their relavence and impact within the field of Ottoman studies. Darling’s essay highlights the different historiographical approaches to “contact zones,” “borderlands,” and “frontiers” and the ways in which all concepts might be applicable to the study of the Ottoman Empire. Linda Darling, "Ottoman Borderlands, Frontiers, and Contact Zones," in The Early Modern Ottoman Empire as a Contact Zone (Institute of Advnaced Study, Princeton NJ, 2010). 31 It is possible to critique the very notion of Ottoman decline and how it has been deployed within historiography on numerous grounds. For one of the best critical overviews of the question, see Cemal Kafadar, "The Question of Ottoman Decline," Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review 4, no. 1-2 (1997-1998). 32 Peter Perdue has studied a broadly similar phenomenon in China for the case of Qing policy towards nomads during the early modern period, but unlike in the Ottoman Empire, the Qing state was able to achieve a greater degree of hegemony over nomads and induce settlement during the early modern period. Peter C. Perdue, China marches west : the Qing conquest of Central Eurasia (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005).


Mediterranean, Kasaba’s work suggests that the Ottoman Empire was not to be considered among the early modern states involved in the settlement of John Richards’s unending frontier for most of the 17th and 18th centuries.33 For example, although at times Ottoman governments made some attempts at inducing settlement, according to Kasaba, the Ottomans generally accommodated nomadic practices and even enlisted tribal communities for military and administrative purposes, incorporating their mobility into the administrative practices of the Ottoman state.34 Sam White has shown that the ecological conditions of the Little Ice Age actually favored an ascendance of extensive pastoralism as opposed to the creation of agricultural settlements in Ottoman Anatolia during the early modern period.35 This is not to say that Ottoman statesmen and peasants were dissimilar from their counterparts within other early modern empires, only that the types of frontier expansion that occurred in other parts of the world were not as visible in most parts of the Ottoman Empire. Regarding the place of the Ottoman Empire within the historiography of high imperialism and the heyday of settler colonial states during the 19th century, there has been some consideration of the notion that the Ottoman Empire and the Khedival state in Egypt resembled other 19th-century empires. The Ottoman and Egyptian states wielded civilizational discourses and in some cases deployed the same kinds of hierarchies that typified colonial states. 36 Yet this


White, The Climate of Rebellion; Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean. Resat Kasaba, A Moveable Empire : Ottoman nomads, migrants, and refugees (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009), 21-29. 35 White, The Climate of Rebellion, 227-48. See also Oktay Özel, "Population Changes in Ottoman Anatolia during the 16th and 17th Cebturies: the 'Demographic Crisis' Reconsidered," International Journal of Middle East Studies 36, no. 2 (2004). 36 See Eve Troutt Powell, A Different Shade of Colonialism: Egypt, Great Britain, and the mastery of the Sudan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). Ussama Makdisi, "Rethinking Ottoman Imperialism: Modernity, Violence and the Cultural Logic of Ottoman Reform," in The Empire in the City: Arab Provincial Cities in the Ottoman Empire, ed. Jens Hanssen and Thomas Philipp (Würzburg: Ergon in Kommission, 2002); Selim Deringil, "'They Live in a State of Nomadism and Savagery': The Late Ottoman Empire and the Post-Colonial Debate," Comparative Studies in Society and History 45, no. 2 (2003). Recent work on Ottoman Yemen by Thomas Kuehn and Eugene Rogan’s pioneering work on Transjordan examine in different ways how the Ottoman Empire was part of the era of high imperialism during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Mostafa Minawi’s dissertation also 34


phenomenon is essentially envisioned as the product of an attempt by Ottoman and Egyptian governors to strengthen their position on the global stage, and even as the Ottoman and Egyptian state institutions expanded, military and economic vulnerability, constant contestation of sovereignty, and economic penetration by foreign interests give the impression that these states were as much the colonized as they could have been the colonizer. Such vocabularies may be inadequate for discussing Ottoman history.37 But this ambiguity may be a factor in why some global reflections on this period, Bayly’s The Birth of the Modern World, give such sparse and unsatisfactory treatment to the Ottoman case, which appears as peripheral to the entire process. In contrast with this relative absence, Reşat Kasaba’s work strongly suggests the need for inclusion of the Ottoman Empire within the discussion of the settler revolutions of the 19th century identified by the global historiography. During the last century of the Ottoman period, frontier settlement became intertwined with efforts at expanding the reach of the state, resulting in more concentrated forms of involvement in the lives of subjects that impinged upon their lifestyles in a variety of new ways. The Ottoman government adopted a more hostile stance towards migratory lifestyles, and with a large and sustained influx of Muslim immigrants, made settlement and the promotion of agrarian village life an important goal in the countryside. Kasaba cites Gould’s work on tribal settlement in Cilicia as an example of how the Ottoman Empire, like other states of the period, sought to effect a sedentarized and more agriculturally considers these questions and studies brief Ottoman participation in the Scramble for Africa. Eugene L. Rogan, Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire : Transjordan, 1850-1921, Cambridge Middle East studies, 12 (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Mostafa Minawi, "Lines in the Sand: The Ottoman Empire's Policies of Expansion and Consolidation on its African and Arabian Frontiers (1882-1902)" (New York University, 2011); Thomas Kuehn, Empire, Islam, and politics of difference Ottoman rule in Yemen, 1849-1919 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2011). 37 Frederick Cooper argues that one of the problems of scholarship seeking to analyze the history of colonialism is that of abstraction; historians try to deal with poorly defined concepts such as “modernity” and give overwhelming focus to slippery issues such as identity. He also notes that empires such as the Ottomans and the Russians—much like their counterparts in Western Europe—“began to act more colonial in the late nineteenth century,” pointing to a problem of classification. Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in question theory, knowledge, history (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 28.


productive populace.38 In other words, the Ottoman Empire may not have been an active settlement frontier during the early modern period, but by the 19th century, it was in terms of policy and practice on the ground home to many regions of frontier settlement due to specific military and economic goals and the need to settle mobile populations. There is a growing body of literature covering the last century of the Ottoman period that emphasizes, contrary to prior focus on the role of intellectual bureaucrats in Istanbul, the role of provincial settings in the remaking of the Ottoman state during the Tanzimat period and beyond. From the Danube to the Euphrates, ambitious attempts at provincial restructuring became part and parcel of the Ottoman state’s overhaul, and while it is possible to see these measures as attempts at reform or “modernization” emanating from the center, it must also be noted that these provincial reforms were fundamental to the economic growth and indeed survival of the Ottoman state.39 As Eugene Rogan has put it in his work on Transjordan, “while the frontier might not have needed the state, by the second half of the 19th century the state needed the frontier.”40 In keeping with much of the abovementioned scholarship on European imperialism and the global settlement phenomenon, I argue that these provincial frontier settings must not only be studied as mere objects of the Ottoman state but rather as the very locations where that state was made and redefined. As I will show in this dissertation, the “frontier experience” shaped subsequent policies and broader imperial outcomes.

Kasaba, A Moveable Empire, 103-16. See also Yasemin Avcı, "The application of Tanzimat in the desert: The Bedouins and the creation of a new town in Southern Palestine (1860-1914)," Middle East. Stud. Middle Eastern Studies 45, no. 6 (2009).;Yonca Köksal, "Coercion and mediation: Centralization and sedentarization of tribes in the Ottoman empire," Middle Eastern Studies 42, no. 3 (2006). 39 For some recent examples, see Milen V. Petrov, "Tanzimat for the countryside : Midhat Pasa and the Vilayet of Danube, 1864-1868" (Princeton University, 2006); Ebubekir Ceylan, The Ottoman Origins of Modern Iraq : political reform, modernization and development in the nineteenth century Middle East (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2010). 40 Rogan, Frontiers of the State, 9. 38


Ottoman Settlement Frontiers Before I explain the ways in which certain geographies of the Ottoman Empire were subject to processes typical of frontier settlement regions of the world during the 19th and 20th centuries, I would like to emphasize the ways in which the Ottoman frontier experience was distinct. Among European empires that were growing as states during the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was the only to suffer severe territorial contraction. Put differently, although the Ottoman Empire was losing territory, its involvement in the daily lives of its subjects was nonetheless expanding, and the administrative and economic activities that sustained it were increasing. The creation of new agricultural settlements and the deployment of migrants and other Ottoman subjects towards achieving this goal was part and parcel of that growth. But because the Ottoman Empire was territorially contracting, frontier expansion, which involved millions of people over the empire’s last half century or so, occurred within the borders of the Ottoman Empire in pockets of sparse population that were targeted for settlement. Even if this also occurred in other nation states of the period, the relative lack of a colonial frontier is a key difference between the Ottoman Empire and most other empires of the period. Overseas colonies or far frontiers served as a population release valve within the imperial states that were also able to expel indigenous populations from lands as they moved an export the urban poor and displaced villagers.41 Territorially speaking, this was not possible in the Ottoman context, and so settlement occurred right inside the empire.42

For discussion of emigration as a “safety valve”, see Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 132-34. The Ottoman Empire did experience significant emigration of Christians for economic and political reasons in regions such as Mount Lebanon as well as in Anatolia after the period of the Hamidian massacres in the 1890s. However, these migrations were relatively small in comparison with Muslim migration, and Muslim immigrants were not settled in great numbers in the precise regions whence most of these Christian emigrants came. Outmigration from the Ottoman Empire flowed overwhelmingly from mountain regions. In addition, many Christian migrants returned to the Ottoman Empire after spending some years working in the Americas, Europe, or Africa. See Akram Fouad Khater, Inventing home : emigration, gender, and the middle class in Lebanon, 1870-1920 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Andrew Arsan, Interlopers of empire : the Lebanese diaspora in 41 42


For the purposes of this study, a settlement frontier is a space where new people, organisms, ecological practices, and institutions enter unsettled or uninhabited spaces or as has almost always been the case, supplant or build upon old ones. Examples of frontier settlement occurred under the auspices of governments in a state of territorial expansion such as the United States, the Russian Empire in Central Asia and the Caucasus, the French Empire in Algeria, or the settler state in South Africa.43 However, alongside these examples are other types of spaces where similar processes played out in less recognizable forms.44 The spaces I am defining as settlement frontiers are in many ways the places where nations and empires were made. The institutions associated with those polities took shape in frontier contexts, and primary conceptions of identity were forged in these zones of contact. Fundamental to this definition of frontier settlement in this context is biological transfer or ecological exchange. Many regions of the Ottoman Empire experienced a large influx of people, plants, and other organisms from the 19th century onward. The fact that the Ottoman Empire welcomed millions of immigrants during its last century has been mostly ignored by the broader scholarship on global migration.45 The Ottoman Empire received a large number of

colonial French West Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); David E. Gutman, "Sojourners, smugglers, and the state: transhemispheric migration flows and the politics of mobility in Eastern Anatolia, 18881908" (Binghamton University, 2012). 43 These are mere examples. Others large settler states of the classical variety include Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Kenya, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 44 For example, the transformation of regions of British South Asia such as the Bengal Delta entailed changes in settlement, economy, and ecology radical enough to be counted among frontier spaces. See Iftekhar Iqbal, The Bengal Delta : ecology, state and social change, 1840-1943 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). The Italian conquest of the Mezzogiorno, which did not entail all aspects of frontier settlement but sought to displace local political organization and property regimes, may arguably be seen as a form of frontier expansion. After all, how might we explain the birth of the spaghetti western genre in Italy or for that matter, its popular offshoot in Turkey, the poster boy of which was incidentally Marxist filmmaker and Çukurova native Yılmaz Güney. Giovanni Scognamillo and Metin Demirhan, Fantastik Türk sineması (Istanbul: Kabalcı Yayınevi, 1999). See Lucy Riall, Sicily and the unification of Italy : liberal policy and local power, 1859-1866 (Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press ; Oxford University Press, 1998). 45 Understanding the total number of migrants who entered the Ottoman Empire and what percentage of them survived or stayed long enough to have a significant demographic impact is challenging, but Faruk Tabak cites a figure stating that 4 million immigrants entered the Ottoman Empire from the Crimean War onward. Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 293-94.


people from outside its borders and former Ottoman provinces that became part of the Russian sphere or new states in the Balkans. These migrants were referred to within the Ottoman vocabulary as muhacirs46, and they settled in government-designated areas of almost every province of the empire, sometimes relocating more than once. 47 Like immigrants who went to other major frontiers of the period, some eventually returned to their original countries. However, in general, the Muslim immigrants who came to the Ottoman Empire were envisioned as an agriculturalist vanguard that would increase the economic production of more sparsely populated provinces and serve as a loyal peasantry in regions where Ottoman hegemony was sometimes contested. For this reason, most were not initially allowed to settle in major towns or cities.48 Immigrants were not the only group of migrants involved in the settlement of the Ottoman countryside from the 19th century onward. Economic opportunities fueled internal migration from the more crowded mountainous hinterlands of the empire to move towards the coast where ports created new potential for commerce and commercial agriculture was on the rise. But in other cases, these groups settled in the towns and villages of the Ottoman Empire where new forms of business were taking place. This population growth was accompanied by a rise in land under cultivation as well as total agriculture output, and in turn, the emergence of new forms of agriculture introduced many novel plants in local ecologies.49 The phenomenon of


More in Chapter 1. See Isa Blumi, Ottoman refugees, 1878-1939 : migration in a post-imperial world (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013); David Cuthell, "The Muhacirin Komisyonu : an agent in the transformation of Ottoman Anatolia 1860-1866" (2005). 48 These immigrants may be compared with the homesteaders that settled frontiers of the Anglo-world such as the American Midwest during the 1860s, with the caveat that in contrast with the solitary homestead model, these communities were settled into a small villages usually made up of families from their home regions. This model was more or less a reflection of the social organization of Ottoman society. 49 These plants include the expanding cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, sesame, sugar, rice and the like as well as largely novel food crops of the Columbian exchange like maize and potatoes. For an overview of Ottoman 47


biological transfer in the Ottoman Empire was not limited to people and plants. The work animal population likely grew as well as a result of expanding agriculture.50 As for other biota, the frontier settlement process was also accompanied by the spread of new agents and vectors of disease.51 Qualitatively and quantitatively speaking, the biological material of the Ottoman Empire was much different in 1914 than in 1856 and radically different by the 1950s. In addition to these ecological transfers, cultural, and institutional transfers played a particularly important role in 19th century settler contexts. Much of the literature on colonialism has focused on the ways in which colonial states sought to supplant not only the institutions of local societies but also their very cultures or civilization through the rhetoric of a civilizing mission. It is important to not take the rhetoric of colonial cultures at face value. Even if the French administration used the language of a civilizing mission extensively in Algeria, in practice, the state may not have done much to instill its cultural institutions among local communities, although that did not preclude destroying indigenous institutions.52 Rather than focusing on the cultural component of civilizing missions, i.e. the culturally specific aspects of those missions, which is only a subset of settler identity discussed below, in frontier settlement contexts, it may be more practical to look at the structural aspects of institutions. In frontier

agriculture and economy during this period, see Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 (Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambrige University Press, 2005), 111-41. 50 As Faruk Tabak suggests, the population of non-domesticated animals, especially megafauna, likely declined. Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 289. 51 The rise in malaria, which comprises a few species of blood parasite spread by the anopheles mosquito, was one of the principal ecological impacts of frontier settlement, especially in Cilicia. Cholera first spread into Cilicia and other parts of the Ottoman Empire during the between the 1830s and 1860s, and outbreaks occurred periodically for the rest of the Ottoman period. Evidence also strongly suggests that syphilis rose in prevalence during the nineteenth century, following growing numbers of migrants, workers, and soldiers. New forms of pests such as phylloxera, which ravaged the world’s grapes during the late nineteenth century, also entered the Ottoman Empire during this time. 52 See for example Abi-Mershed, Apostles of modernity : Saint-Simonians and the civilizing mission in Algeria.


settlement spaces, states and settler societies act upon certain institutional realms. Eugene Rogan makes reference to this phenomenon in Ottoman Transjordan as the frontier of the state.53 After the military and other institutions of governance employed to maintain hegemony in frontier regions, the most important institutional realm associated with frontier settlement is law, specifically law regarding property and land tenure. New land tenure regimes allowed settlers to lay claim to land, and in turn, the implantation of settlers served the purpose of extending state hegemony into new regions and increasing revenues through those land tenure regimes. In the decade following the Crimean War, particularly important changes to land tenure that implanted new legal structures that were generally steps towards increasing the presence of private land ownership in different frontier spaces.54 In the Ottoman context, a significant shift in land tenure came with the 1858 Land Law, which mandated the registration of land and the granting of title deeds (tapu) that were subsequently transferrable. Over the following decades, most of the land in the empire was registered either voluntarily or by registration commissions sent to different parts of the empire, as Martha Mundy and Richard Saumarez Smith have shown, at different times.55


Rogan, Frontiers of the State. David Westbrook, "Property, Sovereignty, Land and Labour in Colonial South Asia," in Constituting Modernity: private property in the East and West, ed. Huri Islamoğlu-İnan (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2004); John Ruedy, Land policy in colonial Algeria : The origins of the rural public domain (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1967); Willard Sunderland, Taming the Wild Field : colonization and empire on the Russian steppe (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004). 55 There have been complex historiographical debates surrounding the 1858 Land Law and its implications. See Tosun Arıncanlı, "Property, Land, and Labor in Nineteenth-Century Anatolia," in Landholding and Commercial Agriculture in the Middle East, ed. Çağlar Keyder and Faruk Tabak (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1991); Astourian, "The Silence of the Land: Agrarian Relations, Ethnicity, and Power."; E. A. Aytekin, "Agrarian relations, property and law: An analysis of the Land Code of 1858 in the Ottoman empire," Middle East. Stud. Middle Eastern Studies 45, no. 6 (2009); Huri Islamoğlu, "Property as a Contested Domain: A Reevaluation of the Ottoman Land Code of 1858," in New Perspectives on Property and Land in the Middle East, ed. Roger Owen (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000); Kemal Karpat, "Land Regime, Social Structure, and Modernization," in Beginnings of modernization in the Middle East: the nineteenth century, ed. William Roe Polk and Richard L. Chambers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968); Çağlar Keyder and Faruk Tabak, Landholding and commercial agriculture in the Middle East (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991); Bernard Lewis, "Ottoman Land Tenure and Taxation in Syria," Studia Islamica 1979, no. 50 (1979); Peter Sluglett and Marion Farouk-Sluglett, "The Application of the 1858 Land Code in Greater Syria: Some Preliminary 54


The land law was one of the most important iterations of the great expansion of state apparatuses that included police, gendarmerie, courts, schools, prisons, mosques, hospitals, and a wide variety of institutions aimed at facilitating taxation, conscription, and economic production. All such institutions were expanded in frontier regions like Adana and well into historically peripheral regions such as Greater Syria and Iraq that were culturally very different from the imperial center. Such cases have been cited as evidence of an “Ottoman civilizing mission.”56 From the late eighteenth century onward, it seems that a new notion of civilization took root in Ottoman society.57 It referred in part to universal components of civilization (such as sedentary life, economic growth, education, medicine) as well as cultural components of specific civilization (Islamic/Western law, Turkish language, morality). Through government policies, including the settlement policies dealt with in this dissertation, Ottoman administrators sought to expand this civilization, which was in turn used as rhetorical effect to justify a wide range of interventions. By the end of the Ottoman period, the discourse of civilization was no longer the privilege of the state and could be evoked by a wide range of social groups, especially the middle class.58 One of the pervasive impacts of the rapid ecological, socioeconomic, and legal transformation that occurred in these frontier spaces was the various forms of administrative and

Observations," in Land tenure and social transformation in the Middle East, ed. Tarif Khalidi (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1984); Mundy and Smith, Governing Property: law, administration, and production in Ottoman Syria. 56 Deringil, "'They Live in a State of Nomadism and Savagery': The Late Ottoman Empire and the Post-Colonial Debate," 311-12. 57 Kasaba, A Moveable Empire, 5-8. 58 See Keith David Watenpaugh, Being modern in the Middle East : revolution, nationalism, colonialism, and the Arab middle class (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006); Bedross Der Matossian, Shattered Dreams of Revolution : from liberty to violence in the late Ottoman Empire (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014); Michelle U. Campos, Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in early twentieth-century Palestine (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011); Palmira Brummett, Image and imperialism in the Ottoman revolutionary press, 1908-1911 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000).


economic unevenness that typify areas of dense capitalist activity. 59 Manu Goswami’s Producing India, which focused on unevenness as the “immanent contradiction” of colonial rule, has beautifully illustrated the means by which the processes associated with what I refer to in this study as frontiers result in socioeconomic inequality as well as “spatiotemporal unevenness.”60 What this meant is that the frontier experience facilitated economic stratification, distorted the experience of space and time, and created regions of profound difference linked by relative geographical proximity. In the Cilicia region, this unevenness can be observed in the contrast between life in the bustling port of Mersin and the malarial doldrums of the Upper the Çukurova plain, which were separated by less than 100 km (more in Chapter 5). However, due to the internal and especially fragmentary nature of the Ottoman frontier, researchers may identify even smaller pockets of frontier settlement strewn throughout the empire creating microcosms of unevenness on the very local level. Another important point of clarification regards the various post-Ottoman states, which in the case of Cilicia has been the Republic of Turkey. The First World War disrupted the ecological changes associated with frontier settlement in a fundamental way, but after the war, many of those processes resumed in the successor states of the Middle East. In fact the postwar transformation of in the case of Çukurova almost mirrored the process of agrarian transformation that began during the 1860s. These processes continued until the 1950s, at which point the rapid increase in agriculture, the use of new technocratic approaches to the environment, and the relative elimination of malaria created radically new ecological conditions in the Cilician countryside. Therefore, I argue that the century stretching from the 1850s to the 1950s comprises See David Harvey, Spaces of Global Capitalism (London; New York, NY: Verso, 2001). Also Reşat Kasaba, The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy : the nineteenth century (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988). 60 Manu Goswami, Producing India: from colonial economy to national space (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 9. 59


a discrete period of ecological change during which the intersection of agricultural settlement, migration, and questions of disease such as malaria dominated life of Ottoman frontiers such as the Çukurova plain.61 The final critical point for understanding the social history of frontiers is that the zones of cultural contact created by frontier settlement tend to create two conflicting processes. On one hand, migration and settlement lead to the cohabitation of multiple societies. Settler societies are often heterogeneous due to diverse origins of migrants and the frequent presence of multiple distinct indigenous communities. But simultaneously, settler societies often construct boundaries between the settler and the indigenous, the latter of whom becomes slated for elimination. The tension between hybridity and homogenization, which is rooted in contention over property and access to land and resources, drives conflict over racial, ethnolinguistic, or religious identities in frontier contexts. In the Ottoman context, the question of settler identity was particularly complex. There was no one specified ethnic or cultural definition for settlers. The immigrants who came to the Ottoman Empire, except in specific instances62, were predominantly Muslims from a variety of different regions surrounding the incrementally contracting Ottoman border. However, at the same time, large numbers of local villagers and townsfolk were involved in frontier settlement through acquisition of land, investment in agriculture, and migration towards regions of growing economic activity. This process, which was in many ways equally aided by government policies


Writing from the perspective of changes in the Ottoman and Turkish states, Zurcher refers to the period of 19081950 as a discrete “Young Turk era” of modern Turkey’s history. From the vantage point of the local history of Cilicia, the first distinction between the pre and post-Young Turk era may be relatively minor for questions of ecology and agrarian change, but nevertheless, Zurcher’s narrative is one example of how the processes that shaped the first decades of Republican Turkey emerged during the late Ottoman period. Erik Jan Zürcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: from the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk's Turkey (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010). 62 For example, Jewish settlers given land in Ottoman Palestine were also referred to in official documentation as muhacir presumably because they became permanent resident Ottomans subjects, even though this term usually referred to Muslim migrants. BOA, DH-MKT 2422/104 (19 Teşrinievvel 1316 [1 November 1900]).


that sought to encourage cultivation, included non-Muslims as well. As a result, different aspects of Ottoman policy were simultaneously backing the settlement of a number of Muslim groups as well as Christians in newly emerging agricultural spaces such as Cilicia. This state of affairs made frontier cities such as Adana and Mersin incredibly cosmopolitan. It also created competition over the land in the countryside that sometimes broke down along communal boundaries (more in Chapter 7). But in a manner quite distinct from other global settlement spaces, during the half-century before the First World War, Cilicia had been a dynamic borderlands region, which — even when not devoid of violence and communal strife — possessed an enduring hybrid quality in the absence of a clear settler identity. However, throughout the Ottoman frontier experience, there were punctuated moments of either state sanctioned or communal violence targeting specific groups that arose out the confluence of political developments in the empire with factors of agrarian change. In some cases, nomads were pitted against the state; in other cases Muslims against Christians. In the Turkish Republic, other ethnoreligious markers would become relevant in instances of state violence against local populations. These categories marking the victims and perpetrators of such violence were not consistent across time or space, just as the frontier experience affected communities in different regions differently.63 Yet given that many such instances of violence in the Ottoman Empire seem to be linked to the structural changes occurring within local political economies, it is necessary to understand the relationship between frontier settlement and movement and the sometimes violent outcomes of frontier processes as embedded in changing local ecologies.


For example, Stephan Astourian argues that agrarian policy during the late Ottoman period favored the dispossession of Armenians in parts of Eastern Anatolia while giving the Armenian community an opportunity to prosper in the Cilicia region. Astourian, "The Silence of the Land: Agrarian Relations, Ethnicity, and Power."


Movement, Settlement, and the Question of Violence In addition to the ecology of regions of frontier settlement, this study is concerned with the theme of movement. I examine how forms of movement have been integral to human habitation of and interaction with different geographies. Cilicia as a region naturally lends itself to this unit of analysis due to the way that various forms of movement have shaped its recent history. This study highlights three different aspects of movement and their relationship to ecological change. The two main categories of movement are cyclical movements such as seasonal migration for health purposes or labor and economic activity and permanent migration such as that of various forms of immigrants or settlers in the Cilicia region. Both of these types of movement were fundamental to understanding the ecological changes that occurred in the Çukurova plain.64 Alongside these two types of movement, there is a third aspect of movement that merits attention for its distinct placement within a political context. This category is diverse and overlaps with both cyclical and permanent migration but is typified by the feature of coercion and specifically numerous forms of violence. This violence is not merely the violence that accompanies acts such as forced migration or forced settlement but also the byproduct of limitations on movement. This motion-violence is the same as other forms of violence, which are ultimately all physical.65 As Benjamin Brower notes in his study of French conquest of the

Meltem Toksöz alludes to the centrality of such movements in the title of her monograph “Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton.” 65 Here Catherine Malabou’s commentary on the subject of trauma is of value. She highlights the ultimate similarity of all bodily traumas from physical lesions or “organic trauma” to the sociopolitical injuries of oppression, which are unified by their ultimate manifestation in “the cerebral sites that conduct emotion.” She advocates the grouping of “all damage caused by extreme relational violence.” In addition to categorically unifying all forms of violence, Malabou’s discussion highlights the fact that facilitating recovery from these sorts of sociopolitical trauma necessitates the collective acknowledgement of these types of injuries as the consequence of ultimately physical forms of violence. Catherine Malabou, The New Wounded: from neurosis to brain damage (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012), 10. 64


Sahara that “violence is not a singular phenomenon and assumes many forms.”66 Conventional understandings of violence generally extend beyond the physical application of violent force to encompass a wide range of uses of power to inflict harm. The threat of violence itself can be considered a form of violence. But more than that, diffuse and indirect forms of violence, when meted out across a large area and time frame, can have the same types of effects as more conventionally-defined forms of physical violence. For example, systematic dispossession and marginalization may create poverty that when resulting in famine, kills through the mechanisms of what Michael Watts calls “silent violence.”67 This motion-violence is experienced and meted out kinesthetically; in other words, through action upon a body’s state of motion. Various forms of limitation on movement from forced settlement to forced migration comprise a subset of this silent violence. Expulsion and captivity are types of violence that have always existed, but I argue that these motion-based forms of violence became ascendant or prevalent in certain historical contexts, such as the period and places examined in this dissertation. From the early modern period onward, human societies engaged in new forms of movement that were integral to global frontier settlement. Significant transformation in maritime navigation enabled radically different forms of mobility that facilitated larger scale migration during the early modern period, and then during the 19th century, dramatic changes in transport introduced by the steamship and the railway greatly


Benjamin Claude Brower, A Desert Named Peace : the violence of France's empire in the Algerian Sahara, 18441902 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 6. 67 Michael Watts, Silent Violence : food, famine, & peasantry in northern Nigeria (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). In his study of medicine in French Algeria, William Gallois establishes the conceptual link between this more invisible form of violence such as violence and disease inflicted through impoverishment and massacres as traditionally understood, arguing that “in the case of both the violence of indifference which we find in famines and in the planned killing of genocide, eliminationist literatures played a crucial enabling role in forming a broad culture of attitudes towards death and the value of life in the colony.” William Gallois, The Administration of Sickness : medicine and ethics in nineteenth-century Algeria (Basingstoke [England]; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 95. See also, Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts : El Niño famines and the making of the third world (London; New York: Verso, 2001).


expanded the capacity for long distance travel. While this was a period of increased mobility and transregional migration, novel forms of control on mobility and the creation of more firmly bounded geographies through the hardening of political borders and the restructuring of property relations made people vulnerable to new types of violence that arose from the conditions under which certain communities were not welcome in certain places. I do not focus here on the extent to which this new violence was culturally-specific or tied to certain technologies but instead will build outward from the Ottoman case to highlight some examples of how this motion-violence was experienced from the 19th century onward. The Ottoman Empire is only one of many places throughout the world where new forms of displacement had violent effects. During the late Ottoman period, the Ottoman government increasingly pursued a policy of iskân or settlement that resembled settlement policies in many of the empires discussed above. As Reşat Kasaba has illustrated, settlement policies had been an intermittent aspiration within the Ottoman government, but the 19th century brought a greater ability to act upon those aspirations. While not carrying inherent connotations of physical force, iskân often took the form of violence. The word iskân, which means “to (make someone) settle,” was used to describe acts of not only forced settlement but also forced motion. In some cases, it simply involved settling voluntary immigrants in a particular area. But in general, especially when applied to nomadic populations, it referred to compulsory sedentarization or settlement backed up by military force. In other cases, the policy of iskân has appeared in the history of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey as a synonym for forced migration or expulsion, similar to the sometimes euphemistic concept of “resettlement” of problematic populations from one region to another or the slightly less euphemistic US policy of “removal” employed against American


Indians. Whether a command to stay or to go, iskân was a policy that acted upon a group’s freedom of movement, an in this regard, created the potential for harmful impacts.68 There are many senses in which the exile and confinement that resulted from resettlement can be understood as violence. But it is important to recognize that under ecological conditions of the 19th century, forced movement or settlement could have a very deadly impact. Being compelled to inhabit a particular geography whether through forced migration or forced settlement could not only lead to disease or other hardship, but as this study argues, both agents and subjects of these types of compulsion were usually more conscious of these impacts that has been previously assumed. This violent byproduct of settlement defined as iskân in the Ottoman-Turkish context was a salient feature of Cilicia’s political landscape from the 1860s onward. For example, when the Ottoman government forced pastoralists in Cilicia to settle and prevented their seasonal migrations, the violence at play was not only the military force used to crush tribal uprisings but rather the suffering incurred by those populations due to their being prevented from carrying out a customary movement. In the case of many of these people, the harm they endured as a result of this violence took the form of malaria epidemics that ravaged families and wiped out a major segment of the population. During the period of the First World War, on Ottoman writer named Ahmet Besim Atalay, whom I will discuss at further length throughout this text, penned a history of that region of settlement and its effects on the communities it targeted. Atalay very poignantly


See Ilhan Tekeli, "Involuntary Displacement and the Problem of Resettlement in Turkey from the Ottoman Empire to the Present," Center for Migration Studies 11, no. 4 (1994).


equated settlement or iskân with elimination or imhâ, saying that the Ottoman government had “killed and buried” the tribes of Cilicia by forcing them to settle.69 Another well-known example of the type of motion-violence that will be discussed in this dissertation, which occurred in the midst of Atalay’s own writing, is the deportations of Armenian civilians from Anatolia during the First World War. These deportations were part of a policy of forced expulsion and massacre of Armenians known as the Armenian genocide carried out by the CUP government.70 This policy — like the tribal settlement campaigns discussed above — was sometimes framed as iskân as in relocation or resettlement, although in practice it was an order to go rather than to stay.71 Deportations were in many parts of the empire accompanied by executions, massacres, and horrific abuses, but the violence of deportation was also to be found in the fact that Armenians were sent off with inadequate food and supplies to desert regions of Northern Syria where they were very likely to die of starvation or disease (see Chapter 8 and 9). This dissertation links these clear-cut instances of violent expulsion and violent confinement to other examples that present slightly more complex equations. Muslim migrants who arrived to the Ottoman Empire after being expelled or fleeing from surrounding areas of Russian expansion or sites of national conflicts became subject to the policy of iskân or

Ahmed Besim’s commentary was certainly not without political context, something that will be dealt with in Chapters 4 and 10. Besim Atalay, Maraş Tarihi ve Coğrafyası (Istanbul: Matbaa-yi Âmire, 1332 [1916], 1339 [1923]), 71-72. 70 For select historiography of the Armenian genocide, see Ronald Grigor Suny, "They can live in the desert but nowhere else" : a history of the Armenian genocide (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015); Taner Akçam, The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity : the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012); Raymond H. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide: a complete history (London: Tauris, 2011); Ronald Grigor Suny, Fatma Müge Göçek, and Norman M. Naimark, A Question of Genocide : Armenians and Turks at the end of the Ottoman Empire (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Uğur Ümit Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey : Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-50 (London: Oxford University Press, 2011); Donald Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide : imperialism, nationalism, and the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 71 For example, see Yusuf Sarınay and Recep Karacakaya, Osmanlı belgelerinde Ermenilerin sevk ve iskânı (18781920) (Ankara: T.C. Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlügü, 2007). 69


settlement when they arrived to Anatolia. In Cilicia, they would meet fates similar to those of pastoralists forced to sedentarize, and in many parts of Anatolia, the first generation of these migrant communities was devastated by epidemics, particularly disease such as malaria that arose from certain types of interaction with the local geography. The violence carried out by the Russian army manifested not only in dispossession and the hardship of the journey but also the suffering that these migrants endured due to their dislocation once they arrived in the Ottoman Empire. But here the Ottoman government shared some responsibility as well in mandating certain settlement areas for these migrants. In the case of Muslim migrants, the government recognized this form of violence and therefore began to entertain requests for resettlement in a more salubrious location in implicit acknowledgement of the right to freedom of movement for the purposes of wellbeing once the effects of and dissatisfaction with settlement policy became more apparent (see Chapters 1 and 6). There are many other examples wherein we may examine aspects of violence embedded in various phenomena from population exchanges and conscription to property relations and migrant labor regimes that will emerge throughout the course of this study. Although any individual can be guilty of such violence, this particular form of violence is common to states and other institutions that possess concentrations of physical power significant enough to act upon individuals and groups without deployment of that physical power. I argue that motionviolence has a special place in our understanding of the 19th century. This was the time period when many states were able to wield power over subjects through more rigid enforcement of boundaries, surveillance of movement, and compulsion of labor, settlement, and migration. Resistance to these forms of power, however they may or may not be justified, must be understood as resistance to a potential form of violence in the fullest sense. This point is crucial


for understanding the legacy of nineteenth century imperialism in our present day. While their capacity to carry out unwarranted acts of physical violence unimpeached has arguably waned over the last century, governments and other large institutions have meanwhile claimed an extraordinary degree of power of the movement of bodies that knows no precedent. Summary of the Chapters In the span of a few hundred pages, this study attempts to examine processes that unfolded over more than a hundred years. Thus, while this work is a very simplified version of the events it discusses, I know that it will prove longer than readers might have preferred. To facilitate easier reading, each chapter is framed by self-contained arguments that build toward the larger points in this dissertation on the expectation that readers may not wish to read the entire work. As a result, the meticulous reader may detect some repetition or excessive crossreferencing with regard to certain crucial points throughout the manuscript. The scope of the work has also introduced the additional complication of sacrificing detail in certain areas, forcing me to excise what might have even been entire chapters. In other cases, I have adhered to the examination of ecological themes and the development of new perspectives on the processes in question at the expense of potentially useful background information that can be found in the works of other authors. What has remained is comprised of sections most pertinent to the study of four themes and bring together the four parts of this dissertation: contention over geography and space, ecological transformation, violence and displacement, and ecological continuities. Part 1 highlights the issue of contention over geography. It centers on the making of an agrarian frontier in Ottoman Cilicia in the post-Crimean War context, covering just over two decades from 1856 to 1878. It examines how Ottoman administrators, faced with a variety of political, economic, and social questions, sought to impose a new institutional order on Cilicia through the forced settlement of seasonally-migratory pastoralists and the introduction of large 36

numbers of Muslim migrants who fled the Russian sphere. Chapter 1 traces the development of what I refer to as a political ecology of transhumance in Ottoman Cilicia and outlines the reasons why state and commercial actors sought to alter this political ecology in the post-Crimean War context. The seasonal migration of most of the region’s inhabitants for health purposes also fed local autonomy, and by the middle of the 19th century, local dynasties that were able to govern the predominantly pastoralist population of the countryside dominated politics in the Adana province. With rise of cotton agriculture during the US Civil War (1861-65) and the influx of large numbers of Muslim migrants from Crimea and the Caucasus, the Ottoman government had greater incentive to clamp down on local autonomy and assert more direct governance in order to better collect taxes and enforce conscription. In this regard, some form of confrontation between the Ottoman administration and the local pastoralist communities was overdetermined by the historical factors in play. However, the timing and nature of forced settlement campaigns in Cilicia was not solely an outcome as these factors. As I explain in Chapter 2, a crisis of legitimacy emerged in the region as the result of the assassination of an American missionary and an inability of the Ottoman authorities to identify and punish the would-be culprits. The pursuit of those culprits manifested in the form of various obstacles presented by a contentious political geography. Although most Ottoman officials were reluctant to take any dramatic measures that would upset the tenuous hold on sovereignty in Cilicia region, the urgings of American diplomats to pursue justice bolstered the argument for more aggressive intervention into the political affairs of the countryside. The pursuit of the culprits ultimately led to the undoing of the political order in Ottoman Cilicia. In the restoration of order, a more ambitious vision of reform won out. It


favored a military reassertion of hegemony, the forced settlement of tribes, and an attempt to spread “civilization (medeniyet)” in the countryside. Chapter 3 studies the phenomenon of a military campaign aimed at forced settlement called the Reform Division or Fırka-i İslahiye. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, an Ottoman statesman and scholar whose historical writings had furthered a notion of civilization based on a reading of Ibn Khaldun, became the commissioner of this large army charged with establishing Ottoman hegemony in Cilicia. The goals of the Reform Division, which arrived to Cilicia in 1865, were to break the power of the local dynasties, put an end to the practice of seasonal migration among the region’s pastoralists, and turn those communities into settled agriculturalists. For Cevdet, the Reform Division represented a force of change that would transform the nature of a rebellious geography into a zone of civilization. This chapter details the discursive aspects of a civilizing mission as articulated by Ahmed Cevdet that were underlying these efforts and examines what this mission meant in practice. Chapter 4 studies the immediate consequences of Ottoman settlement policy during decade following the Reform Division’s activities in Cilicia. Contention over geography did not end with the military reassertion of hegemony in Cilicia during the 1860s. Although the army had succeeded in curtailing the power of the local dynasties, settlement resulted in catastrophic rates of malaria, mortality, and loss of livestock among pastoralist populations. When financial constraints caused Ottoman commitment to settlement to waver, those populations rebelled against the new order and returned to a migratory way of life. By 1878, the provincial government had compromised on some of its settlement orders, allowing local communities to migrate for the purposes of avoiding malaria. Yet although the theory behind settlement policy in


Cilicia reverted into a looser practice of accommodation, the trajectories and processes established by the Reform Division would endure. Part 2 of this study examines the impacts of this new trajectory through the intense socioeconomic and ecological transformation in Cilicia during the last decades of the Ottoman period (1878-1914). It considers how this transformation brought novel forms of life and struggle to Cilicia and how it effected a profound political and economic unevenness in the countryside. Chapter 5 details the emergence of a thriving cotton industry in the well-watered Çukurova plain. Because of the low population density in this region, the vast estates of large landholders were worked by migrant laborers from Northern Syria and Eastern Anatolia. The population of Adana would fluctuate with the arrival and departure of laborers, and over the course of a few decades, the Adana-Mersin region emerged as an area of intense demographic and economic growth. Pastoralists had been pushed to the margins, but a new form of migration now dominated life in Cilicia. Urban areas grew at a rate that exceeded overall population growth in the province. However, the eastern portion of the Çukurova plain, which was the area settled by pastoralists and migrants, was less affected by these developments. The Adana province was dominated by unevenness in terms of economy and governance, and as a result, the late Ottoman experience in the rural periphery of Cilicia differed from the urban setting. Chapter 6 explores these themes further by highlighting the ways in which the Ottoman administration sought to address the issue of malaria in the Cilicia region in the wake of frontier settlement policy, which tolerated but did not fully endorse mobility as a reaction to malaria. During the last decades of the Ottoman period, understandings of malaria transformed continually, and the approaches adopted by the Ottoman administration and medical establishment reflected these changing understandings. Swamp drainage gave way to medical


approaches with the discovery of the malaria parasite in 1880, and by the end of the Ottoman period, anti-mosquito campaigns were also part of these approaches. While Ottoman anti-malaria activities yielded some results, ecological interventions often had unintended consequences in the countryside, and logistical and financial constraints dictated the Ottoman confrontation with malaria in Cilicia would not change human relations with the disease in a fundamental way. In fact, the intransigence of malaria in the face of these efforts in some cases affirmed the importance of transhumance in terms of public health. But the erosion of the economic power of transhumance for pastoralist populations meant that the mountains were no longer solely theirs. Chapter 7 considers how frontier settlement produced different forms of contention over space between communities that inhabited the Cilicia region. Due to the visibility of the Adana massacres 1909 and further violence during the First World War, Ottoman Cilicia has been conventionally remembered as a powder keg of communal tension and anti-Armenian hostility. I argue that such a view overshadows the way that Muslims and Christians did live together even during a time of considerable flux. However, certain aspects of agrarian transformation in Cilicia introduced a continuous factor of competition and conflict over land and sometimes fostered political rifts between Muslims and Christians. Meanwhile, the region’s position as a frontier space made it susceptible to the impacts of political issues elsewhere in the empire that moved with migrant workers. This chapter examines the different factors identified by historians that have written about the Adana massacres of 1909, and considers the extent to which aspects of Ottoman settlement policy and the resultant ecology contributed to forces of unrest. These questions come to bear on Part 3 of the dissertation, which studies the experience of the Cilicia region during a period of displacements and disruptions. These chapters deal with the history of Cilicia during the World War I (1914-1918) and the French Mandate period that


immediately followed (1918-1922). They add to an emerging body of scholarship that seeks to study the social history of the First World War throughout the world. Chapter 8 examines the ways in which mobilization for war in the Ottoman Empire along with the expulsion of Armenians caused a dramatic drop in the agricultural output of the Adana region. The cotton ecology of the Cilicia region did not hold up to the economic and material conditions of the war. As a result, agricultural production faltered and scarcity spread throughout the Cilicia region. The Ottoman government adopted some measures to address these issues that ultimate did not offset the effect of the war but may have established important trajectories for understanding the post-Ottoman period. As various forms of displacement continued throughout the war, further ecological reverberations occurred. Chapter 9 studies the different forms of displacement that occurred in the Cilicia region, such as the deportation of Armenians, the arrival of Muslim refugees, and the movement of soldiers in the empire. The disruptions that were felt within the empire converged on the Adana region in the form of a bizarre malaria epidemic that reached improbably into the mountains. This chapter examines that epidemic, which was studied but not fully explained by German doctors, in order to illustrate the interconnectedness of different ecological issues in the wartime context. Chapter 10 traces these developments into the history of the French Mandate of Cilicia, which promised a restored agrarian economy and a future of commercial progress, but ultimately engendered upheaval that prolonged the effects of the First World War. By the end of the war, tens of thousands of people had moved in and out of the Cilicia region one or more times, and large amounts of land had changed hands. Cilicia’s longstanding indigenous Christian


population, which was thriving before the war, was almost entirely expelled. The agrarian world they left behind was in shambles. Part 4 of this study addresses the issue of ecological continuity between the Ottoman and early Republican periods. The First World War was a major rupture in the history of the Middle East that resulted in tremendous demographic change in the Cilicia region as well as the creation of a new state in the form of the Turkish Republic. However, in the realm of economy, ecology, and agrarian policies, the early Republican period reflects many parallels with the trends and processes witness during the last decades of Ottoman rule. By following the themes of agrarian transformation, ecology, and disease into the first decades of the Republican period from 1924 to 1956, this study highlights the endurance of many themes in the history of Cilicia. Chapter 11 studies the reorganization of the Cilician countryside in the wake of the First World War. During the interwar period, agrarian transformation in Cilicia was in many ways the story of substituting one peasantry for another. The population exchanges between Turkey and Greece were one literal manifestation of this phenomenon, as Muslims arrived to replace the Christians that had been eliminated from the Cilicia landscape. But moreover, the Republic government increasingly sought to augment and transform village life in the making of a new nation-state. Lingering economic issues and the numerous complications of such as a massive overhaul of the countryside meant that change would not be immediate, and the agrarian economy of Cilicia did not resume its prewar vitality until the eve of the Second World War. But while the last decades of the Ottoman period had led to greater urbanization in Cilicia, village populations grew at a faster rate than urban populations in the decades following the First World War. Meanwhile, new approaches to agriculture heralded not only quantitative shifts in the arena of economic production but qualitative ones as well. These developments point to an acceleration


of the process of frontier settlement in the Anatolian countryside during the early Republican period. Chapter 12 examines the role that malaria played in the remaking of agrarian Cilicia. The Turkish Republic inherited a geography where malaria was an enduring feature of rural life, and during the 1920s, declared war on the disease. The Adana region in particular became one of the leading sites of malaria research in the Mediterranean, and a diverse set of ecological and medical approaches were accompanied by public health propaganda in Turkey’s fight with malaria. These public health programs fostered new kinds of interactions between state and society that were mediated through medical institutions. Meanwhile, by the mid-1930s, ideas about ecology had changed so that many advocated a new war on nature aimed at controlling and harnessing natural forces for the benefit of the nation and civilization. But the nature targeted as enemy was in fact the product of human activity, a countryside shaped by commercial agriculture in which malaria proliferated. Chapter 13 considers how agrarian change in Cilicia impacted the way people viewed their relationship with the lived geography through the most enduring feature of the region’s landscape: the summer plateau or yayla. Socioeconomic change in the Adana region along with new methods of transportation completed the transformation of the yayla from an economic space to a space of leisure for the urban middle class. This was part and parcel of a broader romanticization of nature that was playing out within the contours of a nationalist discourse. With the subsequent romanticization of the Turkish pastoralist, this discourse completed a full circle of transformation regarding the relationship between the local pastoralist population that had been forcibly settled during the 1860s and their putative descendants in the people of modern


Turkey. However, by the Second World War, their pastoralist way of life had been pushed to the tiniest margins of the Cilician landscape. Chapter 14 rounds out an exploration of over 100 years of ecological change with an overview of some of the momentous events that the post-WWII brought to the countryside of the Adana region. The Second World War was a period of economic tribulations in the Cilicia region, and these troubles intensified commitments to the technocratic overhaul of the countryside and the harnessing of nature. Following the war, a government wielding increased funds and technology aided in part by the US Marshall Plan embarked on new war on nature in the countryside in the form of an aggressive pesticides-based campaign against mosquitoes and malaria. With increased investment, mechanization of agriculture, the introduction of fertilizers and pesticides, the rise in irrigation, and the construction of a hydro-electric dam on the Seyhan River in 1956, it appeared to some that victory in the war with nature was near. But the ecology of Cilicia would prove more enduring, as malaria and many of the ecological conditions associated with frontier settlement lingered for decades to come.


PART 1 (1856-1878) Aşık Veli was a bard who like his father Aşık Musa used the nom de plume of Dadaloğlu to compose songs about the life and events of his community: the Afşars.1 They were comprised of a few thousands tents of transhumant pastoralists and tens of thousands of animals that migrated between the plateaus of the Taurus Mountains and the Çukurova plain on an annual basis.2 As of the 1860s, they were the largest of a number of similar confederations in the Cilicia region. Like any bard, Dadaloğlu mused on love, lamentation, and nomadic life in the lyrical styles of Central Anatolia and the Turkic dialect of its pastoralist inhabitants.3 When the Ottoman army invaded the mountains and told them to come down to the plain in 1865, Dadaloğlu made songs of defiance as local leaders led small attempts at resistance. His poetry issued a cry to battle that offered an elegant rebuttal to Ottoman claims on the Cilician geography with the line, “They say the state made a decree about us. The decree is the Sultan’s, but the mountains are ours.”4

One may also find the spellings of “Avşar” or “Avshar.” For an early study on the Afşars and other Turkmen communities in Anatolia carried out by German researchers and translated into Ottoman by the Tribes and Immigrants Commission during the First World War, see Dr. Freilich and Raulich, Türkmen Aşiretleri (Istanbul: Sevda, 1916). For an overview of sources on the Afşars, see İlhan Şahin, Osmanlı döneminde konar-göç erler : incelemeler, araş tırmalar (Istanbul: Eren, 2006), 27-34. 2 Victor Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie et dans les montagnes du Taurus : éxécuté pendant les années 1852-1853 (Paris: Duprat, 1861), 21-23. 3 For short overview on Dadaloğlu’s life, see Cahit Öztelli, Köroğlu ve Dadaloğlu (Istanbul: Varlık Yayınevi, 1953), 9-13. 4 “Hakkımızda devlet etmiş fermanı / Ferman padişahın, dağlar bizimdir” in ibid., 81. Some versions may differ slightly, as the songs of Dadaloğlu were transmitted orally and not written down for several decades. One of the earliest mentions of a Dadaloğlu song appears to have been written by Ahmed Besim Atalay, who interviewed peasants in the Çukurova region around the time of the First World War. In Maraş Tarihi, he recorded the lyrics of a song that resembles those of Dadaloğlu, although there is no attribution. Atalay, Maraş Tarihi ve Coğrafyası, 70-71. 1


The Afşars were defeated, and as the other pastoralists of the area, were made to settle in new villages. But resistance had not been all in vain. Many of the Afşars were allowed to settle in mountain villages near Sarız and Pınarbaşı.5 It was a small victory but an important one, as it gave them better access to the cherished mountain spaces. Their leader, Hacı Bey, who negotiated the settlement, was commemorated among the Afşars for his role in the establishment of their villages. But settlement was not easy for Hacı Bey, who died soon after.6 And for most of those settled by the Ottoman government in the Çukurova plain, even harder years were ahead. Settlement would be remembered as the great tragedy of their communities. In a subsequent song, Dadaloğlu would call it “the end of the world (kıyamet).”7 Nonetheless, the songs of resistance and suffering survived among the remnants of the communities that had been settled. Patriarchs of the small lineages that once controlled the Cilicia region — figures like Küçükalioğlu Mıstık Pasha and Kozanoğlu — became heroes memorialized by local folklore. When historians and folklorists began to document the songs from the early twentieth century onward, they were known throughout the region. Sociologist Wolfram Eberhard even found the songs among Armenians living in California during his research in the 1950s.8

By the 1920s, the poems of Dadaloğlu began to appear in publications such as Çukurovada Memleket (see Chapter 12). Taha Toros published a book on Dadaloğlu and his works in 1940. Dadaloğlu and Taha Toros, Dadaloğlu : XIX. asır Çukurova sazşairi [Dadaloğlu: 19th Century Çukurova Bard] (Adana: Yeni Adana Basımevi, 1940). Andrew Gordon Gould has provided English translations and commentary for five Dadaloğlu poems about settlement in his dissertation. Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 209-11. See also Wolfram Eberhard, Minstrel tales from Southeastern Turkey (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955); Haşim Nezihi Okay, Köroglu ve Dadaloğlu (Istanbul: May Yayınları, 1970); Faik Türkmen, Mufassal Hatay tarihi (Antakya: Iktisat Basımevi, 1939); Pertev Naili Boratav, Çukurova'da folklor derlemeleri (Ankara: TTK Basımevi, 1947). 5 BOA, A-MKT-MHM 342/37, no. 1, (12 Ağustos 1281 [24 August 1865]); Ahmet Z. Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar (Ankara: Kültür Bakanligi, 1994), 303, 33. 6 Ibid., 303. 7 Gould translates as “Day of Judgement.” Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 210. 8 Eberhard, "Nomads and Farmers in Southeastern Turkey: Problems of Settlement."; Eberhard, Minstrel tales from Southeastern Turkey.


The immortal struggle of the Afşars was the product of a formative period in the history of modern states. They had been attacked in a moment of structural expansion carried out by the Ottoman Empire. Settlement was used as a means of subjugating mobile communities that did not cooperate with the new order of the Tanzimat period. The forced settlement of pastoralists in Cilicia occurred during a time when almost every military empire in the world waged battles against local communities and the geographies they inhabited. From the US frontier expansion to the Italian Risorgimento, these battles became defining moments in the histories of those states. However, this period of contention and territorial consolidation for those empires would leave a long legacy of destruction among the communities they touched. Among those regions was the North Caucasus, a predominantly Muslim area colonized by the Russian Empire during the 1860s. Russian military commanders referred to the Caucasus as “our Algeria,” and the Russian administration sought to install a loyal Christian peasantry in the region.9 Like the pastoralists of Cilicia, the inhabitants of the Caucasus had put up a fight. Imam Shamil led a decades-long resistance in Dagestan that created its own legends of heroism.10 But as resistance was broken, local populations were faced with the choice to flee or Russify, and in the end, most took refuge in the Ottoman Empire. Tens of thousands of such migrants, referred to as muhacirs, were sent to the Cilicia region alone. Many were settled into villages not far from the pastoralists subjugated by the Ottoman military, and like their neighbors, they would perish in huge numbers.11 It was a long way to travel in order to die of malaria on the banks of the Ceyhan River. These were the stories and conflicts that defined the experience of the Ottoman frontier. 9

Sunderland, Taming the Wild Field : colonization and empire on the Russian steppe, 151-55. For a translation of Qarahi’s history of Shamil and his rebellion, see Thomas Sanders et al., Russian-Muslim confrontation in the Caucasus : alternative visions of the conflict between Imam Shamil and the Russians, 18301859 (London; New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004). 11 See Chapters 1 and 4. 10


Part 1 of this dissertation studies the struggle over geography in Cilicia over two decades following the Crimean War, and considers the ecological consequences of the region becoming an area of frontier settlement. Seasonal rhythms of migration or transhumance dominated the socioeconomic life of Cilicia before the settlement campaigns. This constant movement posed many long-term challenges to Ottoman administrative and economic visions for the region, as well as more proximate issues regarding the maintenance of law and order. It was when an international scandal involving a murdered missionary laid bare the troubles of the transhumant political ecology that the Ottoman government moved to forcibly settle the pastoralists of Cilicia. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, a historian and statesman, oversaw the pacification campaigns and the negotiations that followed. For him, settlement was sure to bring “civilization (medeniyet)” to a region endowed with fertile soil and access to growing Eastern Mediterranean ports. But Cevdet had underestimated the difficulties of forcibly settling populations in Çukurova, and by the 1870s, they had already begun to shirk settlement orders after growing unable to tolerate the malaria epidemics that buried their relatives, friends, and children. Although this story was remembered on the popular level, it was largely erased from the dominant historiography of the Tanzimat period and the history of the making of modern Turkey, which grew to be narrated from the vantage point of statesmen, bureaucrats, and diplomats.12 Only gradually was the violence that occurred in Cilicia during the 1860s restored by authors during the Republican period, primarily local Turkish historians who recognized the events as a formative moment in the making of their region.13 By then, nationalism had changed


For example, see Shaw and Shaw, Reform, Revolution, and Republic; Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (New York: Oxford University Press, 1961). 13 See works of Taha Toros. Also Ener, Tarih boyunca Adana ovasına bir bakış; Yusuf Halaçoglu, XVIII. yüzyılda Osmanlı Imparatorluğunun iskân siyaseti ve aşiretlerin yerleştirilmesi (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 1988); Hasan Ayparlar, 19. yüzyılda Gâvur Dağları ve Amik Ovası'nda islah ve iskân hareketleri : Derviş Paşa iskânı (Kırıkhan, Turkey: Hasan Ayparlar, 2007); M. Fatih Sansar, Tanzimat döneminde bir iskan modeli : Firka-i


much about how the period was remembered, and ecological change had done much to alienate people from environments of the past. What follows is a reconstruction of the confrontation between local pastoralists and the Ottoman state in Cilicia before the nation and before the ecology of the Çukurova plain was forever remade.

Islahiye ve Osmaniye (Cebel-i Bereket) (Osmaniye, Turkey: T.C. Osmaniye Il Kültür ve Turizm Müdürlügü, 2006). See introduction for discussion of Anglophone historiography.



Come summer in Adana, come July 1 He who’s headed home is a lucky guy Back to that young cypress by the garden’s side

Yaz olur da temmuz olur Adana Aşkolsun da sılasına gidene Büyük bahçe yanındaki selvi fidana

Come summer, it’s a fire, come July A ferocious wolf, becomes every fly It would pain my heart, dear, to see you die2 Rise, my colorful stork, let’s go to the yayla

Yaz olur da temmuz olur od olur Hep sinekler bir alıcı kurt olur Yavru sen gidersen yüreğime dert olur Allı turnam kalk gidelim yaylaya — folk song of the Cilicia region

Cilicia is a historical region bound together by sharp contrasts in elevation. The impressive peaks and plateaus of the Taurus and Amanus ranges surround the vast and fertile plain of Çukurova, which is crosscut by the Seyhan and Ceyhan rivers and their tributaries. Runoff from the mountains feeds those rivers and endows this delta plain with a rich and well-watered soil, leading to the formation of wetlands and swamps throughout the lowest areas. In turn, moisture from the sea and plains, which becomes fog, rain, and snow as it meets with mountains, waters the slopes of the Taurus and Amanus ranges, nurturing large swaths of pine and cedar almost unrivaled among Anatolian forests. The climatic effects of this contrast in elevation have far-reaching consequences for human life in Cilicia. During the summer, the plain is muggy and oppressively hot. By the measures of Turkish studies from the 1970s, the region of the Çukurova plain in the immediate


Translation is my own. Variations on this folk song can be found throughout the Cilicia region and well into the Taurus Mountains. The Turkish text here appears as transcribed Ahmet Şükrü Esen, but alternate versions appear elsewhere. Ahmet Şükrü Esen, Pertev Naili Boratav, and Rémy Dor, Anadolu Ağıtları (Istanbul: İletişim, 1997). My interpretation of the verb “sen gidersen (if you go)” as “if you die” is based on the fact that elsewhere it is also cited as “sen ölürsen (if you die),” the former being a slightly more euphemistic or lighter version of the lyric. Kemal, Çukurova Yana Yana, 32. 2


vicinity of Adana has on average 195 summer days (high of 25°C/77°F or greater) and over 136 tropical days (high of 30°C/86°F or greater) per year.3 Average high temperatures from June until the end of September are above 31°C/87.8°F. In August, they regularly exceed 37°C, the temperature of blood in the human body. Adana’s latitude is also 37° north of the equator, roughly parallel with Mediterranean cities like Athens, Lisbon, and Tunis, but its annual temperature is somewhat warmer than all of those. The intense heat of the summer was the most remarkable feature of the Cilician climate for outsiders. A late nineteenth-century source from Russian Armenia characterized the summer heat as “unbearable (անտանելի),”4 and in fact, one British consul griped in 1898 that summer in Adana was “tropical and far more trying than in India.”5 Though most parts of India are a good bit hotter than Adana during the summer, this region came to be classified among the tropical or “warm countries (bilad-ı harre)” of the Ottoman Empire alongside Greater Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and North Africa. 6 Ottoman agronomists sometimes placed Adana in its own clime (iklim) called the Adana or “Taurus (Toros)” region, distinct from that of Syria or other parts of Anatolia.7 One remarked in an 1888 publication that summers in the Çukurova region were “warmer than the summers of the coasts of the Alexandria and Egypt (İskenderiye ve Mısır) climes.”8 Just a few days-walk from Adana, Tarsus, and the mere handful of towns that dotted the plain surrounding the Gulf of Iskenderun before the nineteenth century, a radically different The neighboring provinces of İçel and Hatay (Antakya) by contrast experience 61.5 and 89.5 tropical days per year respectively. Çukurova Bölgesi: bölgesel gelisme, sehirlesme ve yerlesme düzeni, (Ankara: Bölge Planlama Dairesi, 1970), 15-16. 4 Kilikia : pʻordz ashkharhagrutʻean ardi Kilikioy, Matenadaran Arak`si (Peterburg: Tparan I. Libermani, 1894), 35. 5 TNA, FO 78/4938, Barnham to Salisbury, Aleppo (6 June 1898). 6 See BOA, A-MKT-MHM 523/51, Mehmed Necib to Sadaret, Adana (9 Şaban 1321 / 16 Teşrinievvel 1319 [29 October 1903]). 7 I have compared a few late Ottoman works on agriculture and geography, which while not necessarily consistent in their geographical divisions of the empire, tend to place Adana in a distinct geographical category that sometimes encompasses the Antalya region immediately to the west of the Adana province. See Hüseyin, Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin Ziraat Coğrafyası (Istanbul: Mihran Matbaası, 1303 [1888]), Part 2, 14; "Ziraat-ı Umumiye," in Yazma Bağışlar (Istanbul: Süleymaniye Yazma Eser Kütüphanesi), 8-9. 8 Hüseyin, Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin Ziraat Coğrafyası, Part 2, 15. 3


climate prevails. Ottoman writers put that region in the same climatic zone as parts of inner Anatolia like Sivas and Ankara and sometimes referred to it as the “yayla (summer plateau)” clime.9 The highlands of the Taurus Mountains in the north and the Amanus Mountains of the eastern part of the plain are known for their cool summer temperatures and fresh breezes. The average high in the mountains during the summer hovers around 22°C/71.6°F. The average annual temperature in Taurus Mountains towns of the Adana region is comparable to that of Budapest, meaning that in order to experience the climatic difference between the mountains and the plains of Cilicia in strictly latitudinal terms, one would have to traverse the northern half of the Ottoman Empire at its absolute territorial peak.10 Temperature variation alone goes a long way towards explaining why the Cilicia region has historically been dominated by the rhythms of seasonal migration. The practice of transhumance, annual movement between winter and summer quarters, is one that has developed throughout the world in response to mountainous geographies and is well-suited to the needs of pastoralist societies that depend on year-round availability of pasture to feed their flocks. In the Middle Eastern context, vertical transhumance (migration between different elevations) is often represented as a practice of nomadic pastoralists who move between a yaylak or summer pasture (henceforth yayla) and a winter pasture or kışlak.11 While it is true that pastoralist communities

"Ziraat-ı Umumiye," 8-9. The memory book compiled by former Armenian inhabitants of the mountain town of Hadjin stated simply that “Cilicia has two types of climate.” H. P. Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně ew shrjankay gō zan-taghi giwgherě [The Complete History of Hadjin and the Surrounding Villages of Kozandağı] (Los Angeles: Bozart Press, 1942), 7. 11 Jean Boyazoglu and Jean-Claude Flamant, "Mediterranean Systems of Animal Production," in The World of pastoralism : herding systems in comparative perspective, ed. John G. Galaty and Douglas L. Johnson (New York; London: Guilford Press ; Belhaven Press, 1990), 353-93. Also see J. Malcolm Wagstaff, The Evolution of Middle Eastern Landscapes : an outline to A.D. 1840 (Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1985). This form of transhumance is visible not only throughout the former Ottoman Empire but also in Iran, where the Turkish names for summer and winter pastures, i.e. yaylak and kışlak, tend to be used even in Persian. Arash Khazeni, Tribes and empire on the margins of nineteenth-century Iran (Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 2010), 4. For general discussion of pastoralism in Ottoman Anatolia, see White, The Climate of Rebellion. 9



were most dependent on transhumance for survival, a more careful view of the Adana region during the Ottoman period reveals that settled villagers, townsfolk, and nomadic pastoralists alike all spent their summers at a yayla of some kind.12 The yayla was a sort of temporal space, a region used for a shared purpose at a specific time by Cilicia’s inhabitants, irrespective of their diverse socioeconomic lives. During the 1850s, the Adana province was home to a few hundred thousand people, and for most of them, some form of transhumance was the norm or at the very least the ideal (see Figure 2 Forms of Transhumance in Ottoman Cilicia, circa 1850below).13 They included the townsfolk of Adana and Tarsus, who spent their summers in the breezier orchards on the outskirts of

Figure 1 Section of Ottoman map with Adana at center, gardens and orchards marked with purple and green (Source: BOA, HRT-h 486 (1287 [1870/1]).)

town or at summer homes in the mountains (see Figure 1).14 That was equally true for the region’s large Armenian minority, which was concentrated in the towns as well as the villages of

For general remarks on transhumance in the Taurus Mountains, see Suavi Aydın, "Toroslarda Yaylacılık ve Çukurova'nın Önemi [Transhumance in the Taurus Mountains and the Importance of Çukurova]," Kebikeç, no. 21 (2006). 13 Langlois cites figures of around 150,000 for the period, although this does seem like a low number. Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, 18. 14 Throughout this chapter you will see hand-drawn map of Çukurova, prepared by an Ottoman engineer during the 1870s. For clarity, I have removed the Ottoman writing of the various towns and village in the area from the map but maintained the dots that point to small settlements. This map of Çukurova (see Figure 1 Section of Ottoman map with Adana at center, gardens and orchards marked with purple and green (Source: BOA, HRT-h 486 (1287 [1870/1]).)above) from the 1870s shows the extent to which the towns of Adana and Tarsus were surrounded by kilometers of orchards and gardens. BOA, HRT-h 486 (1287 [1870/1]). See also Yusuf Ziya, Tabsıra yahut Adana Temaşası (Adana: Adana Vilayet Matbaası, 1314 [1898]), 13-14; Hagop Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě [The Life of Adana] (Istanbul: Z.N. Perperean, 1909), 12. 12


the Taurus Mountains. Urban Armenians could find respite in the mountain towns and villages of their coreligionists, and just like their Muslim neighbors, cherished the yayla as a salubrious summer space.15 The yayla was most central for pastoralist communities whose sheep, goats, and other animals depended on the expansive pastures of the Cilicia region made possible by differentiated elevation. Some of these pastoralists, particularly those in the western part of the Çukurova plain, were settled villagers; others, particularly in the east, resided in tents or temporary huts.16 All moved with their animals between summer and winter pastures, and for such communities, the yayla was synonymous with a concept of home or sıla. The season of migration was an auspicious time accompanied by springtime celebrations and marked by certain activities and rituals.17


The use of yaylas as a summer retreat is attested in the pre-Ottoman period of the Rubenian dynasty of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia during the thirteenth century. Krikor Koudoulian, Hay leṛě : karmir druagner Kilikioy aghētēn [Armenian Mountain: Bloody Episodes from the Cilician Catastrophe] (Constantinople: T. Toghramachean Press, 1912), 14; Léon M. Alishan, Sissouan, ou l'Arméno-Cilicie : description géographique et historique, avec cartes et illustrations (Venise: S. Lazare, 1899). The folk songs of Armenian communities in the area, which were entirely settled, often make mention of the yayla. Misak Keleshean, Sis-Madean : Patmakan,banasirakan,tełekagrakan,azgagrakan ev yarakic̨ paraganer (Beirut: Hay Jemaran, 1949), 529. 16 Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, 18-23. More on this below. 17 Yaşar Kemal’s Binboğalar Efsanesi depicts the festivities surrounding the yayla season and the celebration of Hıdırellez. Kemal, Binboğalar Efsanesi : Roman. Departure for the yayla was typically associated with many special behaviors particular to the season ranging from dietary restrictions to the production and wear of certain clothing items. Kemal Özbayri and Hatice Gonnet, Tahtacılar ve Yörükler = Tahtadjis et Yöruks : matériaux pour l'étude des nomades du Taurus (Paris: Dépositaire, A. Maisonneuve, 1972), 30-31.


Figure 2 Forms of Transhumance in Ottoman Cilicia, circa 1850 A view of seasonal migration that emphasizes its importance for communities of nomadic pastoralists, while not wholly unfounded, obscures a very crucial aspect of transhumance in regions like Cilicia that bound nomads and townsfolk alike in their movements.18 The inhabitants of Cilicia found the summer of the plain not only unbearably hot but also extremely unhealthy, and this fact influenced their transhumant habits. In 1835, a Scottish clergyman named Vere Monro passed through Çukurova and described his experience in a work entitled A Summer Ramble through Syria. His account reveals among many things that Çukurova was nowhere to ramble through during the summer, much less inhabit. “The heat, untempered by a breath of air, was very oppressive; and the flies, which swarmed about us like bees, made it more


In 1853, American missionaries noted that the governor of Adana would spend the summers in Marash, which was somewhat cooler and closer to the mountains. "Intelligence from the Missions," The Missionary Herald 49, no. 1 (January 1853): 19.


insupportable,” he wrote.19 Not even the locals could bear the climate; most had left for the summer, and those who did remain in Adana were “reduced to the inertness of vegetable existence.”20 Monro had violated the rhythms of seasonal migration, and in doing so, subjected himself not only to the sweltering heat of the muggy plains but also to the mortal risk of contracting malaria, a disease that he would later experience in Beirut.21 Vere Monro, who came from a long line of important physicians, understood the causes of malaria to be “pestilential vapours” that emanated from stagnant water. This miasmic understanding of disease was largely shared throughout Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Swamps and “dirty,” uncultivated land where organic matter rotted in wet soil were recognized as producers of “bad” or “heavy” air that caused the particular variety of fever and trembling associated with malaria.22 A preoccupation with Cilicia’s “unhealthy” climate caused by swamps is a common feature of most works written about the region before the twentieth century.23 Few geographies in the Ottoman Empire exhibited this experiential link between climate and disease more than Cilicia’s most malarial port city, Iskenderun (or Alexandretta). Iskenderun is located at the southeastern edge of the Çukurova plain. During the Ottoman period, it was synonymous with the vast wetlands that surrounded the town (see Figure 4 below), which was


Vere Monro, A Summer Ramble in Syria, with a Tartar trip from Aleppo to Stamboul (London: R. Bentley, 1835), 158-59. 20 Ibid., 178. 21 Vere Monro, A summer ramble in Syria, with a Tartar trip from Aleppo to Stamboul, vol. 2 (London: R. Bentley, 1835), 202-3. 22 Later, symptoms would be understood as the result of the infection of a parasite transmitted between humans by some species of the anopheles mosquito, which does thrive in warm, wet regions. Even then, the indelible link between geography and disease has remained part of the malarial matrix as experienced. For a short overview of historical understandings of malaria, see James L. A. Webb, Humanity's Burden : a global history of malaria (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 8-16. Shifts in understandings of malaria as a disease over the latter half of the nineteenth century are discussed at greater length in Chapter 6. 23 See Kilikia : pʻordz ashkharhagrutʻean ardi Kilikioy, 34.


used mainly as a Mediterranean outlet for goods traveling to and from Aleppo.24 Early modern travelers, who visited the port unanimously associated Iskenderun with the swamps and the disease they caused.25 Gabriel Brémond, for example, noticed that foreigners were particularly sensitive to the disease environment, falling ill “no matter how short they dwelled during the summertime.”26 Ottoman observers understood the geography in much the same way. In a late eighteenth-century27 account of the hajj pilgrimage, which followed a land route from Istanbul through Anatolia and Syria to the Arabian Peninsula, Mehmed Edib described the air of the port of Payas, just a few kilometers from Iskenderun, as “very heavy.”28 But within this context, Edib

Even after Ottoman rule, Iskenderun’s swampy reputation endured. Hanna Minah, the acclaimed Syrian author, spent much of his childhood in this area, which was part of the French mandate during the interwar period. He poetically and pessimistically described this milieu in an autobiographical novel appropriately entitled The Swamp (Al-Mustanqa`). Hanna Minah, al-Mustanqa (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Ádab, 1986). 25 For Henry Teonge, a British Navy Chaplain who visited the area in 1675, Iskenderun was an “especially sickly place” during the summer because of “an innumerable company of frogs [sic], of a greate bignes [sic], which cry almost like ducks” that would find their way to the town and “for want of water dye there, and infect the ayre very much.” But of course it was the mosquitoes that the frogs eat—not the frogs themselves—which spread malaria in the port. Henry Teonge, The diary of Henry Teonge : Chaplain on board H.M's ships assistance, Bristol and Royal Oak 1675-1679 (London: Routledge, 2005), 112. Mid-sixteenth century French traveler Gabriel Brémond attributed Iskenderun’s quality as a “bad village” with “awful (pessima) air” to the stagnant water, “which occurs in almost all the low-lying maritime places of the Levant.” Brémond’s account comes to us through a publication of its Italian translation. Gabriel Brémond and Giuseppe de Corvo, Viaggi fatti nell'Egitto superiore et inferiore : Nel Monte Sinay, e luoghi piu cospicui di quella Regione; in Gerusalemme, Giudea, Galilea, Sammaria, Palestina, Fenicia, Monte Libano, et altre Provincie di Siria; quello della Meka, e del Sepolcro di Mahometto (Roma: Paolo Moneta, 1679), 269. In 1610, Spanish traveler Pedro Teixeira had described the region in approximately the same way, saying that it was “for the most part swampy (paludoso) and therefore very unhealthy (muy enfermo).” Pedro Teixeira, Relaciones de Pedro Texeiro d'el origen descendencia y svccession de los reyes de Persia, y de Harmuz, : y de vn viage hecho por el mismo avtor dende la India Oriental hasta Italia por tierra (En Amberes: en casa de Hieronymo Verdussen, 1610), 194. 26 Brémond and de Corvo, Viaggi fatti nell'Egitto superiore et inferiore : Nel Monte Sinay, e luoghi piu cospicui di quella Regione; in Gerusalemme, Giudea, Galilea, Sammaria, Palestina, Fenicia, Monte Libano, et altre Provincie di Siria; quello della Meka, e del Sepolcro di Mahometto, 269. Another account by Andrew Paton from 1844 gives the following description: “One would expect to see some movement at a place where twenty-five British vessels alone cleared out annually; but nothing can be more desolate or ruinous. The climate paralyzes every thing. Our consul had about fifty attacks of fever before he became acclimated; and the rest of the population has the sepulchral complexion of the specters that glide about the roadside inns in the Pontine marshes between Velletri and Terracinn.” Paton, The Modern Syrians, 215. 27 The French translation of Mehmed Edib’s account by Bianchi indicates that it is a seventeenth-century source, but the work of Jan Schmidt refers to it as a late eighteenth-century account with some evidence to corroborate this date. Thanks to Nir Shafir for help with question. Jan Schmidt, The joys of philology : studies in Ottoman literature, history and orientalism, 1500-1923, vol. 2 (Istanbul: The Isis Press, 2002), 269-77. 28 Here I am quoting from a French translation of Edib’s work made during the nineteenth century. The word “heavy” in reference to air is easily recognizable as the “vahim” or “sakil”, words frequently used to describe the quality of insalubrious air in Turkish. In one example from a Turkish version of the manuscript at the National 24


mentioned another more salubrious space nearby rarely noted in European accounts of the period. Payas possessed magnificent yaylas, green plateaus where one could seek respite from the oppressive air of the coast during the summer months.29 Transhumance was in part a response to what was perceived as an insalubrious environment. Seasonal migration did not ward off malaria because the cool, light mountain air sweeps away the heavy, pestilential vapors of the lowlands, though some may have understood it that way. Retreat to the yayla comprised an effective response to malaria because the anopheles mosquito, which generally proliferates during the warm months of year in temperate climates and in the case of Cilicia during summer and early fall, does not thrive at high elevations due to climatic conditions and a general lack of sitting water at those heights. Moving upland during the spring as mosquitoes began to spread was a way of ensuring a return to the plains in the late fall having spent a malaria-free summer at the yayla. This approach to malaria, which can be classified as avoidance, remained the most effective means of preventing the disease long after medicines such as quinine sulfate developed during the nineteenth century offered alternative solutions.30

Library of France, the air of Adana appears as “heavy (sakil).” See below for more. Mehmed Edib and Thomas Xavier Bianchi, Itinéraire de Constantinople à la Mecque : extrait de l'ouvrage turc intitulé: Kitab menassik elhadj (livre des prières et des cérémonies relatives au pélerinage) (Paris: Everat, 1840), 8, 22, 24, 29. 29 Ibid., 8. 30 For global discussion of transhumance as avoidance, see Webb, Humanity's Burden : a global history of malaria, 14-15.


Figure 3 Illustration of Yayla from E.J. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey (1878)

Although the mosquito’s role in spreading malaria between humans was a mystery until the 1890s, it is clear that seasonal migration was practiced by local populations of Cilicia with the conscious intent of avoiding malaria.31 In most cases, this is evidenced by the perceived oppressiveness or discomfort of the air in the lowlands. The aforementioned Mehmed Edib makes this link in his description of Adana, saying that “since its air is heavy (sakil), most of the inhabitants go to the yayla during the summer.”32 Halil Kamil, a governor of Adana during the 1850s, requested permission to spend the summer in the mountain village of Namrun, saying “most of the population both rich and poor (bay ve gedâ) needs to spend three or four months at the yayla, as Adana’s well-known heaviness of air (vahâmet-i hava) is unbearable during the


Evliya Çelebi, a contemporary of the other seventeenth-century travelers mentioned above, explained local beliefs about the wondrous plateaus of Payas, one of which specifically was free of malaria (ısıtma) and the population of which was “very healthy (gayet tendürüst).” Hafiz Mehmet Zilla Evliya Çelebi, Evliya Çelebi seyahatnamesi. 3. kitap, Topkapi Sarayı Bagdat 305 yazmasinin transkripsiyonu, dizini (Istanbul: Yapi kredi, 1999), 32. 32 Mehmed Adib, "Bahjat al-Manazil," in Supplement Turc (Paris: BNF), 9a. Special thanks to Nir Shafir for providing me with an image of this folio.


warm seasons.”33 The malarial geography of Cilicia, known at the time through its inhospitable airs, was pervasive and played an important role in shaping life in the Adana region. 34 This will be especially clear in Chapters 3 and 4, as I explain why the local population of Cilicia, both pastoralists and townsfolk alike, so fiercely resisted limitations on their movements that would increase with the assertion of new forms of governance in the region during the last decades of Ottoman rule.

BOA, MVL 310/45, Halil Kamil to Meclis-i Vala, Adana (9 Şevval 1273 [2 June 1857]). This matches the observations of William Burckhardt Barker, a British orientalist who also spent some time in Tarsus as a diplomat during the mid-nineteenth century; he said that “the poor man will sell any thing he may possess rather than fail to take his family to the mountain during the summer months.” William Burckhardt Barker and William Ainsworth, Cilicia, its former history and present state (London: R. Griffin, 1862), 115. See also, Kilikia : pʻordz ashkharhagrutʻean ardi Kilikioy, 34. Also, BOA, İ-MVL 472/21365, no. 5/2; MVL 643/6, no.1; 776/2. When American travel writer Bayard Taylor visited Adana during a summer during the 1850s, he estimated its population at just 15,000. Taylor is not a terribly credible observer, but this is still an interesting clue as to the seasonal impacts on the population of Adana given the context provided above. Bayard Taylor, The lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain (New York: G.P. Putnam & Co., 1855). 34 During the warmer months, caravans in the Cilicia region were only able to travel at night. Another detail worth mention is that particularly when the weather was warm, the roofs of houses in the towns of Cilicia became important spaces of leisure and a place to sleep during the night. Bayard Taylor unintentionally linked malaria and mosquitoes in the region, noting that in both Adana and Tarsus there was “a high wooden frame on the top of every house, raised a few steps above the roof, and covered with light muslin, like a portable bathing-house. Here the people put up their beds in the evening, sleep, and come down to the roofs in the morning—an excellent plan for getting better air in these malarious plains and escaping from fleas and mosquitoes.” Taylor, The lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain, 233. 33


Figure 4 Map of swamps around Iskenderun, circa 1852 (Source: BOA, İ-DH 244/14880, No. 1)


Transhumant Pastoralism in Ottoman Cilicia Endemic malaria was a natural consequence of Cilicia’s geography and climate that gave great impetus to the various forms of transhumance outlined above. Yet the factors that determined the relative habitability of the region over time were not static, nor were the patterns of land use and settlement in the Cilicia region. During the nineteenth century, Western and Ottoman observers alike became preoccupied with what appeared to be conspicuously sparse settlement in comparison with geographies of the past. Ruined cities of the Çukurova plain such as Anavarza and towns apparently much reduced from their medieval populations such as Antakya gave the impression that the region had been depopulated. 35 The factors that made these locations more or less habitable in the long durée were complex, but by the nineteenth century, the presence of large nomadic populations of pastoralists was cited as the chief obstacle to restoring settlements in the region (more in Chapter 3). Table 1 Population Estimates of Adana Province36, circa 1850 (Data Source: Langlois, Voyage en Cilicie, pg. 18) Muslims (Turks)37 38,500 Armenians 12,000 38 Greeks 1,000 39 Arabs / Gypsies / Africans 16,000 Turkmens / Kurds 80,000 Various Europeans / Persians 116 Jews 2 Total 147,618 35

William M. Thomson, "Travels in Northern Syria. Descriptoin of Seleucia, Antioch, Aleppo, etc.," Bibliotheca Sacra and Theological Review 5(1848): 456. 36 This does not include certain parts of historical Cilicia, such as the region around Marash and other areas of Northern Syria that were part of the Aleppo and Aintab provinces. These numbers are probably somewhat low or reflect only the male population, as more comprehensive censuses of later decades would put the estimated population at more than twice these figures. More in Chapter 5. 37 Langlois refers to this segment of the population as Turks, which generally means that they were Muslims, who, in the case of Adana, spoke predominantly Turkish. 38 This refers to Greek Orthodox Christians or Rum as they were commonly known in Turkish, not necessarily speakers of Greek. 39 The largest segment of this population, who Langlois designates as “Arabs,” were Egyptian peasants that came during the 1830s as well as Nusayri (Alawite) peasants that lived mainly along the littoral and mountains of Northern Syria.


The demographic and political predominance of nomadic pastoralists in the Cilicia region as of the nineteenth century is difficult to quantify and vulnerable to exaggeration.40 If the only comprehensive figures available, the estimates of a French orientalist named Victor Langlois, are reliable, about 70% of the tribal households41 in the Adana province, which accounted for a little over half of the population, were “nomadic.”42 This means that roughly 38% of the Adana province’s population was classified by Langlois as nomads. While most of the population of the region engaged in some form of vertical transhumance regardless of their economic livelihood, what separated these nomadic pastoralists from the rest of these communities was the distance of their migrations, their lack of fixed villages, and the relative absence of agriculture in the regions they dominated. While villagers, townsfolk, and pastoralists in the western half of the province migrated to relatively nearby yaylas during the summer, communities such as the Afşars, who according to Langlois comprised roughly 3,000 households or “tents,” traveled between Çukurova in the winter to Uzunyayla (more below) in the Taurus Mountains some 300 km away during the summer.43 This meant that communities such as the Afşars, which were much larger than most of the villages in the area, would cross into other provinces during the course of their migrations, bringing with them some 40,000 sheep and many other animals.


For example, Kasaba states in A Moveable Empire that the Adana province held 56,955 nomads versus 5,000 settled peasants. This appears to be a slight misinterpretation of the data presented in Gould’s study of settlement. Kasaba, A Moveable Empire, 86. 41 Langlois counted these populations in terms of houses and tents depending on if they were settled or nomadic, which was the common way of counting such populations for the Ottoman government. This would suggest roughly 20,000 households among a population estimated at 80,000, meaning that Langlois’s definition of household size was rather small. 42 Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, 18-23. 43 By the measures of the time, this was 70 hours, meaning several days of travel. BOA, İ-MVL 586/26367, no. 1. See the dissertation of Andrew Gordon Gould for a cartographic representation of routes of pastoral transhumance. Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 31.


Table 2 Estimates of tribal households and number of livestock, circa 1850 (Data Source: Langlois, Voyage en Cilicie, pg. 21-23) Tribe Name44


Menemenci (Melemindji)

















Sortan and Kucuoğlu (Kudjuoglou)










Karakayalı (Karakaialu)


Toroğlu (Thror-oglou)






Bahşiş and Hacı Hasanoğlu




































Puran and Mustafa Bey


Kalaunlu (Kalaounlu) Karahacılı (Kara-hadjelu) Dundarlı (Daoundarlu) Cerid (Djerid) Sırkıntılı (Sarkanteli-oglou) Kerimoğlu Karınıtılı (Karitinlu)















Kozanoğlu (Khozan-oglou)






Bozdoğan (Bousdagan)






Tecirli (Tadjerlu)
















Farsak Karalar







Afşar (Afchar)






Karsıntılı (Karsanteli)














I have provided the Turkish spellings (most of which are corroborated by Ottoman sources) as well as the original French spellings by Langlois in parentheses where there was any significant difference. These differences, in addition to being the result of imprecision, reflect local pronunciation variations during the late Ottoman period when compared with modern spellings. 45 John Reader argues that the decline of cattle populations and the rise of goat populations indicates economic impoverishment of pastoralists in modern Africa. John Reader, Africa : a biography of the continent (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1998). Generally speaking, goats can exploit rough mountain vegetation that is usually out of reach for cattle, and therefore, communities with more goats may be generally judged to command poorer land. 46 These cattle may also refer to domesticated water buffalo, which are common to the Çukurova region. Langlois wrote “boeufs et vaches.” 47 Camels were the chief means of transporting goods in the Cilicia region circa 1850 and thus large numbers of camels should be considered an indicator of relative material wealth for a given community. Horses, donkeys, and mules, which were used for transportation, were not counted by Langlois. 48 Langlois listed these final four tribes as “Kurds.” Because the boundary between Turkmen and Kurd was fuzzy during this period, and because the Afşars, for example, are typically held up as a quintessential Turkmen community, I see no valid reason to impose the ethnic breakdown employed by Langlois.


Available data regarding the shifts in balance between these pastoralist communities and the other population of the Cilicia region and the Çukurova plain is conflicting, especially when it comes to the question of the relative predominance of “settled” communities. Mustafa Soysal’s study of settlement in Çukurova indicates that tribal communities in the Cilicia region were generally larger and more numerous than villages during the sixteenth century, which was more or less true in the nineteenth century as well.49 It is difficult to ascertain the precise extent to which those tribes, usually recorded as aşiret or cemaat in Ottoman documents, would have been classified by Langlois as nomads. In fact, given the diverse types of migration carried out by local populations of the Cilicia region and given the complexity of their economies and communal relations, it would be unwise to attempt to make any statements about a shift between nomadism and settled life in Cilicia in strict terms. As Meltem Toksöz aptly stated in Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, “the nomadic inhabitants of the Çukurova had developed such complex life-styles that no linear evolution from nomadism to semi-nomadism and then to sedentarization could be discerned.”50 Nomadic pastoralism and settled village agriculture existed on two ends of a continuum representing the possibilities of rural subsistence in Ottoman Anatolia, and the historical relationship between nomadism and settlement was much more dialectical than linear. This is a key point because, as will be shown, Ottoman and foreign observers alike tended to adopt the opinion that nomadism was a reflection of a primitive stage of social development in Cilicia. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, a historian and statesman who will play an important role in this first part of the dissertation, wrote in his early Tanzimat-era history that “tent-dwelling (himeneşin)” tribes were of the “lowest order” of all human societies, as far from


Soysal, "Die Siedlungs- und Landschaftsentwicklung der Çukurova : mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Yüregir-Ebene", 25. 50 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 20.


the social development of settled villagers as those villagers were from city people.51 Yet the type of sedentary life often assumed to be the default of human settlement in the modern context or favored by past agrarian empires such as the Ottoman state was not applicable in the context of early modern Cilicia. Here, I will not focus so much on the notion that one way of life can be more primitive than another but rather call into question the idea that villagers spread throughout the empire would share more bonds than would villagers of a region such as Cilicia and their nomadic neighbors. As Albert Hourani has warned, this assumed grouping is questionable, as “pastors and cultivators may be the same people, or belong to the same community, or live in some kind of symbiosis with each other.”52 In the Cilician context, I argue that geography more than any firm social boundaries distinguished villagers from nomads, and the boundary that separated these two spheres was continually muddied by seasonal flooding and annual fluctuations in the local environmental conditions. Certain aspects of Cilicia’s geography and climate seem to have constrained the complex livelihoods of the people there. For example, most of the tribes in the western portion of the Adana province, such as the Menemencizâdes, were recorded by Langlois as settled in the 1850s, while those who inhabited the eastern portion, where very few villages were to be found, were overwhelming nomadic. This distinction must arise as a consequence of the hydrography of the region. The area in that eastern portion around the Ceyhan River, which frequently flooded and even sometimes met with the Seyhan River in the Çukurova plain, was extremely marshy. 53 A French traveler who visited Çukurova during the 1870s referred to its terrain as a “large

Ahmed Cevdet, Tarih-i Cevdet, vol. 1-2 (Istanbul: Matbaa-yı Osmaniye, 1309 [1891]), 15. Albert Hourani, Europe and the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 189. 53 A late nineteenth-century Armenian source from the Russian Empire indicated that the rivers of Cilicia were too unpredictable in their course for significant navigation or the establishment of ports in the delta. Kilikia : pʻordz ashkharhagrutʻean ardi Kilikioy, 91. 51 52



It is clear from remains of the Çukurova plain such as Anavarza that large

settlements in the area required complex drainage and irrigation systems. In the absence of such structures, villagers could carry out small scale maintenance of their lands, but in an area as swampy and flood prone as Çukurova, it is easy to see why communities would favor more replaceable structures such as tents or reed huts. In the western portion of the Çukurova plain, where the skirts of the Taurus Mountains were better drained, settled village life, even among pastoralist tribes, was more conducive.

Figure 5 Winter Quarters of Certain Tribes in Çukurova circa 1850, my rough estimates based largely on subsequent areas of settlement. In practice, most of the Çukurova plain would have been used as winter pastures by some groups, and so this map is merely a represented of certain examples. A similar differentiation can be observed in the Gavurdağı region, the strip of the Amanus Mountains running parallel to the Eastern Mediterranean coast along the historical border between Anatolia and Syria. The towns along the coast of this region such as Payas and 54

Camille Favre and B. Mandrot, Voyage en Cilicie (Paris: C. Delagrave, 1878), 21.


Iskenderun have already been well-attested above for their insalubrious reputation during the nineteenth century and before. Yet as will be shown in a little more detail during Chapter 3, the transhumant populations of Gavurdağı did not fit the nomadic mold of the Afşars and other communities that migrated between eastern Çukurova and the Taurus Mountains. The contrast between the mountain and the plain in Gavurdağı is very sharp. As a result, many of the people of Gavurdağı were able to practice agriculture by descending to their fields for planting, harvesting, and maintenance. At mid-nineteenth century, Gavurdağı had a large population of Muslim and Armenian villagers. The




geography that influence habitation patterns were even readily visible in the nineteenth-century form of the city of Adana. As all sources and maps attest, the city was built up almost entirely along the west bank of the

Figure 6 Tarsus and its immediate vicinity circa 1870

Seyhan River, which was considerably elevated in comparison with the “the

other side (karşıyaka)” as it is known, which was low, swampy, and flood prone (more in Chapter 12). The topography has a gentle slope westward towards Tarsus (see Figure 6), which was generally swampier and viewed as less salubrious than Adana. Add to these factors the fact that inhabitants of Adana built up vast gardens and orchards surrounding the west side of the city, and it becomes easier to understand how a town like Adana became a small, relativelyhabitable enclave in the center of an otherwise unwelcoming plains environment. 68

Recently, scholars have looked to climatic factors in explaining the apparent shifts in habitation throughout the Mediterranean and in regions such as Cilicia in particular. An era of reduced global temperatures referred to as the Little Ice Age, which was most acute from roughly 1550 to 1850, overlaps roughly with a period of Ottoman history during which agrarian crisis abounded.55 These crises precipitated a relative shift from lowland to highland settlements throughout the Mediterranean during the early modern period. Faruk Tabak argues that the climatic effects of the Little Ice Age made for more severe rain and increased occurrence of flooding, which may have rendered regions of low elevation such as Çukurova more unfit for year-round habitation.56 Furthermore, the agrarian reverberations of more frequent famine created instability in the countryside, which Sam White argues was significant enough to lead to village abandonment and the frequent rebellions that occurred during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.57 White argues that this “climate of rebellion” favored nomadic pastoralist communities that were less vulnerable to changing climatic conditions than their settled counterparts. The breakdown of economic life and security in the countryside further encouraged Ottoman populations to take refuge in the mountains.58


The Little Ice Age is one of the best understood historical climate anomalies studied by historians. For an overview of this period and its cultural history in Europe, see Behringer, A cultural history of climate, 85-167. 56 Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 17. 57 See White, The Climate of Rebellion. There is some evidence of how this change may have impacted agricultural settlements of the Eastern Mediterranean. A British doctor in Aleppo, for example, observed that while Aleppo was once known for supporting fine citrus, by the mid-eighteenth century, oranges and lemons could no longer be grown around Aleppo due to winter temperatures that caused their zone of cultivation had shifted towards the coast. Alex Russel and P. Russell, Natural History of Aleppo (London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1794), 89. If we define drought as those instances of particularly dry weather that invoked some sort of intervention from the Ottoman state, we can say that the Aleppo province experienced significant drought in the years 1715, 1734, 1758, 1765, 1785, 1792, and 1825. Abd al-Hamid Mishlih, al-Mintaqah al-gharbiyah li-Wilayat Halab : Idlib fi al-qarn al-thamin `ashar, 17001800 : dirasah ijtima`iyah-iqtisadiyah-tarikhiyah (Dimashq: Wizarat al-Thaqafah, 2006), 100-02; Abd al-Hamid Mishlih, Idlib wa-mintaqatuha fi al-`ahd al-`Uthmani fi al-qarn (13 H/19 M) : dirasah ijtima`iyah iqtisadiyah idariyah (Dimashq: Dar `Ikramah, 2004), 142-43. 58 Accounts of the Celali rebellions indicate that settled populations were vulnerable to acts of violent. In 1608, an Armenian named Simeon set out from the city of Lviv, a region of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in modernday Ukraine, in order to visit important sites of pilgrimage in Constantinople, Jerusalem, and elsewhere in the Ottoman domains. During his years in the Ottoman Empire, he crisscrossed Anatolia and Syria and wrote an account of his travels. He visited many small Armenian communities in the cities and small towns and villages tucked away


The arguments of both White and Tabak are sound and the general shift they refer to is attested by the historical record. But without solid statistics regarding precise shifts in settlement inside the Cilicia region, it is very difficult to weigh the extent to which nomadic populations expanded their territorial coverage over the course of the Little Ice Age crisis described by White and others. What is clear, however, is that in general, the habitation of mountain spaces and the predominance of mobile populations posed powerful obstacles to direct Ottoman governance. Figures like Ahmed Cevdet were preoccupied with the practice of nomadism precisely because it impeded new policies that sought to create an undifferentiated system of rule during the nineteenth-century period of administrative centralization. In this way, intimate interaction with the geography and environment of Cilicia gave rise to a particular political ecology, one that favored autonomy that in turn guarded the practice of transhumance and the ways of the local population.

in the mountainous heart of Eastern Anatolia. The account scarcely mentions the plains of Çukurova in Cilicia. In his lone five-sentence description of the area pertaining to the town of Sis, “there are many large fleas and mosquitos” was among his few observations. However, Simeon did visit many of the towns and villages of the Taurus Mountains, all of which he found to be in a state of disarray as a result of the Celali rebellions that had swept across Anatolia. He reported that in towns such as Zeytun, once massive Armenian communities had been reduced to clusters of a few dozen households, with populations having fled the chaos created by Celalis and the depredations of settled communities. Simeon and George A. Bournoutian, The travel accounts of Simeon of Poland (Costa Mesa, Calif: Mazda Publishers, 2007), 271-73.


The Political Ecology of Transhumance Nomads and pastoralists (such as Berbers and Bedouins), hunter-gatherers, Gypsies, vagrants, homeless people, itinerants, runaway slaves, and serfs have always been a thorn in the side of states. Efforts to permanently settle these mobile peoples (sedentarization) seemed to be a perennial state project—perennial, in part, because it so seldom succeeded. 59 James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State (1998)

The mountains had long been the true seat of political power in Cilicia.60 Communities that inhabited the mountains of Cilicia used their geographical advantage to bend Ottoman administrative practices. The Armenian communities of the Taurus Mountains in Cilicia, and particularly in the town of Zeytun north of Marash, were often able to escape taxation altogether, as collection required the Ottomans to send officials with military support into mountain stronghold known as “the eagles’ nest (արծւաբույն).”61 The same was equally true for transhumant pastoralist communities. They could easily resist being counted and taxed by retreating into the mountains. These facts may give the impression that the mountain peoples of the Mediterranean, be they nomads or villagers, were in a position of almost constant hostility and rebellion towards the central government. However, this perspective is oversimplified, as it does not account for the ways in which the Ottoman state was able to sometimes collect taxes and govern in mountain regions. It certainly does not explain how and why the Ottoman Empire, throughout its many phases of transformation, was able to maintain a centuries-long hegemony


James C. Scott, Seeing like a state : how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 1. 60 The medieval Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was based at the foot of the Taurus Mountains in Sis and Armenian towns such as Hadjin and Zeytun were centers of authority that remained predominantly Armenian into the twentieth century. The Armenian Kingdom was defeated during the fourteenth century by the Ramazanoğlus, Turkmen allies of the Mamluks. That lineage continued to dominate the politics of the Adana region, serving as hereditary governors under the Ottomans into the seventeenth century. Further east towards Marash, the mountains were controlled by the Dulkadiroğlus, a lineage that intermarried with the early Ottomans and served as their allies. 61 See Zeytowni Hayrenakcakan Miowtiwn, Zêytowni patmagirk [The History of Zeytun] (Buenos Aires: Ararat Press, 1960); Aghasi and Arshag Chobanian, Zeïtoun: depuis les origines jusqu'à l'insurrection de 1895 (Paris: Édition du Mercure de France, 1897). Erdal İlter presents a useful overview of various rebellions in Zeytun during the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, albeit with an overtly Turkish nationalist bent. Erdal İlter, Ermeni mes'elesinin perspektifi ve Zeytûn isyânlari (1780-1880) (Ankara: Türk Kültürünü Arastirma Enstitüsü, 1988).


— whatever that hegemony might have meant — in Anatolia and similar regions of the Middle East.

Figure 7 Sketch of Zeytun circa 1895, from Aghassi and Tchobanian, Zeïtoun: Depuis les origines jusqu'à l'insurrection de 1895 (1897) Rather than mere hostility, Reşat Kasaba characterizes the relationship between nomadic communities and the Ottoman state as one of “symbiosis.”62 This symbiosis was defined by a situation in which tribal communities played an important role in maintaining Ottoman hegemony in peripheral regions and often supplied the state with important assets of pastoralist society such as meat and cavalry. Kasaba also argues that nomads and their caravans in addition to serving as conveyors of goods throughout the empire, could be employed towards moving grain during times of scarcity and carrying out other important military and labor functions.63 For example, the Adana region provided a major source of camels for the military during the early

62 63

Kasaba, A Moveable Empire, 14. Ibid., 33.


nineteenth century.64 Kasaba’s revision is important, particularly for the ways in which it illustrates how mobility facilitated the integration of different regions of the empire. On the other hand, it is also clear that Ottoman policy vis-à-vis nomadic communities was not consistent across time. While it was to a very great extent characterized by accommodation of mobility, there were also many state-initiated attempts at sedentarization in Anatolia prior to the Tamzimat period (1839-1878). One such attempt that targeted the communities of the Cilicia region in the late seventeenth century, highlights some of the challenges of forcing or even encouraging nomads to settle in an early modern context.65 Enforcing settlement orders without the use of overwhelming military force was impossible, and settled communities invariably found their new locations unsuitable or desired to continue migratory practices. As Kasaba notes, “the sedentarization policies that the Ottomans adopted in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not produce a permanently settled society.”66 In fact, it would seem that the communities of Cilicia targeted by these settlement campaigns suffered significant demographic loss as a result.67 The persistence of migratory lifestyles and general autonomy in the mountains had clear implications for the administration of regions like Cilicia, creating a political ecology of transhumance. Most importantly, this political ecology allowed a class of hereditary governors to consolidate local legitimacy and establish semi-autonomous governments in the hinterland of the 64

BOA, C-AS 872/37389 (27 Zilkade 1225). This is hardly surprising given that according to the estimates of Langlois, the tribes of Cilicia possessed over 20,000 camels as of 1853, with nomadic communities holding the largest camel concentrations. According to Langlois the Afşars alone had 9000 camels. Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, 21-23. Likewise, pastoralists performed important economic functions by providing meat and milk to settled communities in the empire, especially at feast times where large numbers of animals were sacrificed and distributed by the Ottoman state. For a quantification of the sources of Ottoman Istanbul’s meat at feast time, see Chris Gratien, “Istanbul’s Moveable Feast,” Tozsuz Evrak (14 October 2013) 65 See Cengiz Orhonlu, Osmanlı imparatorluğunda aşiretlerin iskânı (Istanbul: Eren, 1987), 53-85. 66 Kasaba, A Moveable Empire, 86. 67 Soysal, "Die Siedlungs- und Landschaftsentwicklung der Çukurova : mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Yüregir-Ebene", 38-39.


Adana province. These governors, known throughout Anatolia as derebeys or “lords of the valley,” were somewhat akin to feudal lords. In exchange for providing security as well as sometime military support and an amount of tax revenue, they were allowed to govern with relatively little direct interference.68 These derebeys, who are among the local hereditary figures often referred to as ayans, peaked in influence around the turn of the eighteenth century, and would become some of the main targets of the Ottoman government as decades of reform and centralization followed.69 While the Ottoman government relied on the derebeys in part to maintain order in the mountainous hinterland of Anatolia, the relationship between these local dynasties and banditry sometimes ran contrary to this logic. One derebey known as Küçük Alioğlu Halil, who gained control of Gavurdağı and exercised power over Payas and İskenderun beginning in 1787, maintained his position by showing a penchant for disruption.70 In his Tarih, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha refers to this derebey’s rebellious activities and in particular, his disruption of the road between Anatolia and Syria that was a primary route for hajj pilgrims.71 Halil earned notoriety among Europeans for many attacks upon travelers and on one occasion holding the Dutch Consul of Aleppo prisoner for eight months. As British Consul of Aleppo John Barker related in 1800, Halil had worked his way up from a simple bandit exploiting the mountain geography to gain power in Payas, gradually earning tribute from the people of the town and gathering a large band of brigands around his person. Later, he began to use political acts of organized brigandage to


The influence of the derebeys on the decentralization of the Ottoman Empire during the eighteenth century has been much discussed. For the Cilicia case, an article by Andrew Gordon Gould provides the best discussion of these lineages and their transformation during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Gould, "Lords or Bandits? The Derebeys of Cilicia." 69 For the most updated study of the politics of this period in Ottoman Anatolia, see Ali Yaycıoğlu, Partners of the Empire : the crisis of the Ottoman order in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016). 70 Mehmet Akıf Terzi, Gâvurdağı'nın Bulanık tarihindeki sır perdesi (Istanbul: Doğu Kütüphanesi, 2010), 35-39. 71 Ahmed Cevdet, Tarih-i Cevdet, vol. 2 (Dersaadet [Istanbul]: Matbaa-yı Osmaniye, 1893), 268.


secure titles and pardons from the Ottoman government.72 The archival record shows Küçük Alioğlu Halil deliberately disrupting the Payas road connecting the Adana and Aleppo provinces in order to extort positions from the state.73 Yet, when the local government in Adana was unable to curtail the activities of his bandits, Halil earned begrudging recognition from the Ottoman government, and his children eventually inherited his political position in the region surrounding Payas.74 If the rise of Küçük Alioğlu Halil diverges from the abstract image of the “local notable” sometimes evoked in Ottoman historiography, a road to nobility paved with acts of brigandage is not tremendously remarkable within the history of early modern Europe. In fact, more than bandit leaders or tribal heads, the derebeys lived the lives of lords and aspired to do so. For example, one Cilician derebey of the mid-nineteenth century named Menemencizade (or Menemencioğlu) Ahmed Bey appears not as a nomadic warrior but rather a provincial aristocrat. The Menemencizades were a lineage of landed tribal elite who dominated the political landscape of western Çukurova in Tarsus and Karaisalı for decades. Though this clan is usually mentioned in discussion of the tribes and nomadic pastoralists in Cilicia, they bore little resemblance to this prototype. Their wealth was in livestock, 80,000 sheep, 20,000 goats, and 18,000 cattle spread across 3,000 households according to mid-nineteenth century estimates, but they were by and large a sedentary community in the sense that they lived in villages, though certainly engaging in seasonal migration when necessary. The patriarch Menemencizade Ahmed, who had played an


John Barker, "Some Account of Cuchuk Ali in a Letter from John Barker, Esq. to his excellency the Earl of Elgin, dated Aleppo, the 20th. November, 1800," in Travels in Egypt and Nubia, Syria, and Asia Minor; during the years 1817 & 1818, ed. Carles Irby and James Mangles (London: T. White and Co., 1800), 531-43. 73 He had already been granted the title of mirliva in order to secure his allegiance, but in a subsequent letter was found once again disrupting the pilgrimage in demand of the title of mirmiran (equivalent to beylerbeyi). BOA, HAT 14/552 (ca. 1202 [1787/8]). 74 BOA, HAT 267/15524 (ca. 1204 [1789/90]). For a full overview of Küçük Alioğlu Halil and his successors in Payas, see Mahmut Şakiroğlu, "Çukurova Tarihinden Sayfalar 1: Payas Ayanı Küçük Ali Oğulları," Tarih Araştırmaları Dergisi 15, no. 26 (1991).


important political role as Ibrahim Pasha’s ally during the Egyptian occupation of Cilicia in the 1830s, resided in an eight-room brick mansion in Karaisalı that would come to be used by Ottoman officials as the government building in the district following his departure. 75 He was also exceptional in that he authored a history of his own life and lineage, much of which is narrated through the various events and encounters that occurred in the geography and on the yaylas of Cilicia.76 More than the nomad warrior prototype, the story of Ahmed Bey is reminiscent of his aristocratic contemporaries in Sicily memorialized by works such as Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo (The Leopard).77 Just as the entire region of Sicily became synonymous with brigandage during the period of Italian unification, Cilicia’s elite became known for their banditry and nomadic ways during the Tanzimat period.78 Scholarship that deals with the history of tribal communities in Ottoman Anatolia tends to present these groups as monolithic and undifferentiated wholes headed by a particular chief or notable that more or less becomes a stand-in for the entire tribe. However, it is important to note that pastoralist communities, just like settled communities, contained internal hierarchies and various forms of stratification.79 While some lineages could be traced to a BOA, A-MKT-MHM 437/34, no. 2 (19 Zilkade 1285 [3 March 1869]). Yılmaz Kurt has published a number of primary sources regarding the Menemencizâde family, including collections of Ottoman archival documents pertaining to their history. See, for example Yılmaz Kurt, "Menemencioğulları ile ilgili Arşiv Belgeleri I," Belgeler 21, no. 25 (2000). 76 This work originally written in Ottoman has been transcribed into the modern Turkish alphabet by Yılmaz Kurt. Menemencioğlu Ahmed and Yılmaz Kurt, Menemencioğulları Tarihi (Ankara: Akçağ, 1997). 77 Lampedusa, offers a portrait of the old Sicilian elite on the eve of the Risorgimento. Much of the novel takes place within the confines of the mansion of Don Fabrizio, the patriarch of a noble family on the verge of being displaced by the new order. Don Fabrizio, an elegant, stoic prince but ultimately a passive observer to the political events of his day, watches as Sicily and with it his family are engulfed in a civil war that ultimately results in the incorporation of Italy’s southern Mezzogiorno region into the Italian Republic. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il gattopardo (Milano: Feltrinelli, 2002). 78 For a discussion of this period, see Riall, Sicily and the unification of Italy : liberal policy and local power, 18591866. 79 Here I should also echo the words of John Tutino in his study of development and the state’s attack on patriarchy in the Mexican highlands that “social organizations that proclaim unity of purpose——families, communities, even nations—are structured internally by power, inequality, even exploitation.” John Tutino, "From Involution to Revolution in Mexico: Liberal Development, Patriarchy, and Social Violence in the Central Highlands, 1870-1915," History Compass 6, no. 3 (2008): 798. 75


particular mountaineer or bandit who usurped Ottoman rule, their eventual power and wealth made these figures landed elite whose socioeconomic condition was alienated from the vast majority of the tribal populations they presided over. One case of this phenomenon is that of the Kozanoğlu family, a lineage that counted some 500 households at mid-nineteenth century centered on the Taurus Mountains towns of Feke and Hadjin. The power base of the Kozanoğlus was formed in part by transhumant pastoralists who passed through the district, but the Kozanoğlus were sedentary leaders who derived their livelihood from their position. The Kozanoğlus allied with political leaders in Armenian towns such as Hadjin. This bond was strong enough that the Kozanoğlus could rely on their connections with the Armenian Catholics in Sis to maintain hegemony in the region while resisting Ottoman interference.80 In the 1830s, an Egyptian army led by İbrahim Pasha, son of Mehmed Ali Pasha, invaded Syria and occupied Cilicia. During this occupation, tribal notables played a key role in politics, some as allies and others as opponents of the new Egyptian regime. 81 This reflected the general fact that the derebeys of Cilicia did not operate as a unified front but rather sometimes acted as

The Armenian notables of Hadjin and the Kozanoğulları maintained a longstanding alliance in Kozan. Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, 11, 19. In fact, in a section of the Complete History of Hadjin published in Armenian in 1942, members of the Kozanoğlu lineage do not appear as such but are referred to instead as “Kozanyan,” unusually nativizing the Kozanoğlu family name in apparent adoption of the language of the nineteenth-century Armenian source the section was based on. Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 146-50. Some popular historiography has presented the Kozanoğlu lineage as uncomplicatedly “Turkish.” An enlightening example of this phenomenon based on another derebey lineage might be Abdurrahman Münir Kozanoğlu’s short work entitled Kozanoğulları. He introduces this work by establishing his family as a Turkish tribe that played an important role in the “Turkicization (Türkleşme)” of Anatolia over the years, linking the Kozanoğlus to the tribal notables that wrested power away from the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia during the fourteenth century. Abdurrahman Münir Kozanoğlu, Kozanoğulları (Istanbul: Bakış Müessesesi, 1983). By contrast, the work of Armenian writer Aghasi about his native town of Zeytun composed in the 1890s, which was certainly not without its own biases, argues that many of the tribal lineages in Cilicia were descendent from the original Armenian inhabitants, had shared customs, and therefore close relations with Armenians in the Taurus Mountains. Aghasi and Chobanian, Zeïtoun: depuis les origines jusqu'à l'insurrection de 1895, 60. 81 See Ahmed and Kurt, Menemencioğulları Tarihi. 80


competitors against one another. However, their political role on both sides of the conflict strengthened their authority in their respective areas. After the Ottomans resumed control of Cilicia in the 1840s, the provincial government of Aleppo made some attempts at inducing tribal populations to settle. The Reyhanlı confederation comprised of a few thousand households led by Mürselzade Ahmed Pasha agreed to partially settle the Amik Plain near Gavurdağı in 1844. According to Gould, over 1,000 households of pastoralists settled on a voluntary basis in the Pazarcık plain near Marash in 1846. These communities were allowed to choose their settlement locale and continue seasonal migration.82 In both cases, disputes with neighboring communities became barriers to settlement. Though they remained loyal to the Ottoman state, the Reyhanlıs largely abandoned the goal of pursuing sedentarized agriculture.83 One document suggests that the “intolerable” swamps in the Amik Plain area undermined permanent settlement of the Reyhanlıs and their nearby rivals, the Hadidis.84 The two maps below, one made by the Ottoman military (date unclear, most like after settlement) and the other from the French consulate in Aleppo dating the 1860s, illustrate the ecological constraints on settlement in the Amik Plain. The vast swamps surrounding Lake Amik would have made for a most inhospitable place to spend the summer, and neither map shows Reyhanlı as having become a permanent settlement, although the Ottoman map does refer to the district of Reyhaniye (more on Amik in Chapter 14).


Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 38. 83 Ibid., 38. 84 BOA, A}-MKT-UM 385/69, no. 2 (22 Cemaziyelevvel 1276 [5 December 1859]).


The Amik Plain and Lake Amik

Figure 8 Section of Ottoman map of Amik Plain, swamps represented by blue squiggles. Reyhaniye distict underlined. Original orientation of map, which places East at top has been preserved. (Source: BOA, HRT 2270)

Figure 9 Amik Plain circa 1867 (Source: CADN, 166PO D1, 93)


There are other examples of experimentation with tribal settlement in Cilicia in the years leading up to the Crimean War.85 All point to the fact that settlement was to occur according to the terms of local populations and through cooperation with local leaders. However, relations with these leaders, especially the major derebeys mentioned above, became more strained during the war. One of the terms of accommodation of these leaders and the transhumant practices of the societies they presided over was that they were expected to muster troops and cavalry when necessary. By the time of the Crimean War, the Ottoman Empire had a conscript army constituted by draft lotteries (kura-yı şeriye) held throughout the empire. Most of the local leaders in Cilicia such as Kozanoğlu refused to send men to fight in the Crimean War. 86 This was no doubt a great service to their constituencies, as a huge percentage of the Ottoman soldiers who fought in the war perished, mainly due to disease.87 There were some exceptions to this abstention. One leader among the Kerimoğlus, Asiye Hatun, known by her nickname of Kara Fatma or “The Cockroach,”88 led a unit of cavalry onto the battlefield, where she even left two of her own teeth. The Ottoman government recognized her exceptional status both as a woman and as a Cilician tribal notable, and awarded her a salary in compensation.89 Matriarchal succession was an occasional feature of Turkmen and Kurdish tribal organizations in Cilicia, and prominent women played an important role in the political life of those communities (more in Chapter 3). But Asiye Hatun’s willingness to fight in the war along with her voluntary settlement in Çukurova a decade later suggests that allying with the Ottoman 85

Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 39-40. 86 Ibid., 41-45. 87 Hikmet Özdemir, Salgin hastaliklardan ölümler, 1914-1918 (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2005), 51-54. For more on Ottoman involvement in the Crimean War, see Candan Badem, The Ottoman Crimean War, 1853-1856 (Boston: Brill, 2010). 88 The image of a female warrior named Kara Fatma recurs throughout the history of late Ottoman and early Republican Anatolia. See Zeynep Kutluata, "Geç Osmanlı ve Erken Cumhuriyet Dönem'inde Toplumsal Cinsiyet ve Savaş: Kara Fatma(lar)," Kültür ve Siyasette Feminist Yaklaşımlar, no. 2 (February 2007). 89 BOA, İ-DH 308/19638 (5 Muharrem 1271 [28 September 1854]).


state was a means of ensuring her position among the different factions in her region. 90 Either way, the fact that the only prominent tribal figure from Cilicia to cooperate with the war effort was also apparently the only female officer to fight on any side of the Crimean War sums up the extent to which political life in Cilicia was a flagrant exception to the Ottoman Tanzimat rule.91

Figure 10 An illustration of Kara Fatma in Istanbul (Source: Joubert, Tableau historique, politique et pittoresque de la Turquie et de la Russie, pg. 110) The Crimean War interval clearly illustrated that the derebeys and by extension the pastoralists over whom they presided did not answer to the Ottoman government on key matters regarding the obligation of Ottoman subjects. Controlling these communities would not be 90

Janet Klein argues that this phenomenon became a defining feature of Eastern Anatolia during the Hamidian period, during the Ottoman government armed certain tribal leaders who in turn used the opportunity to strengthen their local positions. Janet Klein, The Margins of Empire : Kurdish militias in the Ottoman tribal zone (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 63-64. 91 Kara Fatma became a subject of fascination for European audiences. Adolphus Slade, Turkey and the Crimean War: a narrative of historical events (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1867), 186-88; Félix Mornand Joubert, Tableau historique, politique et pittoresque de la Turquie et de la Russie (Paris: Paulin et Le Chevalier, 1854), 10910. An article from The New York Times some decades later referred to Kara Fatma as an “amazon.” "Kara Fatma, the Amazon," The New York Times November 8, 1887. For more on Kara Fatma, Cezmi Yurtsever, Çukurova Türkmenleri (Adana: Çukurova Yayınları, 2007), 30-41.


possible without dislodging them from the mountains and either coopting or removing the local political leaders of the Cilicia countryside. Yet geography had proven a very powerful logistical barrier to doing so. Even if pastoralist communities could be coaxed out of the mountains, the disease ecology of the Çukurova plain rendered their settlement unrealistic. This being said, Cilicia would witness a profound agrarian transformation following the Crimean War thanks to a rise of agriculture in the western portion of the plain and the arrival of immigrants who could serve as settlers in the countryside. These factors would further energize the settlement impulse within the Ottoman administration. Panting for the Plow, Yearning for the Yayla Leaving aside the pervasive issue of malaria described above and the intransigence of local autonomy in the Cilicia region, there were many reasons for the lowlands of Cilicia to become an area of new settlement during the nineteenth century. The alluvial soils of Çukurova are exquisitely rich. The famed venture capitalist Hacı Ömer Sabancı, founder of the Sabancı business empire, has been quoted as saying that “Adana soil is so fertile that if you tied up a donkey, it would turn into a mule right on the spot.”92 J.H. Skene, the British Consul in Aleppo during the 1860s, summarized the state of Adana’s natural bounty in terms dripping with capitalist fantasy, saying, “Stately forests rot on the mountains, and rich ores crop out unheeded from the rocks; fertile plains pant for the plough, and copious streams to irrigate them feed only pestilential marshes. Bedouins encroach on arable land to secure pasture for their increasing flocks, and villages are abandoned, the desert overlapping cultivation.”93

Quotation reported by Taha Toros. Sadun Tanju, Hacı Ömer (Istanbul: Apa Ofset Basimevi, 1983), 288. "General Report by Mr. Consul J.H. Skene on North Syria under the New Organization of the Turkish Provinces," in Commercial Reports received at the Foreign office from Her Majesty's Consuls in 1868, ed. Great Britain Foreign Office (London: Harrison and Sons, 1868). 92 93


His words were indicative of an ascendant narrative about Cilicia’s geography wherein Çukurova came to be seen for its unrealized economic potential. European observers, many of whom passed through Cilicia in commercial or diplomatic capacities, consistently remarked upon the incredible agricultural prospects of the sparsely populated Çukurova plain.94 Crosscut by large rivers and endowed with rich soil, the region was a natural fit for large irrigation projects that would extend areas of cultivation for cash crops such as cotton, desiccating and reclaiming swamp land in the process.95 The well-watered and fertile soils produced by these rivers would earn Çukurova the nickname of the “Second Egypt.”96 Indeed, for a brief period, Cilicia quite literally became the Second Egypt when Ibrahim Pasha occupied the region during the 1830s.97 For Mehmed Ali and Ibrahim Pasha, the natural

Another examples is that of John Kinneir, who found Çukurova “fruitful, but deserted” and “surrounded on all sides by brown and arid hills.” He remarked that “the soil was a rich brown, and, although it was at the season of the year when the country is parched with drought, the weeds and grass grew with great luxuriance.” John Macdonald Kinneir, Journey through Asia Minor, Armenia and Koordistan, in the years 1813 and 1814, with remarks on the marches of Alexander and retreat of the Ten Thousand, by John Macdonald Kinneir (London: J. Murray, 1818), 134. 95 For early exploration of ports in Cilicia and concern about potential access to the Euphrates, see: Francis Chesney, "On the Bay of Antioch, and the Ruins of Seleucia Pieria," Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 8(1838). Chesney’s role was instrumental in the Suez Canal project, within which Saint Simonians also played a prominent role. Philippe Régnier and Amin Fakhry Abdelnour, Les Saint-simoniens en Egypte : 1833-1851 (Cairo: Banque de l'Union européenne, 1989). Later British travelers wrote about the opening of new ports in Cilicia as opposed to the development of existing ports, which was seen as advantageous. Barker and Ainsworth, Cilicia, its former history and present state, 267-75. The German-Austrian scientist Theodor Kotschy commented on the mineral composition of the mountains of Cilicia in his travel account. Theodor Kotschy, Reise in den cilicischen Taurus über Tarsus (Gotha: J. Perthes, 1858). See also : Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, 13. Pierre de Tchihatchoff, Asie mineure : descriptions physique de cette contrée (Paris: Morgand, 1866). 96 Mentioned in countless places, including: Abdullah Cevdet, “Adana Ferdanın Mısırıdır [Adana is the Egypt of Tomorrow],” İctihad, no. 24 (1 Haziran 1327 [14 June 1911]); E. J. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey : a journey of travel in Cilicia (Pedias and Trachaea), Isauria, and parts of Lycaonia and Cappadocia (London: Edward Stanford, 1879), 30; Şerafeddin Mağmumi and Cahit Kayra, Bir Osmanlı Doktoru'nun Anıları [An Ottoman Doctor's Memoirs] (Istanbul: Boyut, 2001), 174; Ziya, Tabsıra yahut Adana Temaşası, 10; Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, 12; Frederic Macler, "La Cilicie: Porte Maritime de l’Armenie," L'Acropole 1, no. 2 (November 1920). Hagop Terzian said that Çukurova was like Egypt but that the Seyhan River was cleaner. Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 8. 97 Saint-Simonian intellectuals that served in the Egyptian government heralded the invasion as a momentous event in the history of the Middle East, saying “Syria, which under Ottoman rule had turned to the East, has turned back to the West by freeing itself from foreign oppression.” Edmond de Cadalvène and Émile Barrault, Histoire de la guerre de Méhemed-Ali contre la Porte ottomane en Syrie et en Asie Mineure (1831-1833) (Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1837), 14. For a similar example of contemporary hagiography of Mehmed Ali by a British author see: Edward Churton, The life of Mohammed Ali, Viceroy of Egypt ; to which are appended, the quadruple treaty and the official memoranda of the English and French ministers (London: Edward Churton, 1841). 94


wealth of Cilicia presented a great opportunity.98 Once establishing power in Cilicia, Ibrahim Pasha encouraged the settlement of Egyptian and Syrian peasants in Çukurova and introduced the planting of Egyptian cotton seeds.99 The Egyptian government presided over a growing agrarian regime.100 By 1840, Adana was counted as the largest cotton producing region in Northern Syria, though according to British sources, a good year would yield only around 5,000 bales.101 This figure may have been an understatement, but even so, production would subsequently be much higher. Ibrahim Pasha’s short-lived government in Cilicia (1832-40) encouraged agriculture and other types of ecological interventions and attracted the attention of Western investors. The Adana-Tarsus economy began a slow but consistent growth.102 Yet, it was to be neither an Egyptian nor foreign government but rather the Ottomans themselves who would preside over the first genuine cotton boom in Çukurova some decades later.103 When the US Civil War


The forests of the Taurus and Amanus Mountains offered much-needed timber to the governors of a virtually treeless Egypt eager to expand their naval fleet. In the negotiations of the Peace of Kütahya with the Ottoman state in 1833, Ibrahim Pasha considered the Southern Anatolian coast among the most important acquisitions of the campaign, heeding his father’s advice to “give as much care to the matter of timber as you would to crippling the army of Constantinople. Khaled Fahmy, All the pasha's men : Mehmed Ali, his army, and the making of modern Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 50. In the nineteenth-century Mediterranean, abundant sources of timber were vital to maintaining a healthy naval fleet. Egypt was poor in forests; the Taurus and Amanus Mountains as well as the coasts had abundant supplies. Until the nineteenth century, the vast forests of Cilicia reached all the way to the outskirts of the city of Adana. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 58. 99 Procházka-Eisl and Procházka, The Plain of Saints and Prophets, 40-41. 100 See: AUB, Asad Rustum Collection, Box 3 1/10, letter from Mehmed Arif regarding farm of Ahmed Pasha. 101 The British report described the agricultural potential of the Adana region at the time as up to 20,000 cantars. The weight of the cantar and its equivalents varied from place to place around the world—as did the bale—but we can say as a rough estimate that 5 cantar would be equal to a bale. John Bowring, Report on the commercial statistics of Syria (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office (Foreign Office), 1840), 14. 102 Agrarian growth in Egyptian Cilicia spurred some attempts at increasing irrigation, one of which near Tarsus resulted in the contamination of the Cydnus River, leaving its waters unpotable. Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 47-50. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 40. Ibrahim Pasha also ordered the planation of palm trees in Adana, which survived but did not yield edible fruit. Ibid., 57. In order to make important ports such as Iskenderun more livable, Ibrahim Pasha also commissioned the draining of the marshes around the city, a measure that had some temporary impacts but ultimately was negated with the Egyptian withdrawal and the reemergence of the swamps. Barker and Ainsworth, Cilicia, its former history and present state, 114. See also Songül Ulutaş, "Gelenekten Moderne Tarsusta Tarimsal Dönüsüm (1839-1856)," (2012). More in Chapter 6. 103 Meltem Toksöz offers additional treatment of the Egyptian occupation. Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton. There are a small number of documents pertaining to the Egyptian presence in Cilica available at American Universty in Beirut, but research in the Egyptian state archives would likely reveal a much greater number of


disrupted the slave labor cotton economy of the American South, a sudden global shortage offered an opportunity for cultivators in the Mediterranean to enter the cotton market. Izmir, Egypt, and Cilicia were some of the main beneficiary regions.104 The cotton craze was buttressed by articles in Ceride-i Havadis, a British-owned Ottoman newspaper that reported continuously on the US Civil War and the potential profitability of cotton cultivation.105 Over the first half of the 1860s, cotton exports from the Adana region increased rapidly.106 The tiny port of Mersin quickly began to grow as a center of commercial activity. The amount of land under cultivation in Cilicia doubled.107 The Ottoman government encouraged landowners in Adana and elsewhere to plant cotton by allowing them to import Egyptian seed duty free. 108 Cotton gins were introduced to speed up the process, and workers from as far off as the Harput and Kurdistan provinces were encouraged to migrate to Adana every April to meet the sudden rise in demand for labor during the planting season.109 This instant agricultural prosperity inspired awe and optimism among local and foreign commercial circles.

sources, predominantly in Ottoman Turkish, for researchers interested in studying this very fascinating experiment of semi-colonialism by the Egyptian state in Southern Anatolia. 104 Stephan Astourian covers this period at greater length in his doctoral dissertation. Astourian, "Testing worldsystem theory, Cilicia (1830's-1890's) : Armenian-Turkish polarization and the ideology of modern Ottoman historiography". For brief discussion the US Civil War and its global impact, see Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 161-65. 105 Orhan Kurmuş, "The cotton famine and its effects on the Ottoman Empire," in The Ottoman Empire and the world-economy, ed. Huri Islamoğlu-İnan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 163. 106 The French Consul of Aleppo reported 15,000 bales of cotton produced in 1861, 34,000 bales in 1862, and 63,500 bales in 1863. CADC, Correspondance commerciale et consulaire, 1793-1901, Alep 33 (1863-1866), pg. 61, Bertrand to de Lhuys (20 July 1864). By comparison, citing British records, Gould indicates a roughly six-fold increase in Çukurova cotton production from 1860-1865. Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 195. 107 Kurmuş, "The cotton famine and its effects on the Ottoman Empire," 165; Astourian, "The Silence of the Land: Agrarian Relations, Ethnicity, and Power," 69. 108 BOA, A-MKT-MVL 144/58 (16 Şevval 1278 [16 April 1862]). There was some debate as to whether American or Egyptian seed would be best to plant, but in the end Egyptian was favored; however, local cultivators often preferred to use the local variety because it required less labor. More in Chapter 5. BOA, A-MKT-MHM 256/79 (4 Ramazan 1279 [23 February 1863]); 257/97 (27 Ramazan 1279 [18 March 1863]). 109

BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 299/36 (26 Zilkade 1280 [3 May 1864]); 328/84, No. 1 (8 Mart 1281 [20 March 1865]).


In addition to the sudden rise in cotton agriculture in the Çukurova region, the Ottoman Empire faced a demographic crisis that accelerated the settlement imperative. In fact, Ottoman officials saw agriculture in Adana as a potential solution to this issue. Russian incursions into Crimea and the Caucasus initiated the first major exodus of what would become periodic waves of Muslim immigrants from the border regions of the contracting Ottoman Empire. These migrants were called muhacirs, a term that is somewhat ambiguous in that we can understand it to mean immigrant or refugee, both of which would suit the experience of these communities.110 Russian expansion following the abolishment of serfdom in 1861 was aggressive and involved the settlement of large numbers of Christian subjects in predominantly Muslim regions. The local Muslim inhabitants, who in many cases had long resisted Russian authority, were sometimes told to convert to Christianity and relocate to other parts of the Russian Empire or flee under the threat of violence.111 In the first half of the 1860s alone, hundreds of thousands of Nogays, Circassians, Chechens, and other Muslim communities from the expanding Russian sphere chose the Ottoman Empire as their new home.112 The influx of these migrants, many of whom had been

The term “muhacir” which is the noun form of the verb “muhaceret etmek” or “to emigrate” is used inconsistently throughout the Ottoman period, and there is not room for full discussion of the subject here. The key point that separates the notion of “muhacirs” or “immigrant/emigrant” for that of “mülteci,” which is clearly refugee, is that the muhacirs is not expected to return to their place of origin. In English and French sources from the Ottoman period it is common to see the term muhacir used as is in reference to Muslim migrants to the Ottoman Empire. I will use different translations interchangeably to suit the context throughout this dissertation and sometimes refer to muhacirs as a group where applicable. 111 Some authors contend that the policies pursued by the Russian military during the 1860s in the Caucasus amounted to ethnic cleansing or genocide, as they were consciously thorough in their removal of Muslim populations from certain problem areas. For discussion, see Sunderland, Taming the Wild Field : colonization and empire on the Russian steppe, 151-55; Sanders et al., Russian-Muslim confrontation in the Caucasus : alternative visions of the conflict between Imam Shamil and the Russians, 1830-1859, 154-57. 112 Cuthell, "The Muhacirin Komisyonu : an agent in the transformation of Ottoman Anatolia 1860-1866", 260. Hakan Kırımlı states that about 300,000 Crimean Tatars and Nogays alone departed for the Ottoman Empire between 1856 and 1865. Hakan Kırımlı, Türkiye'deki Kırım Tatar ve Nogay köy yerleşimleri (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı, 2012), 31. Hilmi Bayraktar offers a number of scholarly estimates of post-Crimean War muhacir populations with totals ranging from 600,000 to 1 million. Hilmi Bayraktar, "Kırım Savaşı Sonrası Adana Eyaleti’ne Yapılan Nogay Göç ve İskânları (1859–1861) " bilig, no. 45 (2008): 49-50. For more on muhacir settlement, see the ongoing 110


subjected to acts of violence or recently involved in an armed struggle in their former homeland, would change the demographic makeup of Anatolia fundamentally. The Ottoman government welcomed these post-Crimean War immigrants, although it had little choice in the matter. However, rather than allowing them to settle in towns or already crowded cities, Ottoman policy was to encourage muhacir settlement in would-be empty lands of the countryside. In 1860, a special commission called the Muhacirin Commission (Muhacirin Komisyonu) was formed to oversee the complicated process of settlement, which included providing transportation, money, provisions, and in many cases, constructing villages for the newcomers.113 Çukurova was a prime region for migrant settlement in the post-Crimean War context. The high material and human demands of the war had provided incentive for an already expanding Ottoman state apparatus to adopt a new land code in 1858 that would serve as the basis for the registration of property and the distribution of deeds (tapu) to landholders, thereby increasing tax revenue.114 Çukurova contained a great deal of land that would have been classified as “empty lands (arazi-yi haliye or mevat),” land that was “unused” or in practice exploited for pasture or other purposes by local inhabitants. The greatest concentration of empty land was in the section of the plain east of Adana. During the 1860s alone, tens of thousands of Muslim muhacirs, mostly identified as Nogays and Circassians, were settled in this area around

publications of Oktay Özel. For example, Oktay Özel, "Migration and Power Politics: The Settlement of Georgian Immigrants in Turkey (1878-1908)," Middle Eastern Studies 46, no. 4 (2010). 113 Cuthell, "The Muhacirin Komisyonu : an agent in the transformation of Ottoman Anatolia 1860-1866", 18-20. 114 Roderic H. Davison, Reform in the Ottoman Empire, 1856-1876 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1963), 98-99. Islamoğlu, "Property as a Contested Domain: A Reevaluation of the Ottoman Land Code of 1858," 363; Aytekin, "Agrarian relations, property and law: An analysis of the Land Code of 1858 in the Ottoman empire." Islamoğlu argues that the 1858 Land Code was an attempt to move into the contested domain of property, a shift typical of states during that era. Gerber presents a discussion of the 1858 Land Code’s impact in different parts of the Empire, including Çukurova. Gerber, The Social Origins of the Modern Middle East, 67-90. See also: Sluglett and Farouk-Sluglett, "The Application of the 1858 Land Code in Greater Syria: Some Preliminary Observations."; Arıncanlı, "Property, Land, and Labor in Nineteenth-Century Anatolia."


the Ceyhan River.115 According to settlement procedures, these communities were registered and land was divided up through cooperation with their leaders and those who “could follow directions (söz anlar).”116 These settlers were expected to integrate into the budding cotton economy. Muhacirs were settled into a number of villages on both sides of the Ceyhan River, an extremely fertile but marshy region east of Adana, and upon the recommendation of the governor of Adana, the settlers received free cotton seed in order to participate in this rapid growth.117 The post-Crimean War settlement process was a tragic debacle that claimed the lives of untold numbers of people. The migrants who fled the Caucasus arrived in Istanbul sick and starving, and from there, they boarded other ships bound for settlement regions. In the Cilicia region, waves of migrants comprising hundreds of families began arriving in Mersin in summer of 1859.118 Those who survived this long journey and were settled in Çukurova failed to thrive due to the hardships of settlement and most crucially, malaria. Muhacirs were settled onto empty lands in independent villages on terrain that was often unfit for immediate habitation by local standards. For example, of the fourteen Nogay and mixed villages profiled by Hakan Kırımlı in his fantastic overview of Tatar settlements in modern Turkey, thirteen were in modern-day Ceyhan and one in Karataş (see Figure 11).119 These areas were not only full of wetlands but highly prone to nearly annual flooding of the Ceyhan River. Among an already vulnerable population of settlers arriving to the semi-tropical Çukurova plain from the cooler climates of the North Caucasus, mosquitoes were well poised to finish the job started by the Russian military. 115

Compiling Ottoman sources, Hilmi Bayraktar indicates that just over 20,000 Nogays came to the Adana province between 1859 and 1861. Bayraktar, "Kırım Savaşı Sonrası Adana Eyaleti’ne Yapılan Nogay Göç ve İskânları (1859–1861) ": 50. About two decades after the fact, Lieutenant Bennet, a British official appointed to observe the effects of settlement in Çukurova, indicated that around 15,000 Nogays had been settled in the area. BNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). 116 Here this is presumably due to the fact that most immigrants would have had difficulty communicating in Ottoman Turkish. BOA, İ-MVL 439/19468 (17 Rebiulahir 1277 [2 November 1860]). 117 BOA, MVL 662/51 (11 Receb 1280 [22 December 1863]). 118 BOA, A-MKT-NZD 288/14, no. 2 (15 Muharrem 1276 [2 August 1859]). 119 Kırımlı, Türkiye'deki Kırım Tatar ve Nogay köy yerleşimleri, 46.


Figure 11 Ceyhan River and Approximate Placement of Nogay Settlements. The green patches are hills and small mountains.120

In constructing this map I have plotted the settlements mentioned in Hakan Kırımlı’s study of Nogay villages onto the Ottoman map of Çukurova from the 1870s (see above). While some of the villages were already indicated on that map, others had to be approximated using Google Maps and Kırımlı’s descriptions. Ibid., 46-67. 120


The Nogay immigrants perished in large numbers during the first years of settlement, and in summer 1861, they began to request transfer to “airy (havadar)” regions due to an inability to “adapt to the climate (abühava ile imtizaç)” of the areas where they had been settled.121 The same was true for a group of Circassians who came to the Muhacirin Commission in Adana with that exact complaint. They sought to be resettled in areas with climates more similar to that of the Caucasus in the Black Sea region such as Trabzon and Sinop.122 A continued influx of such complaints, the attempts of many immigrants to flee their place of settlement in Adana to elsewhere, and even some requests to return to the Caucasus aroused some concern among the Ottoman administration, which tried to keep the new settlers in their respective places. In light of serious complaints about regions of settlement, the Muhacirin Commission was sometimes able to offer the alternative of settlement in regions of higher elevation in inner Anatolia where the climate would be more agreeable for new immigrants. However, unlike the expansive and largely unsettled plains of Anatolia, habitable mountain areas and the yaylas of pastoralist communities in particular were precious spaces already used by local communities. The conflicts over land that would arise in the course of settlement in the coming decades immediately came to the fore when the Muhacirin Commission began settling large numbers of families in a plateau region of the Taurus Mountains in the Sivas province north of Adana. This region called Uzunyayla or “Long Yayla” sits at more than 1500 meters above sea level and possesses a cool mountain climate similar to that of the North Caucasus whence most of the muhacirs had come. Officials estimated that up to 10,000 households could be settled into new villages in this empty space, and in preparation for settlement, thousands of families began to come to the regions surrounding Uzunyayla for temporary settlement until houses could be Alternative regions suggested included Ramazanoğlu yayla and the areas surrounding Marash. BOA, A-MKTMHM 223/3 (14 Zilhicce 1277 [23 June 1861]). 122 BOA, MVL 621/27 (17 Cemaziulahir 1278 [20 December 1861]). 121


constructed.123 However, this space was also, as its name would suggest, an important summer pasture for a number of pastoral communities, most notably the Afşars. When they found houses being constructed on their yayla in summer of 1861, they attacked and scattered the muhacirs, destroying the structures that had been built. Although it was evident that military force would be needed to prevent such incidents from recurring, Ottoman officials were reluctant to send troops because the Afşars were too numerous and “savage” to be dealt with easily. 124 If the conditions regarding land use and mobility in Cilicia were going to change in a fundamental way, it would require an extremely ambitious effort. The Breaking Point The settlement of nomads had long been seen as a potential goal by Ottoman administrators. The land code and other aspects of the Tanzimat reforms stipulated that the Ottoman state should make sure that transhumant pastoralists were registered on a piece of land, if only on paper. Incidents involving clashes between migrants and “brigands” of the Adana region’s various tribes created further incentive to use the empty lands in order to settle these semi-nomadic communities permanently.125 Likewise, as cotton agriculture expanded in Çukurova, impending disputes over land between pastoralists and cultivators loomed ahead. Meanwhile, the Ottoman government enjoyed increased military capabilities, a growing imperial budget, and access to foreign loans in the post-Crimean War, and with the arrival of muhacirs and the formation of a commission to deal with them, the Ottoman Empire was acquiring the

BOA, İ-MVL 586/26367 No. 11 (5 Safer 1277 [23 August 1860]) BOA, A-MKT-UM 492/93 (12 Safer 1278 [19 August 1861]). 125 Another motivation for inducing settlement I have seen in European sources but mentioned explicitly only once in Ottoman sources (and even then in the wake of forced settlement campaigns) was the possible construction of a railroad. A letter from the Adana Council mentions a report regarding the necessary types of settlement that should be carried out for a railroad plan. However, this occurred after the Reform Division had already begun its activities (see Chapter 3). BOA, MVL 1041/7 (26 July 1865). Work on the first railroad in Çukurova did not begin until the 1880s (see Chapter 5). 123 124


administrative structure and practical experience to create more generalized policies of “settlement” or iskân. These new developments along with the long-term pressures described above and by Reşat Kasaba in A Moveable Empire explain in general terms why the Ottoman Empire might have been in a position to carry out forced settlement campaigns against nomads in various parts of Anatolia, Syria, and Iraq.126 They are the factors that overdetermined the forced sedentarization of nomads; given the historical conditions, settlement would inevitably emerge out of the confluence of these pressures. Yet given the historical failures of settlement orders and adding to them the political and logistical challenges involved in suddenly attempting to assert direct rule over tens of thousands of pastoralists, there was also powerful incentive not to forcibly settle nomads. In fact, for all the forced settlement that would occur in the Ottoman Empire during the last decades of its existence, many nomadic communities would never be targeted by military settlement campaigns and remain accommodated by state policies. In other words, the factors outlined above explain why the Ottoman Empire might forcibly settle tribes in Cilicia but certainly not why it happened where, when, and how it did. When considering the reasons for forced settlement in Cilicia, we cannot take as given the more macrohistorical factors discussed in this chapter and followed the lead of previous scholars that took justifications articulated by statesmen such as banditry or “progress” at face value.127 Nor is a larger global context of post-Crimean War pacification campaigns that ranged from Russian expansion in the Caucasus and French colonization of the Sahara to the Italian Risorgimento and the US Civil War sufficient explanation (see Introduction). Even if “everyone 126

Kasaba, A Moveable Empire, 53-99. Cevdet Pasha referred to Gavurdağı as a “den of thieves (eşkiyâ yuvası).” Ahmet Cevdet, Tezâkir, vol. 3 (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 1986), 108. More on Cevdet Pasha’s view of tribal society in Chapter 3. Incidentally, a local Armenian author referred to Gavurdağı in almost the exact same terms calling it a “den and dwelling of thieves (բոյն և բնակութիւն աւազակներու).” Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, 19. 127


was doing it” and the Ottomans were too, clearly settlement occurred in certain places for certain reasons. In fact, one could argue that Ottoman officials in Istanbul, rather than actively seeking to conquer and forcibly settle nomads, were doing everything in their power to avoid such a measure. This view must also be considered, as it is much more consistent with the very loose types of inducements pursued in the abortive settlement attempts in the Pazarcık and Amik plains during the 1840s. It also fits better with the primarily mediatory role adopted by the Ottoman administration in the disputes between the new immigrants and the Afşars over Uzunyayla. Moreover, if we examine the ways in which the Ottoman government used force in the provinces during the Tanzimat period, the most notable example being the military occupation of Syria and Mount Lebanon, we find that these types of measures were only pursued in the context of a major upheaval or political crisis and often involved an element of foreign diplomatic pressure. In the decade following the Crimean War, Cilicia witnessed some tense political moments in the countryside such as the conflicts between the immigrants and the Afşars in Uzunyayla mentioned above. A few of these incidents centered on Marash and the efforts of the local notables to incite tribal populations against Armenians in the region. Gould discusses these various political incidents in his study of the Reform Division, pointing to the ways in which each of them contributed to a general desire on the part of Ottoman officials to reform the administration of the province.128 Throughout these various conflicts, one of the key figures in the local politics of the region was a local potentate of the Gavurdağı region, Küçük Alioğlu Mustafa Pasha, better known by his nickname Mıstık.


Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 46-56.


Mıstık Pasha’s father was Küçük Alioğlu Halil, the same man whose bandits terrorized the hajj road and kidnapped the Dutch Consul of Aleppo. Vere Monro claimed that prior to the Egyptian invasion of Cilicia, Mıstık “had been the most ruthless robber in the country.”129 However, not all observers viewed Mıstık in this light. Andrew Archibald Paton, a British student who visited Mıstık’s domain in the 1840s said of him that “By the concurrent testimony of both Turks and Arabs, he is possessed of a most active and intelligent mind, and his little district is one of the securest and best governed in this part of Turkey.” 130 Although Mıstık had ostensibly gone on to continue his father’s bandit legacy, he would become the lynchpin of Ottoman rule in post-Crimean War Cilicia. The Ottoman government reinstated him as governor of Payas with hopes that he could maintain order in the area. Gould notes that it appears the presence of Mıstık prevented the Muslim notables of Marash from allying with tribal leaders against Armenians in 1856 and that he was applauded by foreign observers for preventing the 1860 massacres in Syria from spreading further north past Gavurdağı.131 Even though his presence as a hereditary governor undermined certain aspects of the Tanzimat order in Cilicia, Mıstık became viewed as a very valuable ally by some Ottoman officials along with important British diplomats. Gould’s discussion of the various political intrigues of Cilicia, just as the long-term factors mentioned above, point to a series of pressures on a tenuous order in Cilicia that was about to crack. In Chapter 2, I will offer a detailed snapshot of life and politics in Cilicia at that moment of fracture. Of all the myriad entanglements that the Ottoman administration sought to sort out in its slow reform of Adana’s administration in the decade following the Crimean War,


Monro, A Summer Ramble in Syria, 150. Paton, The Modern Syrians, 217. 131 Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 47, 52. 130


one in particular placed Mıstık Pasha at odds with the wishes of both Ottoman officials and foreign diplomats. As I will show in Chapter 2, the questions surrounding a murdered American missionary would precipitate a crisis that ultimately pushed Mıstık out of power, leading the Ottoman government down a more radical course of policy with the Reform Division and the forced settlement of Cilicia’s pastoralist populations.



It is not enough to say that the Ottoman officials chose to forcibly settle the pastoralist communities of Cilicia because they wanted to and could. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, the statesman most involved with the campaign, tended towards descriptions of the perpetual rebelliousness of the region’s inhabitants and the ways in which nomadism was an obstacle to Ottoman reform (more in Chapter 3). These must be seen as justifications and not explanations of what occurred. In Chapter 1, I outlined some long-term factors that led up to the forced settlement campaigns and discussed some short-term political conflicts in Cilicia following the Crimean War that were mentioned by Gould in his study of settlement. One of those crises, I argue, was the true catalyst for the settlement campaigns, not because it related directly to the issues surrounding settlement per se, but because it produced a political conflict that the Ottoman government ultimately decided to resolve through the use of military force. Whether its relationship to the settlement campaigns was productive or pretextual, it merits our attention. The crisis I am referring to revolved around the murder of an American missionary, which through a series of incidents and escalations, led to the removal of Küçük Alioğlu Mıstık Pasha, a hereditary governor in the strategically important Gavurdağı region. In Ottoman sources, the removal of Mıstık Pasha and its aftermath are cited as the most proximate reason for the dispatch of Ottoman troops to the Cilicia region. What these sources do not reveal is that Mıstık Pasha was removed with great hesitation by the central government in Istanbul at the urging of a few local Ottoman officials and in particular, the US Consul in Beirut. In other


words, the symbolic removal of a powerful derebey, which led to the large-scale operations of the Reform Division, was the indirect result of an international diplomatic crisis that in turn arose from an unsolved crime and its investigation.1 What follows is a rather lengthy narrative of a murder mystery involving a missionary couple, numerous foreign and Ottoman officials and diplomats, Armenian villagers, Cilician mountaineers, and a diverse cast of local actors and observers. I have narrated these events in full because they are complicated and because I think the multivocal qualities of the source base make it especially evocative. But I have also included this story in the study because I think it illustrates through the fine grain of narrative detail various aspects of local politics and life in Cilicia during the 1860s, when the region was on the cusp of yet unconceived changes. Most importantly, it demonstrates the extent to which the ecological questions that extend throughout this study influenced the actions and decisions of those who inhabited Cilicia in quotidian but very meaningful ways. “White Already to Harvest” “We had little to do except study the language; yet our progress was not what it would have been in our own country under the same circumstances, for we cannot do as much in this warm climate as we can at home. I especially found that I could not apply myself as I did in Oberlin for after studying an hour or so, my head would be all in confusion. Mr. Coffing suffered much with his bowels.”2 This excerpt is from one of the first letters written by missionary Josephine Coffing to friends back home in 1858 about her experience at the Central Mission in Aintab of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). Coffing, her husband Jackson, and a few other missionaries had recently embarked on a new career of 1

Gould uses a few missionary sources in this short section. The general outline of his description is accurate but it contains some errors regarding details of the case. Ibid., 55. 2 ABC 76 (Personal Papers), Coffing, Josephine 1/1 no. 13 (1 July 1858) Coffing to Clark.


Christian service in Northern Syria, a region of the Ottoman Empire home to sizeable Christian minorities and a large Armenian community in particular. Josephine and Jackson Coffing were in the midst of a special romance shared by those selflessly devoted not only to each other but also to a particular cause, in this case spreading the word of the Bible and other types of knowledge taught in Protestant mission schools. She was a recent Oberlin graduate and he was also an Oberlin alumnus with extensive experience pioneering Bible schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as New York City. They were among the most zealous of an extremely zealous organization of American missionaries that was active not only among American Indian communities but also many regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe.3 The Coffings had not anticipated the hardships that would accompany their voyage from the United States to the Ottoman Empire, during which most of the missionaries fell ill, with one even dying on the journey across the Eastern Mediterranean.4 The summer months in Aintab would bring perspiration, fever, headache, and diarrhea to missionaries struggling to adapt to the new disease environment and climate. Yet the Aintab mission was growing rapidly. Its efforts were focused on proselytizing and broader education mainly among the Armenian communities of the region. Jackson Coffing reported great personal satisfaction with the progress of the mission, which the ABCFM annual report of 1857 dubbed “the most remarkable of all

Other sources list Jackson Coffing’s place of birth as Mount Vernon, Ohio; however, a work of genealogy indicates that his family moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio when Jackson was five years old. Coffing was one of sixteen children. Charles Luther Popejoy, The Popejoy family in America, 1700-1976 : William Popejoy immigrant from England and his descendants (Juneau, Alaska 1976), 229-30. Benjamin Chidlaw, one of the early figures of the American Sunday School Union recalled the pioneering work of Coffing in rural Ohio in his memoirs. Benjamin W. Chidlaw, The Story of My Life (Philadelphia: W.H. Hirst, 1890), 146-49. Coffing earned notoriety among missionaries in New York City due to his work with “the Candy Girl,” a young orphan girl about whom a successful propaganda bulletin was made. James W. Alexander, Maria Cheeseman, or, The candy-girl (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1855). For more on ABCFM missions among the Cherokee and their opposition to the Indian Removal Act, see: John A. Andrew, From revivals to removal : Jeremiah Evarts, the Cherokee Nation, and the search for the soul of America (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992). 4 Disease also complicated their journey in that they were unable to spend the night in their port of arrival, Iskenderun, due to the high risk of malaria there. For more on malaria in Iskenderun, see Chapters 1 and 6. ABC 76 (Personal Papers), Coffing, Josephine 1/1 (March 14, 1858) Coffing to Hills. 3


missionary stations.”5 During their years in Aintab, Jackson and Josephine Coffing were involved in expanding the mission’s schools, which increased in number more than threefold during the second half of the 1850s. There were nine schools in Aintab alone educating over 500 pupils, in addition to the many adult women who received instruction in the home.6 Jackson remarked, “So far as I know, it is now one of the largest Sabbath schools in the world.”7 The endeavor must have seemed momentous to the eager missionaries who saw a spiritual frontier opening before their eyes, and the ABCFM mission structure was such that it facilitated expansion into more remote places by establishing “out-stations” mainly serviced by local clergy trained in mission schools. The growth of the mission offered Jackson Coffing an elegant solution to the summertime sufferings in Aintab. In a letter to the ABCFM secretary, Jackson explained that with Mrs. Coffing’s lingering ill health in Aintab, they were eager to expand missionary activities elsewhere, proposing a journey west in fall of 1860 to the Taurus Mountains and the Çukurova plain. Not only would they help establish a mission in Adana, but that mission would be paired with a summer mission in the airy mountain town of Hadjin, as Adana was “intensely hot” during the summer and a “notoriously unhealthy town.”8 “In my opinion no missionary


Coffing translated a letter written by four Armenian girls from a Sunday school in Aintab, which was published in the periodical Child’s World. "A Sunday-School in the Apostle Paul's Country," The Sunday-School World 1, no. 12 (December, 1861): 158. "Annual Survey of the Missions of the Board," The Missionary Herald 53, no. 1 (January 1857). 6 Report of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions: presented at the meeting held of Cleveland, Ohio, October 1-3, 1861, (Boston: T.R. Marvin & Son, 1861), 51-52. Jackson Coffing taught alongside another missionary Benjamin Schneider to a small class of men training to be pastors and teachers. "Religious Intelligence," The Methodist Quarterly Review 11, no. 3 (July, 1859): 471. 7 Sabbath or Sunday schools aimed at providing religious instruction to children were spreading rapidly throughout the United States at this time. ABC 641/229, Coffing to Anderson from Aintab (20 October 1859). 8 ABC 641/232, Coffing to Anderson (7 June 1860).


from any northern part of the United States should attempt any direct labor here in the summer,” Coffing would write in defense of this seasonal approach.9 Practically speaking, a new Adana mission made eminent sense at the time, since although it was the region’s largest and fastest growing city, it was incongruously being served by the out-station of an ABCFM mission in the fairly distant and small town of Antakya.10 Likewise, as a predominantly Armenian area, Hadjin was home to as many needy souls as Adana itself, and at any rate, many of Adana’s inhabitants spent their summers in the mountains and vice versa. This summer mission would be fully attuned to the seasonal rhythms of transhumant life in Cilicia (see Chapter 1).

Figure 12 Jackson and Josephine Coffing (Source: Poghosean, Hacheni Endhanur Patmut`iwne, pg. 380-81)


ABC 641/235, Coffing to Pratt, Adana (3 November 1860). Report of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions: presented at the meeting held of Cleveland, Ohio, October 1-3, 1861, 49. 10


The mountains, however, presented other challenges to missionary activity. Unlike the main towns of the Cilicia region, Hadjin was only nominally governed by Ottoman authorities, its local administration being entirely in the hands of Armenian notable families and the governor11 Kozanoğlu Yusuf Pasha and his kin. There was no guarantee that Kozanoğlu would uphold the pledges of the Porte to protect missionaries in the Ottoman Empire, which had recently been made as part of the 1856 Hatt-ı Hümayun that outlined the rights and duties of Ottoman subjects and religious minorities. Nonetheless, the biggest threat to Protestant missionary activities in the Taurus Mountains was not the governor himself but rather the local Armenian political structure. The Armenian notables or çorbacıs12 that controlled the towns of Hadjin and Zeytun derived their legitimacy from their ties to the Church, namely the Catholicosate of Cilicia seated in the nearby town of Sis. They were especially unwelcoming to Protestantism, which they viewed as a threat to their hegemony. Coupled with recent political turmoil in Marash and an incident in which an Italian working for the English consulate was burned alive for calling a Muslim judge a pimp (pezevenk), American missionaries were acutely aware that any move towards mountains was a journey into contested space.13 In fact, Jackson Coffing might have anticipated the result of his impending venture based on analogous experiences a few years prior in Mount Lebanon. There, American missionaries had sought to found a summer mission in Ehden, a predominantly Maronite village in the mountains used as a summer home by the residents of nearby town of Zgharta and the port of

Kozanoğlu held the title of kaymakam of Eastern Kozan, meaning that he was a governor of a district much smaller than a province level. I refer to him as a governor here for ease of comprehension. 12 Çorbacı is a term commonly used to refer to Christian notables in Ottoman Anatolia. 13 Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 52. Coffing called Marash “the most government ridden place in the empire.” ABC 641/235, Coffing to Pratt, Adana (3 November 1860). 11


Tripoli, two places – like Adana – widely regarded as insalubrious.14 They were promptly driven from Ehden once their intentions of proselytizing became clear.15 If these signs were insufficient for showing the hazards of mountain missions, Coffing had received the message in quite explicit terms; when he told a man in Marash that he was headed to Hadjin, the man’s response was simply that “they will kill you.”16 Nonetheless, the Coffings and a small entourage set out from Marash into the heart of the breathtaking landscape of the Taurus range in order to investigate this potential field of missionary activity. Following this preliminary visit to Hadjin, Coffing described the road as “the most beautiful [he] had ever beheld” as they passed through yaylas and dense pine forests. As if intoxicated by the crisp mountain air, he marveled at the Cilician nature’s every offering: “When passing over one of the highest points, we had a cloud, and thunder and hail, and afterwards a magnificent rainbow. I thought I had never seen one so beautiful. It was so near to us, and so bright. There were two bows of red and in some places three under the main bow.”17 The Taurus geography bore all the making of a fine summer home, but the town of Hadjin itself was decidedly less picturesque. Coffing described it as a densely crowded settlement situated in a deep mountain valley. From afar it “seemed all like one building under one roof but with innumerable doors and apartments.”18 He described the streets as “filthy” in comparison with other similar mountain villages in Anatolia, although it was certainly a rich


In a report about the sanitary situation in Tripoli circa 1880, Ottoman officials surmised that the Abu Ali river running through Tripoli was the source of the port’s disease issues. Y-PRK-UM 2/9, no. 1 (24 Ağustos 1296 [5 September 1880]). See also Edib and Bianchi, Itinéraire de Constantinople à la Mecque : extrait de l'ouvrage turc intitulé: Kitab menassik el-hadj (livre des prières et des cérémonies relatives au pélerinage), 29. 15 Gregory M. Wortabet, Syria and the Syrians; or, Turkey in the dependencies (London: J. Madden, 1856), 116-17; Charles William Meredith Van de Velde, Memoir to accompany the map of the Holy Land (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1858), 188. 16 ABC 641/236, Coffing to Anderson, Aintab (15 January 1861). 17 ABC 641/235, Coffing to Pratt, Adana (3 November 1860). 18 ABC 641/235, Coffing to Pratt, Adana (3 November 1860).


field for mission work from a demographic standpoint.19 The town itself was mostly Christian and comprised of about 1700 houses each containing multiple families. Though no proper census was possible there, Coffing and his associates estimated a population of 15,000 to 20,000.20 Although they had been braced for ill-treatment by Hadjin’s notables, the general reaction to the Coffings in the town was one of curiosity and excitement. They carried with them an Armeno-Turkish translation of the Bible — the first to ever enter Hadjin — rendering the archaic and foreign language of the scripture immediately accessible to the local communities.21 Coffing, who was especially fond of music, entertained the local children with the hymns he taught at the Protestant mission in Aintab. Another admirer of this music was the governor Kozanoğlu, who welcomed the missionaries contrary to all expectations. Coffing and a deacon named Sarkis visited him at his mansion approximately two hours from Hadjin, where after initially seeming “a little frightened or confused,” he relaxed and spoke freely with them over coffee. As Coffing and Sarkis dined on delicious lamb kebab, bulgur, and köfte with Kozanoğlu and his men, they discussed their plans to found a mission in Hadjin. The governor showed willingness to offer his protection should they incur any abuses from the local elite and agreed to sell them land to build the mission. Though Coffing was skeptical of how genuine Kozanoğlu’s enthusiasm truly was, he concluded that “he evidently

A later British visitor left with a similar impression, saying “I visited the place last summer and without exception it is the most disgustingly filthy town I have yet seen. The condition is indescribable. The only wonder is they do not have the plague.” TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1881 No. 11, Bennet to Goschen, Marash (11 May 1881). 20 Coffing noted the issue of underestimated population counts, which Ottoman administration referred to as withheld or mektum population: “As to the number of people in the place it is difficult to say exactly. The agha and Chorbadjies make the number less than it is. The people make it more. The accounts I got are about as satisfactory as this; I suggest to one a common Hadjinli that there must be 12,000 or 15,000 people in the place. He replied that “if you say 12,000 there are that many—if you say 20000 there are that many—if you wish to say 30,000 there are that many. There are as many as you please to say there are.” His idea being that there are a great many in the place.” ABC 641/235, Coffing to Pratt, Adana (3 November 1860). 21 Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 380-84. 19


fears us more than we fear him and would like to secure our friendship.”22 Later, when Coffing was back in town with Josephine, Kozanoğlu staged a theological debate between Sarkis, the Protestant deacon from Aintab, and the local Armenian çorbacıs, “often deciding against them that Sarkis had gained his points.”23 The hereditary Muslim governor of Kozan had given his endorsement to the new Protestant endeavors in the Taurus Mountains. As Coffing and his party continued on their journey to the mountain town of Niğde and later to Adana, the people of Hadjin bid them a warm farewell. Coffing’s optimistic report of this encounter generated a buzz among the missionary community, with excerpts published in its monthly period, The Missionary Herald. “The place is ‘white already to harvest,’” he exclaimed. “Who shall thrust in the sickle, and when?”24 “Too Zealous for His Own Safety” In March of 1862, Jackson Coffing was shot without warning by armed men lurking in a myrtle grove just past the town of Payas on his way from Adana to Aleppo for the annual mission meeting. His servant was killed, and a few other members of his party wounded. His armed guard had immediately fled upon the sound of gunfire. Coffing managed to continue riding for about forty-five minutes, but being too weak to go on, he sent his attendant to Iskenderun for help. The missionary was brought to the town only to succumb to his wounds later that night.25 Like the Westerners who had occasionally died before him in that malarial port town, he was buried in the cemetery of the city’s Greek Orthodox church at a funeral notably


ABC 641/235, Coffing to Pratt, Adana (3 November 1860). ABC 641/235, Coffing to Pratt, Adana (3 November 1860). 24 "Letter from Mr. Coffing, January 15, 1861," The Missionary Herald 57(1861): 171. The phrase “white already to harvest” appears in the New Testament in reference to evangelization (John 4:35). It was common within nineteenth-century missionary rhetoric to refer to communities that were potential sites of conversion as fertile fields waiting to be plowed. See: B.B. Edwards, "Obligations of the Eastern Churches to the Home Missionary enterprise," The Home Missionary 18, no. 8 (1845): 178. 25 NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6 (1856-1865), Johnson to Cabouli [Kabuli] Efendi, Beirut (5 April 1862). 23


attended by consular officials and a large crowd of curious townsfolk, though his wife Josephine would not arrive in time.26 His grave was marked with a simple marble tombstone; some years later, his wife and colleagues would replace it with the following: “Rev. Jackson Coffing, A.M., a citizen of the United States of America, and missionary of the American Board, resident at Adana, died at Alexandretta (Iskenderun), March 26, 1862, from wounds received at the hands of assassins; aged 37 years. ‘Fear not them which kill the body.’”27 On a larger time scale, this incident has appeared rather inconsequential. It has scarcely been mentioned in treatments of the Adana region’s history. 28 And within the history of American empire, it serves merely as a momentary conflict between the US Department of State and the ABCFM. In the work of James A. Field, Coffing’s murder, which I argue was never truly explained, appears as one of many commercial and missionary activities that pushed the US to project its power in the Mediterranean arena.29 Within this narrative, the murder investigation ended swiftly and without incident, standing as a small blemish on the record of Americans in the Mediterranean during 1860s.30 Yet the historical implications of Coffing’s demise have gone unnoticed. It has been typically viewed as nothing more than a characteristic act of banditry, the kind one might expect in the Ottoman Empire and particularly in a notoriously lawless region such as Adana. Even the local history of Hadjin composed by the town’s Armenian diaspora in


ABC 642/8, Morgan to Anderson, Alexandretta (31 March 1862). Henry Day, A Lawyer Abroad: what to see and how to see (New York: R. Carter and Bros., 1874), 199. 28 Gould’s work is the only history of Adana that mentions Coffing’s killing in a broader discussion of various issues regarding Ottoman hegemony in the Cilicia region during the Tanzimat period Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 55. 29 James A. Field, From Gibraltar to the Middle East : America and the Mediterranean world, 1776-1882 (Chicago: Imprint Publications, 1991), 296-97. 30 Ibid., 346. 27


California — authored by those usually privy to details about the politics there during the late Ottoman period — offers relatively little explanation for why Coffing was killed.31 In contrast to these cursory treatments of the incident, a close examination of the historical record reveals that Coffing’s murder triggered a series of events of tremendous import for the Adana region. Most importantly, the aftermath of this murder and the hunt for the perpetrators upset the fragile political balance of Ottoman Cilicia and culminated in Ottoman military action against the region’s tribal communities. Triangulation of Ottoman, missionary, and US and other diplomatic sources clearly indicates that Jackson Coffing’s killing was a genuine assassination, an act of political violence either carried out or commissioned by influential players in local politics. The murder had been clearly linked to his activities in the Taurus Mountains, and in this way, his attempt to found a mission attuned to the geography and climate of the region initiated a larger contention over geography between the Ottoman administration and the inhabitants of the Cilicia region. Rather than being an isolated incident that was resolved with relative ease, it birthed a political crisis that lasted for over a decade. The story of Coffing’s death persisted in the form of rumor in the Adana region. As one traveler who passed through Cilicia during the 1870s noted, “it is supposed that robbery was not the real reason for the murder—but Mr. Coffing was a most zealous missionary—too zealous for his own safety! and had made many enemies at Adana, who had determined to be rid of him.” 32 This reason for his assassination remained obscure in part because Jackson Coffing himself had long remained silent about the details of his experiences preceding the event, specifically the hostile and humiliating treatment he and Josephine had received when they set out to “thrust the


While this work mentions the political issues that Coffing encountered in the mountains, his murder, which according to this work was carried out by two Sırkıntı “Turks,” is not explicitly linked to any particular motive. Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 382. 32 Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 10-11.


sickle” in the town of Hadjin in July of 1861. However, as his wife explained in a letter to her mission friends back home that October, the Coffings and their companions had been forcibly removed from Hadjin through an embarrassing and drawn-out spectacle. At the outset, the Coffings had not been overly anxious about possible tensions in Hadjin. The general interest in their mission work and the permission of Kozanoğlu had somewhat assuaged their fears that they would not be welcome there. Thus, their subsequent departure from Aintab was a tear-filled goodbye colored not so much with a sense of impending doom but rather one of moving on. One of the members of the congregation prepared a farewell song, which the children performed for the Coffings before they left. “Our teacher is going / Let us weep / ‘Tis the Lord’s Doing / What can we say?” they sang as they offered a lament of separation, concluding (we assume without intention of foreshadowing) with the line “We will meet again in heaven / let us rejoice!” As they began their trip towards Marash, a group of over one hundred people accompanied them for the first day of their journey.33 On July 13, they arrived in Hadjin. The welcome they encountered was far more tepid than they had anticipated. They learned that a group of men from the nearby Armenian town of Zeytun had intended to cut them off on the road from Marash but had arrived too late. The çorbacıs who had opposed them before were now determined to prevent the Coffings from establishing a foothold in the mountain. The Bishop of Hadjin visited the town’s churches that day and warned the congregations that if anyone sold food or materials to or allowed their children to mingle with the missionaries, they would face a harsh penalty. When two men spoke against this order, they were promptly imprisoned and fined.34 Kozanoğlu had also sided with the Armenian notables, giving their threats the legitimate backing of an official figure. The Coffings

33 34

ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Clark, Hadjin (17 August 1861). ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Clark, Hadjin (17 August 1861).


and their party were at this point camped in tents among a garden of mulberry trees just outside of town, where they were visited by the five head notables of Hadjin. They told the missionaries to leave immediately saying they had “no right to come into their town and make divisions among them.” They threatened to gather a drunken mob to pull down any structure that the missionaries aimed to build.35 Nonetheless, the Coffings were able to purchase a plot of land from a brother of the governor, where they began to build their mission. When the çorbacıs drove away the workers that had been hired to dig, the Coffings wrote to the Marash mission to send builders. Almost two months after the missionaries arrived in Hadjin, construction finally began on September 9 in most unceremonious fashion. The notables had assembled a small mob to stage a protest, which they commanded from the rooftops of nearby houses. Yet, when work continued, they went to visit Kozanoğlu at his summer home some eight miles away to obtain expressed permission to expel the missionaries.36 On September 11, a gathering of what Jackson Coffing described as “80-100 people, mostly relatives and dependents” of the local Armenian notables arrived at the building site with a group of muleteers to send the missionaries packing. Coffing immediately sent a messenger to Kozanoğlu, who declined to respond in writing but relayed the message that “the man in the hat (şapkalı),” i.e. Jackson Coffing, must go.37 The mob commenced to attack the workers and chase them away, tearing down the structures that they had built. They also began to load the Coffings’ things onto mules in preparation for their departure. When Josephine’s sewing machine confounded them, they demanded that her Armenian companion from Aintab Avedis

ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Home Friends, Adana (22 October 1861). ABC 641/236, Coffing to Anderson, Adana (13 March 1862). 37 Brimmed hats were immediate markers of foreignness in rural regions of Anatolia. Josephine Coffing also mentions the distinct references to Jackson as “the man in the hat.” More below. 35 36


disassemble it to be loaded onto the mules. Josephine writes, “He said he did not know how any more than they did, which was true, but they did not believe him and the club began to fall upon him. I sprang forward in front of Avedis, exclaiming that they should not strike him, that I had promised his father I would be a mother to him, and that if they must strike they should strike me.”38 The sewing machine incident was a clear sign that while the çorbacıs were openly hostile to the missionaries and claimed to command a wild drunken mob, their movements were measured so as not to violate the missionaries personally and thereby warrant state intervention. This became especially clear when they began to beat Avedis with clubs. Jackson intervened and was accidentally struck. The moment his hat hit the ground, the attackers suddenly relented, fearful of harming Jackson Coffing or his wife. Coffing mocked them. He pointed at the club that struck him and said “Behold, the head-man’s (i.e. the çorbacı’s) Bible!”, and he began to sing. As dusk approached, the mob gradually became more unruly and attracted a large crowd of confused onlookers. Children wailed as they absorbed the horrible scene. One of the çorbacıs headed towards a shanty on the missionaries’ lot, where Josephine had sought refuge from the barrage of insults that rained down upon them. He tore down the boards of the shanty, nearly injuring Josephine with the falling rubble, and when she crawled out, he kicked her hard in the side, leaving a bruise that would last “for several weeks.”39 He had crossed the fine line that had hitherto been maintained. Josephine wrote, “In kicking me they had gone beyond the Governor’s instructions and the men were now so frightened that they tried to find a horse, and in a few minutes brought a young and beautiful horse and put my saddle on it. Mr. C. was afraid to have me mount it, but I feared the horse less than the men.”40 The çorbacıs instructed the Coffings to go to Marash, but knowing this would take them near the village of Zeytun where they might ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Home Friends, Adana (22 October 1861). ABC 641/236, Coffing to Anderson, Adana (13 March 1862). 40 ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Home Friends, Adana (22 October 1861). 38 39


incur the wrath of a similar mob, they refused and headed towards the safer and easier road back to Adana.41

Figure 13 Hadjin circa 1914 (Source: Father Krikoris Balakian, Armenian Golgotha, Vol. 1, 1922 via

This would not, however, be the end of their ordeal. As night fell, they stopped along the road to sleep. They were awoken by men from Hadjin imploring them to return to town and promising them that all the inhabitants, even those who had been in the mob, save the çorbacıs of course, had sided with the missionaries. While there may have been some truth to this, the Coffings correctly interpreted these men’s entreaties as intended to prevent them from reaching Adana where they might seek recourse from the Ottoman government. They continued on their journey during the day, when they were suddenly accosted by a small group of armed men on


ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Home Friends, Adana (22 October 1861).


foot. As Josephine related, Avedis, who had accompanied the Coffings on foot, told them to run. “We gave our horses the reins and the whip, and the men stood as if nailed to the ground for they had never seen a woman ride faster than a walk before.” After riding for about an hour they stopped to see if Avedis would be able to catch up. But instead, they were immediately met by the two men that had accosted them earlier, who were now intent on bringing the missionaries back by force. During this scuffle, Josephine whipped their hands as they attempted to take control of the bridles of their horses. Yet after some brief escapes and pursuits, the men succeeded in leading the Coffings back to Hadjin. In the town, they found a crowd waiting for them. Their companion Avedis had been beaten badly. Some of their belongings, which had been packed up and placed on a bridge, had been knocked into a muddy creek. They were kept waiting in Hadjin for several days, sweating in a tent where they were visited by sympathizers. Coffing likened his agony there to that of Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. Finally, Kozanoğlu presented them with some papers to sign, which were intended as statements of voluntary departure from Hadjin and a promise to not seek retribution from the Ottoman government. Coffing felt a devilish satisfaction for an instant as he signed his name with the word “forced” written in English just before it.42 With this, the missionaries parted ways with Hadjin. According to Jackson, many townspeople gathered along the road to watch the spectacle and cursed the Hadjin notables as the Coffings passed by. During a hard and stressful journey past Sis and into the hot Adana plain, Jackson contracted what his wife called “ague,” fevers and trembling typically associated with the malaria that the Coffings had hoped to avoid by establishing a mission in Hadjin. He was sick for weeks as the couple remained in Adana into the winter.43

42 43

NARA, RG84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Adana (16 August 1862). ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Home Friends, Adana (22 October 1861).


The altogether similar accounts of Jackson and Josephine Coffing portray a situation within which their efforts to bring the Protestant Gospel to a generally receptive population were undermined by the reactionary antipathy of the religious elite in Hadjin supported by a local governor concerned only with maintaining his position. While we might rightly be skeptical of the biases of missionary accounts known to sometimes contain hyperbole of biblical proportions, the description does seem accurate. After all, subsequent interrogations by Ottoman officials in a case regarding the damaged property of the Coffings reveal that while the aforementioned çorbacıs refused to acknowledge any violence, the events had unfolded very much as the Coffings had described.44 Moreover, once Ottoman administration was more firmly established and local autonomy curtailed in Hadjin over the coming decades, missionaries were able to return to the town and work in peace. What is also clear is that while the Hadjin incident faded in subsequent months in Adana, resistance to Protestant missionary activities in the Çukurova region did not. In addition to instances of hostility to converts in Tarsus, Coffing was assaulted by a group of Armenian men outside the door of the mission church in Adana. Even the governor of Adana had grown tired of the trouble caused by the ABCFM missionaries, menacingly reminding Coffing of what had happened to the Italian man burned in Marash some years earlier.45 Meanwhile, another incident involving hostility towards American missionaries by Armenian notables occurred in the mountain town of Ekbez (today Akbez) in Gavurdağı. It was amidst these lingering issues that Coffing finally took action through diplomatic channels, writing to the US Resident Minister in Istanbul Edward Joy Morris and the US Consul in Beirut J. Augustus Johnson, who was eager to offer his support. News of the incident soon spread to other officials and diplomats in the region

44 45

BOA, İ-HR 218/12627, no. 5-6 (11 Ramazan 1282 [28 January 1866]). ABC 641/236, Coffing to Anderson, Adana (13 March 1862).


such as British Consul of Aleppo J.H. Skene.46 In the letter where Jackson Coffing finally offered his account of what had taken place in Hadjin to the ABCFM administration in the US dated March 16, 1862, he mentioned these developments but assured the authorities that “abandoning the place [was] not to be thought of.” Envisioning himself as a martyr, much as he did on that hot day in Hadjin some months before, Coffing wrote, “St. Paul and Barnabus after being expelled from Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra — with severe treatment in the last named place — returned to them all again after not a very long time.” Noting that Josephine had gone to Aleppo due to her lingering health issues, Coffing closed the letter saying “in my next, I trust I may give you something more cheering.”47 Yet, this would be his final dispatch to the ABCFM leadership. Gunboat Diplomats After months of being out of touch, Josephine Coffing wrote a letter to her home friends saying, “You have no doubt ere this learned from the papers that I am a widow.” Her husband had died miserably of blood loss in the stuffy port of Iskenderun, she being far away in the city of Aleppo for her own health reasons. “You both know what a void is left in my heart and something of that longing to again clasp the dear one in my arms and again to look into those loving eyes,” she told her friends as she mourned their last days together. “Four days, Friday, Saturday, Sabbath, and Monday, my dear husband spent with me in Aleppo. Could I have known that these four days were the last that we were to spend together on earth, think you that most of them would have been spent in the society of friends?” They had rarely seen each other in the past weeks, but had exchanged their affections regularly via post. “With my good night I would send you a kiss, but kisses on paper are dry affairs,” Jackson said to close the last letter she

46 47

BNA, FO 78/1688, Skene to Bulwar (14 March 1862). ABC 641/236, Coffing to Anderson, Adana (13 March 1862).


would receive from him. For Josephine and her now deceased husband, a tumultuous and ultimately tragic chapter was closing. “I know I shall see him again. I know that my Father would not have mixed so bitter a cup for me had there not been a ‘need be’ for it,” she wrote in determination.48 Perhaps the destiny she hinted at was eventually fulfilled when Josephine Coffing became one of the first members of an ABCFM women’s mission in Hadjin some decades later, where she remained in the words of one contemporary “usefully employed among her own sex” into the last decades of Ottoman rule there, returning to the US in 1905 after almost 50 years of service.49 However, the implications of her husband’s death would soon stretch beyond the bounds of their relationship to shake the entire Cilicia region. The killing of this American missionary had occurred conspicuously close to his decision to name names and seek redress for his material losses and personal injury through diplomatic channels. His sudden death, which made Coffing the first martyr of an American Protestant mission that had largely operated in peace within the Ottoman domains over the prior decades, sent a shockwave through the ABCFM ranks and the sparse American diplomatic corps in the Ottoman Empire.50 The American ambassador and Consul in Beirut, representatives of a US Department of State that was by all measures smaller than the ABCFM itself, were faced with a major diplomatic crisis in the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, in an Adana region suddenly profiting from the cotton boom initiated by the US Civil War, the Ottoman state’s hegemony and ability to maintain order had been brought into question. Within this context, an investigation of Coffing’s murder and a relentless pursuit of the perpetrators unfolded. ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Clark and Hills, Antioch (17 June 1862). James Croil, The Noble Army of Martyrs & Roll of Protestant Missionary Martyrs from A.D. 1661 to 1891 (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1894), 109. 50 Not long after Coffing’s murder, a second American missionary named Meriem was killed in the Balkans. The records of the American Legation in Constantinople pertaining to this similar incident also contain some documentation regarding the Coffing investigation. NARA, RG84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 312, Misc. Cases Vol. 3 M-O, “Murder and Robbery of W.W. Meriem.” 48 49


While it is impossible to reconstruct what happened exactly, in this section I will explore the intricacies of the case as they appear in the archival records of the American and Ottoman states. What can be said with certainty is that our inability to definitively answer the question of who killed Jackson Coffing is most basically the result of a desire at every level of administrative responsibility to have this episode resolved quickly. The local government in Adana was eager to have the incident pass without it escalating into an issue of religious freedom in the Ottoman Empire or involving military action. Meanwhile, the US Resident Minister Edward Joy Morris and Secretary of State William Seward were eager to appease the ABCFM, which the US diplomats often viewed as nagging, by finding a fast and firm resolution to this case.51

As this drama unfolded, Ottoman

statesmen in Istanbul for their part appeared as hopeful as their representatives in Adana that the incident would not devolve into a confrontation between imperial and regional power. None of Figure 14 An older J. Augustus Johnson (Source: Johnson, The Life of a Citizen, 1915)

the aforementioned parties would emerge wholly satisfied with the outcome of this case.

The figure of J. Augustus Johnson — Augustus to those who knew him52 — the newly appointed Consul of Beirut who tirelessly followed the case and produced hundreds of pages of


The safety of American missionaries in the Ottoman Empire became one of the principal concerns of the ABCFM following this incident. The annual meeting of 1862 resulted in the followıng resolution: “That the Board respectfully and earnestly asks the Government of the United States to give such instructions to its representatives in Turkey, and elsewhere, — if not already given, — as will prevent all doubt and delay in interposing the national shield of protection, in the cases of emergency which are constantly liable to arise. And they would respectfully represent, that, at the present time, this is especially needful in Turkey, in consequence of the peculiar complexity in the relations of that Empire to foreign Governments, tending to alienate the different races from each other, and thus more or less to endanger and disquiet the foreign residents in all parts of the Empire.” ABCFM, "Annual Meeting of the Board," The Missionary Herald 58(1862): 336-42. 52 J. Augustus Johnson, The Life of a Citizen at Home and in Foreign Service (New York: Vail-Ballou Press, 1915), 4-5.


documentation related to its resolution, played a crucial role in pushing the Coffing case, which others were eager to forget, to an increasingly dramatic conclusion.53 Johnson was a new breed of devoted civil servants within the small American state department — at least that is how he presented himself in an autobiography entitled The Life of a Citizen at Home and in Foreign Service.54 It was he who had originally offered support to Coffing after gaining word of the abuses he faced in Hadjin, and it was he who would relentlessly pursue cases of major and minor offenses against American citizens in Greater Syria over the coming years. Throughout months of traveling back and forth between Beirut, Adana, and Aleppo, Johnson incurred significant costs and hardships in pursuit of a truth that was simply too stubborn to come to light. His correspondence and the pile of Ottoman documentation about these events reveal the complex network of local interests and powerbases governing the political culture of Adana on the eve of massive provincial reforms. The notion of a formal investigation of crimes committed by any of the mountain inhabitants of Cilicia being conducted within an international diplomatic context was fairly novel. Historically speaking, there was relatively little that the Ottoman government could do in such instances. For example, Francis Beaufort, the Irish hydrographer who would go on to lend his name to the Beaufort scale of wind force during his service in the British navy, set out from Izmir on a journey to map the southern coast of Anatolia in 1811. His journey was cut short off the coast of Ayas, a small port on the southern edge of Çukurova. He and his crew were accosted there by a group of angry men, and though they quickly hurried to their ship and started to sail Johnson’s correspondences are located in the files for the Beirut consulate at the US archives. NARA, RG84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6. 54 Johnson conceived of the audience for an autobiography of a dutiful American civil servant such as himself as follows: “It has been suggested that sketches from the life of a plain man might be of interest to plain people whose sons, like the writer, had not the advantages of wealth or college training, as a fresh illustration that ours is a land of opportunity; and my children have long urged me to give them some account of my earlier years at home and abroad.” Johnson, The Life of a Citizen at Home and in Foreign Service. 53


away, Beaufort was shot near his groin in the process of fleeing, and another member of his crew was killed. The culprits, they later learned, were “mountaineers” known by the locals for their mischief and cruelty.55 Though the governor of Adana was notified of the incident, it is unclear that anything was done to apprehend the bandits, who were able to escape into mountain spaces where Ottoman authorities could scarcely tread. In other words, crimes of this nature often ended without much resolution, and the investigators had little to begin with. A letter from missionary Henry Morgan to the ABCFM provides the most detailed account of the shooting itself. Morgan headed to Iskenderun immediately when news of the shooting began to spread. There, he learned that Coffing had set out from the Armenian village of Nacarlı the morning of the day that he was shot, a crucial detail for understanding the nature of the crime.56 They encountered some suspicious men crossing a stream beyond the town of Payas and were warned further down the road by two women that trouble lurked ahead.57 The attack itself was an ambush; the gunmen neither gave warning nor told the travelers to stop. Coffing, who began to lose blood rapidly from a ruptured artery in his left arm and wounds in his chest, continued as far as he could. Eventually, he and his remaining party met soldiers along the road and Coffing was tended to by the quarantine official of Iskenderun and brought to a house to rest. There, the bleeding was stopped but Coffing spent the night in agony, complaining of pain in his abdomen and barely managing to even sit up to drink tea. As his condition worsened, “They asked if he had any message for his wife, and he only answered in Turkish the name of God.” Later, he said that his pain had subsided, raised his one


Francis Beaufort, Karamania, or a Brief description of the South coast of Asia Minor and of the remains of antiquity... collected during a survey of that coast, under the orders of the lords commissioners of the admiralty, in the years 1811 and 1812 by Francis Beaufort (London: R. Hunter, 1817), 304-05. 56 ABC 642/8, Morgan to Anderson, Alexandretta (31 March 1862). 57 ABC 76, Josephine Coffing – Personal Letters (Vol. 1), Coffing to Clark and Hills, Antioch (17 June 1862).


injured arm to pray in English, and then breathed his last breath at twenty minutes to 5AM on Wednesday, March 26.58 The shooters had apparently intended to kill Coffing and not to rob him, since they fired suddenly and without warning. The murder had occurred shortly after he had sought recourse from the Ottoman government for the injustice he experienced in Hadjin. This evidence strongly suggested that the killing was in fact a retaliatory assassination. As the manhunt began, rumors spread throughout the area. The investigation quickly became an international affair involving various foreign diplomats, local and imperial Ottoman officials, and representatives of the ABCFM. Before long, authorities received word that two young men from a town in the mountains had been bragging to their friends about killing Coffing and having received a handsome bounty. Within a few weeks of the murder, the perpetrators had been identified but not yet apprehended. Meanwhile, some Armenian men from Çokmerzimen, a town near Payas with strong connections to Armenian communities in the Taurus Mountains, were brought into custody. They were alleged to have offered a 10,000 kuruş bounty for Coffıng’s life.59 This conformed to initial suspicions of the members of the ABCFM. British Consul Skene reported that “a general impression now exists that it was an act of revenge on the part of some Armenians.”60 These arrests sent the local Armenian community into an uproar. Spring of 1862 became as especially tumultuous time in the Cilicia region. The Armenian mountain town of Zeytun defied Ottoman attempts at reasserting authority in dramatic fashion, fending off a large military regiment sent to quell their rebellion. France and its King Napoleon III had suddenly emerged as


ABC 642/8, Morgan to Anderson, Alexandretta (31 March 1862). NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, from aboard HSM Foxhound off Alexandretta (14 April 1862). 60 TNA, FO 78/1688, Skene to Bulwar (15 April 1862). 59


the protectors of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and intervened successful to negotiate a political solution to this crisis.61 The French ship Mogador sent for this purpose and anchored off the Eastern Mediterranean coast. Its captain, who was sent to protect the Armenians of Cilicia, began pressuring for the release of the Armenian suspects implicated in Coffing’s assassination.62 Skene remarked with some concern about the possible consequences of this development that “to become the champion of those not unfairly supposed to be assassins and interpose between the Turkish Authorities and the Sultan’s subjects in a simple case of Detective Police is more than I thought possible in the present state of Treaty relations between Turkey and the European powers.”63 The ability of Western states to anchor their ships off the coast of Cilicia in order to exert political pressure would become a recurring theme in the history of this open littoral plain as war boats and steamships began to play a bigger role in maritime politics. They could not reach into the mountains, but British and American diplomats could make a great deal of noise on the coast. As a result, they began promoting some rather irregular strategies in the pursuit of the criminals. These irregularities are reflected not in official diplomatic correspondence but in the diary entries of J. Augustus Johnson’s wife, who it seems recorded details of their conversations regarding the case. These entries in turn made it into Johnson’s autobiography. For example, Johnson asked the British warship Foxhound, which was harbored off the coast of Payas, to conduct target practice in view of the mountain villages in order to scare the local population and officials.


Victor Langlois, whose study of the Cilicia region provides the most comprehensive information regarding the population of pastoralist communities in the area prior to settlement (see Chapter 1), was an outspoken advocate of the Armenian cause in Zeytun who wrote a polemical piece about impending sectarian violence directed at Armenians. Langlois’s study of Cilicia had been carried out “by order of the emperor” Napoleon III under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Education in France. Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, iv. See also Victor Langlois, Les Arméniens de la Turquie et les massacres du Taurus (Paris: J. Claye, 1863). 62 NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, from aboard HSM Foxhound off Alexandretta (14 April 1862). 63 TNA, FO 78/1688, Skene to Bulwar (18 April 1862).


According to Mrs. Johnson, “the officials and people of the province of Adana had been stirred up like soup, and never had there been such a gathering of soldiers and ships because one man had been killed, and he merely a Christian.”64 Nonetheless, the authorities were having difficulty apprehending the Muslim suspects, although they had been surprisingly easy to identify. This trouble arose from the lack of state influence in Gavurdağı. The crime had occurred in the district of Payas, which was under the government of Küçük Alioğlu Mıstık Paşa (see Chapter 1). Despite the infamy of his family, Mıstık had lately emerged as the lesser of many evils among the local notables of the region, having played a helpful role in a peaceful resolution to the protests in Marash some years earlier.65 During a meeting on a British warship, Mıstık told the diplomatic officials he met with that he thought he knew who the culprits were and had all of their near relatives detained. 66 We learn again from Mrs. Johnson about the specifics: “until the criminals are brought in, their relatives are kept prisoners, eleven men sitting on the ground in a row with their feet protruding through holes in a split log which is padlocked at both ends. This seems to me needlessly cruel, but I am assured that it is the only method of securing the surrender of the outlaws by their own people… without a pitched battle and a great loss of life.”67 The diplomats in question were making every effort to illustrate to the local population that Coffing’s was no ordinary murder and that killing an American would be treated no less severely than if he were French or English.68 Mıstık Pasha along with the British Vice Consul and a few Ottoman officials were charged with the task of extracting the assassins from their


Johnson, The Life of a Citizen at Home and in Foreign Service, 136. Mıstık was a particular ally of British diplomats who refused to go along with any course of action that would him removed from his post. See Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885". 66 TNA, FO 78/1688, Skene to Bulwar (7 April 1862). 67 Johnson, The Life of a Citizen at Home and in Foreign Service, 137. 68 Ibid., 136. 65


hiding place, which was under the control of an uncooperative rival notable named Ali Bekiroğlu Ali Ağa.69 Yet, after nearly a month without results, Johnson began to indicate that Mıstık and Ali Bekiroğlu were “trifling” with the Ottoman investigators, suggesting that the matter would not be resolved without a show of force.70 In the end, two battalions of the Arabistan army under the leadership of Ahmed Pasha, the Adana governor who had served as a commander in the Crimean War, were sent to accompany Mıstık Pasha in his visit to the mountain in order to apprehend the criminals, who were taken into custody.71 Who Killed the Man in the Hat? The alleged culprits were two young men named Ahmed and Halil. 72 They were arrested and brought to Adana. However, the complications of administering justice immediately became clear when Halil was able to escape into the mountains, breaking his shackles while he, Ahmed, and his guard had stopped for ablutions by a stream.73 In the meantime, however, the authorities were able to interrogate Ahmed, a man approximately twenty-four years of age hailing from the village of Bülke. During his interrogation, Ahmed offered a detailed narrative of the events. According to Morgan, the American missionary who interrogated him, “In personal appearance he corresponds precisely with the description we have always received. He is not much over twenty years of age, short, full-faced, and speaks with a gentle, persuasive tone. There is nothing timid, sullen, nor hardened in his appearance.”74 Ahmed represented himself as a poor mountain boy drawn into a bewildering conspiracy by men who had seduced him with money and misled him into being the accomplice to the murder of a missionary. According to his account, he and


NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Alexandretta (29 April 1862). NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Alexandretta (9 May 1862). 71 NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut (12 May 1862). 72 Halil also appears in the sources as Kaleel and Khalil reflecting English approximations of local pronunciation. 73 Johnson, The Life of a Citizen at Home and in Foreign Service, 139-40. NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut (20 May 1862). 74 ABC 642/11, Morgan to Anderson, Alexandretta (17 May 1862). 70


his friends were bringing timber from the mountain to sell in the village of Çokmerzimen near the coast when he was accosted by three Armenians and propositioned to participate in a robbery that soon was revealed to be an assassination of some men who were spending the night in the nearby village of Nacarlı. Ahmed was a member of the notorious Ulaşlı community that owned the mountain landscape of Gavurdağı. The men had allegedly played upon his mountain pride as an Ulaşlı, shaming him for being afraid to undertake such a venture. They promised him a large sum of money and two shiny pistols each for himself and his friend Halil. The authorities doubted Ahmed’s account, particularly his description of the murder, which occurred at a place called Sarıseki just past the town of Payas. According to Ahmed, the Armenians had shot Coffing and he and Halil had only been involved in hitting the other victims. He justified this using the argument that witnesses reported six gunshots and that, armed with only a rifle as he was, he

Figure 15 Map of the region where Coffing's murder occurred

could not have acted alone with Halil.

There were simply too many bullets in the air for them to have acted alone. This account clashed with some of his previous statements, and the interrogator repeatedly accused him of lying, demanding that he set the story straight. To this he replied, “Since it was a matter of life and death and I was afraid, I hemmed and hawed (geveledim) a little at first, but now I got it straight.


These are the facts.”75 The interrogation document was certified by several tribal notables from local tribal communities such as the Cerids, Tecirlis, and others, including the notorious Ali Bekiroğlu Ali Agha. This account conformed to suspicions that the event was an assassination somehow linked to what had occurred in Hadjin the prior year but seemed at odds with the expectations of officials on the ground. The Armenians Ahmed had implicated in the crime denied even knowing him and claimed that Mıstık Pasha or someone else had instructed Ahmed to provide such a narrative in order to use the incident to take revenge on them in some way. Their testimonies, copies in Ottoman Turkish of which are preserved in the US archives, did not reveal a single iota of involvement with the crime, as they denied knowing the individuals involved.76 Ahmed, far from being the innocent lumberjack he claimed to be, had a reputation in the area for banditry.77 His account also contained inaccuracies, most notably that he claimed that the Armenians had shot Coffing from the right but his wounds indicated that fire came from the left. Coupled with previous alleged admissions of guilt, there was little reason to suspect that anyone but Ahmed and Halil had fired shots on Coffing.78 Yet, there are many subtle indicators that Ahmed’s testimony was based on some version of reality linking the killing to the events in Hadjin the previous summer. The general geography and logistics of the killing conformed to other available evidence. He mentioned encountering Coffing’s party at a stream just before the killing, a fact confirmed by witnesses from Coffing’s party. Ahmed’s mention of the village of Nacarlı where Coffing had indeed spent the night strongly suggested premeditation as this indicated a genuine awareness of where Coffing had BOA, İ-MVL 472/21365, no. 5 (16 Zilkade 1278 [15 May 1862]). NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Adana (23 June 1862), enclosures 1 and 2. 77 ABC, 642/10, Morgan to Anderson, Alexandretta (29 April 1862). 78 ABC, 642/13, Morgan to Anderson, Adana (5 July 1862). 75 76


been. Involvement of some people from Çokmerzimen in the murder is further suggested by the fact that in the Armenian village history of Hadjin written many decades after the events and filled with small inaccuracies, the crime was erroneously identified as having taken place in Çokmerzimen even though it could have been more properly placed at Iskenderun or Payas. 79 Yet the most compelling piece of evidence available, a clue not mentioned by any of the officials involved at the time, lies in the language Ahmed used to identify Coffing. Ahmed alleged that his would-be Armenian accomplices first proposed the crime and described Coffing and his party, saying “There are a few Ottoman-looking (Osmanlı gibi) strangers coming from Adana and among them is a man in a hat (şapkalı).”80 In other words, Ahmed claimed that he was not waiting for a foreigner or missionary per se but rather “a man in a hat,” the same hat that had so symbolically frozen Coffing’s aggressors in Hadjin during the heated moment when it had been accidentally knocked from his head. Of course, a brimmed hat would have been uncommon enough in Ottoman Anatolia at the time to be used as a reliable identifier. 81 What is fascinating in this detail is that the term “man in the hat” or “şapkalı”, which Coffing noted as the way he was referred to in Hadjin and by Kozanoğlu in particular, is a phrasing that seems unconsciously mimicked from another genuine source irrespective of the relative veracity of Ahmed’s testimony. Someone had told Ahmed to kill a man in a hat. Whether Muslim or Christian messengers from Hadjin or even Kozanoğlu himself had relayed the assassination orders, the clues are sufficient to link the assassination to Coffing’s expulsion from Hadjin and the region


One of the inaccuracies suggesting that the account in this book is based primarily on local memory is the indication the Ulysses S. Grant was president at the time of the murder. Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 382-4. 80 BOA, İ-MVL 472/21365, no. 5 (16 Zilkade 1278 [15 May 1862]). 81 W.J. Childs, who wrote an account of traversing Anatolia, including Cilicia, some decades later, noted that foreign men were often referred to as “shapkali.” Childs, Across Asia Minor on Foot, 194.


governed by the Kozanoğlus and more specifically, his attempt to have offending parties punished. This is relevant because following Ahmed’s interrogation and its refutation by the Armenians he had implicated, the investigation changed course dramatically so that neither Armenian involvement nor any link to Kozanoğlu was pursued. This turn was in part the result of Ahmed’s second interrogation weeks later, in which he confessed to having lied about the role of Armenian accomplices in the shooting of Coffing, saying that it was Halil who had done it. When asked why he lied, he said that he was scared of those who were threatening him and that they had instructed him to pin the crime on the Armenians in order to be released. This new testimony did not shed much light onto who might have called for the assassination, as Ahmed cited his only motivation as money. However, it caused a dramatic but somewhat inexplicable shift in focus towards capturing Halil. Johnson, the US Resident Minister Morris, and the ABCFM were pushing for results as well as the punishment of Ahmed, who, subsequent accusations of Halil aside, had now satisfactorily confessed his involvement in the crime. It is not totally possible to sort out the details based on the interrogations of Ahmed or the other individuals involved in this case, because all of them appear to be false. However, it is worth noting that even in a high stakes murder case, Ahmed, the alleged culprit would not normally have much to fear. Such cases were often settled with the payment of blood money by the culprit in the Ottoman context, and Johnson indicated that this was the outcome very much expected by Ahmed who appeared “only a little ashamed” at what he had done.82 However, the case had symbolic meaning that would only later become apparent to the local individuals involved. As a French diplomat noted in a letter to Johnson, the Coffing case was a matter of concern for “all civilized nations (toutes les nations civilisée).”83 Johnson and his European

82 83

Johnson, The Life of a Citizen at Home and in Foreign Service, 140. NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Simon to Johnson, Mogador (11 October 1862).


counterparts had been pushing for a capital sentence from the very beginning, and after a hasty trial, they succeeded in securing execution orders for Ahmed. Yet just as Johnson’s efforts to have some form of justice served were beginning to bring results, tensions between competing political forces on the local levels began to undermine the investigation. The first blow came when Ahmed Pasha, the governor who had eagerly apprehended the assassins, was removed from his post and replaced by his rival Hurşid Pasha. This transfer came immediately on the heels of a showy return to Adana during which Ahmed Pasha led a procession of soldiers right through the town in accompaniment of his prisoner Ahmed. Whether his removal was in response to this conspicuous imperial display or the machination of local forces had conspired to have him replaced, his successor would prove to be less proactive; Johnson reported later that Hurşid Pasha had retired to Marash for the summer, spending his time lounging in cafes in the company of his wife and concubines. Meanwhile, Johnson wrote repeated letters to the Ottoman foreign ministry and Ambassador Edward Joy Morris complaining about Minan (or Abdülminan) Bey, a member of the Adana council (meclis), who he claimed was deliberately disrupting the investigation and had sought to prevent the arrest of the alleged perpetrators. Hurşid Pasha and Minan were allegedly friends. Johnson’s letters reveal a general distrust of all local political figures involved; he even suggested in one letter that Ahmed’s testimonies were perhaps inauthentic. In addition to being threatened by the Muslim notables of the mountain, Armenian men had also been possibly “tampering” with him during his time in the notoriously porous Adana jail.84 By contrast, he placed great trust in Kabuli Pasha, the governor of Syria, and Faik Bey, a commissioner sent from Istanbul specifically for the purposes of resolving the case. These officials would become the leading proponents of dramatic political change in the Cilicia region as a crisis of legitimacy emerged. 84

BOA, İ-MVL 472/21365, no. 1, J.A. Johnson to E.J. Morris, Adana (16 June 1862).


Johnson and the Ottoman officials involved in the case began to doubt whether Mıstık Pasha would ever deliver Halil into the hands of Ottoman authorities, though he was seen as the key to the case. According to Ahmed’s testimony, Halil had managed to escape in part because “he was the son of the uncle of Andırınlıoğlu Ahmed the husband of [Mıstık’s] wife’s sister.”85 This relation was not so close as to indicate direct involvement by Mıstık Pasha per se, but it would certainly discourage the official from exerting an honest effort in the pursuit of Halil. Mıstık had for better or worse been the crux of the investigation from the very beginning. With his unique ability to assert authority over the communities of Gavurdağı, only he could bring the assassins to justice. Yet he exhibited wavering interest in doing so. Mıstık was only willing to deliver the fugitive Halil on his own terms, and he used every moment of decisive action from the government as an opportunity to pursue his own political interests and vendettas among his fearful friends and eternal enemies in the mountains.86 From early on in the case, it was understood that Mıstık could be an obstacle, however, all involved were wary to cross him lest Syria erupt into what Johnson continually refers to as “civil war.”87 As it became increasingly clear that Halil would not be captured so long as direct Ottoman control could not be asserted over the mountain without the involvement of Mıstık Pasha, Johnson began to urge his Ottoman counterparts to act saying, “however the authorities of Payas might trifle with His Excellency, they could not be permitted to trifle with the Government of the United States.”88 Geography was still another factor working against the pursuit of Halil and wearing the patience of Ottoman and foreign officials. Not only did the mountains offer refuge to those who

BOA, İ-MVL 472/21365, no. 5 (16 Zilkade 1278 [15 May 1862]). NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Adana (16 August 1862). 87 This language was in no doubt influenced by the US government also at that time being engaged in a civil war as well as in reference to previous disturbances in Marash and in particular the turmoil in Mount Lebanon in 1860, which culminated in the use of military force by the Ottoman government. 88 NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Alexandretta (9 May 1862). 85 86


wished to escape the clutches of the Ottoman state, but the plains also produced a miserable and malarial environment of operation. “Fevers lurk in every marsh and stagnant pool for hundreds of miles along the coast and on the plains which skirt the Taurus range and the Giaour Dagh (Gavurdağı),” wrote an exacerbated Consul Johnson in August of 1862 from Iskenderun with his wife and child very ill back in Beirut. All of Johnson’s personnel as well as Faik Bey had become stricken with malaria. “But I would willingly have the fever hard (his emphasis),” he wrote, “if I could catch Kaleel, see the two assassins executed and then return to my family.”89 Within a few weeks, Johnson had the fever and the execution order he hoped for, but no Halil. He wrote a hurried dispatch to Morris saying, “fever, fatigue and loss of sleep for a week do not enable one to wield a satisfactory pen.”90 Johnson remained too ill to attend the eagerly awaited execution of Ahmed that he had so ardently insisted upon; he sent in his place a local man from Tarsus named Abdullah Debbas who served as the American Vice Consul of the region. Afterwards, American missionary publications reported that justice had been served as Ahmed, the man who had murdered one of their own, had been tried and hanged in Adana. 91 Both American and Ottoman archival sources indicate that indeed Ahmed was executed in the fall of 1862, a sentence not always carried out in the Ottoman justice system, but the manner of his execution was not nearly as neat as reported.92 Debbas’s account portended an inauspicious and messy ending to the story of Jackson Coffing: The Firman was presented and publicly read after which the sound of trumpet was heard, and the prisoner appeared in chains followed by one hundred regular troops. H.E. Khoorshid Pasha and his suite, the European Consular agents and merchants and myself followed in great and solemn procession to the bridge. H.E. the Pasha stopped at the police station just opposite the bridge, whereas all the rest including myself proceeded across the bridge to the other side of the river, the place of the execution.


NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Alexandretta (12 August 1862). NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, (20 August 1862). 91 American and Foreign Christian Union, "Missionary Intelligence," The Christian World 14, no. 2 (February 1863): 59. 92 BOA, İ-MVL 472/21365, no. 16 (20 Safer 1279 [17 August 1862]). 90


After the criminal had been surrounded by the armed soldiers, the chains were taken from his neck and feet, a jug of water was given him to drink and he was allowed to perform his ablutions and prayers which lasted for about half an hour. Afterwards they made him kneel in the center having bound his eyes with a white handkerchief and in the presence of a great multitude of people, about 5000 spectators, at 30 minutes to 12 o’clock, was struck from behind by a bad hand and a bad knife which did only cut the skin of his neck. The criminal having received the first sword blow loudly exclaimed ‘La ilah ill’ Allah’ (there is no God but God) and fell on the ground on his face. But the executioners got over his shoulders and placed another man over his feet and with his clumsy knife in seven minutes was able in the most barbarous and most horrible way to carve his head off his body. All the numerous spectators, mostly Christians, trembled at the sight thereof, although great tranquility and calmness seized throughout the country and I did not hear a single word uttered by any man against the execution, but I heard most of the people curse the executioner for his horrid manner of cutting off the head, and many people saying “Padishah sag olsoun,” i.e. May the Sultan live! The murderer’s head was then placed by his side near his arm and the people were dispersed.93

Pulling Back the Veil “The greatest suffering at the death of a friend does not occur immediately upon the event. It comes when the world have forgotten that you have cause to weep,” wrote Josephine Coffing in September of 1864 from the ABCFM mountain summer home at Kessab in Northern Syria.94 More than two years after the death of her husband Jackson, the second killer identified in the murder had yet to be captured, and although the authorities still pursued the case, they had in many ways forgotten Coffing’s cause to weep. Following Ahmed’s execution on the banks of the Seyhan River, the sole direction of the case had become apprehending his accomplice Halil. There was no further consideration of motivation for the assassination or who had ordered the hit. Halil had escaped to territory where his recapture was complicated by the defiance of local notables, and the full efforts of Ottoman officials became less concentrated on solving the mystery and more on asserting state hegemony in Gavurdağı and its recalcitrant local notables. These were Ali Bekiroğlu Ali Ağa and Küçük Alioğlu Mıstık Pasha, the former being outwardly 93

NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut, Syria (5 October 1862). ABC 641/240, Josephine Coffing to Anderson, Kessab (7 September 1864). Coffing pulled this quotation from a book by a prominent Protestant pastor. Nehemiah Adams, Catharine (Boston: J.E. Tilton, 1859), 25. 94


hostile to the Ottoman administration and the latter being the defiant hereditary governor of Payas. Fears that the use of military force or the removal of Mıstık to reapprehend Halil would result in the eruption of violence in the region had guided Ottoman policy to work with rather than against Mıstık, who was sometimes cooperative but never successful in delivering Halil. Johnson was hopeful that his fear of the US navy and the decisiveness it had shown in activities against pirates in North Africa some decades prior would persuade him to cooperate. In August 1862, Kabuli Effendi warned Mıstık that he had two months to arrest Halil before further measures would be taken.95 When Mıstık was then temporarily removed from his posts and his sons were also removed from their positions as müdürs of Çay and Kurtkulağı, Mıstık pledged to capture Halil but only after their positions had been restored.96 Mıstık’s household was allowed to maintain its presence in the region during the coming months as tensions continued. Enraged by the execution of his son, Ahmed’s father had reportedly “shaved his head and given himself up to robbery and murder and vows that he will take the lives of those who have brought about the execution of his son.” The situation was also shaky for American missionaries that continued to push into new communities of the Cilicia region. In one instance, Mıstık unsuccessfully attempted to support missionaries who were driven out of Çokmerzimen by Armenians there who feared the trouble that missionary presence would bring.97 Although he was the most powerful player in local politics, Mıstık struggled to see his will enforced. In July of 1863, he wrote a letter to the Ottoman government reporting that he had sent a group of some 150 horsemen into the mountain to find Halil, where they clashed


NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Adana (16 August 1862). NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut (25 October 1862). 97 ABC, 642/14, Morgan to Anderson, Antioch (14 November 1862). 96


with a group of mountaineers resulting in casualties on both sides.98 He later made additional offers to use military force under his command to retrieve Halil. Yet, even in this proposition, there were doubts that Mıstık actually had any intention of catching the assassin. Consul Johnson and Kabuli Effendi began to advocate the complete removal of Mıstık and his family from the region for about a year from fall 1862 onward.99 Of course, doing so would be delicate. As Kabuli noted in his conversations with the Grand Vizier Keçecizade Fuat Pasha, a figure known for his use of military force in stamping out unrest in Mount Lebanon a few years prior, Mıstık could not be removed until reforms were put in place to surround the entire area with loyal governors and a military presence.100 Later, in debates surrounding the position of Mıstık Pasha, Fuat Pasha would maintain this position; according to Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, an historian and statesman who will soon enter this story, Fuat Pasha told Kabuli Efendi that “Now is not the time to make an issue out of Payas.” 101 The Ottoman statesman was unwilling to make a larger conflict out of the assassination of a single missionary by a mountain bandit. Despite these worries, Kabuli Pasha arranged for Mıstık’s removal, confident that a strong showing of force could subdue the region. In November of 1863, Hurşid Pasha, the governor of Adana, visited Mıstık in Payas ostensibly to offer aid in curtailing brigandage. A small banquet was prepared. As they dined, hundreds of troops gathered around the area and subsequently descended on Mıstık and his men. Johnson reported that “the prisoners were sent to Alexandretta tied in disgraceful manner on miserable donkeys” and from there were sent to


NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Debbas to Johnson, Tarsous (21 July 1862). NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut (25 October 1862). 100 NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut (11 Nov 1862). 101 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 132. 99


Istanbul, thus bringing an end to the long reign of Mıstık and his kin in the Payas region. 102 In pursuit of Halil, Ottoman officials had adopted a measure that would now require them to establish a new order in Gavurdağı. The consequences of Mıstık’s arrest were far-reaching and made manifest every prior fear about social upheaval and civil war. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha referred to Mıstık as a “veil of illusion (hayâl perdesi),” a thin veneer of order that once pulled back, revealed the chaos and unrest that lay in wait. Mıstık’s son Dede had escaped, and the second most important political player in Gavurdağı, Ali Bekiroğlu Ali Ağa, took to the roads around Payas with his allies and immediately set about harassing and robbing travelers that had previously passed in relative peace.103 Instructions from Fuad Pasha to arrest Halil by all means necessary in January of 1864 promised further military escalation.104 Despite the use of diplomatic and subsequent military means to capture Dede, brigandage continued in the absence of a strong local or central authority capable of controlling the mountain. Whereas a local governor had once served as a barrier to capturing the assassin, it became increasingly clear that only the installation of a new government would achieve this goal. As for Halil, who had been rumored to be wandering around various parts of the Arab provinces from Baghdad to Kilis to Syria, he would eventually be captured some years later.105 He had in fact remained in the area, living on the margins of society, protected by the local community and possibly the person of Ali Bekiroğlu Ali Ağa. He was safe enough that he visited


NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut (18 November 1863). Cevdet, Tezâkir, 132-33. Mehmet Akıf Terzi chose a variation on this image as the title of a relatively recent history of Gavurdağı. Terzi, Gâvurdağı'nın Bulanık tarihindeki sır perdesi. See also Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 57. 104 "Mehmed Fuad to Edward J. Morris - January 20, 1864," in Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1865), 378. 105 NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6, Johnson to Morris, Beirut (11 Nov 1862); (1 January 1864); Johnson to Morris, Beirut (22 March 1864). 103


his wife regularly throughout his period as a fugitive.106 His capture would only come on the heels of a momentous war over Cilicia’s geography. An incident that began with the murder of a meddling missionary, had brought the Ottoman administration to the limits of its political efficacy in the highlands of Cilicia dominated by complex tribal networks. Though it did not initially involve these tribes per se, political developments of the case built towards a larger conflict. During the Coffing investigation, the Ottoman authorities had already found it necessary to delay the movement of pastoralist communities towards their summer pastures in order to maintain order.107 With the supposed culprits having come from the Ulaşlıs of Gavurdağı, the notables of which impeded the investigation and now harbored bandits in the mountains, the Ottoman government was as it had in the past facing a potential confrontation with the whole of tribal society in Cilicia. In 1865, the Ottoman Interior Ministry began preparation for a military campaign to subdue the entire Cilicia region and its tribal communities by removing the local notables from their political positions of power and resettling nomadic communities around areas of winter pasture in Çukurova where they could be controlled. This military campaign, which was called the Fırka-ı Islâhiye or Reform Division, would achieve goals long pursued by Ottoman administration such as securing the orderly taxation and conscription of local communities, preserving security, and encouraging the cultivation of new soil. It was equally a battle against the old political order and an attempt to drive a wedge between local communities and the derebeys that had long reigned supreme. It was also most fundamentally a battle for the mountains and in that regard for the control of movements of the communities that were their seasonal inhabitants. BOA, İ-MVL 472/21365 no. 4 (20 Cemazeyilevvel 1284 [19 September 1867]); no. 17 (29 Temmuz 1284 [10 August 1868]). 107 BOA, A-MKT-UM 567/9, Ahmed to Sadaret, Marash (21 Zilkade 1278 [20 May 1862]). 106


These imperatives were embodied by an emerging notion of Ottoman civilization and one of its leading proponents, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha. Educated in the traditional disciplines of Islamic learning and heavily influenced by the ideas of the times regarding civilization, progress, and statecraft, he had written the definitive work of history on the Ottoman Empire in the decades leading up to the Tanzimat during his time as state chronicler that detailed the long struggle of the Ottoman state with its derebey clients.108 Wıth a fresh appointment as Vali of Aleppo in 1864, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha now presided over a large province that had subsumed the Adana region and was strengthened by the recent provincial reforms. With this appointment, Ahmed Cevdet would pass the threshold from writing history to making history through his activities overseeing the settlement of tens of thousands of pastoralists, a process that however incomplete it would remain, would fundamentally alter the sociopolitical structure of Cilicia and its ecology. The story of the Coffıngs and their ill-fated mission into the mountains was the forgotten catalyst of these events. Whether or not it was significant in and of itself is a matter of perspective. What it does reveal, however, is the extent to which the geography of Cilicia that fostered the various forms of transhumance had a pervasive impact on what occurred in that region. It is more common for environmental historiography to treat such factors on a larger time scale, exploring the ways in which almost imperceptible changes in climate and geography shape the course of human history and the shape of human society. In this chapter, I have offered a different view, exploring the mundane yet profound ways in which geography impacted the daily decisions of historical actors. In the process, I have also attempted to illustrate the complex relations governing politics in the Cilicia region and the ways in which geography differentiated the political terrain. The details of these relations emphasize the layers of action and intention For more on Cevdet’s education, Richard L. Chambers, "The Education of a Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Âlim, Ahmed Cevdet Paşa," International Journal of Middle East Studies 4, no. 4 (1973). Cevdet’s notion of civilization as expressed in Tarih and his memoirs will be discussed at greater length in Chapter 3. 108


behind historical events that rarely find their way into the archive. In this regard, the Coffing case is important for understanding the nature of political and social relations on the eve of immense reforms both in terms of imagining how they were but also how they became and they would become.


CHAPTER 3 THE BOOK AND THE SWORD: AHMED CEVDET AND THE CIVILIZING MISSION Pâdişâh size bir kitâb ile bir kılıç yollamış. Kitâba itâ’at edenlerin kılıç ile işi yok ve illâ kılıç hazırdır. The Sultan has sent to you a book and a sword. Those who obey the book have no business with the sword, and otherwise, the sword is ready. 1 Warning circulated by the Reform Division Hakkımızda devlet etmiş fermanı Ferman padişahın, dağlar bizimdir 2

They say the state made a decree about us The decree is the Sultan’s, but the mountains are ours. A line from the poetry of local bard Dadaloğlu

During the summer of 1865, Ahmet Cevdet Pasha, scholar, statesman, and newly-appointed Governor of Aleppo, was miles away from his family in Istanbul.3 “Currently we are with the imperial army encamped on the high hills near Iskenderun, and thanks be to God, all of us are in good health. I have no troubles other than being apart from you,” he wrote in a letter to his wife Adviye Rabiye soon after his arrival in Cilicia.4 He would spend the better part of that summer with an army encampment, traveling “from mountain to mountain”5 in the Gavurdağı region known for banditry and deep-seated hostility towards Ottoman authority. His task was to convince or force the tribal communities of the region to settle and register their populations with


Cevdet, Tezâkir, 168. Öztelli, Köroğlu ve Dadaloğlu, 81. 3 Cevdet was appointed as Vali of Aleppo to implementing new reform following the Provincial Law of 1864. It appears that Aleppo was enlarged to include Adana, Marash, and Urfa specifically for the purposes of settling the tribes in those areas. BOA, İ-DH 545/37906 (24 Şaban 1282 [12 January 1866]). Miscellaneous correspondence of Cevdet Pasha with his family primarily during his time in Aleppo is available at the Ottoman archives in the Yıldız Palace collection. 4 BOA, Y-EE 142/7, no. 12 (6 Muharrem 1282 [1 June 1865]). 5 BOA, Y-EE 142/7, no. 11 (15 Muharrem 1282 [10 June 1865]). 2


the government.6 Yet, it was not the threat of brigands and rebels but rather the danger of Cilicia’s notorious summer heat that seemed to concern his family. “There’s nothing to worry about,” he assured. “Thank God that even though the days are a bit hot, we set up camp in high places. They receive air and one can breathe there (hava alır ve teneffüs olunur), and so we are in no condition to complain.”7 Concern about the changing weather travelled in both directions. “It’s starting to get hot. Don’t stay in Istanbul,” Cevdet warned his wife. “Although it’s even hotter here, we are setting up camp in elevated and open places and then leaving.” 8 Noting the suffering of some of the other officials in the party, Cevdet boasted as if invigorated by nature’s challenge that “for someone who never summers outside of the Bosphorus9, spending the summer in such a dusty dirty place is a bit difficult. However, since I’ve experienced more heat and discomfort before, I pay no mind to such minor things.”10 The composure displayed by this middle-aged bureaucrat in letters to family should not obscure the fact that Cilicia was an adventure for Ahmed Cevdet Pasha. As an Islamic scholar and historian born in the town of Lovech (modern-day Bulgaria) who had spent most of his life in the Ottoman capital, Cevdet was entering the unfamiliar territory of the Cilician highlands and the massive expanse of plain that would serve as the new home for tens of thousands of pastoralists and immigrants. “Çukurova is an unknown world (bilmediğimiz bir âlem),” he would write in awe of the natural landscape that surrounded him. “The tips of the spears of passing 6

Cevdet mentioned such activities only occasionally in letters to his family. See: BOA, Y-EE 142/41 (7 Safer 1282 [2 July 1865]). He appears as a loving father eagerly gathering gifts for his family and routinely sending “kisses on the eye” to his son Ali Sedad and his two recently-born daughters Fatma Aliye and Emine Semiye. Cevdet’s gifts would include Turkmen wool carpets and a beautiful little foal for Ali Sedad, local products of the region’s rich pastoralist economy. BOA, Y-EE 142/7, no. 14 (16 Muharrem 1282 [11 June 1865]); Y-EE 142/8, no. 1 (11 Rebiulevvel 1282 [4 August 1865]). 7 BOA, Y-EE 142/7, no. 14 (16 Muharrem 1282 [11 June 1865]). 8 BOA, Y-EE 142/7, no. 10 (22 Muharrem 1282 [17 June 1865]). 9 The historical center of Ottoman Istanbul is located at the southernmost point of the Bosphorus on the Golden Horn. It was popular during the nineteenth century for well-to-do Ottomans during this period to retreat to summer homes in the cleaner and less crowded villages of the northern Bosphorus that are washed by cool air from the Black Sea. 10 BOA, Y-EE 142/7, no. 21 (19 Safer 1282 [14 July 1865]).


Kurdish horsemen cannot be seen. It is as if the power of the vegetation displays all of its majesty and splendor here.” At first glance, it was a veritable paradise. Cevdet remarked that “even if it does not rain, the plains are nourished by the gentle dew that descends upon the earth at night,” as if to suggest a perfect state of nature with clear streams and brooks running through “emerald-green meadows (zümrüd gibi çemenler).” However, there was trouble in paradise. With a tone of apprehension, he added “even if the francolins taking flight all around and the herds of gazelle bounding to and fro add cheerfulness/prosperity (şenlik) to this charming prairie (mürgzâr-e letâfet), the wild boars as well as the various snakes that one meets at every turn bring fear/savageness (vahşet).”11 There were human hazards as well in the form of seminomadic tribes that dominated the landscape. Cevdet lamented, “What good is it when because of its being the roaming grounds (cevelângâh) of tribes, there is no sign or indication of agriculture or human labor (insan emeği) to be found?”12 The line that Ahmed Cevdet Pasha treaded through Çukurova seemed to trace the ambiguous threshold separating the menace of a dark and ancient swamp from a bright and verdant frontier that the region could become. Ahmed Cevdet and the Reform Division or Fırka-i Islâhiye were in the midst of a decisive battle over geography and indeed ecology with the local communities of the Cilicia region. By dislodging tribal communities from the mountain, regulating or eliminating the practice of seasonal migration, and encouraging the cultivation of cotton in the Çukurova plain, the Ottoman administration was to enforce, at least in theory, the yet-unimplemented reforms of the Tanzimat period, collecting taxes, enlisting soldiers, and playing a role in the quotidian life of Cilicia as never before. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha’s rare position as an important intellectual presiding over aggressive provincial restructuring allows the activities of the Reform Division to The deliberate juxtaposition of şenlik and vahşet with their dual meanings illustrates the paradox of “wilderness” as both opportunity and hazard in the eyes of civilization as such. 12 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 170. 11


provide a unique window onto the links between state theory and practice during the Tanzimat period. The notion of using an army for reform or ıslah rather than mere conquest or pacification reflects the relatively early stages of an “Ottoman civilizing mission” within the mindset of Tanzimat and post-Tanzimat Ottoman statesmen like Cevdet. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, lead commissioner of the Reform Division, was one of the principal intellectual figures within the development of an Ottoman conception of civilization or medeniyet that would come to inform decades of imperial policy. Perhaps because of his background as a historian, the reports and accounts of Ahmed Cevdet Pasha are unusually rich in detail and commentary when compared with those of his contemporaries, revealing layers of consciousness that are usually elusive in Ottoman sources of the time. However, the Reform Division typified a new trajectory that emerged wherein the longstanding civilizational and moral superiority of the Ottoman administration vis-à-vis its tribal subjects attained a sense of moral obligation.13 Increasingly, late Ottoman discourses regarding nomads and religious minorities have been seen as reflecting a colonial mentality similar to those of European contemporaries. 14 In order to evaluate this comparison, I argue that it is necessary not just to study the words of Ottoman statesmen in Istanbul but also examine how state practice was carried out on the periphery. In the next two chapters, I discuss Ottoman settlement policies in Çukurova and the Reform Division’s use of force in achieving settlement goals. Ottoman policy in the Cilician countryside may in some ways resemble settler colonialism, but the categories between settler and indigenous become extremely blurred, especially in light of settlement’s terrible impact on 13

As a contrast, some nineteenth century accounts of battles with tribal communities such as Yezdis in Eastern Anatolia reflect more longstanding sentiment of superiority maintained by Ottoman administrators; however, these accounts are framed in the language of conquest and subjugation rather than reform. BOA, HAT 1333/51988 (20 Safer 1253 [26 May 1837]). 14 See Deringil, "'They Live in a State of Nomadism and Savagery': The Late Ottoman Empire and the Post-Colonial Debate."; Makdisi, "Rethinking Ottoman Imperialism: Modernity, Violence and the Cultural Logic of Ottoman Reform."; Faika Çelik, ""Civilizing Mission" in the Late Ottoman Discourse: The Case of Gypsies," Oriente Moderno 93, no. 2 (2013).


the people for whom land was registered and houses were built. This basic difference emerges from the involuntary nature of this settlement, which was contrary to the understandings of health in the Cilicia region. This chapter explores the underlying logic of the Reform Division and its activities in Cilicia and explains what they meant for the populations it targeted and their relationship with their lived environment.15 The dual goal of undermining the power of local elite while bringing Cilician populations into a more governable state through settlement became above all an effort to tame the geography of Cilicia and people who used it. In other words, it was an attempt to impose a standardized system of governance on a differentiated population and geography accustomed to a political, social, and economic order structured according to the specificities of the Cilicia region, undoing what Karen Barkey refers to as the “segmented” imperial rule that defined early modern Ottoman statecraft.16 While the immediate influence of the derebeys17 and their political networks in Cilicia were ultimately curtailed with relative ease through a combination of cooption and combat, reshaping an ecological order predicated on mobility to conform to a model of civilized and settled agriculture would prove more challenging. These challenges will be discussed further in Chapter 4. Due to a thematic focus, I will not offer a chronological narrative of the Reform Division’s activities. Gould’s dissertation provides an excellent summary of the different phases and progression of events, and this section of the dissertation by contrast seeks to highlight the less-studied and discursive aspects of Cevdet’s narrative and the documentation surrounding forced settlement. See Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 74-119. For readers of Turkish, transliterated publications of Ahmed Cevdet Pasha’s two similar narratives of the Reform Division from Cevdet’s Tezâkir and Marûzât are also available. See Cevdet, Tezâkir; Ahmet Cevdet and Yusuf Halaçoğlu, Marûzât (Istanbul: Çağrı Yayınları, 1980). In addition to these accounts, an earlier version of Cevdet’s reports on the Reform Division is kept at Atatürk Kitaplığı. See Ahmed Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha," Muallim Cevdet Yazmaları B.31/956 (Atatürk Kitaplığı, 1865). This version along with documents form the Ottoman archives as well as French, British and American sources will be given some priority in this chapter. 16 As Barkey argues, Ottoman rule did not involve aggressive attempts making political relations uniform across the empire. This is part of her discussion of how the strategies of nation-states differ from those of empires. Karen Barkey, Empire of difference : the Ottomans in comparative perspective (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 12-14. 17 Discussed in Chapter 1. The derebeys were local elite that maintained hereditary titles from the Ottoman government and often ruled in a semi-autonomous fashion. A rough European equivalent might be that of the “lord.” 15


The greatest failures of the Reform Division’s ambitious policies would not be attributable to economic or cultural causes but rather plain ecological realities constraining settlement in a region such as Cilicia. As Ahmed Cevdet Pasha’s letters to his wife underscored, he was well aware of the links between mobility and health in this region and that seasonal migration was undertaken to avoid malaria. Thus the forced settlement of seasonally-migratory communities and its disastrous impacts must not be viewed as the product of modernist naiveté. Nor as will be shown was it mere indifference. The Reform Division comprised a deliberate attempt to contain and moreover mobilize a recalcitrant population in a battle against a malarial geography, a battle that no matter how costly, would become the defining feature of a rural policy that would stretch beyond the Empire into the Turkish Republic in the sparsely populated and vast hinterlands of Anatolia as civilization gave way to the nation and the mobile pastoralists of mountains gave way to peasants and villagers on the plain. A Revolting Geography Humans are civilized in nature (medeniuttab`), meaning that they cannot live separately like beasts (behaim gibi), but rather they need to help each other by forming societies (cemiyet) from place to place. These human societies are of various orders and the society of tent-dwelling (himeneşin) tribes is of the lowest order (edna derece), which, by procuring the basic human needs, reach the aim of procreation—the fruit of the tree of life. However, they are deprived of knowledge, the productive sciences, and all the complete human attributes that are the result of the shape and form of civilization (medeniyet). Just as village people (ehl-i kura) are considered to be forsaken by the proper influences and results of civilization when compared with the inhabitants of large cities, [tent-dwelling tribes] likewise remain far from civilization in comparison with village people. 18 Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, Tarih Vol. 1

Because Ahmed Cevdet Pasha was himself a historian, his writings regarding the Reform Division and its activities are far from typical of accounts issued by Ottoman governors, bureaucrats, and military personnel. On one hand, their readability and depth of description, commentary, and reflection go well beyond the customary reports in the archive. On the other 18

Cevdet, Tarih-i Cevdet, 15.


hand, they are clearly constructed with an eye not just to portraying the events in a particular way, as all reports are, but to contribute to the writing of the events in question into the pages of history. While Cevdet’s writings on the Reform Division were ultimately published in multiple versions, earlier manuscript copies reflect the evolution of his narrative regarding the costly and transformative settlement campaign. One manuscript, a report on the Reform Division’s activities in Gavurdağı and Kozan (the mountainous hinterland regions of Cilicia) reflects this evolution in striking terms.19 The original title Cevdet gave to the report, “Some geographical circumstances of the places controlled and reformed by the Reform Division (Fırka-i Islâhiye maarifetiyle zabt ve ıslah olunan yerlerin baz-ı ahval-ı coğrafiyesi),” was rather conventional. However, in this manuscript, he crossed out the word “geographical (coğrafiye)” replacing it with the word ihtilaliye, thereby dramatically changing the title (see Figure 16). Conventionally, ihtilal (‫)اختالل‬20 means disruption or disorder. However, in the sense intended by Cevdet Pasha, ihtilal was intended as a type of rebellion or “revolution.” In fact, he uses the same word to describe the French Revolution in his twelve-volume history of the Ottoman state and its world. In other words, with a single modification the “geographical circumstances” of Cilicia were somehow transformed into “revolutionary events.”

19 20

This manuscript is kept at Atatürk Kitaplığı in Istanbul. Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha." Not to be confused with the similar sounding Arabic verb ihtilal (‫ )احتالل‬meaning “to occupy.”


Figure 16 Image of Ahmed Cevdet’s report on Reform Division with coğrafiye crossed out and replaced by ihtilaliye Yet, in referencing ihtilal, Cevdet was certainly not referring to any “revolutionary” activities on the part of the Reform Division per se, though he certainly considered its achievements momentous. Indeed, Cevdet saw the French Revolution as a turning point in world history but in a thoroughly negative sense. The revolution represented danger, destruction and disorder for the Ottoman statesman.21 Thus, the ihtilal Cevdet spoke of in his account of the Reform Division was far from some glorious republican overthrow of Cilicia’s feudal order and its succession by the modern Ottoman bureaucracy. Rather, Cevdet meant the open rebellion of an entire region and its inhabitants. And by easily substituting rebellion for geography, Cevdet underlined the logic wherein a mountainous region defined by its rebellious nature would be pacified and reformed by the steady hand of the state. The political ecology of Ottoman Cilicia was governed by the seasonal migration of local communities that maintained a large degree of autonomy from the government in Istanbul (see 21

Christoph K. Neumann, Araç tarih amaç Tanzimat: Tarih-i Cevdet'in siyasi anlami, trans. Meltem Arun (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2000), 138-39.


Chapter 1). Tenuous Ottoman control in the mountainous areas of Cilicia such as Kozan and Gavurdağı was predicated on the cooperation of tribal notables, local elites, and in particular, a semi-dynastic class of officials called derebeys that derived power from their local legitimacy. The activities of the Reform Division, which entailed the removal of these local officials and the settlement of the nomadic communities they presided over, were thus represented as a struggle between two unequal parties: the forces of barbarism and backwardness embedded in the local geography of Cilicia on one hand and the bearers of civilization leading the army of a newlyreformed Ottoman Empire on the other. This narrative conforms to a variation on the trope of Ottoman decline that gained particular currency during the Tanzimat period. Before becoming Governor of Aleppo, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha had played a leading role in the development of this narrative as a historian in the employ of the Ottoman government. His twelve-volume history on the decades leading up to the abolition of the Janissaries in 1826 documented the Ottoman state’s struggles with the forces of decentralization and decay represented by external rivals, internal political groups, and agents of local autonomy. Within the narrative of Cevdet’s Tarih, a broader understanding of civilization emerged around the Ottoman state, and while considerable space was devoted to prominent figures of European civilization such as Napoleon, the classical institutions of Ottoman governance were at the center.22 Ahmed Cevdet was heavily influenced by the ideas of Ibn Khaldun, whose work was popular among Ottoman intellectuals, especially after its translation into Turkish during the late eighteenth-century.23 Cevdet had translated parts of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah and relied on Khaldun’s theories not only in Tarih but also in his first-hand observations about the Reform

22 23

For a discussion of Cevdet on Napoleon, see ibid., 133-41. Kasaba, A Moveable Empire, 3-4.


Division itself.24 Khaldun’s work is known for its dialectical understanding of society based on a dichotomy between settled and nomadic or civilized and barbaric life. Writing in the context of medieval Arab politics and historiography, he expressed this dichotomy in a tension between settled society or ḥaḍāra and nomadic societies or badāwa that persisted outside the sphere of state hegemony. The harsh conditions of primitive life gave nomadic societies a higher degree of cohesion, which Khaldun called aṣabiyya or in Turkish, asabiyet. Settled societies were by contrast vulnerable to incursions from without due to their moral and economic decline along with the physical weakness that accompanied luxury. Cevdet’s continual reference to Ibn Khaldun and his terminology within his early writings and Tarih in particular has led some scholars to conclude that he had simply adopted Khaldun’s theories and applied them to the Ottoman context.25 However, as Christoph Neumann points out, Cevdet’s use of Khaldun’s terms and his treatment of Ottoman history reflect at times unusual analogies that would suggest a new interpretation of Khaldun or at the very least the messiness of Khaldun’s categories when applied to specific contexts.26 Cevdet also inverts the relationships between important concepts such as education and civilization, arguing that the latter is a product of the former in contrast to Khaldun. Most significantly, Cevdet’s understanding of civilization is founded on the premise that the inevitability of rise and fall – expressed in the life cycle of states described by Ibn Khaldun – could be broken by reform.27 As with any work of interpretation, his reading of Khaldun involved the appropriation of concepts and alteration of meanings to fit his own societal context, and in doing so he created a distinctly Ottoman or Islamic vocabulary with which to narrate a state-centered vision of progress. More on this in Chapter 4. Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 182. See Ümit Meriç, Cevdet Paşanın cemiyet ve devlet görüsü (Istanbul: Ötüken Yayinevi, 1975), 7-10. 26 For example, Cevdet describes the Janissaries – the very guardians of civilized state power – using the concept of asabiyet, a trait normally Ibn Khaldoun ascribed solely to nomadic societies. 27 Neumann, Araç tarih amaç Tanzimat: Tarih-i Cevdet'in siyasi anlami, 176-83. 24 25


Within this view, Cevdet adopted an environmentally-deterministic understanding of Cilicia’s savageness. In his conception of the Reform Division and its mission, Cevdet sought to frame the mountains of Cilicia as geographical spaces inhabited by semi-autonomous communities lacking civilization. “Since the time of conquest (hîn-i fetihden beri), Gavurdağı — that is, Cebel-i Bereket28 — has been in a state of rebellion (hâl-i isyân),” he wrote. “The government of the Ottoman state (Devlet-i aliye) has never entered the mountains of Kozan.” According to Cevdet Pasha, these mountains had persisted in a “state of rebellion (hâl-i serkeşî),” rendering Gavurdağı a “den of thieves (eşkiyâ yuvası)” and a place where murderers (cânîler) could “escape the clutches of the state (hükûmetin pençesinden kurtuluyor),” all while rebellious tribes roamed the wilderness. In his description of the plans for the campaign in a subsequent letter, Ahmed Cevdet developed a more complete and elaborate justification for bringing the land and people of Cilicia under the control of the Ottoman state, one typical of colonial discourses. Cilicia’s uncivilized character was rooted in the human and terrestrial geography; the tribes of Cilicia were Seljuks that joined with the Ottomans during the conquest but “because the inhabitants were savage and the terrain difficult (ahâlisi vahşî ve yerleri sarp olduğundan),” most of the region was never brought under Ottoman rule.29 Thus, Cevdet claimed, in the mountains of Gavurdağı (itself literally meaning “Gavur/Kafir30 Mountain”), the people had “remained in a state of ignorance (cehâlet içinde kalmış idiler),” attributing to the inhabitants of the region a status of savagery.31

The common name for the region, Gâvurdağı, has the connotations of being the land or “mountain of infidels,” so the name Cebel-i Bereket, “mountain of blessing,” could be used as a more formal designation or even be seen as euphemistic. Today the region is officially known as Nur Dağları, i.e. “light mountains.” More below. 29 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 108. 30 A term applied to non-Muslims and often to Christians. In this case, it was commonly believed by individuals such as Ahmed Cevdet that the Turkmen and Kurdish tribes of the mountains —like the Armenian Christian populations—were not true Muslims. This attribution also appears in the reports of European travelers, for example: Favre and Mandrot, Voyage en Cilicie, 17. More in Chapter 7. 31 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 111-12. 28


One of the more striking statements he made about the manners and customs of the region’s inhabitants regards a segment of the population that he deemed to be of Turkish origin (fil-asıl türk), which had taken on the abhorrent manners and customs of their Kurdish neighbors, meaning that they were living a more nomadic lifestyle conducive to acts of brigandage. 32 He maintained this distinction when differentiating between the different tribes of Cilicia, saying “when compared with the Kurds [of the region], the Turkmens were the much lesser of two evils (çok ehven idi).”33 Within this idea was contained an interesting distinction between a Turkish ethnic origin and a civilized, “Turkish” way of life juxtaposed with the uncivilized “Kurdishness” that resulted from the habitation of Anatolia’s mountain regions.34 Meanwhile, the good settled inhabitants of the region such as Farsaks35 of the mountains of Kozan were imprisoned by geography and the unruly autonomy of the tribes and local notables that surrounded them.36 Cevdet’s understanding of sexual mores as expressed in his views of Cilician society reflects one way in which his writings bent Khaldunian understandings of decadence to argue for the forcible civilization of Cilicia.37 For Khaldun, the heart of civilization rotted with moral depravity; but for Cevdet moral decay lay on the uncivilized frontier of the empire. He noted that tribal leaders frequently exceeded the four-wife limit imposed by Hanafi law, mentioning one


Ibid., 125-27. Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 120. For more on tribes of Cilicia and official discourses about their relationship to civilization or medeniyet, see BOA, İ-MMS 30/1256, no. 1, Vechi to Muhacirin Komisyonu (29 Kanunuevvel 1279 [10 January 1864]). 34 These categories, while antecedents of present day Turkish and Kurdish identities, should not be understood as synonymous. 35 The term Farsak refers to the local Muslim inhabitants of the Kozan/Feke region who were neither Christian nor nomadic. According to one report, they comprised approximately 7,000 to 8,000 households. BOA, İ-MMS 30/1256, no. 5 (23 Kanunuevvel 1280 [4 January 1865]). 36 Ahmed Cevdet’s pity for this group is expressed using words such as “miskîn” and “bîçâre,” standing in stark contrast to his harsh language in describing the rest of the region’s population. Cevdet, Tezâkir, 112-14. 37 Ibn Khaldun notably ascribed all forms of social corruption to the effects of civilization and luxury normally found in the city. Ibn Khaldun and Franz Rosenthal, The Muqaddimah: an introduction to history (New York: Pantheon Books, 1958), 469. 33


who had married as many as nine wives without divorcing his earlier wives and that many others had pursued additional unions without a formal marriage.38 Another supposedly abhorrent practice he mentions was that of the Tecirli tribe, among whom marriages frequently occurred after pregnancy.39 Yet, the uncivilized practices of Cilicia’s tribal societies went beyond mere moral looseness. Cevdet described the completely perplexing family codes among the Tecirli that allowed women to divorce their husbands as follows: “A wife could be divorced from her husband by sending him news saying ‘I’m not happy with him.’ Her husband would then announce [this news] to the tribe and have them ask ‘is there a woman who likes him?’ If a woman emerged and said ‘I like him,’ he would marry her.”40 This practice flew in the face of Ahmed Cevdet’s understanding of proper Islamic law.41 Cevdet’s view of the relationship between geography, civilization, and moral corruption is particularly significant given his later role in the first codification of Islamic personal status law in the creation of the Mecelle, and made even more complex by the fact that his two daughters Fatma Aliye and Emine Semiye would go on to be prominent authors among the earliest Ottoman women’s movements of the late nineteenth century.42 For Cevdet, the absence of formal governing institutions, medreses, and sharia courts was to blame for the uncivilized practices he encountered in Cilicia. Even when he noted the presence of some learned men in Kozan, he remarked that those who sought Islamic learning had to travel as far as Kayseri to receive an education.43 Meanwhile, the Gavurdağı region remained completely under “the


Cevdet, Tezâkir, 112. Ibid., 163. 40 The Tecirli tribe was not the only community of the region with such a practice. Among the Aneze Bedouins of Northern Syria, women could initiate a divorce with their husbands’ permission or a ruling by the judge of an Ottoman court. Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 148. 41 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 163. 42 Fatma Aliye would go on to write a biography of his father. See Fatma Aliye, Ahmed Cevdet Paşa ve zamanı (Istanbul: Kanaat Matbaası, 1914). 43 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 114. 39


oppression of ignorance” with neither schools nor teachers.44 The mountains of Cilicia had not only sheltered ignorance but prevented civilization from extending its reach. The circles of causation that continually led Cevdet to geography in his explanations of Cilicia’s savageness can be seen in his view of some of the settled communities in the region, which were also targeted by the Reform Division’s activities. The Armenian mountain stronghold of Zeytun was of special concern for him. The leaders of Zeytun had managed, in the midst of the Coffing affair discussed in Chapter 2, to successfully defy Ottoman taxation a few years prior through a rebellion buttressed by the intercession of France. Cevdet insisted in the planning of the Reform Division that the people of Zeytun be dealt with the same way as the notables and tribes of Kozan.45 This point is crucial for understanding the parameters of Cevdet’s Ottoman civilizing mission. First, the Reform Division, while being framed as an army charged with facilitating the successful settlement of nomads, would target uncooperative settled populations as well. Second, while the main purpose of this army was to secure the Gavurdağı and Kozan regions that had become so disrupted during the Coffing affair, Cevdet envisioned the army’s potential realm of activity as extending not just to places such as Zeytun but also into the heart of predominantly Kizilbash or Alevi regions such as Hısn-ı Mansur, Akçadağ, and Dersim as well as the undefined remainder of Eastern Anatolia.46 The Reform Division, like the notions of civilization and progress used to legitimize its activities, was in this view infinite in its potential realm of operation, bound only by time, resources, energy, and the intransigence of a savage population and environment. Yet, in practice, its activities would be focused on securing the loyalty and settlement of the Cilicia region’s transhumant inhabitants.


Ibid., 130. Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 124. 46 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 107-08. 45


Possessing the Mountains At the outset of Part One, I told the story of Dadaloğlu and his songs of resistence. Everything from the sturdy Arabian horses to the winding roads including the mountains themselves appear in his lyrics as definitively “ours (bizim).” The Reform Division had ambitious and far-reaching goals, but its first objective would to address that very claim to possession of geography by be to pacifying the communities of Gavurdağı and rein in the chaos that was unleashed when Küçük Alioğlu Mıstık Pasha, Cevdet’s “veil of illusion” (in Chapter 2) and protagonist of Dadaloğlu’s songs, was removed in 1864. In this regard, the Reform Division’s first targets were figures such as Mıstık’s son Dede and Ali Bekiroğlu Ali Agha who represented the primary political challenge to Ottoman hegemony in the mountains. As they pursued men they referred to as “bandits” in the mountains and Cevdet articulated theories of environmental determinism linking savagery and the mountains, Dadaloğlu responded with an elegant rebuttal, dismissing in a few simple words both the army’s claims to dominion and the intellectual’s efforts at denigration: “the mountains are ours.”47 Evidently well-aware of the daunting nature of their task, the Reform Division was militarily-equipped to assert Ottoman claims to the mountains. With eleven battalions from Crete, Aleppo, Marash, and Adana positioned in Gavurdağı and another five from Sivas in Kozan, each accompanied by a regiment of cavalry, it was the largest army to visit the region since İbrahim Pasha’s invasion in 1832. The division was also crafted with attention to the particular local geography. Its commander, Derviş Pasha, had recently proven successful in battling rebels in Montenegro and was thus deemed the ideal leader for an excursion into “the


Öztelli, Köroğlu ve Dadaloğlu, 81.


Montenegro of Syria” as Gavurdağı was sometimes imagined.48 Knowing that Ibrahim Pasha had successfully employed mountain-savvy Druze fighters in Cilicia, the Reform Division sought to replicate this strategy.49 The Albanians and Zeybeks of Reform Division, the supreme martial character of whom Ahmed Cevdet remarked upon, were experienced fighters capable of operating in mountain terrain.50 Added to their ranks were 200 Georgian and Circassian horsemen under the command of the Georgian Mirimiran Arslan Pasha as well as 300 Kurdish horsemen of Eleşkirdli Mehmed Bey. Many had fighting experience during the Crimean War.51 Equipped with mobile long-range cannons and brand new rifles from Şişhane alongside other new technologies such as binoculars and the telegraph, the Reform Division was a state of the art fighting force uniquely composed for the purpose of mountain warfare.52 In theory, the Reform Division would be concerned with combating bandits and small fighting forces of men loyal to important tribal figures. The aim was to liberate, reform, and serve the Ottoman civilians of the region, not to oppress them. However, Cevdet had anticipated the potential messiness of the settlement project in Gavurdağı. While he said that reform elsewhere in places like Kozan would merely require removing the Kozanoğlus from power,


See NARA, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts (Turkey) 231, Beirut Vol. 6 (1856-1865), Johnson to Morris, Alexandretta (26 July 1862). 49 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 128. 50 Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha," 5. 51 Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 118. 52 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 166; Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha," 5. I cannot say with certainty the nature of these binoculars, or whether the fırka-i islâhiye merely had single lens telescopes. Cevdet’s preoccupation with the effectiveness of this technology, however, suggests the former. The word “dûrbîn” merely has the connotation of a lens that “sees far away,” and the term could be used to refer to cameras, binoculars or telescopes. Modern binoculars were a recent military innovation during this time. They were used in the Crimean and U.S. Civil Wars, so it is probable that the Ottoman military would also have recently introduced them. Michael D. Reynolds, Binocular stargazing (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2005), 8. Also Cevdet, Tezâkir, 177. The telegraph was invented in 1837 and first used by the Ottoman state during the Crimean War. By 1859, the Ottoman government had introduced telegraph cables throughout the empire and officially regulate the telegraph lines. Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel Kural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 120.


Gavurdağı would be more complex. “Our impending battle with Gavurdağı would be with thieves and bandits and the brigand inhabitants who were devoid of religious zeal.” Cevdet was pessimistic about the power of persuasion in a region the very name of which indicated an infidel nature. It would be one thing to free a civilian population from the clutches of an oppressive government, but as Cevdet portended, “fighting with the population (ahali) is always difficult.”53 In order to avert this outcome, the Reform Division issued a general pardon to those who were willing to surrender peacefully to its authority; however, Cevdet’s calls for cooperation were met with neither acceptance nor rejection. The main tribal leaders and their men had already taken refuge in the mountains as the people concealed themselves. In order to force the action, Derviş Pasha proceeded to attack and torch some villages loyal to those leaders.54 This outright aggression must have shocked the local population. As it was remembered in the poetry of Dadaloğlu, “Derviş Pasha ravaged the provinces / All the flowers of our homeland have wilted / We’ve worn black and thrown out the reds / Our gold is no good, our silver turned to bronze.”55 The burning of tents and houses, which would be used repeatedly by the Reform Division as a method of forcing the surrender of rebels and the movement of populations, was intended to displace local inhabitants and more easily facilitate their resettlement.56 Tensions between the policies of pacification and the policies of settlement immediately emerged out of these confrontations. The population of Gavurdağı, while targeted for settlement, was not necessarily nomadic in terms of Cevdet’s Khaldunian formulation. They were semipastoralists that maintained villages and planted food crops, coming down from the yayla to


Cevdet, Tezâkir, 148. TNA, FO 195/800, Skene to Bulwar (19 October 1865). 55 Öztelli, Köroğlu ve Dadaloğlu, 111. 56 For more see Gould, "The Burning of the Tents." 54


harvest the seasons’ yield every year. In the region of Çerçili, which Cevdet refers to as a “den of thieves and bandits (hırsız ve haydut yatağı)”, these crops had been left in the fields as the population of most of these villages had departed for the yayla with the advance of the Reform Division. In their absence, the army set fire to their “homes (haneleri)” and forbade them to build new ones.57 Meanwhile, they allowed the already pacified Delikanlı tribe that was facing a food and fodder shortage to gather the crops of Çerçili and return to their encampments.58 In short, the Reform Division had driven settled agriculturalists from their villages, which were burned, and allowed nearby nomads to consume their crops. In other cases, the activities of the Reform Division created permanent dislocations of populations unrelated to its core activities. For example, approximately 200 Armenian families from the town Hadjin were permanently relocated to a sparsely populated region of the Sivas province, ostensibly to protect them from harm during the process of settling the region’s tribes.59 Resistance manifested itself not only in an unwillingness to descend from the mountains but also attempts to flee encampments and settlements established in the plains. The Reform Division’s activities involved controlling the movements of the region’s communities, preventing their passage to the yayla, and encouraging them to settle. Yet, because of the summer perils of malaria and heat and because their pastoralist economies depended on migration, many of these communities evaded settlement orders and returned to the yayla when possible, leading to the use of military force. For example, when the Tecirlis who normally migrated to the Marash region during the summer were settled in Çukurova, a group of some 300 households led by Palalı Hasanoğlu Süleyman Agha defied settlement orders and retreated into

Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha," 7. Cevdet, Tezâkir, 147-48. 59 BOA, MVL 525/126 (16 Şevval 1283 [21 February 1867]); Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 524-26. 57 58


Gavurdağı, protected by 200 fighters from the village of Haruniye. 60 They would subsequently be defeated and kept in Çukurova by police checkpoints in the mountains.61 The same would soon after be done for their neighbors the Bozdoğans, as well as the Kırıntıs and Tatarlus in Kozan.62 Whereas once the mountains had been refuge, now they stood as the walls of a prison. Local communities also attempted to disrupt the operations of the Reform Division in other ways, in one case interrupting the construction of a telegraph line between Aleppo and Adana that passed through the new town of Yarpuz in Gavurdağı. 63 Once the telegraph was completed, however, it would greatly enhance the Reform Division’s operation. In response to rebellion, the Reform Division used strong displays of force, killing hundreds of fighters and capturing many others in the process. Prisoners were either released elsewhere or in some cases sentenced to hard labor. More dangerous figures were executed; in one instance the crucifixion of an alleged spy upon a tree at a key mountain pass was used to discourage resistance.64 The fighting produced tales of memorable resistance to the Reform Division. Afşar villagers in the Taurus Mountains still preserve the lament of Deli Halil, a wanted bandit who had escaped from exile in Edirne, to his village of Kayabaşı where a “short but sanguinary encounter ensued.”65 Halil was able to escape through the back of the village as his mother, whom Cevdet refers to as “the great troublemaker (büyük beliye) of that area,” stood on a rooftop and encouraged Halil’s men in their confrontation with the Ottoman soldiers. She

BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 336/3, no. 1 (19 Mayıs 1281 [31 May 1865]. BOA, İ-MMS 30/1256, no. 4, Hasan to Kamil (29 Nisan 1280 [11 May 1864]) 62 BOA, MVL 699/9, no. 2 (24 Kanunusani 1280 [5 February 1865]); A}-MKT-MHM 348/74 (22 Ramazan 1282 [8 February 1866]). 63 BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 334/78 (8 Mayıs 1281 [20 May 1865]). 64 Cevdet, Tezâkir, 186. 65 TNA, FO 195/800, Skene to Bulwar (19 October 1865); CADC, Correspondance commerciale et consulaire, 1793-1901, Alep 33 (1863-1866), pg. 106, Bertrand to de Lhuys (21 March 1865). For the lament of Deli Halil, see Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar. 60 61


received a severe but non-fatal gunshot wound in her hand and side.66 Halil and his wife escaped on horseback to the Ulaşlıs and the territory of Ali Bekiroğlu, where he would eventually be taken into custody.67 While the Reform Division sought to eliminate bandits, the war transformed those who resisted into heroes in the eyes of many. However, for all their resistance, by winter 1865, most of the tribal notables of the Cilicia region either surrendered or submitted outright to Ottoman authority. The Reform Division, while in many ways a force of destruction, had come to Cilicia with a goal beyond mere conquest. The violence and coercion it employed in subjugation of the local population were in the service of a higher goal of fostering settlement, effecting obedience to the Ottoman rule of law, and bringing to a region known for its barbarism the virtues of a modern civilization. But the violence had just begun. Resurrecting Alexander It is no surprise to find references to Alexander the Great and his victories over the Persians in Cilicia within the travel narratives of history-obsessed European visitors to the Adana region during the nineteenth century.68 Yet, for all the Western travelers to follow in Alexander’s footsteps, none made more boisterous claim to have done so than Ahmed Cevdet. During the first phases of the Reform Division’s campaign at the historical junction between Anatolia and Syria, Ahmed Cevdet and the military commander Derviş Pasha sought to erect two fortifications in their own names. While gathering the stone to do so, they came across a slab bearing a Greek inscription among the historical ruins in the vicinity. According to Ahmed Cevdet, it read “here

Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 143. Cevdet, Tezâkir, 152. 68 Some examples include: Kinneir, Journey through Asia Minor, Armenia and Koordistan, in the years 1813 and 1814, with remarks on the marches of Alexander and retreat of the Ten Thousand, by John Macdonald Kinneir, 13144; Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie, 51; Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 493-94. 66 67


is where Alexander set down his criminal law (İskender burada cezâ kanununu vaz’ etti).”69 Veracity notwithstanding, the less than subtle symbolism of this account conveyed how Ahmed Cevdet understood the activities of the Reform Division in the region. It was a conquest of world historical import; they were marching in the footsteps of history, and in rebuilding the fortifications of Alexander the Great, they were rebuilding a fallen civilization.70 Much like Alexander more than two millennia before, the Reform Division had arrived in Cilicia prepared for battle, yet though the sword of the Reform Division was mighty, Ahmed Cevdet Pasha was hopeful that the book, i.e. the promise of the Tanzimat and Ottoman rule of law, would attract the loyalty of Cilicia’s inhabitants with minimal bloodshed. The Reform Division offered many incentives to the local population in order to secure their allegiance peacefully. Pardoning of unpaid taxes and the forgiveness of those who had evaded military conscription were concessions made to win the trust of the people.71 Meanwhile, notables were extended new titles and positions. As Cevdet arranged to settle pastoralist communities of the plain, their leaders were settled into newly-formed towns such as İslahiye (named for the Fırka-ı İslâhiye) and Hassa that would serve as administrative centers of these frontier regions.72 Those who had most symbolized resistance to central Ottoman rule and were too dangerous to remain in the area were granted lucrative pensions or salaried posts elsewhere in the empire, the pensions in some cases being heritable to their wives and children.73 The Reform Division also received the complete cooperation and allegiance of Giragos II, the Armenian Catholicos of Sis, a religious and political figure with tremendous sway among Armenian communities in Sis and

Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha," 7. Cevdet makes this link explicitly in his Maruzat. Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 140-41. 71 Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha," 3, 8. 72 Ibid., 6. 73 See: Cevdet, Tezâkir, 141, 51, 57, 74. 69 70


Hadjin.74 Meanwhile, Armenians from the mountains complained of the injustices they suffered under the rule of the derebeys; in an Armeno-Turkish letter to the Governor of Adana a local bishop recounted the crimes of the Kozanoğlus, one of whom had allegedly raped an Armenian woman, causing her husband to hang himself from shame and helplessness.75 The Reform Division further benefited from the cooperation of local council members in Adana, who acknowledged the impossibility of reforms so long as the tribes remained in a state of “nomadism (bedeviyet).”76 The operations of the Reform Division went well beyond appeasing the populations of Cilicia, however. A major component of its work was convincing them that the newly-founded state presence would be lasting and effective. For example, the notables of the Ekbez region were summoned to the aforementioned Nigolu fortress where the Reform Division had encamped. The oldest among them, a man named Ahmed Bey, refused to go along with the plans of the Reform Division and relinquish his position, saying that if the Ottomans actually restore the Nigolu fortress, he would take their activities seriously. As Cevdet reported, the fortress that Alexander had once repaired was soon restored and Ahmed Bey then requested exile in Aleppo and a salary, which was promptly granted.77 A similar situation occurred with a local notable in Kozan, who expressed willingness to cooperate but noted that he had owed money to the Kozanoğlus, seeking a guarantee that those debts would be erased and that the Kozanoğlus would not be able to subsequently extract money from him. Upon this guarantee, he willingly gave his allegiance to the Ottoman government. Cevdet represented this incident as an example of the people simply being unaccustomed to taxation, but in fact it is more accurately a reflection


Ibid., 171. BOA, İ-MMS 30/1256, no. 37 Arisdages Episkopos to Adana Vali (22 Rabiulahir 1281 [24 September 1864]). 76 BOA, İ-MMS 30/1256, no. 5 (23 Kanunuevvel 1280 [4 January 1865]). 77 Cevdet, "Kozan ve Gavurdağı hakkında layiha," 8. 75


of hesitation to submit to a new ruler before the old derebeys had been replaced.78 More generally, these cases show that behind Cevdet’s theories about civilization was a pragmatism that condoned what were essentially bribes. In the mind of Cevdet Pasha, the Reform Division opened the doors of civilization before the inhabitants of a region long cloaked in darkness. The communities of Gavurdağı and Kozan appear in his paternalistic narrative as simple villagers easily frightened and impressed. Cevdet marveled at the cashless societies of the Cilician countryside and the speed with which money introduced by the Reform Division changed the nature of commerce. Cilician villagers were not accustomed to selling items such as butter or onions needed by the Reform Division. 79 Because the trappings of the Reform Division were quite a curiosity for the rural inhabitants of Cilicia, they attracted much attention from the children in the villages. Cevdet remarked upon how little contact these people seemed to have with broader Ottoman society. In one section of his narrative, he relates an interaction between the chief secretary of the Reform Division Mazhar Bey and a thirteen-year-old child, which went as follows: He asked [the child], “Would you like money” and he responded, “I would.” “What will you do with the money,” he asked, and when [the child] said “I don’t know what they do with money,” he said “well how can you want something you don’t know about?” [The child] said “for a few days there’s been talk of money in our village, so I’d like to see it.” Upon this, Mazhar Bey took some shiny coins from his pocket and gave them to the child. He looked and said “it’s a strange thing,” and when he wanted to hand them back, [Mazhar Bey] said, “take them, they’re yours.” “Well what should I do with them?” [the child asked]. Mazhar Bey said “You give these to the artisans and merchants coming from Adana and you buy a fez or something like that, whatever you want.”80

The symbolic suggestion of the purchase of a fez, which was becoming the hat of choice for civilized Ottoman men of the period, points to the Reform Division’s focus on bringing the inhabitants of Cilicia into the cultural fold. Though money seemed unfamiliar to the people of 78

Cevdet, Tezâkir, 175-76. In many cases tribal notables were replaced with new official from outside. For example, the Karsıntıs received as their new müdir a man from Adana named Hüseyin Agha who originally hailed from Harput. BOA, MVL 691/34 (12 Tişrinievvel 1280 [24 October 1864]). 79 Ibid., 155, 60. 80 Ibid., 161.


Cilicia, Cevdet marveled at how quickly they were to learn “the worth of money (paranın kadri).” Before long, they had children of the villages running errands and relaying messages on behalf of the Reform Division for small tips.81 Indeed, the presence of the large army in Çukurova resulted in the sudden explosion of commercial activity and trade with the Reform Division.82 In Sis, the soldiers were drinking so much lemonade that the price of lemons quickly began to rise and additional supplies were brought from the nearby town of Kars (Kadirli).83 Even more important than the apparent expansion of commerce in Cilicia due to the presence of the Reform Division was the transformation that it seemed to initiate in the realm of property. In the newly founded town of Osmaniye, Ahmed Cevdet found an old house that might be suitably repaired to serve as the next government building. When he inquired with the local notables about the price of the prospective repairs and purchase, the amount given was so low that he asked, “Well what about the price of this house’s lot (arsa)? Have we cheated the owner?” His interlocutors began to laugh at him, saying, “Can land have a price (toprağın pahası olur mu)?”84 The notion of individual ownership of land was confusing in a context where most empty land was used collectively by pastoralists as pasture for their animals. The tribes of Çukurova were, according to Cevdet’s reading of the situation, entirely unaccustomed to buying and selling property, which would become a key feature of the property regime in Ottoman Cilicia following the implementation of the 1858 Land Code and the registration of land over subsequent decades (see Chapter 5). Equally important to the implantation of Ottoman modes of transaction, taxation, and ownership was the establishment of proper Islamic institutions among the Muslim populations of


Ibid., 161. Ibid., 161. 83 Ibid., 182-83. 84 Ibid., 162. 82


the hinterland. Most of the communities targeted by the Reform Division were cited by Ahmed Cevdet for various unorthodox practices and a general lack of knowledge about what he deemed proper Islamic behavior. The Reform Division very symbolically presided over the rare holding of Friday prayers in the mountains of Kozan, an event that “shook the foundations” of the local derebey governments.85 In the area of religion, Cevdet was especially serious in his civilizational endeavors, which would be rooted not so much in the core values or principals of Islam but rather the Ottoman incarnation of its institutions. One of the first measures undertaken by Ahmed Cevdet to alleviate this lack of Islamic institutions was the construction of a court in the town of Elbistan north of Marash in 1867, which would serve to incorporate the ostensibly Muslim citizens of the mountains into the Ottoman legal fold.86 This was apparently successful, as the court remained in operation for the rest of the Ottoman period.87 Cevdet believed that the promise of good governance and civilization would draw the local inhabitants of the Cilicia region away from their outlaw leaders and towards the glow of a civilized and settled society. In other words, the book would with time easily accomplish what could never be done by the sword. The most critical aspect of this policy was of course the construction of homes for tribes to replace their seasonal encampments, fostering their rapid transition to agricultural life. Ahmed Cevdet Pasha expressed a firm belief in the efficacy of this policy; the mighty book and sword of the Reform Division were sure to succeed. However, what he and the other administrators of the Reform Division neglected was a third factor shaping the outcome of settlement policies, one external to state policy or perhaps even human agency: the role of extra-human factors, namely geography, climate, and microbes.

Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 158. BOA, A-MKT-MHM 391/84 (24 Cemaziülahir 1284 [23 October 1867]). 87 For the Elbistan court records, see: BOA, MŞH 451-496. 85 86


Deus ex Cholera While the efforts of the Reform Division met with considerable success during the early months of activity in Gavurdağı in the summer of 1865, these developments would be hampered by unforeseen constraints as the season wore on. Soon after crossing to the northern edge of the Çukurova plain in the town of Sis in late autumn, the army encountered the effects of a cholera epidemic that was beginning to work its way into the mountains. Ahmed Cevdet noted during the army’s ascent towards Feke in the Kozan region of the Taurus Mountains that they were continually being passed on one side by funeral processions and on the other by sick villagers being carried away on the backs of animals.88 “I don’t know if the Reform Division was struck by the evil eye or what (fırka-i ıslâhiye’ye nazar mı isâbet eyledi bilmem),” Cevdet would remark.89 Having achieved impressive results in just six months of operation, the Reform Division’s progress in the name of civilization would be scaled back. Although contagious diseases do often appear in history as inexplicable, impersonal, and even supernatural forces, the impact of cholera during the operations of the Reform Division can hardly be interpreted as coincidental. This was evident in the way that the disease began to spread through the ranks of the army; when some among Cevdet’s detachment showed symptoms of cholera, immediate orders of quarantine were issued. Yet, İsmail Pasha, one of the commanders in the Reform Division, viewing those orders as unnecessarily inhumane, broke the quarantine and allowed the soldiers to mix. Cevdet noted that following this moment, “by the unknowable intentions of God (bi-hikmetillahi teala), cholera immediately spread throughout the

88 89

Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 165. Ibid., 168.


detachment.”90 Clearly, a failure to maintain proper quarantine protocol had exacerbated the impact of cholera on the weary army of the Reform Division. This does not, however, mean that the cholera epidemic that ravaged Cilicia in the fall of 1865 was avoidable. The presence of tens of thousands of soldiers and animals in Çukurova facilitated the spread of germs in the unsanitary conditions of an already moist and malarial countryside. Indeed, the people who had been summoned from the yayla to towns such as Sis in order to carry out the implementation of the new reforms were put at heightened disease risk by virtue of their presence in the area.91 Yet, it was the bacteria traveling in the small intestines of Ottoman soldiers that must have been the source of this epidemic and its magnitude, meaning the vaunted army of civilization brought death with it in a number of guises. Though there had been no recorded spread of cholera beyond the Ganges delta region of Bengal before 1817, by the time of the Reform Division, three previous pandemics had moved cholera throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas.92 It is worth noting that cholera first entered Cilicia during the second global cholera pandemic when Mehmed Ali’s army invaded Syria in 1832.93 However, during this invasion, the armies under the command of Ibrahim Pasha spent little time in the mountains, and apparently cholera had not yet scaled the slopes of the Taurus range until the reform division outbreak in 1865, which was part of the fourth global cholera pandemic that had begun in Bengal


Ibid., 165. Ibid., 157. 92 Bruce Masters alludes to repeated occurrences of “cholera and plague” in Aleppo during the seventeenth century, but his mention of the former must be erroneous. Edhem Eldem, Daniel Goffman, and Bruce Alan Masters, The Ottoman City between East and West : Aleppo, Izmir, and Istanbul (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 36. 93 Cadalvène and Barrault, Histoire de la guerre de Méhemed-Ali contre la Porte ottomane en Syrie et en Asie Mineure (1831-1833), 168-70, 95, 202. Also TNA, FO 78/316, pg. 98, Herry to Palmerton (20 May 1837); pg. 209 Herry to Palmerton (13 October 1837). 91


and had spread to the Middle East reportedly with hajj pilgrims ultimately killing tens of thousands of them.94 Ottoman authorities in Adana had some warning of the impending risk. Cholera had broken out in Egypt in late June, and by mid-August had spread to Iskenderun and Aleppo, where the French Consul Bertrand noted that “the panic among the upper class [was] indescribable.”95 By September the cholera epidemic was claiming around 350 lives per day in the city. However, as Bertrand noted, the lack of medical personnel in the province made it impossible to adequately address and contain the disease.96 By October cholera had spread to the littoral and parts of Adana where, especially due to the presence of the Reform Division, the uncontrolled movement of people and the lack of medical supplies and staff was especially acute.97 The provincial government in Adana was ill-equipped to confront an epidemic event with the sole country doctor (memleket tabibi) of the region not even being present at the time. When news of the outbreak and its spread into the villages surrounding Tarsus reached Istanbul, three doctors were dispatched without delay to investigate the “terrifying illness (illet-i muhavvıfa).”98 In the meantime, cholera struck the local population with tremendous speed. Cevdet described the collective shock brought on by the death of Deli Halil, the feared rebel opponent of the Reform Division who with the help of his wife and mother had made a defiant stand against Ottoman rule. He began to show symptoms of cholera after finally being apprehended and died 94

See Michael Christopher Low, "Empire and the hajj : pilgrims, plagues, and pan-Islam under British surveillance, 1865-1908," International Journal of Middle East Studies 40, no. 2 (2008). 95 CADC, CCC, Alep 33, pg. 138, Bertrand to de Lhuys (22 June 1865); pg. 141, Bertrand to de Lhuys (12 August 1865); pg. 144, Bertrand to de Lhuys (22 August 1865). 96 CADC, CCC, Alep 33, pg. 148, Bertrand to de Lhuys (12 September 1865). 97 CADC, CCC, Alep 33, pg. 176, Bertrand to de Lhuys (12 October 1865). 98 The three doctors, Tevfik Salıh Efendi, Boghos Efendi, and Dr. Dados Grigor were paid 1000 kuruş each plus travel expenses and Salıh Efendi was asked to remain as country doctor after the disease passed in December of 1865. BOA, A-MKT-MHM 345/363 (17 Cemaziyelevvel 1282 [2 November 1865]); İ-DH 543/37810 (19 Receb 1282 [9 December 1865]).


the next day. “He was a tall, very handsome, strong-built, solid-bodied, well-proportioned, soldierly and brave young buck,” Cevdet said. “For him to suddenly die like that gave the people quite a scare.”99 Deli Halil was hardly the only actor in the drama of the Reform Division to succumb to the disease. While Cevdet’s detachment was in Sis, Kiragos Efendi, the Armenian Catholicos of Sis who had cooperated with the Reform Division, died suddenly of cholera and was given an honorable funeral complete with a military band supplied by the Derviş Pasha. 100 Meanwhile, Aşır Pasha, the Mutasarrıf of Marash who had also contributed to the settlement campaign, perished in the midst of the epidemic.101 In this region of contested sovereignty and complicated topography, disease, at least for the moment, appeared to reign sovereign. As the death toll climbed, the army began to scatter for a “change of air (tebdil-i hava).” The Georgian, Circassian, and Kurdish cavalry that had been so effective in the mountains of Gavurdağı were beleaguered and proved no match for the disease. Of the fourteen battalions that had originally arrived with the reform division, just five remained. This gave Kozanoğlu Yusuf Agha an opportunity to gather men to his side and launch a new bout of resistance to the Reform Division in the mountains of Kozan.102 One account mentions that he feigned sickness in order to escape exile with the help of Muslim villagers in the area. 103 With time, money, and energy running short, the Reform Division headed to Kozan in hopes of quickly apprehending Yusuf Agha and his small group of bandits, circulating news to the tribes and villages of the region that he was wanted dead or alive.104 According to Cevdet Pasha, Yusuf was captured soon thereafter, and arrangements were made for him to be deported along with the rest of his family to Istanbul; Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 167. Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 527-28. 101 Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 166. The Reform Division’s engineer Enis Bey also died of cholera. Cevdet, Tezâkir, 185. 102 Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 168. 103 Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 528. 104 Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 169. 99



however, when he tried to escape, he was shot and killed by a guard. 105 Yet according to rumors of the time, Yusuf Agha had been deliberately executed. In fact, one Armenian source described a scene in which Kozanoğlu Yusuf Agha was brought to Hadjin, publicly shamed before a large crowd of onlookers, executed, and left to rot in a barrel in the center of town for months as a cautionary sign for those contemplating any similar acts of defiance.106 While the messy conclusion to the Kozanoğlu affair portended future problems in the Taurus Mountains, the Reform Division was otherwise remarkably successful at coopting local notables. In fact, for all the killed and imprisoned brigands, burnt villages, and cholera victims that were left in the Reform Division’s wake, the heads of local dynasties fared rather well. The most prominent figures such as Mıstık Pasha and Menemencizade Ahmed Bey came away with handsome salaries in exile, as did many other lesser notables of the region. They would for the most part seamlessly integrate into an emerging wealthy class of Ottomans that kept one foot in Istanbul and the other in the provinces. Meanwhile, others were given new posts and places in the provincial councils, effectively replicating the social hierarchies of communities in the Cilician countryside only within what Ottoman officials hoped would be a more orderly political climate. The cholera epidemic had indeed put a limit to the extent of the reforms that could be undertaken. Most crucially, the army was unable to reach Zeytun in order to formally reestablish Ottoman rule and taxation in the mountain village. Similarly, plans to continue north into the Taurus Mountains towards Dersim were suspended. However, the primary obstacle to the implementation of reforms in Adana — the rule of local dynasties — had been severely curtailed if not entirely eliminated as of 1866. Upon his return, the real work of the Reform Division,

105 106

Cevdet, Tezâkir, 188. Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 529.


constructing new villages in Çukurova and convincing the region’s pastoralists to inhabit them year-round, would commence. Costly and ambitious though they would be, the settlement policies of the Reform Division led by Ahmed Cevdet Pasha would meet tremendous setbacks in the coming years. The resistance of Cilicia’s pastoralists to settlement and their longing for the mountains would only grow as summers of malarial misery ensued in the swampy Çukurova plain. As unfavorable environmental factors converged with structural and economic problems in the Ottoman Empire, disorder and unrest gave way to outright rebellion, leading to a reversal of many of the Reform Division’s policies during the first decade of settlement. Yet, there was to be no returning to the Cilicia of old and the political ecology of unfettered seasonal migration triumphed in the songs of Dadaloğlu. Though the achievements of the Reform Division would ultimately prove less grand than had been projected, this period would irrevocably change what it meant to live and to die in Ottoman Cilicia. The eventual failures of settlement campaigns, just as certain aspects of the Reform Division’s campaign in Cilicia described above, illustrate the ways in which factors such as geography and disease played an important role in the outcome of Tanzimat-period reform in the Ottoman Empire. As Ottoman statesmen sought to implement a more involved and standardized form of governance during the 1860s, differentiated local practices and political ecologies presented obstacles to this project. Meanwhile, influential politicians such as Cevdet Pasha perceived the lack of “civilization” in the Ottoman countryside in part as a consequence of the lived geography. Thus, that geography appears not merely as an independent and sometimes unseen actor but rather as an enemy identified by the makers of Ottoman policy in their ambitious attempts at transforming the empire. This theme will carry through subsequent


chapters of this dissertation, as I explore the issues of settlement and disease in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Cilicia.


CHAPTER 4 THE STENCH OF PROGRESS: LIFE AND DEATH ON THE OTTOMAN FRONTIER Wherever the virgin soil is opened, virulent marsh fever seems to burst forth and smite down all around, and nothing but generations of patient culture can subdue the soil afresh, and render this plain a safe abode for man. E.J. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey (1879)1 Raw settlement means annihilation.

Kuru iskân imha demektir. Besim Atalay, History and Geography of Marash (1914)2

Don’t stay in Adana, my son / A mosquito will get in your eye Adana’da kalma oğlum / Gözlerine mucuk çokar3 From lament of an Afşar mother whose son died of malaria4

Ahmed Cevdet Pasha toured the Cilicia region to see the progress of the Reform Division and its settlement activities in autumn of 1866. He recalled, “As we left Kars-ı Zülkadriye and reached Sis, we passed through three hours of continuous cotton fields. As far as the Kozan mountains on our right and as far as the Ceyhan River on our left, everything our eye could see was cultivated, and the air smelled sweet (mis gibi).” Cevdet marveled at the developments taking place in Upper Çukurova. “Then for a time a bad smell reached our noses. ‘I wonder if there is a carcass somewhere,’ I asked Hüseyin Bey.” His companion responded, saying, “It’s nothing. It’s just that we’ve left the fields and come to a yet uncultivated area. That’s where this bad smell is coming from. Last year when we toured Çukurova we had passed through all of these bad smells. However, because everywhere was the same, we didn’t notice it.” The clean, white cotton of progress made the swamps of Çukurova all the more foul. “Now that one part is reformed and cultivated,” Hüseyin Bey explained, “the smell of the ruined and deserted areas is more 1

Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 71. Atalay, Maraş Tarihi ve Coğrafyası, 71. 3 “A mosquito will get in your eye (gözlerine mucuk çokar)” refers to the notorious flies and mosquitos of the Adana plain but also is a figurative expression referring to possibility of sudden ill fortune or health. 4 Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar, 263. 2


noticeable. After all, the reason for Çukurova’s bad air is its ruinedness (harabiyet). This shows that if it is developed, its air will become finer.”5 Cevdet remarked that this statement was supported by studies of Ibn Khaldun, the theories of whom were now being tested. The scent of progress was in the still pungent but ever-improving air of the Çukurova plain. Yet the sweet-smelling rows of cotton that tantalized the optimistic nostrils of Ahmed Cevdet differed considerably from the account of the summer after settlement offered in Yaşar Kemal’s Binboğalar Efsanesi. “All summer long the plain reeked of carrion,” he wrote. “The mosquitoes were merciless. The malaria was disastrous. That summer previously unseen epidemic diseases ravaged the area. Çukurova was full of animal and human skeletons.”6 Though fictional, Yaşar Kemal’s narrative was built from material lingering in the collective memory of Çukurova’s rural population. The experience of settlement was very much alive during his childhood and survived during his subsequent research and interviews in the area. Among rural communities of the Adana region — especially those claiming tribal descent — settlement remained consistently associated with a cataclysmic moment of hardship, sickness, and a gradual break with tradition. The sweet aroma of progress had been accompanied by the rotting stench of death. Settlement meant improvement of the land, but it also meant death and suffering for those doomed to do the labor of improvement. Though the immediate shortcomings of the Reform Division would become clear within the span of a few years, a more systematic critique of forced settlement would take decades to emerge. In a local history of the Marash region composed during the World War I period, a young Ottoman intellectual and member of the Committee of Union and Progress named Ahmed Besim (later Atalay) offered one of the earliest criticisms of Tanzimat-era settlement policy.

5 6

Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 182. Kemal, Binboğalar Efsanesi : Roman, 71.


“Raw settlement means annihilation (kuru iskân imha demektir)” was his way of describing the Reform Division’s impact on the tribal populations of Çukurova such as the Tecirli and Cerid tribes. “An age-old life and livelihood cannot be changed suddenly. While they should have been reformed and settled gradually, this was not done. Troops were drawn upon them. Armies were sent. Cannons were fired. The encampments and the summer and winter pastures were torched and toppled.” His interest in the tribes of Çukurova was primarily nationalist; he saw in the Turkmen tribes of the Marash region a legacy of authentic Turkic culture in Anatolia. But his critique of Ottoman settlement policy was nevertheless harsh.7 The Reform Division did not merely “settle” the tribes, “no, it killed them and buried them” he exclaimed. He cited the example of villages where the settled population had died out and been mostly replaced by later Kurdish migrants much like the family of Yaşar Kemal, which migrated to the Çukurova from Eastern Anatolia after the First World War and settled near the Hemite fortress on the Ceyhan River (see Chapter 8). For much of Cilicia’s population, settlement or iskân, the act of causing one to reside or live in a particular place, meant in practice an order to die in that place. The violence of the Reform Division and its forced settlement campaigns did not end with the withdrawal of the Ottoman army. A more invisible form of violence lingered in Eastern Çukurova during the decade following settlement. Hunger and epidemic malaria swept through the Cilician countryside and people and animals perished in large numbers. Birth rates plummeted and infant mortality rose. Muslim immigrants from the empire’s northern borders watched their communities reduced to mere fractions of their original settler populations.


Ahmed Besim decried the persecution of Turkish nomads in a time when ethnic nationalism was on the rise and newly-realized Turkic brethren were being brutally treated by Russian armies in Central Asia. While Besim lamented the passing of Anatolia’s tribal societies and the extinction of their magnificent horse breeds, he did not question the necessity of settlement, only the way in which it was carried out. Nor did he mention any parallels between the even more brutal displacements of Anatolian Armenians taking place right in Marash during the war period. Atalay, Maraş Tarihi ve Coğrafyası, 71-72.


Meanwhile, the pastoralists settled by the Reform Division resisted agricultural life and sought to maintain their migratory practices where possible. With the economic crisis of the 1870s, during which the Ottoman Empire faced bankruptcy, and famine throughout Anatolia, hardship fostered resentment and led to quotidian resistance that gave way to outright rebellion in 1878. In response, the provincial government ultimately adjusted the settlement orders, granting permission for seasonal migration for health purposes. While the Reform Division had been successful in breaking the power of local notables and establishing central government authority in the region, the initial experiment of settlement was a dramatic failure for many of those involved. Although these years of suffering are attested to in both sources of the time and popular memory, Ottoman archival documents pertaining to the state of affairs in Eastern Çukurova during the first decade of settlement give relatively little detail about this experience. On the level of official discourse represented in the government yearbooks or salnames, the struggles and failures of settlement were suppressed. This is on one hand a testament to the ways in which forces such as disease, hunger, and poverty function as a sort of “silent violence,” inflicted through systematic indifference and buried by denial.8 Yet, the lack of documentation was itself a symptom of what killed the settlers of the plain; an Ottoman government wracked with debt had become unable to monitor and manage let alone care for this frontier population. In this chapter, I will explain the experience of settlement in Cilicia following the Reform Division’s activity and post-Crimean War immigration between 1865 and 1878, the period during which active efforts to forcibly settle tribes in Cilicia were most pronounced. I will give special attention to the principal impacts of settlement and explore their immediate social impacts among the communities affected. The plight of these new settlers was in part a 8

See introduction. Watts, Silent Violence.


consequence of Çukurova’s geography; however, factors limiting the budget of the Ottoman government as well as logistical realities that created a more uneven distribution of resources, medicine, wealth and consequently suffering in the region also played a large role. In the face of these complications, the Ottoman administration was forced to ease its strict control of movement and enforcement of settlement orders. While the failures of this process impacted the ways in which settlement activities would be carried out in the future, many of the trends and trajectories established by the Reform Division would nonetheless leave a lasting imprint on the socioeconomic life of rural Cilicia for decades to come. Pre-Tanzimat Cilicia had been defined by its heterogeneity, and the disparities between the theory underlying settlement policy and its actual impacts meant that this heterogeneity was translated into a pervasive economic and political unevenness. Meanwhile, the communities impacted by settlement policy would be left broken and marginalized as settlement became synonymous with loss and dispossession. Primitive Little Places: Life on the Ottoman Frontier When the Reform Division began overseeing the incremental construction of villages and settlement of tribal communities in the Çukurova region in 1866, whatever resources could be found in the nearly treeless expanses of the plain were employed in construction. In the case of the Bozdoğans settled in Hemite, they were able to benefit in part from the rich quality of the stones from old structures that turned up continuously during the digging of foundations. 9 Cevdet Pasha took this as a sign that the area had once supported a flourishing civilization and was thus poised to again swell with cultivators and inhabitants. Indeed, it became common during subsequent settlement activities to choose sites of ancient cities and fortresses as regions of village construction.10


Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 179. For an example of this logic, see BOA, ŞD 2114/18, no. 4 (18 Şaban 1286 [10 November 1869]).



Yet, these buried ruins were in fact indicators of just how far from habitability such regions had come. İslahiye, a new settlement named after the Reform Division or Fırka-i İslahiye itself, was one such example. Constructed near the remains of the Nikola fortress, İslahiye was to serve as a model settlement and form a new administrative center among tribal populations on the edge of the plain. When British clergyman E.J. Davis visited the town during the 1870s, it had the makings of a colonial outpost in the wilderness. According to Davis, “it was a very marshy and unhealthy place” at the time of settlement, “and corvée laborers, masons, and carpenters, had been sent from Marash to build houses for the forced immigrants. The health of the place had, however, not much improved. The country is so level… that very little would be needed to make a good carriage road... But the unhealthiness of the country would be a great obstacle to colonization.”11 Davis had a similar impression of Osmaniye, another new settlement built not far from the medieval fortress of Toprakkale. “It is a primitive little place, with a cold, bracing air in winter, but in summer it is nearly deserted, owing to malaria. The people live almost entirely by their flocks and herds, and, although the soil is fertile, there is but little cultivation.”12 There, Davis lodged in the home of an Armenian man — just one of five Armenian families to settle in the village — who warned him about the danger of the region’s fauna. A leopard had killed a villager and his son the year before and wolves constantly threatened the population and livestock of the area. Davis was kept up that night by the howling of jackals and the numerous dogs that roamed the town.13 Çukurova was no place to settle for the unadventurous, and even the most entrepreneurial and determined newcomer continually grappled with a hostile frontier environment. Davis met one such character, a “daring and resolute” settler named Nikola Arslan, upon his visit to the 11

Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 103. Ibid., 79. 13 Ibid., 78-80. 12


ruins of Anazarba14 on the north side of the Ceyhan River just south of Sis. Arslan, a Syrian Christian from Tripoli (modern-day Lebanon), had recently bought up the property around the abandoned city and brought twenty or so households from his native town as laborers. They lived within the remaining walls of the medieval city, forbidding Muslims to settle among them and warding off “the thievish prowling Circassian” bandits that sometimes robbed the villagers of Çukurova. Though he had bought the previously uncultivated land from the Ottoman government at a bargain price and the soil was fertile, he was struggling to turn a profit in the wake of a terrible flood that had engulfed his property.15 When asked if the region was healthy, Arslan, himself the native of a malarial region of the Eastern Mediterranean coast, reported that he had at least enjoyed good health in his six or seven years of inhabitance at Anazarba. But the frontier spirit of Arslan, who represented the rare breed of voluntary settlers in the region, was not one often encountered in Eastern Çukurova at that time. Lt. Ferdinand Bennet, a British Consul in Anatolia charged with reporting on the impacts of provincial reform and charting the geography of interior regions between 1879 and 1882, followed in Davis’s footsteps a few years later, and his impressions were similar though even more thoroughly negative. The towns were malarial, poor, and deserted in the summer during the seasonal migrations. Meanwhile, police were exceedingly few, and they were poorly equipped and even more poorly compensated. In other words, there was hardly any impression that the Reform Division had left a tangible impact beyond slight improvements in the security situation. In fact, it was hard for Bennet to detect a significant government presence in the countryside. The dilapidated houses built by the Reform Division seemed to have already blended in with the 14

Anazarbus or Ain Zarba was an Assyrian settlement rebuilt by Byzantine Emperor Justianian I during the sixth century. It was late claimed by the Abassids before being taken by the Crusaders and becoming part of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. It was depopulated during the Mamluk invasion of the fourteenth century. Today it is known in Turkish as Anavarza. 15 Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 141.


ancient ruins. In Osmaniye, Bennet remarked that, “they live in reed or rush wigwams rather than homes, roughly thatched and affording as one would suppose hardly any protection in winter. They are the crudest dwelling places imaginable, and it is painful to notice debris of former stone or mud houses in the many villages where they now prefer to use reeds.”16 Houses had been built for the tribes of Cilicia during the 1860s, but they had preferred to return to more temporary structures. Only a decade after the Reform Division’s auspicious arrival in Cilicia, the state of the villages it had constructed was bleak, and seasonal migration seemed to be the norm. This was the result of a failed attempt to overpower the ecology of a region in which the swampy lowlands of the plain had warded off permanent inhabitance for centuries. The Ottoman government had settled tens of thousands of immigrants and pastoralists on vacant lands, distributed seed, in some cases issued tax exemptions, and even overseen the construction of many houses.17 “Whether this was an experiment or not I know not,” remarked Bennet in reference to this bold attempt that had yielded such limited results.18 Experiment, accident, or otherwise, frontier settlement in Çukurova had meant death and misery for many others. The reasons for the short-term failure of these settlements were largely geographical in nature. The locations of new settlements were overwhelmingly in regions where cultivation was extremely sparse and the low flat terrain was rather marshy due in part to the passage of the Ceyhan River and its tributaries.19 In these regions, malaria, a disease long endemic to the Mediterranean, threatened any human who dared to spend the night, let alone reside 16

TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). BOA, MVL 1041/7 (26 July 1865). 18 TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). 19 In his study of settlement, Gould argues in partial contrast to this statement noted that 9% of the settlements created by the Reform Division were on river banks or places with swamps and another 31% were on the plain. However, he relied on the classification system used in Republican-era studies denoting settlements of either “flat” or “hilly,” which was imaginative but likely failed to capture the full scope of malaria’s reach. Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 179. 17


permanently. Yarsuvat, the original Nogay settlement on the river, as well as other villages of Circassians and Chechens in the Kars district are examples of settlements built in the heart of swamps where malaria would be prevalent.20 The situation was very similar for most of the tribes settled by the Reform Division, especially those most directly considered natives to the Çukurova/Gavurdağı area such as the Tecirlis, Bozdoğans, and Cerids. For example, a portion of the Tecirli and Cerid communities were settled in the Cerid winter pasture areas east of the Ceyhan River. Their villages formed a cluster of small settlements near the town of Osmaniye. Two of the principal settlements in this cluster were named Cevdetiye and Dervişiye for Ahmed Cevdet Pasha and Derviş Pasha respectively. In these eight villages, 451 houses (hane) were built. They had constructed a sizeable number, but they were likely only enough to accommodate a portion of these communities.21 The hazards of this policy were well-understood. Though the soil and general agricultural prospects of these regions were by all accounts excellent, the eminent threat of malaria and the general challenges to cultivation posed by the frequent flooding of the Ceyhan River, which in years of high rainfall would connect with the Seyhan River in Eastern Çukurova, made settlement a risky prospect. In this regard, the Reform Division represented an attempt to test or implement an ecological theory based on a particular reading of Ibn Khaldun’s writings about civilization (see Chapter 3). Encouraging and forcing settlement in Eastern Çukurova would cause the health situation of these locales to improve. As the decree regarding the settlement of Tecirlis and Cerids around Osmaniye indicated, “God-willing in the coming year with the


As I explained in Chapter 1, Çukurova was a region of settlement not only for pastoralist tribes but also large numbers of migrants fleeing persecution in the Russian sphere. 21 The villages and number of households were as follows: Dervişiye: 123, Cevdetiye: 81, Rızaiye: 48, İzzeddin: 47, Yaveriye: 46, Azizli: 43, Tevfikiye: 40, Şükriye: 23. BOA, İ-DH 551/38360, No. 1 (6 Muharrem 1283 [21 May 1866]).


expenditure of some effort they will succeed in more planting and cultivation.”22 Just as providing incentives such as seed to immigrants was expected to secure their stable settlement of Eastern Çukurova, tribes with some help from the state and a lot of elbow grease could quickly turn the fertile soils of the Cilician swamps into fragrant fields of wheat, cotton, and sesame. Ahmed Cevdet and his contemporaries possessed understandings of geography and climate’s impact on human bodies. Again, as Ibn Khaldun had argued, the physical differences between people inhabiting different regions of the world were in part a result of climate’s impact on bodies, which over time became adapted to the soil and sun of particular regions. Thus, Ottoman officials clearly believed some peoples were better suited for habitation of Çukurova than others. For example, a letter to the Vali of Adana from the Meclis-i Vala pertaining to the settlement of the Karakayalı tribe during the activities of the Reform Division refers to the difficulty of year round habitation. The Karakayalıs wintered in Çukurova but the yaylas were located hundreds of kilometers away in the Konya province around Ereğli. Like many of the communities targeted by the Reform Division, the Karakayalıs were to be settled around theır winter quarters; however, “since they have long been accustomed to the yayla (menülkadim yaylaya alışmış oldukları cihetle),” the letter indicates, they could not be expected to suddenly encamp in “warm locations (mevaki-i harre).”23 Cevdet Pasha knew the importance of “change of air” during the summer, and more importantly, he believed that it was against the physical constitution Cilicia’s settlers to live in such climates. Like Ibn Khaldun, Cevdet thought that different environments produced different bodies. For example, according to Cevdet the Circassians settled in Çukurova had been moved to

22 23

BOA, İ-DH 551/38360, No. 1 (6 Muharrem 1283 [21 May 1866]). BOA, MVL 707/87, to Adana Valisi (14 Safer 1282 [9 July 1865]).


Uzunyayla “because mountain people cannot live on the plains.”24 In other cases he argued that certain newcomers were well-suited to the local geography. He claimed, for example, that Tatars from Kuban settled in Çukurova were able to handle the climate because they were from a rivervalley region of Crimea.25 Since the constitution of these communities was determined more by habit and experience rather than a hardcoded biological or racial essence, there was room for flexibility, but the tribes settled in Çukurova were by Cevdet’s definition mountain people in every sense. The mountains were their “home (sıla)”; they associated mountain spaces with good health. This is why the powerful Afşar tribe preferred to settle permanently at higher elevations even if it meant spending cold winters in a barren mountain landscape.26 Yet, like most settlers of the period immigrant, tribal, and otherwise, the pastoralist communities of Cilicia did not have much say in the matter. The underlying logic of settlement policy dictated that the least salubrious areas would be targeted for settlement. Because both immigrants and nomads were employed towards the goal of developing previously uncultivated land, most were settled in sparsely-populated regions of low-lying plains such as Çukurova despite understandings of health and disease ecology that might have dictated otherwise. In this case, the political goal of pacification and the more radical objective of encouraging settlement trumped any concerns about the health impacts of Çukurova’s geography. This policy would bring catastrophic suffering and sorrow to the inhabitants of the new Cilicia.

Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 182. Similar racial discourses about disease had buttressed the employment of African slaves in the hot climate of the American South, though the descendants of these slaves would suffer from malaria well into post-segregation era. See Humphreys, Malaria : poverty, race, and public health in the United States. 26 BOA, MVL 712/104 (2 Rebiulevvel 1282 [14 July 1865]); Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 147. 24 25


Feverish Years As explained in Chapter 1, seasonal migration was critical to understandings of health among not just pastoralist communities but all inhabitants of Adana during the early modern period. The hot, sticky summers of Çukurova were indelibly linked with the distinct symptoms of malaria. The fever and shivering associated with this disease were understood to be a product of the hot weather and bad air of the area during summer. According to today’s understandings, the fact that Çukurova offered ample breeding ground for the anopheles mosquito, the sole vector of malaria, made it such a difficult place to spend the warm months during which those insects proliferate. By settling nomads in these areas, the Ottoman administration subjected these communities to elevated disease risks. Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives in human blood and is spread between humans by the bite of an anopheles mosquito. Only the female anopheles mosquito can be a vector for malaria since only she engages in bloodfeeding.27 Mosquitoes are prolific breeders and require only stagnant water for their larvae to hatch. Buckets, irrigation ditches, and other human-made bodies of water are sufficient to provide a breeding ground. As Norbert Becker writes, “there is hardly any aquatic habitat anywhere in the world that does not lend itself as a breeding site for mosquitoes.”28 However, natural sources of sitting water such as swamps, marshes, rivers, lakes and the like have historically been the most flourishing environments of the mosquito. Some mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in large flooded or reeded zones such as swamps where water is still.29 Thus, in between the reeds with which the settlers of Çukurova built their huts lurked the future makers of their malarial misery.


Norbert Becker, Mosquitoes and Their Control (Berlin; London: Springer, 2010), 22. Ibid., 9. 29 Ibid., 12. 28


Because mosquitoes are cold-blooded, their most active periods of the year are the warm months when temperatures remain high. As such, mosquitoes thrive in the hot summer sun of the Mediterranean littoral. Like many bloodfeeders, some mosquitoes do their best work at night when the cover of darkness and slumber render their prey especially vulnerable, but there are others that feed during the day and at dusk as well. There are dozens of species of anopheles mosquitoes worldwide that are significant vectors of the malaria parasite. The two main strains of that malaria parasite present in Çukurova during the Ottoman period are Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum. P. vivax is the less lethal of the two species and requires an isotherm of 16° C to thrive; P. falciparum, the more dangerous of the two, requires a summer isotherm of 20° C to proliferate.30 Thus, the malaria of tropical and subtropical climates is especially lethal for those lacking resistance. Depending on the year, the climate of Adana maintains an average mean temperature of above 20° C from May through October, meaning that the malarial months began in late spring and ended in autumn during the Ottoman period, a few weeks after the last bites of the season. Once temperatures drop below 10° C, mosquitoes begin to hibernate, meaning that regions or months with lower temperatures would be free of malaria risk. The mean annual temperature of most regions of the Taurus Mountains north of Adana is below 10° C.31 In part because of this fact and especially due to the lack of sitting water, these areas of high elevation exceeding 1000-1200 meters are not typically malarial zones.32 The seasonal migrations to the mountains in Cilicia that began in May and ended with a gradual return at the end of summer were timed perfectly to avoid the malarial months and 30

Ibid., 28. Ibrahim Atalay, Recep Efe, and Münir Öztürk, "Effects of Topography and Climate on the Ecology of Taurus Mountains in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey," SBSPRO Procedia 120(2014): 147. 32 For example, this was the maximum elevation deemed necessary for DDT spraying in the Adana region during anti-malarial activities of the 1950s. 31


therefore offered the ultimate prophylactic against the disease. By migrating en masse to regions where mosquitoes could not thrive, pastoralist communities were subjected to very negligible risk of malaria, as almost no one among their community would carry the parasite in their blood. Other aspects of pastoralist life such as the maintenance of large flocks may have further reduced exposure to malaria. If the mosquitos of Çukurova were as “zoophilic” as research suggests, pastoralists were to enjoy a type of mosquito-borne-disease resistance called zooprophylaxis due to the vector’s preference for the blood of animals such as goats and donkeys.33 Settlement was experienced as a dramatic turn in the relationship of these communities with the disease environment, as malaria risk suddenly rose from effectively zero to threatening every single member of the community. Though known primarily for its lingering and debilitating effects, malaria is often a fatal disease. For them, even P. vivax, which is generally associated with milder but recurring fevers, could become a lethal affair. The more deadly species of malaria, P. falciparum strikes suddenly with severe fever, often killing the infected with painful symptoms such as brain inflammation. During the Ottoman period, this variety of malaria known through its particular symptoms and effects was known as kara sıtma or “black fever/malaria.”34 Because malaria is a parasite that lives in human blood, it can remain there and impact the host year after year. The first encounter with malaria is the most likely to be deadly. In this 33

O. Demirhan and M. Kasap, "Bloodfeeding behavior of Anopheles sacharovi in Turkey," Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 11, no. 1 (1995). For more on zooprophylaxis see Allan Saul, "Zooprophylaxis or zoopotentiation: the outcome of introducing animals on vector transmission is highly dependent on the mosquito mortality while searching," Malaria Journal 2, no. 32 (2003). There are also forms of genetic resistance to malaria that develop within populations that experience continued contact with the disease over many generations. Evidence of these types of resistance in the form of blood conditions such as sickle cell can be found mainly in tropical regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa but also in a smaller degree throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean littoral. However, it is doubtful that transhumant populations of Anatolia, who spent parts of the year in the interior would have enjoyed significant genetic resistance, nor would have Caucasian immigrants. No human body can be said to be well-suited to a malarial environment, but these communities were particular ill fit much as Ahmed Cevdet had noted. 34 Tevfik Rüştü (Aras), Sıtma'ya Karşı Muharebe (The Battle Against Malaria) (Selanik: Rumeli Matbaası, 1326 [1910]), 1.


regard, malaria is especially dangerous for infants and children. Children born to women who experience malaria during pregnancy often suffer from low birth weight, making them more vulnerable to various illnesses and leading to high rates neonatal mortality. 35 The way that malaria interacts with pregnancy also has harsh results for women who become afflicted with maternal malaria. The intermittent fevers typical of P. vivax infection that are normally manageable become more severe and even fatal; malaria during pregnancy greatly raises the risk of miscarriage or infant death. In nineteenth-century conditions, birth to a mother suffering from malaria meant a likely premature death. Worse yet perhaps, women with malaria are at high risk of dying during or immediately following childbirth.36 As for men, impotence is among the most psychologically severe effects of malaria. Added to this was the likely feeling of impotence due to inability to work. Because the malaria sufferer often remains bedridden, the disease is a major disruption to labor and livelihood of families, particularly in rural settings. In fact, as malaria epidemiology was more completely understood during the twentieth century, Turkey and many other states would begin to treat malaria as a distinctly rural disease (more in Chapter 12). The disease environment described above is precisely what faced those who tried to settle in the lowlands of late Ottoman Cilicia. Because of the pervasive risk of malaria in Çukurova, the first full summer of settlement in the plains did not pass smoothly. Cevdet remarked that the tribes accustomed to nomadism (göçebelik) “abhorred” the settlement orders from the beginning.37 Consul Skene of Aleppo reported in August of 1866 that the Turkmen tribes that normally migrated between Çukurova and Kozan were in revolt. “[Cevdet] Pasha destroyed their


C. Luxemburger et al., "Effects of Malaria during Pregnancy on Infant Mortality in an Area of Low Malaria Transmission," American Journal of Epidemiology 154, no. 5 (2001): 459-65. 36 Patrick E. Duffy and Michal Fried, "Pregnancy Malaria throughout History: Dangerous labors," in Malaria in pregnancy: deadly parasite, susceptible host, ed. Patrick E. Duffy and Michal Fried (London; New-York: Taylor and Francis, 2001). 37 Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 179.


tents, and built village for them on the low grounds,” he explained. “Suffering of late severely from the heat and unhealthiness of the latter, they begged to be allowed to pass a couple of months on the cool heights of the Taurus range, but that permission was refused, and they have declared themselves in open revolt, burning their villages and retiring to their strongholds in the mountains where they are preparing to defend themselves against all attempts to dislodge them.”38 In this case, reinforcements from Aleppo were used to force these communities to return to their villages for the remainder of the season, and in subsequent years, the province would use police to limit the movement of recently settled pastoralists where possible.39 Because the provincial government did everything in its power to prevent the new settlers from migrating during the summer, the period from the beginning of the Reform Division’s activities in summer of 1865 until the summer of 1873 was one of intense suffering brought on by the epidemic spread of malaria and the loss of livestock due to insufficient pasture. Quantifying the impact of malaria and other settlement-induced factors on the population of Çukurova during the 1860s and 70s is hazardous. The Ottoman government did not keep any reliable statistics about mortality of its subjects during the period in question, and in fact, available population figures are hardly reflections of reality.40


TNA, FO 195/800, 1866 No. 10, Skene to Lyons (22 August 1866). TNA, FO 195/800, 1866 No. 10, Skene to Lyons (22 August 1866). 40 When they could, Ottoman subjects often resorted to elaborate measures in order to avoid being counted. In one baffling case, it seems some villagers in Sinop successfully convinced the Ottoman government that their children were being carried off by a hyena-like creature. Samuel Dolbee, "The Hyena Monster of Sinop and the Vagaries of Ottoman Population Counts," Tozsuz Evrak, no. 12 (2 August 2012). During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, references to these large number of unregistered inhabitants appear in the archival record and elsewhere as “hidden population (nüfus-i mektume).” Officials were aware of these uncounted individuals and often included estimates of their possible numbers in their reports. For example, the census official in Adana report in 1897 that likely 20% of province’s population was not registered and that people deliberately misrepresented their birth, death, and marriage dates. BOA, Y-PRK-DH 9/41 (5 January 1897). Another good example of this phenomenon arises from a report on the sancak of Lattakia in Syria and the Nusayri population of the mountains. It offers detailed population statistics in the form of tables, only to indicate that actual figures were more than 25% higher due to an inability to properly count people in the mountains. BOA, Y-PRK-UM 2/43, no. 1 (8 Şevval 1297 / 30 Ağustos 1296 [12 September 1880]). Although census and registration practices improved over the last decades of Ottoman rule, in Adana, there consistent references to large numbers of “hidden population” right up to the World War I period. 39


The issue is further complicated by the fact that no official publication ever alluded to this suffering or the impacts of settlement. It is only mentioned, as far as I can tell, in archival correspondence and a handful of documents referring to modification of settlement policy. This was after the pitiful health situation of these settlers drew serious attention because their floundering was becoming detrimental to the needs of the state. In a series of documents from 1876 that redefined the terms of settlement for these pastoralist communities, the general contours of settlement’s impacts were laid bare. Settlement had led to “the loss of a great many lives in terms of population and livestock (nüfusça ve hayvanatça pek çok telefat).” The stark impact of settlement in the area of health and mortality was particularly glaring among the youth; whereas in the past these communities “were raising able-bodied men of age fit for military service, now it is rarely seen.”41 The issue of disease had been compounded by the fact that while sheep and goats had comprised the backbone of pastoralist society in Cilicia as the ungulate proletariat that bore the brunt of suffering in terms of scarcity and hardship, preventing these communities from migrating meant that pasture was extremely scarce. While the soil was fertile, the combination of exacerbating factors led to a condition in which instead of a gradual expansion of agriculture and prosperity, the settlements of Eastern Çukurova saw “local wealth and prosperity regressing day by day.” The ill-effects of settlement were thus resulting in considerable losses in terms of military and tax base.

See BOA, DH-MKT 541/51 (9 Rebiulahir 1320); DH-İD 80/26 (28 Receb 1332 [9 June 1914]), pg. 2. Ottoman subjects chose to hide their numbers not only to avoid paying taxes; for Muslim subjects, escaping conscription, which was being newly implemented throughout the empire during the Tanzimat period, was perhaps the most significant source of motivation. Most of the tribal communities in the Cilicia region had avoided conscription during the Crimean War, and during the first years of settlement the draft lottery was conducted only with intense supervision. As a result of these factors, official population statistics reflect the number of inhabitants the state was capable of counting rather than accurate numbers, which were often much higher. For more, see Kemal H. Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985); Justin McCarthy, Muslims and Minorities : the population of Ottoman Anatolia and the end of the empire (New York: New York University Press, 1983). 41 BOA, ŞD 2117/55, No. 4 (24 Rebiulahir 1293 [19 May 1876]).


Much as indicated in the Ottoman documents described above, British Consul Lt. Bennet found demographic devastation in the countryside of Çukurova during his visit. His most severe estimate regarded the Nogay Tatars settled at Yarsuvat (modern-day Ceyhan), whose numbers had plummeted by 80% from roughly 15,000 to just 3,000. He likewise noted that half of the newly arriving immigrants from the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 had perished by late 1880.42 This is not the only report pertaining to such immigrants in Çukurova reflecting staggering numbers. While frequent Ottoman reports with language stating that, for example, in the case of immigrants settled in Adana in 1878, “most of them (ekserisi) are dying due to the heaviness of the air” may seem vague or hyperbolic, such levels of mortality were a possibility. 43 The case of local pastoralists settled in Çukurova appears to have been less statistically extreme though still very striking. Bennet estimated that roughly half of the people settled by the Reform Division in Çukurova had died “after three or four summers on the plain” and their flocks and dwindled accordingly.44 The only detailed numbers pertaining to post-settlement demographic change arise from the Ottoman yearbooks or salnames for this period.45 These sources do not contain reliable raw population data for the reasons mentioned above, but available estimates for certain districts


TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). French travelers Favre and Mandrot made similar observations about post-Crimean War migrants after their Cilician excursion in 1874. Favre and Mandrot, Voyage en Cilicie, 40. 43 BOA, İ-ŞD 40/2123, no. 2 (12 Ramazan 1295 [28 August 1878]). 44 TNA, FO 424/132, pg. 110, Bennet to Dufferin (22 March 1882). Gould’s dissertation contains some additional lengthy quotations from Bennet. Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885". 45 Special thanks to Mehtap Çelik and her students at Mersin University for sharing some of their salname research with me. The data in salnames for this period presents a number of analytical challenges. The Cilicia region, which was part of the Aleppo province until 1868, was reorganized as the Province of Adana. There was some shifting in the boundaries of districts. In addition, salnames are inconsistent in terms of how population data is represented. Sometimes only the number of households is given. Sometimes both population and number of households. General population figures for this period in Adana appear to represent only adult males, but this is apparently not the case for other salnames. For example, the Aleppo salnames appear to switch over to representing both male and female population in H. 1288, because the population suddenly doubles with no significant change in number of households.


might at least be compared to each other. For example, the numbers indicate a precipitous population decline in the district of Osmaniye. Whereas one assumes that better methods of registration and counting were pushing salname population numbers upward during the late 1860s and early 1870s, Osmaniye reflects a decline. The H. 1285 (1868) salname put the population of Osmaniye at roughly double what it would be by 1876 after years of decline; in other words, the salname indicates a 50% drop in population.46 No other districts reflected the level of population decline found in Osmaniye, although the nearby Kars district did experience an apparent small drop in contrast to the general rise observed in other districts.47 The lingering demographic impacts on settled communities in Çukurova would become more easily quantified as population figures improved in reliability over the final decades of Ottoman rule, but by then, the boundaries separating tribal communities from the other inhabitants of the region were obscured.48 According to the data of Vital Cuinet, the nomadic

Cengiz Eroğlu, Murat Babuçoğlu, and Mehmet Köçer, Osmanlı vilayet salnamelerinde Halep (Ankara: Global Strateji Enstitüsü, 2007), 184. The H. 1284 Salname of Aleppo offered population figures for most districts but not Osmaniye. SV-Haleb (1284 [1867]); SV-Adana (H. 1287 [1870]); SV-Adana (H. 1294 [1877]). These numbers are complicated by the fact that the population estimates for Osmaniye in H. 1286 (1869) were erroneously low. I hesitate to take this figure at face value. Ibid., 181. Another important indication might be that the population declined faster than the number of households listed in the salnames. In 1868, there were roughly 3 people (presumably adult males) per household whereas in 1876, there were just over 2. However, most of the districts in the Adana province reflect a similar decline in the ratio represented in population estimates. 47 Population estimates for Kars are not consistent over the 1867-1877 period. According to the data, the Kars district grew substantially between 1868 and 1870 but then proceeded to decline in population. 48 In an article published many years after his dissertation, Gould attempted to evaluate the demographic impact of settlement on the first generation after the Reform Division by comparing salname data from the 1860s and the 1890s. Gould found that while most districts increased significantly in population, the population in Kars, Sis, and Karaisalı decreased substantially between 1868 and 1890. This was despite an increase in the number of villages. Gould, "The Burning of the Tents," 82. Unfortunately, the figures provided by Gould, while conceivably accurate, do not reflect reliable data. I attempted to replicate Gould’s results and widened the pool of data to include the 1882/3-90 census tabulated by Karpat and averaged salname data for the years of 1867-1877 in order to reduce the effect of statistical fluctuations. It would seem that Gould did not recognize the fact that the 1860s data included only male population whereas the data from 1890 is from an overall census, which in fact makes the disparities between those figures far greater. However, it is also clear that Cuinet’s data diverges markedly from Karpat’s 1882/3-1890 census data, although the overall population numbers for the Adana province are virtually the same in both sources. If we evaluate Karpat’s data alongside the salname data, we find that the population in the census data for most districts of the Adana region is roughly double, we assume, because the census counted females. Kars, Osmaniye, and Karaisalı exhibited the least increase among these figures while the population of Adana, Payas, and Sis increased the most. In summary, Cuinet’s data was not reliable, the salname data is inconsistent, and even the Ottoman census data is probably only a rough approximation. The data, to the extent we may rely on it, does 46


population of Turkmen and Kurdish communities in the Adana province was almost 40,000, whereas that figure had been around 80,000 in the study of Victor Langlois. Meanwhile, the population of other groups had risen. Perhaps this represented a significant decline in population, perhaps the estimates contained a wide margin of error, or perhaps many had come to be labeled as what Cuinet referred to as “Ottomans proprement dits” by the 1890s.49 Whatever the mortality figures might have been, contemporary observations of life in Çukurova portended trouble for communities settled there. Bennet remarked that in the villages of Eastern Çukurova there were “hardly any children.”50 His observation, while not offering a means of quantitatively evaluating the impacts of settlement, illustrates what malaria and mortality meant for families. Though often obscured within academic historiography, the daily deaths of parents, spouses, children, relatives, friends, or patrons are events laden with intense emotion. Among the communities of Cilicia, as was the case throughout most of the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere, a common aspect of mourning and marking of a beloved or important individual’s death was a lament or ağıt, a song telling the story of that person’s life, exploits, and ultimate passing. These laments serve as vivid snapshots of individual instances of suffering deemed significant enough for posterity. A collection of such songs from the area surrounding Sarız in the Taurus Mountains, a major area of settlement for Afşars, reflects the extent to which disease and malaria in particular played a role in this memory. Numerous songs about those who died of disease illustrate that

indicate low to zero population growth in certain regions of tribal settlement, and given that many immigrants had also been settled in those areas, the general conclusion that high mortality and low rates of reproduction in those areas prevailed appears accurate. See SV-Adana (H. 1287, 1293, 1294); Eroğlu, Babuçoğlu, and Köçer, Osmanlı vilayet salnamelerinde Halep, 174-84; Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics, 124-27; Vidal Cuinet, La Turquie d'Asie, vol. 2 (Paris: Leroux, 1891), 5. 49 Cuinet, La Turquie d'Asie; Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie. As Gould notes, even if the Afşars were not counted in these statistics due to their being settled outside of the boundaries of the Adana province, the numbers still reflect a 22% decrease. Gould, "The Burning of the Tents," 84. 50 TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880).


sickness was both traumatic and quotidian. In one song, a headstrong teenager storms off to Adana over a disagreement with his family. When his mother goes after him, she arrives to find he has already died of malaria.51 In another a man goes to Adana to sell livestock and meets the same fate; his sister writes his lament.52 Yet another tells the story of Avşar, the brother of a famous female lament composer named Kır Sultan, who during the first years of settlement during the 1860s becomes ill, resulting in his inability to have children. According to the local customs, he is placed inside a sheep skin in hopes that he will recover, but instead he passes out and dies without progeny.53 Most symbolically, the lament of Hacı Bey, the Afşar leader who negotiated their settlement with Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, tells the tale of his sickness and passing soon after settlement in Pınarbaşı.54 Disease was not the only danger threatening new settlers. Limitations on migration made it difficult to sustain livestock numbers. For example, the Afşars who settled on the yayla, rather than facing the risk of malaria, were confronted with the challenge of passing the winter in the brutally cold and snowy Taurus Mountains. Many animals died of cold and lack of pasture during the winter, and as a result, many humans died as well. Molla Mehmet’s lament, composed by his daughter, explains these hard times and her father’s death of tuberculosis.55 Besim Atalay’s Maraş Tarihi contained another song, recorded decades later among old Turkmens who had survived the settlement process. One old man wept as he uttered the lyrics of a Dadaloğlu composition: Padişahtan ferman geldi, ne diyem? Yolumuza iskân düştü gideyim Yeşil yayları kime terkeyim?

The decree came from the Sultan, what can I say? Settlement has come our way, so I’ll go To whom should I leave the green yaylas?

Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar, 263. Ibid., 267. 53 Ibid., 129. 54 Ibid., 303. 55 Ibid., 333. 51 52


Kapandı yaylası, yolu Afşar’ın

The Afşar’s yayla and way are closed56

In his earliest work from the 1940s, Yaşar Kemal sought to compile the folklore of Çukurova and the various laments found around in the area surrounding his native village of Hemite, and through a perusal of these snapshots of suffering, he became acquainted with the memory of tribal settlement.57 His collection of essays called Çukurova Yana Yana described the accounts of settlement relayed by an old storyteller in his native village. He explained, in simple terms how the Ottoman army defeated the tribes and settled them into the plain: “They stuffed the tribes into Çukurova... Patrol brigades were sent to the mountains. The people started dying of malaria (sıtma).”58 Disease and settlement are closely linked in the memory of Çukurova’s rural communities. This association serves to underscore the way in which nomadic pastoralists were subjugated and forced to take up village life against their collective will. By the 1940s, the pastoralist population of the Adana region had for the most part sedentarized. The process of settlement was remembered bitterly among the people of Çukurova who knew the songs of Dadaloğlu and other bards.59 In the absence of firm statistics about malaria mortality in Çukurova during the 1870s, we might at least look to a case of comparison. In colonial Bengal, seasonally-migratory populations had been subject to British settlement policies, leading to epidemics that were studied by colonial doctors. While these scientists possessed no exact explanation for the cause of malarial fever at the time, their detailed statistics regarding mortality give us a snapshot of what it meant to contract malaria in a nineteenth-century settlement region with a sub-tropical climate. While

Atalay, Maraş Tarihi ve Coğrafyası, 70. Kemal and Dino, Ağıtlar : Folklor derlemesi. 58 Kemal, Çukurova Yana Yana, 12. 59 One such song, complaining of mosquitoes, swamps, and longing for the yayla was recorded by Pertev Naili Boratav. Boratav, Çukurova'da folklor derlemeleri, 268-69. Gould has made a translation of the poem along with a few others. Gould, "The Burning of the Tents," 83. 56 57


impacts were varied, in some of the settlements of Bengal created by the British, malaria mortality exceeded 25%.60 The experience of local pastoralists in Çukurova likely resembled their counterparts in Bengal more so than their immigrant neighbors, who were utterly decimated by local disease environments. Settlement claimed many lives, but ultimately its worst impacts would be impoverishment and marginalization. The divergence of these fates was the result of economic and ecological factors; though not well-suited for immediate settlement, Cilicia’s tribes possessed certain forms of wealth and knowledge about the local geography that enabled them to confront the hardships of settlement more easily than needy immigrants from the Black Sea basin. However, immigrants were also less fortunate than tribes in that their fates were hitched to the horses of the Ottoman state. They were dependent on that state for material support and security, and were unable to move without its permission and assistance. Cilicia’s local pastoralists by contrast were still largely in opposition to the state, which sought forcibly to limit their movements and disrupt a preexisting ecology. This point became especially clear when the state’s finances began to falter at the beginning of the 1870s, reducing budgetary allocations for expensive projects such as settlement while increasing tax burdens, meanwhile weakening the state presence and allowing pastoralists to migrate and move more freely once again. If geography had been the main barrier to settlement, the political economy of the 1870s would deal the most critical blow to Ottoman settlement policy in Cilicia and the efforts of the Reform Division.


Samanta, Malarial Fever in Colonial Bengal.


Flight or Famine From the time of the Reform Division’s arrival, Cilicia’s pastoralist communities were hostile towards the settlement orders and most notably limitations on summer migration. These orders could not be enforced with mere words. They could only be kept in their villages during the summer by the soldiers that patrolled the mountains and guarded key roads and passes. Constant surveillance and armed presence was necessary for the Ottoman government to keep people in their places. Yet, financial and political issues began to preoccupy the Ottoman administration, and in 1873, less than a decade after the genesis of the Reform Division, the region saw a sudden resurgence in transhumance and a general disregard for the settlement orders.61 This surge in movement may have simply resulted from the dissolution of police and military presence in the Cilician countryside, which had gradually faded due to budgetary constraints and the thanklessness of tasks such as patrolling mountain passes.62 But the resurgence of transhumance was like fueled by economic upheaval and panic in Ottoman Anatolia as well. From 1873 to 1875, severe famine ravaged the more inland regions such as Ankara and Yozgat. Starvation was especially concentrated in the rural areas, catalyzed by a period of intense drought. It was by no means the first famine to visit the Anatolian heartland, though it may well have been the most pronounced. Somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 people died during these years of crisis.63 The level of starvation was shocking and attracted international attention in the form of relief efforts, but Anatolian peasants were by no means

BOA, ŞD 2117/55, No. 4 (24 Rebiulahir 1293 [19 May 1876]). Lt. Bennet remarked that police were not regularly paid in the Adana province and was particularly struck by the fact that the few police he met in Gavurdağı did not even have uniforms. TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). 63 Özge Ertem, "Eating the last seed : famine, empire, survival and order in Ottoman Anatolia in the late 19th century" (European University Institute, 2012), 13. 61 62


alone in their misery.64 Catastrophic famine had hit Algeria and Iran a few years prior. 65 Indeed, during the 1870s, Egypt, Brazil and vast swaths of the Chinese countryside would all fall prey to drought-induced famines on a scale that was previously unrecorded.66 While drought and famine are often synonymous in historical sources, the work of Cormac Ó Gráda and others on the history of famine points to layers of causality for shortage and starvation that include natural factors and disasters, political economy, the functioning of transportation networks and markets, cycles of poverty, and other socioeconomic factors.67 In other words, famine is not the absence of calories but rather a situation in which some have access to food and others do not. Thus, in the background of this discussion of drought-induced famine in the Ottoman Empire during the 1870s should be a consideration of the rapid administrative restructuring, commercialization of agriculture, and reorganization of taxation that had recently occurred. Glimmers of impending economic crisis emerged on the margins of the empire in the years leading up to 1873. Famine in Binghazi during 1871 and 1872 that impelled refugees to even take to the sea portended possible trouble for other Ottoman regions. 68 The Ottoman administration was ill-equipped to provide famine relief or prevent an exodus of starving peasants. As another year of drought descended on Anatolia in 1873, panic ensued. In autumn 1873, reports came in that grain stores in many of the villages had been looted due to the shortages from provinces of inner Anatolia such as Yozgat, which began to receive grain from


BOA, HR-TO 250/21 (24 May 1875); 250/32 (26 July 1875). See Gallois, The Administration of Sickness : medicine and ethics in nineteenth-century Algeria. Also BOA, HRSYS 4/29 (8 September 1871). 66 For a discussion of these waves of global famine, see Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts : El Niño famines and the making of the third world. 67 Cormac Ó Gráda, Famine : a short history (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009). 68 BOA, ŞD 1376/7 (21 Safer 1288 [30 April 1871]); 251/17 (13 Rebiulahir 1289 [8 June 1872]). 65


İzmit and Sivas.69 When more local sources of reserves proved insufficient, the Ottoman government prepared to send large shipments of grain from elsewhere. 70 Additional help in the form of tax relief was another basic means of assisting the Anatolian peasants. Yet, famine relief was not a simple matter of adjusting economic arrangements or sending grain. Even when grain was sent, the possibility that merchants and officials would hoard or sell grain at unfair prices loomed large.71 When it came to drought, Adana was geographically fortunate. Çukurova’s position between the mountains and the sea meant that even in dry years, water and rain were rarely scarce to the point that starvation threatened the region as a whole. 72 The Adana region supplied emergency grain to Cyprus, for example, in 1872 as shortages raged elsewhere. 73 However, the harvest of 1873 reflected the effects of drought, with the wheat harvest of Adana registering at just 20% of the prior year’s total.74 The harvest of 1874 was excellent, however.75 In fact, Adana was one of the principal towns that became a refuge for those fleeing starvation in the countryside, only to become the place of their deaths in a much less fortunate disease geography. The New York Times reported in January of 1875 that as a result of famine in Anatolia, “50,000 persons have migrated from various parts of the country to the City of Adana, half of whom have since succumbed to disease. The strange climate, distress, and extreme rapaciousness of the tax-

BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 466/45 (21 Şaban 1290 [2 October 1873]); 469/30 (9 Şevval 1290 [18 November 1873]). BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 466/65 (23 Şaban 1290 [4 October 1873]). 71 Ertem, "Eating the last seed : famine, empire, survival and order in Ottoman Anatolia in the late 19th century", 74. 72 This being said, there had been droughts in the Adana-Tarsus during prior decades severe enough to merit tax reductions for the residents of the region. BOA, A-MKT 128/100 (14 Cemaziulevvel 1264 [6 April 1848]); MVL 25/22 (4 Receb 1264 [25 May 1848]). 73 BOA, ŞD 243/24 (29 Receb 1289 [20 September 1872]). 74 Report upon the commercial relations of the United States with foreign countries for the year ending September 30, 1874, (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1875), 1129. 75 Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 186; Report upon the commercial relations of the United States with foreign countries for the year ending September 30, 1874, 1129. 69 70


gatherers aggravate the mortality.”76 E.J. Davis reported that half of the people who had come to Adana during the winter of 1874 had died of disease.77 Like the pastoralists and immigrants who toiled in the swamps of Çukurova, famine victims who fled to the more fertile fields of Adana were met only with malaria and disease.78 Suffering was spread unevenly in the region. Settler populations in Eastern Çukurova, particularly among immigrants, were already dropping fast. Malaria had killed thousands and created abnormal rates of infant mortality. Farmers suffering from severe fevers were often too weary to properly work their fields. Poverty and indebtedness were becoming rampant. Pastoralists unaccustomed to agriculture struggled to provide as flock numbers dwindled. Whatever grain stores existed were likely depleted during the first years of settlement. Meanwhile, the province possessed poor roads beyond the strip connecting Adana to Tarsus and Mersin, meaning that the only paths in Eastern Çukurova were small dirt roads that were frequently impassable due to flooding on the low and swampy plain.79 Although Adana had grain to spare, transportation during the famine had been inadequate for those supplies to reach the interior.80 As the main trade routes increasingly flowed between Kayseri and Adana and from Adana to the sea, Eastern Çukurova was cut off from the economic networks that would possibly bring relief.

“The Asia Minor Famine,” New York Times (1 January 1875), pg. 1. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 169. 78 In another article from The New York Times, the disease mentioned in Adana and Tarsus were dysentery and typhus; yet, because it was difficult to separate the symptoms of these ailments from malaria and because reports of epidemic fever were often reported as typhus at the time (malaria’s transmission being unknown), we might expect that even more than those diseases, malaria killed those who fled to Adana in the summer. “Famine in Asia: a record of suffering,” The New York Times (26 July 1875), pg. 3. Typhus is caused by a bacteria transmitted by skin parasites such as fleas and ticks, and should not be confused with typhoid, a disease of similar symptoms transmitted through bodily fluids and therefore most commonly in contaminated water. 79 TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). 80 Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 187. 76 77


The uneven infrastructure and coverage of trade networks in Çukurova not only affected food supplies but access to other essential goods such as medicine. Although malaria was suddenly part of daily life for newly settled tribes and immigrants, access to anti-malarial medicines was difficult to secure. E.J. Davis offers a fascinating window into what it meant to contract malaria in the Cilician countryside. While touring Çukurova, he contracted a horribly debilitating fever that left him bed-ridden in Mersin. He secured some quinine at an exorbitantly expensive rate, but soon understood that it was highly diluted and of poor quality.81 Davis may well have died of malaria without that medicine; indeed many Europeans visiting semi-tropical regions met such a fate.82 Moreover, as unfortunate as Davis may have seemed, having spent considerable money on marginally effective drugs, he was nevertheless quite fortunate compared to the average immigrant or pastoralist. When they contracted malaria, they would have been in no position to purchase a medicine that at any rate was virtually unknown to their communities. While it would become common for the Ottomans to send doctors and medicine to sick communities of immigrants in Anatolia (discussed in Chapter 6), government dispensation of doctors and quinine in the countryside was very sparse at the time.83 I found no evidence of doctors being sent to communities in Eastern Çukurova before the new wave of immigration following the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-78.84 Leaving aside the poverty in the eastern portion of the Çukurova plain, the economy of Adana was reeling in its own right. The resurgence of American cotton production after the US Civil War and the collapse of global cotton prices during the 1870s with the onset of a global 81

Ibid., 464-66. A travel companion of his in fact died of disease while in Adana. Ibid., 179. 83 One rare example I have found from the period comes from Mount Lebanon, where in summer of 1876, the kaymakam petitioned the Ottoman government for shipments of free medicine to alleviate the impending impact of malaria, which he mentioned would be especially acute among the Druze villagers. BOA, ŞD 262/53 (14 Cemaziulahir 1293 [25 June 1876]). 84 Four doctors were sent to treat these settlers in Çukurova. BOA, İ-ŞD 40/2123, no. 2 (12 Ramazan 1295 [28 August 1878]). 82


depression that some argue lasted for decades hit Ottoman planters hard.85 Cotton production had grown rapidly since 1860 and many landowners had become highly-invested in this white gold. Faced with their own economic woes, cultivators and merchants actually sought to export grain from Adana to the Mediterranean in the midst of the Anatolian famines, despite its being banned by the Ottoman government, and local officials could do little to stop it.86 With many cultivators becoming deeply indebted and institutions such as the Ottoman administration and the British Relief Commission possessing limited capacity to force local actors to respond properly, the poor of Cilicia struggled to survive. A correspondent for The London Times who passed through Çukurova and into inner Anatolia remarked that “the rich are now poor; the poor are dead or have emigrated,” and he described meeting small communities of pastoralists and villagers who had sold their animals and fled elsewhere.87 Flight to another province may have helped hungry peasants in some cases to avoid starvation, but the economic conditions that contributed to the famine in Anatolia pervaded the Ottoman Empire. Adding to drought, local food shortages, provincial weakness, and poor infrastructure in rural Anatolia was a pervasive lack of money afflicting the Ottoman budget. While the 1860s had brought a tremendous wave of state interventions in the Ottoman countryside, medicine for sick peasants was hardly a priority for Ottoman statesman confronted with the imminent financial collapse of the empire. Following the Crimean War, the Ottoman Empire received large loans from European lenders. In fact, the year that saw the ambitious

Şevket Pamuk, "The Ottoman Empire in the "Great Depression" of 1873-1896," The Journal of Economic History 44, no. 1 (1984). 86 Ertem, "Eating the last seed : famine, empire, survival and order in Ottoman Anatolia in the late 19th century", 174. 87 “Famine in Asia: a record of suffering,” The New York Times (26 July 1875), pg. 3. 85


activities of the Reform Division represented the peak of Ottoman borrowing.88 With the financial woes of the 1870s and the mounting famine, 1873 became a year that would rival 1865 in terms of total borrowing (see Table 3).89 While major investments in the military and administration of the empire had been expected to help build a stronger tax base, debt at interest rates between 8 and 10% mounted much faster than revenues, and with the global financial crisis, by 1875, the Ottoman Empire would face bankruptcy. This resulted in the formation of an international commission charged with managing the Ottoman Public Debt, which placed a significant portion of the empire’s budget under the control of foreign entities.90 Table 3 Loans Taken by Ottoman Government in £91 1854

























22,141,818 1877


Within this context, commitment to sustained settlement efforts was wavering. While Cevdet Pasha, local merchants and officials, and foreign consuls in the region may have viewed the Reform Division as a firm step in the direction of civilization, the view from Istanbul was different. The fact that the Reform Division had been funded with borrowed money added a dark layer of irony to the story of its failures. During a trip back to the capital in 1866, Ahmed Cevdet


The Ottoman government took two large loans in 1865 to repay Crimean war debts and meet a large budget deficit. Murat Birdal, The Political Economy of Ottoman Public Debt: insolvency and European financial control in the late nineteenth century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 28. 89 Most of this debt was also for budget deficit. Ibid., 28. 90 Ibid., 39. 91 Based on data in ibid., 28.


had been ridiculed by his contemporaries for embroiling the Ottoman state in such an exorbitantly expensive affair that essentially amounted to building houses for shepherds. Kamil Pasha quipped that Ahmed Cevdet was a spendthrift (mutasarrıf bir adamdır).92 Although Fuad Pasha had supported the Reform Division initially, Cevdet felt betrayed that he did not defend the activities being carried out in the Cilician countryside. “The world of politics is another world,” Cevdet remarked, where “one would sacrifice even their own sibling.”93 Although houses were still unbuilt, police supervision was still required to prevent migration, and other improvements were needed in the lives of newly settled pastoralists, funding petered out in part due to lack of support in Istanbul. The long task of settlement would be impossible given the state’s financial woes. Cevdet had already advocated some important public works projects in addition to the homes, tax exemptions, and salaries that the Reform Division showered upon relatively cooperative figures. But the improvement of the plain would prove boundlessly expensive. When in 1869, new settlers around Payas requested that swamps be drained to improve the health conditions of the region, a subsequent report recognized that “the heaviness of the air was a powerful barrier to the settlement order,” but due to the size of the swamps around Payas, the state could only afford to focus on draining smaller patches of wetlands. The “cleansing (tathir)” of the marshes stretching along the coast between Payas and Iskenderun would be postponed due to the impossibility of its expense, though the settlement policy would remain in place. 94 As will be discussed further in Chapter 6, such projects would in fact be put on hold for a very, very long time.

Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 173. Ibid., 175. 94 BOA, ŞD 2114/22, no. 1 (16 Rebiulevvel 1287 [4 June 1870]). 92 93


Far from being able to sustain the expenses required for proper settlement and improvement of land as deemed fit for civilization, the provincial budget was soon inadequate for even proper payment of police and soldiers to control the movements of the population. One French traveler noted that the government struggled to keep officials and military personnel in their posts during the fever-filled months of July, August, September, and October.95 Thus, while state presence in Cilicia had increased, security was by no means complete. Small acts of defiance began immediately after the initial campaigns of the Reform Division in 1864-65. In fact, a rebellion led by Ali Bekiroğlu Ali Agha in 1867 against the local government and the settlement orders in the region, while not a major threat to Ottoman rule, was already a sign that complete hegemony had not been achieved. British Consul J.H. Skene remarked that “the embarrassment it has caused foreshadows the manner in which Turkish rule will fall. The extreme financial exigencies of the central government had left the Provincial chest absolutely empty.”96 Skene may have underestimated the resilience of a malleable order that had survived for centuries in the Ottoman Empire; however, he was absolutely correct in identifying the tenuous nature of the changes the Reform Division had sought to bring about. Financial and administrative crisis might not have toppled the empire, but it did undermine its settlement policies in the countryside. Thus, during the years of turmoil beginning in 1873 and lasting through the Russo-Ottoman War until 1878, Ottoman hegemony in the Cilician countryside would not be contested outright, but rather subverted as the local inhabitants resumed their migratory practices, which were tacitly sanctioned and tolerated by a lack of state response. Gasping for a breath of fresh air, the communities settled by the Reform Division were slipping

95 96

Favre and Mandrot, Voyage en Cilicie, 21-23. TNA, FO 195/800, Skene to Lyons (22 May 1867).


through the cracks in the Tanzimat edifice to escape to higher pastures during summer, portending a near future in which this unsustainable ambiguity regarding the legitimacy of Ottoman authority in the area would be formally resolved. The Swan Song of the Derebeys and the Endurance of Transhumance The Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-78, known in Turkish as the ‘93 War97, represented a climax of instability for Tanzimat-era Ottoman society. Coming on the heels of financial crisis and widespread famine in the empire, the defeat further depleted the state coffers and resulted in another massive influx of poor and sick immigrants from the Caucasus and the Balkans numbering more than 100,000.98 In the heat of the crisis, popular discontent in the Cilician countryside escalated and found an outlet in two distinct forms of resistance, one of which precipitated an ephemeral panic and the other of which led to official concession of limited migratory rights to communities who had already eroded the completeness of Ottoman settlement policy. The more fleeting but much more conspicuous display of discontent in Cilicia at the time was that of the Kozanoğlu rebellion of 1878, during which the Ottoman administration briefly lost control of Adana’s hinterland and the main routes of travel. Kozanoğlu Ahmed Pasha was a close relative of Kozanoğlu Yusuf Pasha (see Chapter 3), who had been killed by Ottoman authorities during the Reform Division’s activities twelve years prior. The Kozanoğlus had been given salaries and settled in the Balkans and Istanbul. The women of the family meanwhile had maintained freedom of movement to look after the financial affairs and property of the Kozanoğlus. Thus, the Kozanoğlus enjoyed continued wealth after the Reform Division, and while they were living in exile, were able to maintain connections to the region. In 1876,

97 98

For the Rumi year of 1293. BOA, ŞD 2418/12 (8 Zilhicce 1295 [21 November 1878]).


Armenians in Zeytun led by Babik Pasha had expelled Ottoman authorities from the mountain village that had been relatively unaffected by the Reform Division (more in Chapter 7). 99 Coupled with the disorder caused by conscription problems during the war and the influx of migrants, a segment of disaffected Muslim inhabitants of Cilicia found an opportunity to rebel.100 In Spring of 1878, Ahmed Pasha requested that he and his family be permitted to move to Konya for a “change of air” during the summer, employing a pretext often used to escape Adana during the summer to sneak back in.101 But Kozanoğlu was not headed for the sweltering plain; from Konya, Ahmed Pasha would enter the Kozan region of the Taurus Mountains, the territories his family had governed for generations until the arrival of the Reform Division. The rebellion began in summer 1878, while local authorities were thoroughly occupied with Babik Pasha in Zeytun. Ahmed Pasha rallied support from around Sis as well as Belenköy, Çatma, Fekke and Rum in the mountains. A major component of the fighting force was drawn from among the disaffected tribes of the region who, having since learned to dodge the ban on migration, were already gathered on the yayla at the time.102 The rebellion also earned the support of some minor officials and perhaps most significantly, the müftü of Sis, all of whom were natives of the area.103 These notables had been eager to submit to the Reform Division


With the end of the Reform Division, Fuad Pasha had explicitly instructed Ahmed Cevdet to avoid using military force in Zeytun, asking him to act only in his capacity of governor. Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 178. 100 Kozanoğlu reported chiefly being encouraged by a number of local notables with whom he had corresponded from Istanbul: Çamurdanzade Mustafa Efendi, Şeyh Ali Efendi, Hocazade Abdullah Efendi, Müftü of Sis Halil Efendi, Müftü of Hadjin Mehmed Efendi, Karslı Hahim Efendi, Göçeli Halil Efendi, Samur Ağa, Vezir Ağa, Tabur Ağası Ahmed Ağa, and Yiğitoğlu Hüseyin Efendi. BOA, İ-DH 775/63109, no. 46 (12 Şevval 1295 [27 September 1878]). 101 BOA, ŞD 2889/13, no. 3 (4 Cemaziulevvel 1295 [25 April 1878]); CADC, CCC, Alep 35, pg. 283. Destrées to Waddington (31 August 1878); Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 532. 102 In his interrogations, Kozanoğlu mentioned in particularly a leader of the Sırkıntıs named Berber Abdullah. BOA, İ-DH 775/63109, no. 46 (12 Şevval 1295 [27 September 1878]). These rebels are referred to as “Kurds and Afşars” in Armenian sources. Poghosean, Hacheni endhanur patmut`iwne, 532. 103 In the interrogation records, most of the involved parties, including the müftü Halil Efendi and Kozanoğlu Ahmed Pasha himself deny active participation and portray themselves as having been coerced or convinced by others, often seeking to deflect blame. It is interesting to note that in the case of müftü Halil Efendi, the interrogators actually caught him lying about his active participation in the rebellion, even furnishing a letter written by Halil


some years before, but they were now the voice of discontent in the Cilician countryside. They forced the mutasarrıf of Sis to leave the area, took control of the roads, and set about destroying the telegraph lines.104 While Ottoman interrogation records of Kozanoğlu and his men reveal a tight-lipped pasha eager to minimize his punishment for an ill-fated rebellion, French consular sources more richly reflect the rhetoric wielded by Kozanoğlu’s uprising in the region. Kozanoğlu criticized the Ottoman government on its own terms, saying that they had not behaved as sound Muslim rulers and that the agricultural prosperity and order which had been promised by Cevdet Pasha and the Reform Division had not come to pass. With this new governing pact broken, Kozanoğlu issued a renewed claim to his ancestral territory, which had been passed down for more than three centuries.105 Kozanoğlu also blamed the Ottomans for not being able to defend the empire against Russian aggression; however, the rebellion was more about the mountains than religion or sect, as Kozanoğlu also sought to coordinate with Babik Pasha in Zeytun in order to expand the rebellion.106 While this coordination did not materialize, Kozanoğlu did receive the support of some Armenian notables in Hadjin.107 As if in an encore performance of Kozanoğlu Yusuf Pasha’s standoff with the Reform Division twelve years prior, the Ottoman administration responded to Ahmed Pasha by dispatching more than 2,600 soldiers along with 500 cavalry and 3 cannons to Kozan. 108 Cevdet Pasha and İzzet Pasha, who had been two of the principal figures in the Reform Division, came

Efendi himself during the course of the interrogation as evidence. Thus, while the nature of the testimonies in question often makes it difficult to understand the agency of particular figures, it seems that Ahmed Pasha, Halil Efendi and most of the others interrogated participated willingly in the rebellion despite their denial. BOA, İ-DH 775/63109, no. 45 (9 Şevval 1295 [24 September 1878]). 104 BOA, İ-DH 774/63021 (6 Şevval 1295 [21 September 1878]). 105 CADC, CCC, Alep 35, pg. 296. Destrées to Waddington (14 September 1878). 106 Miowtiwn, Zêytowni patmagirk [The History of Zeytun], 346-47. 107 Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 533. 108 CADC, CCC, Alep 35, pg. 300. Destrées to Waddington (28 September 1878)


to the Adana province as well to set about negotiating with Kozanoğlu and his men.109 Ahmed Cevdet went to Sis, and İzzet Pasha was sent to force Kozanoğlu’s surrender, offering the Sultan’s pardon.110 Upon his refusal, the Ottoman troops, which heavily outnumbered Kozanoğlu’s forces, headed into the mountains. As the rebels scattered, the Ottoman soldiers chased Kozanoğlu until finally meeting from opposite banks of the Zamantı River to negotiate his surrender.111 With this surrender, the family was once again exiled, this time with Ahmed Pasha and others being sent to Tripoli in modern-day Libya.112 Ahmed Pasha would die there in 1890.113 Yet, the children of the family would be allowed to continue their education in Istanbul following the rebellion, ensuring the family’s incorporation into the Ottoman elite.114 The Kozanoğlu name, memorialized by the rebellion of Yusuf Pasha against the Reform Division in 1866, remains synonymous with the defiant legacy of the Adana region’s tribes and local elite. “The Song of Kozanoğlu”, which commemorates that struggle, is part of the national corpus of folklore in Turkey today. In the Adana region, the song had already become widespread during the Ottoman period; as mentioned in the introduction to Part 1, Cilician Armenians of the diaspora in the United States remembered the saga of Kozanoğlu’s standoff with Ottoman authority decades after the expulsion of the region’s Armenian population with the withdrawal of the French occupation.115 The former residents of Hadjin made sure to include the

BOA, A-MKT-HM 483/6 (27 Şaban 1295 [14 August 1878]). Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 534. A copy of the pardon is available in the Ottoman archives. BOA, Y-PRK-AZJ 7/39 (1878?). 111 Ibid., 534-35. 112 BOA, İ-DH 776/63153 (12 Şevval 1295 [27 September 1878]). 113 BOA, DH-ŞFR 146/29 (8 October 1890). 114 BOA, İ-DH 786/63878 (17 Cemaziulahir 1296 [22 May 1879]). For a complete family tree of the Kozanoğlus up to the 1980s, see Kozanoğlu, Kozanoğulları. 115 Wolfram Eberhard found multiple versions of this song among Armenian-Americans, but in one case it appeared to have been modified to commemorate an Armenian notable of Hadjin that was loyal to Kozanoğlu instead. Eberhard, Minstrel tales from Southeastern Turkey, 54-56. 109 110


song in the village history they published in Los Angeles during the 1940s. As the lyrics go, “Mighty Kozanoğlu, whose fame is so great, said ‘I will not leave my place.’”116 The second Kozanoğlu rebellion, which had ended with no bloodshed and Ahmed Pasha surrendering to exile far from his ancestral mountains, marked the end of a time in which the heads of tribal lineages could serve as leaders of discrete political communities in the Adana region and defy Ottoman rule. Following this event, there would be no derebey rebellion of this nature in the region in the sense of an outright challenge to Ottoman rule by the old tribal notables. In other words, the Reform Division had succeeded in establishing political hegemony among the tribal communities of Cilicia. The derebeys had with varying degrees of willingness joined the Ottoman fold. Figures such as Kozanoğlu may not have actually led large-scale rebellions, but their grievances and aspirations did to some extent embody the broader discontent in the Cilicia region following settlement. The legacy of such individuals is naturally ambiguous. A record of French consular correspondence from the time features a reference to Kozanoğlu Ahmed Pasha as a “chef révolutionnaire”; in the margins of the record book remains a question mark signifying the confusion of a reader who may have been a superior in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time or someone who may have come much later (see Figure 17). Was Kozanoğlu a rebel chief or a revolutionary chief? Writing in 1878, the French consul who penned the letter probably intended to convey the modern-day meaning of rebel, but whatever the case, the question mark in the margins reveals the process by which rebels with time may come to be remembered as revolutionaries as their symbolic legacy grows. If Kozanoğlu is remembered today, it is not for his own deeds, but rather because the forces he resisted have had a traumatic and transformative impact on the communities he left behind.


Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 536.


Figure 17 French Consul of Aleppo refers to Kozanoğlu as "chef révolutionnaire " (Source: CADC, CCC, Alep 35, pg. 296.)

This point naturally returns us to the question of Ahmed Cevdet Pasha and the very geography of Cilicia that he had made synonymous with rebellion, which like the French Revolution, disrupted in some way the march of civilization (see Chapter 3). Though he had since moved on to other governorships and would become first and foremost a statesman concerned with legal and educational reform, he had returned to Cilicia in 1878 to close the Reform Division chapter. With the Kozanoğlus seemingly once again held in check, he could leave the region knowing that the project started more than a decade prior, despite its shortcomings, had borne some fruit. Yet before his departure, he oversaw the settlement of a second much more enduring type of resistance that had emerged in response to the Reform Division’s demands. A twelve-article decree from October of 1878 codifying the new parameters of seasonal migration among Cilicia’s tribes read like a formal contract granting on paper what had already been accomplished in practice. Part of the reason that Kozanoğlu’s rebellion did not earn more local support was 205

likely that the tribes were already in defiance of settlement orders and in 1876, certain preliminary concessions regarding the right to seasonal migration had been made to some communities.117 Due specifically to health risks and the threat of malaria during the summer months, the tribes would be allowed special rights to continue migrating as they had resumed doing so in the early 1870s. The decree did not totally scale back the activities of the Reform Division; these communities were still expected to settle in villages and take to agriculture. Some would not be permitted to take their animals to the yayla, and they were expected to return perhaps a bit earlier in the season than was expected. On paper, this maintained the settlement imperative and a view of the Ottoman government dictating and controlling the movement of the local communities. In effect, it essentially meant that the pastoralists of Cilicia, after years of disease, death, and hardship, had regained their rights to the mountains in exchange for their obedience (see chapter appendix for translation of the decree).118 Given the intense interest Cevdet had taken in the settlement project, the modified terms of migration, while symbols of a profound failure, might have eased the conscience of a bureaucrat about to leave the provincial chapter of his career in the past. Although the Reform Division’s campaign in Cilicia made it into some of his subsequent publications, the suffering of the tribes and their eventual triumph was omitted from his own account. When his daughter Fatma Aliye sat down to write the biography of a devoted father preoccupied with the fields of education, scholarship, and law, the momentous settlement experiment he had supervised during her infancy would be far from her memory.119 The dissociation of Tanzimat intellectuals and bureaucrats of Istanbul from the hugely formative provincial context of that period of imperial restructuring was already underway. The role of the countryside would be wiped from the BOA, ŞD 2117/55, No. 4 (24 Rebiulahir 1293 [19 May 1876]). BOA, İ-MMS 60/2843, No. 3 (26 Şevval 1295 [23 October 1878]). 119 Aliye, Ahmed Cevdet Paşa ve zamanı. 117 118


historical narrative of modernization articulated in the imperial center that gave way to the modern Turkish state. Meanwhile, the overarching narrative of reform ensured that the hardships and failures of tribal settlement would be thoroughly suppressed. The 1877 Salname of Adana, an official government publication that would come to serve as a reference for information about the province as well as a basic source for future historians, mentioned neither disease nor rebellion. For the district of Osmaniye, which became the swampy deathtrap of both immigrants and pastoralists over the prior decade, the description was hopeful. “Since the inhabitants of this kaza were settled and sedentarized (tavtin ü iskân) by the Reform Division and its land is of the utmost degree of fertility,” the salname indicates, “the aforementioned inhabitants are working to increase the cultivation of wheat, barley, cotton, sesame, millet, and rice and raise various trees, and they are reaping the fruits of their labors.”120 While that narrative would prove true in the abstract sense that agricultural production in Eastern Çukurova would grow over time, it erased the countless individual tragedies that settlement had entailed and would continue to bring. In describing the geography of the region, the rivers, swamps, and lakes appeared as mere bodies of water — not sources of disease. The yaylas with their “fine climate” rated mention, but the voices of those who struggled to maintain access to them were stifled. In this regard, the observations of Lt. Bennet and other Western observers who traveled the region and noticed that the settlements and towns constructed by the Reform Division were in ruins and transhumance prevailed were partly mistaken.121 The settlements themselves were


SV-Adana (H. 1294 [1877]), pg. 106. Gould alluded to Bennet’s biases in a rather astute manner stating that “when the military consuls saw the tribes previously settled by the Reform Division once more on the move, they assumed that reform had failed, yet no one thought the British Embassy in Istanbul less civilized for its annual migration up the Bosporus to Tarabya, where it spent the summer.” Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 171. 121


unquestionable failures and evidence of squandered funds that could never be regained. However, some equilibrium had been established in the relationship between Cilicia’s tribes and the government. Seasonal migration would continue and the bitter memory of forced settlement would linger, but contention over hegemony would not. The pastoralists of Cilicia remained consigned to the villages and yaylas afforded them by the Reform Division, but the mountains remained essentially theirs. It was the plains which they would be forced to share with an emerging class of capitalists and cultivators whose pursuit of profits would turn the AdanaMersin region into an economic powerhouse of the Ottoman countryside. Conclusion to Part 1 Contestation over land and the hardships of settlement are universal themes in narratives of the human past, occurring in almost cyclical fashion as in the formulation of Ibn Khaldun. Yet, if an 1860s campaign to pacify, settle, and ultimately disinherit an indigenous nomadic population from the lands they used sounds familiar, that is because it did not stand alone. The 1860s witnessed a global eruption of wars of colonial expansion and national unification — conflicts that could be described in various ways but shared the characteristic of asymmetrical struggles over land rather than imperial confrontations.122 Even if these conflicts seemed inevitable, their specific timings were not random. If not for the US Civil War that created a demand for cotton or the assassination of a missionary in search of some mountain breeze (discussed in Chapter 2), the Reform Division may not have possessed such an aggressive and interventionist quality.123 Indeed, tribal settlement would remain an important policy until the end of Ottoman rule, but in later decades certain forms of accommodation would be employed in

122 123

Discussed in Introduction. Discussed in Chapter 1 and 2.


regions such as Eastern Anatolia with radically different but perhaps ultimately equally tumultuous outcomes. The Reform Division was in many ways a radical and novel attempt at reform that sought in a moment of ambition and strength to undo a deep-seated political and ecological order and bring progress and civilization to a region where Ottoman authority was contested. 124 Perhaps since it succeeded in its political goals, both critics and supporters of the Reform Division and observers official, scholarly, local or otherwise have ascribed to this event impacts that it simply did not have. Most importantly, the Reform Division did not succeed in settling the tribes of the region as agriculturalists nor did it eliminate the practice of seasonal migration, despite how it is often remembered by historians and the descendants of these communities themselves. Settlement would prove to be incremental and contingent on the restructuring of the local ecology in the Çukurova region through the management of water and wetlands, new approaches to disease, and the gradual emergence of an economy that offered nomadic communities real incentive to settle or eliminated settlement’s alternatives. As for seasonal migration, so long as Adana remained notoriously hot, humid, and fever-ridden during the summer, year-round habitation would remain the exception and not the norm (more in Chapters 6 and 13). Call them failures, shortcomings, and deeds left undone, the divergences between the theories backing the attempted forced settlement of tribes in the Çukurova region as well as other attempts to encourage habitations in these areas and their actual outcomes may be conceptualized as the agency or power of nature and geography in shaping the courses of historical events. I argue that such an understanding is however incomplete and rather contrary to an earnest appreciation of the awareness of historical actors with regards to their lived environment in the Adana region. Long before science and medicine would link disease to parasites in mosquitoes 124

Discussed in Chapter 3.


rather than the stench of carrion in the air, the people who tilled the soil or grazed their animals in Çukurova’s fertile landscape knew what settlement would mean for their lives, and so did the state officials involved in the formulation of settlement policy. A “nature as actor” framework for understanding Çukurova's history encourages a more nuanced understanding of events often narrated in strictly political terms. However, in producing a narrative of settlement that scrubs away or minimizes the consciousness of human actors, we run the risk of ignoring the indifference, willful ignorance, and even malice behind state policies. Even if Ahmed Cevdet viewed the Reform Division as a “scheme to improve the human condition”125 in the formulation of James C. Scott, the communities it targeted ultimately experienced its failures not as mishap but as vicious dispossession. These points will be of special relevance in Part 2 of this study, as I continue to examine the ecological transformation of the Adana region over the last decades of Ottoman rule. This period witnessed an unprecedented intensification of technological intervention in the environment of the countryside as Cilicia was solidified as one of the empire’s great cotton belts. This period also coincided with what appears in hindsight as the extreme political polarization of the wildly diverse populations that inhabited this peripheral center of Ottoman life. During the tumultuous World War I period, which lasted nearly a decade, the harshest facets of this new order emerged to aid in its violent undoing. After increasingly intense waves of upheaval washed over the Adana region, it would seem that only the mountains remained in place.


Scott, Seeing like a state : how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed.


CHAPTER 4 APPENDIX BOA, İ-MMS 60/2843, No. 3 26 Şevval 1295 [23 October 1878] From Ahmed Cevdet Pasha Instructions regarding the inhabitants of Çukurova and their going to the yayla 1. bent: Mukaddema Fırka-i Islâhiye tarafından Kozan ve Cebel-i Bereket dağlarıyla Çukurova hakkında icra olunan tenbîhât üzerine hareket olunarak beş altı seneden beri Çukurova’da iade olunan göçebelik usûlu terk olunacaktır. Fakat Temmuz ibtidasından Ağustos’un on beşine ve nihayet âhirine kadar sair-i yerlerde dahi adet olduğu vechle lüzûm-u sahih üzerine tebdil-i havaya muhtâc olanlar civardaki mürtafi` ve münasib yerlere gidip gelmeğe me’zun olacaklardır

Article 1: Action shall be taken upon the orders previously implemented by the Reform Division regarding Kozan, the mountains of Cebel-i Bereket, and Çukurova, and the practice of nomadism that has been returning in Çukurova for the past five or six years shall be abandoned. However, from the beginning of July until the fifteenth and finally the end of August, those who need a change of air in other places shall be permitted upon true necessity to go to and return from the surrounding elevated and appropriate areas in the manner that is customary.

2. bent: Adana sancağı dahilinde ve Çukurova’da bulunan Karakayalı ve Kürkçü ve Karahacılı aşiretleri yaylağa gidip gelmek husûsunda Karaisalı kazasında mütevattın olan Menemenci aşiretine muvâfık yolda hareket etmelidirler. Çünkü Menemenci aşireti Mayıs’ın on beşinden âhirine kadar koyun ve sığır ve develerini çobanlarıyla birlikte kendilerine mahsûs yaylaklara gönderip kendileri hınta ve şa`îr hasılatını almak ve sisam ve pamuk tarlalarının otlarını ayıklamak üzere köylerinde kalıyorlar ve Haziran’ın evahirine doğru tebdil-i hava için evlad u ayallarıyla beraber yaylalarına gidiyorlar ve Ağustos’un evasıtında köylerine gelerek sisamlarını çekip gömük ettikten sonra yine yaylarlarına azîmet ve Eylül’ün evailini geçirdikten sonra hayvanlarıyla beraber köylerine avdet ediyorlar ve ol vakit sisam ve pamuk hasılatını alıyorlar. İşte bâlâda mezkûr olan aşair-i erba`a dahi Menemenci aşiretinin usûluna muvâfik bir yolda olarak Adana sancağı dahilinde münasib yaylaklara gidip gelebiliyorlar.

Article 2: The Karakayalı, Kürkçü, and Karahacılı tribes found in the Adana sancak and Çukurova must behave in the way that accords to the Menemenci tribe settled in Karaisalı kaza with regard to going to and returning from the yayla. For the Menemenci tribe sends their sheep, cattle, and camels along with their shepherds to their own yaylas by May 15 and the end [of May], stay in their villages in order to harvest the wheat and barley and weed the sesame and cotton fields, go to the yayla at the end of June with their wives and children for a change of air, return to their villages in the middle of August and return again to their yaylas after drawing and burying the sesame to return to their village along with their animals after spending early September [at the yayla], and then harvest the sesame and cotton. As such the four tribes mentioned above can go to and return form the suitable yaylas in the Adana sancak in a way that accords to the practices of the Menemenci tribe.


3. bent: Çukurova’da sâkin Sırkıntı aşiretinin karyelerinde yazın sular çekilip de hayvanlarını idare edemeyecek dereceye geldikte yani temmuz evailinde azâmet ve avdet ve ikâmetlerinde kimesneye zarar etmemek şartıyla ve iki ay muddetiyle yaylamak üzere Kozan’da kendilerine mahsûs olan İnderesi nam mahalle gidip gelmeğe mezûn olacaklardır. Ve bir de koyun ve keçilerini Temmuz’dan evvel dahi çobanlarıyla beraber İnderesine gönderebileceklerdir.

Article 3: As the waters in the villages of the Sırkıntı tribe residing in Çukurova retreat during the summer to the extent that they cannot care for their animals, they shall be allowed to go to and return from their place called İnderesi in Kozan in order to summer for two months in the beginning of July on the condition that they do no harm to anyone during their arrival, departure, and stay. They will also be able to send their shepherds along with their sheep and goats to İnderesi before July.

4. bent: Kozan’a mülhak Kars-ı Zulkadriye kazasında mütevattın olan Bozdoğan-ı Bâlâ aşireti hakkında Sırkıntılar gibi mu`âmele olunacaktır yani onlar dahi iki ay muddetiyle kazaları dahilindeki civar yaylalara gidip gelebileceklerdir.

Article 4: The Upper Bozdoğan tribe settled in the Kars-ı Zulkadriye kaza attached to Kozan shall be dealt with as the Sırkıntıs, meaning that they will also be able to go to and return from surrounding yaylas in the kaza for a period of two months.

5. bent: Sis kazasına tâbi` İdem ve Kabasakal gibi Çukurova cihetinde vâki` karyeleriyle Kars-ı Zulkadriye kazasının kezalik Çukurova tarafında vâki` karyeleri ahalisinin bütün bütün kışlak mahellelerini terk etmemeleri ve azîmet ve avdetlerinde kimesne hakkında mazarrat vukû`a getirmemeleri şartıyla ve temmuz ibtidasından itibaren nihayet iki ay muddetiyle yaylalarına gidip gelmeleri caiz olacaktır.

Article 5: It shall be permissible for the inhabitants of the villages belonging to Sis kaza on the Çukurova side like İdem and Kabasakal and likewise the villages on the Çukurova side of Kars-ı Zulkadriye kaza to go to their yaylas for a period of two months starting from the beginning of July on the condition that they do not entirely abandon their winter places and while coming and going they do not cause any harm to anyone.

6. bent: Gerek Sis ve gerek Kars-ı Zulkadriye kazalarında beş altı seneden beri adet olduğu üzere hey’et-i hükümetle umum ahalinin yaylaya çıkmaları katiyan memnu`dur. Fakat yaylada bağları olanlar uzum düşürmek ve pekmez kaynatmak üzere mevsiminde bir aydan nihayet iki aya kadar bağlarına gidebileceklerdir.

Article 6: It is absolutely forbidden for the government council and the general inhabitants of both Sis and Kars-ı Zulkadriye kazas to go to the yayla as has been customary for the past five or six years. However, those who have orchards on the yayla shall be able to go to their orchards for one to two months during the season in order to pick grapes and boil molasses.


7. bent: Sis kazasına merbût Lek ve Hacılar ve Kırıntılı nam Kürd aşiretleri ki Çukurova’nın en münbit ve suyu bol yerlerinde sâkin oldukları hâlde daima hırsızlıkla meşgul olarak halkı ızrar ve hukumeti işğal etmektedirler. Fimaba`d buların yalaya çıkmaları memnû`dur. Hele Rum nahiyesine gitmeleri bir vechle caiz değildir. Ve eğerce Temmuz’da içlerine sıtma düşüp de tebdil-i havaya muhtac olanları sair-i ahali ile beraber Sis kazasının Çatma ve Üçbey gibi münasib ve mürtefi` mahallelerine çıkabiliryorlar ise de ol hâlde hayvanlarını köylerinde terk edeceklerdir. Hayvanlarıyla beraber yaylaya çıkamayacaklardır ve bunları sair-i ahali ve aşair gibi ziraat etmek üzere icbar olunacaklardır. Ve kamıştan ma`mul huğlar içinde ve müteferrik halde bulunmaları caiz olmayıp Fırka-ı islahiye tarafından teşkil olunan köylerinde müctemien ikâmet ve kendilerine taştan ve kerpiçten hâneler inşa ve sahihen karyeler teşkil ettirilecektir. Ve cümlesi kefâlet-i müteselsileye rabt olunarak içlerinden zuhûr eden hırsızlar bu üç aşiretin hangisinden ise ahaliye ettikleri zararlar ol aşirete tazmîn ettirilecektir.

Article 7: Although they live in the most fertile and well-watered parts of Çukurova, the Kurdish tribes called the Lek, Hacılar, and Kırıntı attached to Sis kaza are always harming the people and occupying the government by engaging in robbery. Henceforth, they are forbidden to go out to the yayla. In particular, it is in no way permissible for them to go to Rum nahiye. If during July malaria falls into their ranks, those who need a change of air along with the rest of the inhabitants are allowed to go out to the suitable and elevated places in Sis kaza such as Çatma and Üçbek. However, in that case they must leave their animals in their villages. They shall not go out to the yayla with their animals, and they like the rest of the inhabitants and tribes will be obliged to practice agriculture. It is not permissible for them to be found in huts made from reeds and in a scattered state. They will be made to live collectively in the villages formed by the Reform Division, build themselves houses of stone and mud brick, and properly form villages. They shall all be bound by interlinked surety and the thieves that emerge from among them, whatever of these three tribes they be from, the damages they do to the population will be indemnified to that tribe.

8. bent: Aziziye tarafında mütevattın Afşar aşiretiyle Çerkeslerin kışlamak ve hayvan ra`y etmek bahânesiyle kışın Çukurova’ya inmeleri memnu`dur. İnerler ise te’dib ve cebren iade olunacaklardır.

Article 8: The Afşar tribe and the Circassians settled in Aziziye are forbidden to come down to Çukurova during the winter under the pretext of wintering or grazing their animals. If they come down, they shall be punished and forcibly returned.

9. bent: Payas sancağında vâki` Osmaniye kazasına tabi Kıyı nahiyesi karyelerinin ahalisi her sene mahsûlâtı aldıktan sonra Cebel-i Bereket’te yani Gavurdağı’nda ve karyelerine ikişer üçer saatlik mesâfede kendi yurtları olan yaylalara giderler ve ziraatlerine halel götürmeksizin tebdil-i hava ederler. Bunların usûlu Payas sancağı dahilindeki Cerid ve Tecirli ve Bozdoğan aşiretlerine misâl ve mukayyes `aleyh ittihâz olunmelidir.

Article 9: The inhabitants of the villages of Kıyı nahiye attached to Osmaniye kaza in Payas sancak go to yaylas in Cebel-i Bereket i.e. Gavurdağı, which are their own homes each two to three hours from their villages every year after gathering the harvest, and they have a change of air without disrupting their agriculture. Their practices must be adopted as exemplary and comparable for the Cerid, Tecirli, and Bozdoğan tribes in Payas sancak.


10 bent: Cerid ve Tecirli ve Bozdoğan-i Zir aşiretleri emr-i ziraatlerine halel götürmemek ve hayvanlarını beraber getirmeyip köylerinde terk etmek ve kımesneye zarar etmemek şartıyla mücerred tebdil-i hava için Temmuz ibtidasından Ağustos gayetine kadar Cebel-i Bereket’in Payas sancağına tabi olan yerlerine gidip gelebileceklerdir. Ve fimaba`d yaylamak üzere âhar sancağa tecavüz edemeyecekler. Ve beynlerinde yayla münazaası zuhur etmemek üzere Cebel-i Bereket’te her birinin yayla yerleri tayin u tahdid olunmak lazım geleceğinden bunun için Osmaniye kaymakamının taht-i riyasetinde olarak komisyon yapılacaktır.

Article 10: Without violating their agriculture orders or bringing their animals with them, the Cerid, Tecirli, and Lower Bozdoğan tribes shall be able to go to and return from places in Cebel-i Bereket’s Payas sancak solely for change of air from the beginning of July to the end of August on the condition that they neither abandon their villages nor harm anyone. Hereafter they shall no longer trespass upon another sancak in order to summer. Since it will be necessary for each one’s yayla places in Cebel-i Bereket to be designated and determined so that no yayla disputes emerge among them, a commission headed by the kaymakam of Osmaniye will be formed.

11. bent: Maraş sancağına muzâf Hassa kazası ahalisi yaylamak üzere Kapılı’ya kadar çıkıp Kapılı derbendini tecavüz etmeyeceklerdir.

Article 11: The people of Hassa kaza attached to Marash sancak shall go up as far as Kapılı and not go beyond the Kapılı pass in order to summer.

12. bent: Maraş’a tabi İslahiye kazasında bulunan aşiretler mücerred tebdil-i hava için Temmuz ibtidasindan Ağustos gayetine kadar Cebel-i Bereket’in canib-i cunûbunda vaki ve münasib mevkilere çıkabileceklerdir. Fakat Payas sancağı hudûdunu tecavüz etmeyeceklerdir ve bunların yayla mahelleri tayin olunmak üzere İslahiye kaymakamın taht-i riyasetinde bir komisyon yapılacaktır.

Article 12: The tribes found in İslahiye kaza attached to Marash shall be able to go out to suitable places located on the south side of Cebel-i Bereket solely for change of air from the beginning of July until the end of August. However, they shall not infringe upon the borders of Payas sancak, and in order to designate their yayla locations, a commission headed by the kaymakam of İslahiye shall be formed.


PART 2 (1878-1914) As the story goes, summer of 1878 brought hot and rainless days to the Adana province and parched its fertile fields. For those involved in agriculture, as most were, this threatened not only the prospects of lucrative crops like cotton but also the food supply of the region. Just a few years earlier, famine had decimated the villagers of Central Anatolia, many of whom had flocked to the malarial Adana plain only to meet a grim fate. While the townsfolk of Adana had been comparatively lucky, the reverberations of drought and famine were felt throughout the countryside. With drought looming once again, anxiety swept throughout the region and into the city of Adana itself. In an atmosphere of escalating panic, Adana’s notables formed a committee including the local mufti to urge the governor of Adana to take action in the form of a prayer for rain. 1 This ritual is well attested by those who knew the city during the late Ottoman period. People young and old would participate in the familiar “bodi bodi” prayers, evoking the mercy of God to alleviate drought saying, “into the well of the grain-hoarder, into the farmers’ fields, God give us watery rain.”2 In the villages, group rain prayers might have occurred in a field or cemetery. In Adana, they held the prayer above the Seyhan River in the center of the old Stone Bridge, and it was expected that a representative of the government be present. Ziya Pasha, the new governor of Adana, was summoned to the bridge by a group of concerned townsfolk. However, he was a new kind of official; as a renowned poet and leading


Rain prayers were often official business in the Ottoman Empire. For example, rain prayers were convened in Biga to stave off drought, and the mutasarrıf even wrote back to report success. BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 296/21, no. 3 (18 Şevval 1280 / 14 Mart 1280 [27 March 1864]). During the Eastern Anatolian famine of 1880, the Ottoman government organized rain prayers throughout the empire including in schools. BOA, Y-MTV 3/71 (19 Cemaziyelevvel 1297 [16 April 1880]). 2 Damar Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım [My Memoirs] (Istanbul: Tan, 1961), 14; Orhan Kemal, Eskici Dükkânı (Istanbul: Cem Yayınevi, 1973), 190.


figure in the Young Ottoman movement, he had observed the dawn of a short-lived era of liberal politics with the 1876 Constitution.3 Though the constitution had been suspended by Abdul Hamid II months before and Ziya Pasha had been relegated to an official post in Adana, he still held true to the intellectual spirit of the Young Ottomans that had defined the Tanzimat period. As such, he refused to participate in what he saw as a superstitious prayer with a clever turn of phrase. He told the crowd that he was afraid that God might ridicule him for begging for rain when the plain surrounding Adana had been endowed with tremendous water resources from the massive rivers that crossed it. Rather than a rain prayer, Ziya would give Adana a new water works project, changing the course of the Seyhan River and by extension the course of history.4 This was the story by which Ziya came to be remembered in Adana. He became a celebrated figure of early Republican politicians, civil servants, and writers who were particularly interested in public works from the 1930s onward.5 While legend commemorates Ziya’s momentous decision, the archival record reveals his involvement with a project that was in fact relatively modest. The idea was to enable the regulation of the Seyhan River’s flow by digging a channel on the river north of the town, minimizing the impact of floods and opening the way for future irrigation.6 It was an early example of a measure that would become increasingly common in Ottoman rivers over the coming decades.


For more on Ziya Pasha and the Young Ottomans, see Nazan Çiçek, The Young Ottomans: Turkish critics of the Eastern question in the late nineteenth century (London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2010). 4 This is a common legend about Ziya Pasha in Adana. The earliest mention of this story that I could find was an article that appeared in Yeni Adana newspaper in 1937. "Yağmur ve dua [Rain and Prayer]," Yeni Adana 15 April 1937. It is also mentioned in the memoirs of Damar Arıkoğlu and a few historical works. Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım, 15; M. Kaya Bilgegil, Ziyâ Paşa üzerinde bir araştırma [A Study on Ziya Pasha] (Erzurum, Turkey: Atatürk University Press, 1970), 293; Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885"; Taha Toros, Şair Ziya Paşanin Adana Valiliği (Adana: Yeni Adana Basımevi, 1940). 5 For an early example see, İsmail Habip, "Meşhur Şair Ziya Paşanın Adana Valiliği [Famed Poet Ziya Pasha's Governorship in Adana]," Çukurovada Memleket 1931. 6 BOA, ŞD 2118/35, map (1878).


Figure 18 Ziya Pasha's Seyhan barrage plan (Source: BOA, ŞD 2118/35)


However, the plan was not a great success. Subsequent flooding of the Seyhan would overtake the barriers of the dam commissioned by Ziya Pasha and inundate many properties near the river. Growing discontent with Ziya’s administration and liberal spending in a time of relative economic crisis pushed local notables to the point of rebellion. Several messages were sent to Istanbul accusing Ziya Pasha of tyrannical behavior and unspeakable injustices. In repeated telegrams, a group of Muslim and Armenian notables wrote they could “no longer bear the unfortunate transgressions of Ziya Pasha, who is famous for his tyranny (zulme meşhur),” describing his behavior as “barbaric (bedevi).”7 Though he was not known for his diplomatic tact, the severity of Ziya Pasha’s crimes that had made the people of Adana “shed tears of blood” were of an undoubtedly subjective nature. They mainly pertained to his use of excess taxes to fund public works projects that were unwelcome to some. A complaint signed by more than seventy residents of Adana enumerated his wrong deeds. In addition to the river works, Ziya’s detractors complained that he had destroyed the metal cover of a market and replaced it with a fire-prone wooden bedestan structure without initially consulting the report of a credible engineer.8 Worse yet was his frivolous spending on a theater, which he built on a lot forcibly expropriated from a local resident and hosted a company from Beirut performing Ziya’s own translation of Tartuffe.9 The theatre was attached to a tavern they referred to as an “işrethane”, a den of vice that in the eyes of some was no better than a brothel where men and women drank and caroused freely.10 Ziya Pasha’s love of fine drink and theater was not necessarily a cause of concern for all, though. Telegrams from some of the Christian inhabitants of Adana countered the allegations of 7

BOA, HR-TO 556/15 (24 February 1879). BOA, ŞD 2118/35, no. 15 (5 Şubat 1294 [17 February 1879]). 9 Bilgegil, Ziyâ Paşa üzerinde bir araştırma, 291. Cited in Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885". 10 BOA İ-ŞD 45/2413, no. 16 (15 Şubat 1294 [27 February 1879]). 8


tyranny by attesting to Ziya Pasha’s enlightened nature, accusing a few “disgraceful individuals” of fabricating complaints against the governor.11 Ziya Pasha likewise defended his actions, saying that the improvements he had made were justified. The wooden roof for the market would protect the people from the sun. The theater would pay for itself in time. The dam, the roads, and all of his projects were undertaken in the interest of the “public benefit (menfaat-ı umumiye),” with implicit disregard to the wishes of a few unhappy individuals. 12 Ottoman intellectual and political activist Namık Kemal also wrote in defense of Ziya Pasha’s integrity. 13 The transformation of Adana’s emerging urban space was becoming politicized and hotly contested. Far from these debates was any question of whether more could be done to help the migrant settlers in the countryside of the Adana region, who suffered acutely from malaria, impoverishment, and inability adapt to life in new a setting. Of those who arrived with the Russo-Ottoman War, more than half of them would perish or flee within just a few years of settlement (see Chapter 4). The merchants of Adana waged war over taxes and Tartuffe as their new compatriots buried their kin. Ziya Pasha was remembered by early Republican nationalists for his resolve in the face of these attacks.14 But in fact, the stress he faced in Adana seems to have broken him. Ultimately, the governor would be vindicated of serious wrongdoing or corruption, though the provincial treasurer (defterdar) would be dismissed amid allegations of “lunacy (cunun).”15 However, the entire affair must have taken a toll on an unhappy intellectual assigned to an unwanted post in a most unwelcoming climate. He and his family had already suffered from intense bouts with

BOA İ-ŞD 45/2413, no. 9 (21 Şubat 1294 [5 March 1879]). BOA İ-ŞD 45/2413, no. 14 (16 Kanunusani 1294 [28 January 1879]). 13 Bilgegil, Ziyâ Paşa üzerinde bir araştırma, 316. 14 Habip, "Meşhur Şair Ziya Paşanın Adana Valiliği [Famed Poet Ziya Pasha's Governorship in Adana]," Çukurovada Memleket 1931. 15 BOA, DH-ŞFR 110/65 (16 Mart 1295 [28 March 1879]). 11 12


malaria during his time post in Cyprus, and one of his children had died of the disease. 16 Adana was certainly no better of a climate for the weary poet. During the summer of 1879, he had found some rest at the yayla in Gülek, but the trouble in Adana left him exhausted.17 Within a year after this episode, Ziya Pasha complained to the Porte of ill health and asked for a “change of air” or treatment. His doctor’s report confirmed that Ziya Pasha was bed-ridden due to the latest symptoms of his unspecified ailment.18 Soon after, Ziya Pasha succumbed to his illness and was buried beside the Great Mosque of Adana, a sixteenth-century structure built by the Ramazanoğlu dynasty that controlled the Cilicia region before it was subjected to direct Ottoman rule in 1608. Nazan Çiçek described his death as “lonely, disappointed, and penniless.”19 Adana remained without a governor for months until former Foreign Ministry Abidin Pasha’s appointment.20 Abidin Pasha built a proper türbe for Ziya Pasha, which remains in the park beside the mosque to this day. Although he is sometimes remembered as one of the first great “modernizers” to come to Adana, Ziya Pasha’s governorship was short, tumultuous, and relatively ephemeral. His attempts to contain the Seyhan floods were limited in their impact. Many similar attempts would recur as dams of the Seyhan River were rebuilt time and time again over the next century. The Tanzimatera notion of the “public benefit” that he had championed proved contentious, and the polarizing nature of his tenure reflected a divergence between different factions within the urban elite who exerted a growing economic influence over the surrounding plain. The themes embodied by this


Çiçek, The Young Ottomans: Turkish critics of the Eastern question in the late nineteenth century, 45; Habip, "Meşhur Şair Ziya Paşanın Adana Valiliği [Famed Poet Ziya Pasha's Governorship in Adana]," Çukurovada Memleket 1931, 5. 17 Bilgegil, Ziyâ Paşa üzerinde bir araştırma, 319-20. 18 BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 485/40, No. 3 (17 Mart 1296 [29 March 1880]). 19 Çiçek, The Young Ottomans: Turkish critics of the Eastern question in the late nineteenth century, 46. 20 BNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 10, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (10 November 1880)


poet’s brief governorship would define the socioeconomic life in the Cilicia region for decades to come. In Part 1 of this study, I described a political ecology in which rhythms of seasonal migration supported large pastoralist communities whose political leaders reigned supreme in the mountains and countryside of the Adana province. This political ecology was disrupted but not wholly destroyed by attempts at forced tribal settlement and the implantation of Muslim immigrants in Upper Çukurova during the 1860s. However, when malaria proved such a tremendous barrier to permanent habitation that settlers were faced with the option to flee or perish, the strictness of settlement policies were scaled back, allowing the old transhumance to endure in a more subdued form on the margins of the plain. Meanwhile, landowners in Adana prepared the plain for the incremental expansion of commercial agriculture and the rise of cotton in the regional economy. Part 2 of this study examines the ecological transformation that accompanied the rise of a new political economy that revolved around cotton. Late Ottoman Çukurova tells the story of rapid agrarian commercialization. New actors and social groups rose to the center stage of society in Adana, such as the tens of thousands of new migrant workers that emerged to fill the deficit of labor created by cotton’s sudden rise. But this wealth, which was centered in the city, contributed to the tremendous unevenness of the plain, as settlers in the province’s eastern portion remained relatively isolated from the economic benefits of commercial agriculture.21 This unevenness was also reflected in the disease ecology of the province. In the muggy plain, both state and citizen grappled with malaria and other endemic diseases, highlighting both ecological interventions (such as swamp drainage) as well as medical approaches that emerged


For a great comparison with the phenomenon of unevenness in the South Asian context, see Goswami, Producing India: from colonial economy to national space.


as understandings of malaria and disease transformed. As these measures were incomplete, old methods of coping such as seasonal migration endured. However, the changing property regime of the Cilicia region resulted in unequal outcomes for the new rich and the pastoralists of old. This was one of many tensions that contributed to conflicts in the region. The sudden economic growth and migration made Adana an unlikely center of cosmopolitanism in the empire that was matched by few cities in terms of its communal diversity. The communities of Adana and the towns and villages of the plain lived together for most of the late Ottoman period. Yet the nature of agrarian change that thrived on movement, economic exploitation, and competition fostered tensions, disparities, and potential for conflict. While the reinstatement of the constitution in 1908 created optimism for the middle class, the shocking 1909 Adana massacres, which manifested as an outburst of violence against the region’s Armenian communities, exposed those tensions. Despite these tumultuous events Adana went back to business as usual on the eve of the First World War, but nothing was quite the same.


CHAPTER 5 THE UNEVEN PLAIN: AGRARIAN LIFE IN LATE OTTOMAN ÇUKUROVA Adana was a large and incomparable city because of progress (harachtimutiun) while a big village because of agriculture.1 Hakob Terzian, Adanayi Geanke (1909) Improved transport will enable our agriculture, our commerce, and our industries to mutually unite towards augmenting the riches of our district. The large products of the interior, which all gravitate by a natural law to the sea, will be stimulated to increased energy by the facilities afforded by railway communication. This form of social progress is superior to all others, as its effect is immediately visible and palpable; of this the railways of the world are the silent but material and indisputable witness.2 Abidin Pasha, Governor of Adana (1884) The [Afşars] have become poorer as a result of their struggles with the Turks. They live almost entirely on the produce of their diminished flocks and herds and of their scanty tillage. They cultivate a little barley, but vegetables and fruit are unknown to them… They build their own huts, and construct their own rough ploughs, yokes, and thrashing-sledges, but little else. Money is practically unknown to them. Produce is exchanged for clothes, which are brought to them by travelling hucksters.3 British Naval Intelligence, A Handbook for Asia Minor (1919)

The economic growth of the Adana and its adjacent countryside during the 1860s was rapid, and it accelerated over subsequent decades.4 Already by 1871, one American missionary remarked that “Adana now presents much of the bustling life of an American city.”5 Much like emerging American cities such as Chicago, Adana was rising out of the swamp to become a regional center.6 No one was a more enthusiastic proponent of this development than Abidin Pasha, who served as governor of Adana from 1880 to 1884. A former minister of foreign affairs, his appointment to Adana may have been a demotion; however, it afforded him the opportunity to

Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 10. "The Mersina, Tarsus and Adana Railway: reprinted from the Times, May 19th, 1884," Bristol Selected Pamphlets (1884): 4. 3 Naval Intelligence Division Great Britain Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, vol. 4 (London: Naval Staff, Intelligence Dept., 1918), 87. 4 Special thanks to Meltem Toksöz for additional insight regarding many subjects of relevance to this chapter. 5 L.H. Adams, "Adana - Central Turkey," The Missionary Herald 67, no. 2 (February, 1871): 3. 6 For an environmental history of Chicago, see William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis : Chicago and the Great West (New York: W.W. Norton, 1991). 1 2


obtain land and participate in the Ottoman frontier experiment.7 He became the first to import a steam plow, which arrived by way of Bedford to Adana. For Abidin Pasha, progress was both a political goal and a hobby as well. Lt. Bennet remarked that the governor had “rubbed his hands in glee as he talked of the possibility of working all night by the light of the moon” using the new steam plow he had ordered from Britannia Iron Works in the United Kingdom (see Figure 19).8 In addition to his pursuits in the field of agriculture, Abidin Pasha would oversee the construction of a railroad line between Adana and Mersin that promised to open up the plain to commerce and thereby to the world economy. As Çukurova’s cotton industry grew, merchants, investors, and workers flocked to Adana in search of the fortune that progress promised.

Figure 19 Image of Abidin Pasha's steam engine from Britannia Iron Works catalog (Source: BOA, HR-SFR (3) 282/31.)

Yet, the view from the other side of the plain seemed less promising. The sparsely populated stretches of Upper Çukurova were relatively cut off from the economic changes taking


Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885". 8 TNA, FO 222/8/2, 1881 No. 24, Bennet to Dufferin (6 December 1881). The Ottoman archives contain a lengthy correspondence regarding Abidin Pasha’s purchase, which includes a full brochure of Britannia Iron Works’ products. BOA, HR-SFR (3) 282/31.


place.9 The Reform Division had failed in its attempts to settle the pastoralists that had resumed their seasonal migrations. Moreover, its efforts to impose an even method of governance in the countryside proved infeasible, as the Ottoman administration increasingly accommodated tribal political structures in its efforts at maintaining order. For example, in 1892, the Şura-yı Devlet investigated repeated complaints of the inhabitants of villages surrounding İslahiye regarding the abuses of the Delikanlı and Çelikanlı tribes that dominated the area. The leaders of these tribes had not only resisted the settlement orders but also became the new lords of those settled in the area. One of the people who testified against them was Kara Mehmed, the muhtar of the village of Hanağzı on the eastern flanks of the Amanus Mountains. He complained that the tribal aghas of the area were preventing the locals from cultivating around a warm spring near the village and forcing them to allow sheep and cattle to graze on the spot. However, because these aghas were themselves part of the local government, the villagers’ complaints had long fallen on deaf ears.10 The testimonies of Kara Mehmed and many others like him were all of this variety. The Delikanlı and Çelikanlı tribes were disrupting the lives of settled agriculturalists in the region. However, the Şura-yı Devlet was reluctant to initiate significant change. It concluded in the report of the investigation that “although the tribal aghas there generally and especially those in question do not possess morals good enough to befit the description of loyalty, obedience, and proper conduct of the country and civilization (medeniyet),” their detractors had clearly “exaggerated” in their complaints.11 In other words, the conduct of the local tribal notables in İslahiye, while not sanctioned, could be tolerated for the sake of stability. Roughly three decades

A British traveler who passed through Çukurova in 1878 remarked that “cultivation may be said to end at Missis,” meaning that the eastern half of the plain differed starkly from the well-cultivated area surrounding Adana. Henry C. Barkley, A Ride through Asia Minor and Armenia (London: Murray, 1891), 191. 10 BOA, ŞD 2601/35, No. 5 (3 Temmuz 1308 [15 July 1892]), pg 2. 11 BOA, ŞD 2601/35, No. 12 (7 Teşrinievvel 1308 [19 October 1892]). 9


after the Reform Division’s triumphant arrival in Çukurova, the very town that was founded and named after that army — the Fırka-i İslahiye — had become a symbol of its shortcomings. For those who possessed capital, the Reform Division had opened up the plain for agricultural expansion, the rise of a thriving export economy at Mersin, and the growth of factories and workshops in Adana and Tarsus. A new class of landowners emerged to employ droves of migrant workers that sowed the once dormant soil of the Çukurova plain. But rapid economic development also created uneven outcomes. A small mercantile class prospered as the land was worked by tens of thousands men and women who migrated sometimes hundreds of kilometers in order to earn a small amount of cash. The population that had been targeted for settlement and civilization by the Reform Division remained marginal and peripheral to this economy. With the rise of rail and steamships, the gap of unevenness on the plain widened. As Meltem Toksöz has argued, the rise of cotton in Çukurova created a surging economy that linked the Cilicia region to world markets and laid the foundation for the modern agrarian regime of the region, and by the end of the Ottoman period, Upper Çukurova was the main frontier of this expansion.12 However, the corollary to this narrative is that for most of the Ottoman period, Upper Çukurova, the central region of tribal and immigrant settlement, would remain comparatively poor, insalubrious, and cut off from commercial networks. The story of late Ottoman Cilicia was thus a tale of two plains. From Pasture to Plantation Adana was not the only province to witness a tremendous expansion of agriculture during the final decades of the Ottoman period, but its growth was especially staggering. In 1908, a British consul remarked that “general cultivation increases by about 5% a year by the taking up


Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 197-98.


of new lands.”13 According to Ottoman agricultural statistics, among the provinces of Anatolia, Syria, and Iraq, Adana occupied just 2.6% of the surface area but accounted for 6.7% of all cultivated territory by 1909.14 Alongside Trabzon, it had become the most densely cultivated Asian province with 11.67% of its area used for agriculture. 15 It was not only the extent but also the type of cultivation that made Adana so unusual. With roughly 1.3 million dönüms of land planted with cotton in 1909 and 1913, it was far and away the leading cotton-producing region.16 This created a radically different land regime. Whereas Ottoman provinces of Asia dedicated under 5% of cultivated land to commercial crops such as cotton, sesame, tobacco, and opium, a full third of all cultivated land in Adana was planted with those items.17 This of course meant that the Adana province had much less relative land devoted to food and subsistence crops. While the empire-wide average allocation to grains in 1909 was around 85%, Adana planters offered just 63.9% of their land to wheat, barley, and other staples. Only the inhabitants of the Mediterranean Islands (Cezair-i Bahr-i Sefid), which put 13.5% of land towards legumes (Adana


Doughty Wylie, Report for the Year 1908 on the Trade of the Province of Adana (London: Harrison and Son, 1909), 3. 14 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325], (Istanbul: Matbaa-ı Osmaniye, 1327 [1911]), te. This is particularly striking given that Adana, much like some other Anatolian provinces, contained large swaths of relatively uncultivated mountain territory. While Ottoman statistics about cultivation generally included the Libyan provinces of Trablusgarb and Bengazi, I have adjusted the calculations to omit those provinces because their unusually large surface area of mostly desert skews empire-wide statistics. For more on Ottoman claims to the Libyan desert, see Minawi, "Lines in the Sand: The Ottoman Empire's Policies of Expansion and Consolidation on its African and Arabian Frontiers (1882-1902)". 15 Trabzon’s area of cultivation was 11.7%. The Province of Aydın, which included the thriving port of İzmir exhibited a similarly high percentage at 10.53%. 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325], te. These statistics do not include the region Mount Lebanon, a small mutasarrıflık that may well have been even more densely cultivated. 16 Ibid., 174; Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913], (Istanbul: Ticaret ve Zıraat Nezareti, 1330 [1914]), 20. 17 Ottoman statistics categorize these products as sanaiye, a classification distinct from grains, legumes, and orchards. The only other provinces to allocate even 10% of their cultivated land to such commercial crops in 1909 were Istanbul at 13.6%, Beirut at 10% (apparently excluding Mount Lebanon), and the small sancak of Jerusalem at 10.1%. 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325], the.


just 1%) and 25% towards orchards, used less land for cereal cultivation than farmers of Adana in relative terms.18 This is not to say that the Adana province suffered from grain shortages. A 1909 study by the Ottoman Ministry of Agriculture revealed that among Asian provinces, Adana had one of the best grain fields per capita ratios in the Empire at 6.1 dönüms of grain for every registered inhabitant. Farmers in the Ankara province, who put some 90% of their land towards grain, had just over 5 dönüms per head. Erzurum, a province where almost 99% of cultivated land went to grain, had just 2.7 dönüms of grain for every resident. Adana’s unusually high ratio in these statistics might appear to be the consequence of a statistical miscalculation; whereas the number of dönüms of grain per cultivating household in the Ottoman Empire ranged from 15-50, the kaza of Adana itself boasted 218 dönüms of grain for every cultivating household, more than four times its already high provincial average of 49. These anomalous numbers arose not from error but rather from the truly exceptional political ecology of late Ottoman Çukurova. The agriculturalist population of the Çukurova plain had been small for most of the Ottoman period.19 Yet, even before the cotton boom of the 1860s, Çukurova was already home to some cultivators that had expanded under Egyptian rule during the 1830s.20 Their farms, or çiftliks, were large plantation-like estates that drew labor from surrounding villages and migrant labor networks from Northern Syria in particular.21 They were clustered around Adana and Tarsus in the western half of the Çukurova plain, and when the rise in commercial agriculture


Ibid., the. Prochazka-Eisl and Prochazka argue that due to population growth on the coast of Northern Syria, significant migrations of Alawis or Arab Nusayris to Çukurova occurred during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Procházka-Eisl and Procházka, The Plain of Saints and Prophets, 49-52. 20 Large numbers of Egyptians and Sudanese had settled in Adana during the İbarhim Pasha’s invasion. Ibid., 40. For more, see Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 41-55. 21 The records of the Egyptian government contain documentation pertaining farms in Çukurova during and immediately after the Egyptian occupation of the 1830s. See: AUB, Asad Rustum Collection, Box 3 1/10, letter from Mehmed Arif regarding farm of Ahmed Pasha. 19


began during the 1860s, the number of farms quickly began to expand rapidly from this area along the same model. Farms soon lined the main road linking Adana and Tarsus to the Mediterranean port of Mersin.22 The development of the cotton economy was rapid, and as a result, the structure of the agrarian regimes in Çukurova differed markedly from other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Whereas a village pattern of settlement and agriculture was common in most of Anatolia, much of the cultivation around Adana occurred on large estates owned by single individuals. Merchants and landowners of the western Çukurova plain had begun registering land promptly with the issuance of the 1858 Land Code, and there land was worked by wage laborers and sharecroppers.23 As a result, Çukurova exhibited an unusual landholding pattern wherein workers largely from outside the province worked the land of a relatively small number of cultivators.24 The aforementioned 1909 study indicated that of all the cultivator households in the Adana province, around 46% owned plots of 50 dönüms or more, a single dönüm representing just under 1 km². This was especially pronounced in the sancak of Adana where 76% of the households commanded more than 50 dönüms, and in the kaza of Adana, this number was 95%. Not a single farm of less than 10 dönüms was to be found there. Districts with the landholding pattern of the sancak of Adana were exceedingly rare in the Ottoman Empire. I have compared the statistics of the 1909 cultivation study in Adana with those of ten other provinces from throughout the empire (Hüdavendigar/Bursa, Aydın/İzmir, Ankara, Konya, Erzurum, Trabzon, Diyarbakır, Beirut, Aleppo, and Suriye). On the provincial level, only Beirut at 55% and Diyarbakır at 47% exhibit higher concentrations of 50 dönüm-plus landholdings than Adana’s at 46% as of 1909. E.J. Davis remarked in the 1870s that around the cities of Adana and Tarsus, “almost every acre” was cultivated. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 148. 23 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 135-36. 24 A similar landholding pattern emerged in Egypt with the cotton boom. Tucker, Women in nineteenth-century Egypt, 34. 22


Beirut was a strictly coastal province, since Mount Lebanon was administratively separate and not included in these statistics.25 Diyarbakır was a large region where like the Adana province, significant settlement and sedentarization of nomadic pastoralists was carried out during the Ottoman period. On the sancak and kaza levels, only a handful of mainly coastal sancaks throughout the empire resembled the landholding pattern found in Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin. For example, the kaza of Söke in Aydın was 92% large farms in 1909. The kazas of Sur (Tyre) and Haifa in Beirut reflected 87% and 94% respectively. This data points to a correlation between large landholders and newly-settled lowlands of the Mediterranean littoral that were previously either swamps or pasture.26 The Ottoman policy of allowing purchases of large swaths of “vacant” or uncultivated land at bargain rates allowed investors from elsewhere to make a fortune in Çukurova. One family that capitalized on this policy was the Sursocks of Beirut, who owned land throughout modern-day Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Syria and Çukurova. The family papers of the Sursocks in Lebanon offer a rare glimpse at the network of intermediaries that facilitated cultivation in large estates along the coast from Alexandria through Akka and Beirut to İskenderun and Mersin (more in Chapter 6 and 8).27 The Sursock family was firmly based in Beirut by the end of the Ottoman period, but they continued to be one of largest landholding families in Çukurova.


This made for especially imbalanced figures, as the old mountain settlements of the Taurus region offset to some degree the large estates of Çukurova in province-level statistics. 26 Further evidence of this phenomenon might be seen in Hüdavendigar, where the sancak of Bursa, a longtime region of dense economic activity and one of the wealthiest provincial centers, exhibited a landholding patter of 72% small and medium farms, whereas the countryside of Ertuğrul sancak, which was a major destination for new immigrants, was just 57% small and medium farms. 27 The rents that the Sursocks collected on properties in Çukurova around the turn of the century were a fraction of their revenues for property in Beirut and Alexandria. For example, in 1900, rents for Mersin were 38,800 kuruş versus 135,631 for Beirut and 212,046 for Alexandria. USEK, Sursock, 18078/9. The records of the Sursock family are at Université Saint-Esprit De Kaslik in Lebanon. Some files that attest to the holdings and activities of the Sursock family in Mersin and Tarsus include USEK, Sursock 18022; 19232; 19249. Special acknowledgement goes to Graham Pitts for introducing me to this collection.


Another rising landholder in the agrarian scene of Ottoman Çukurova was none other than Abidin Pasha himself. While Lt. Bennet may have seen the governor’s agricultural endeavors as hobbyistic, over less than five years as governor of the province, he amassed a considerable estate on lands in eastern Çukurova that like those of the Sursocks had been granted for the purposes of expanding cultivation on vacant lands.28 Yet another absentee landholder in the Çukurova region was the personage of Abdul Hamid II, whose estate comprised some 45,000 dönüms worked by Caucasian immigrants near Yarsuvat, which had been renamed Hamidiye in honor of the Sultan.29 Mübeccel Kıray states that Muslim land owners such as the Sultan were given large estates in order to limit the amount of land acquired by the rising Christian middle class.30 Meanwhile, many urban residents of Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin, which attracted large inmigration from the 1860s onward, became heavily invested in the agrarian economy. One of the most prominent families in Adana was that of the Bağdadizades, whose patriarch Abdulkadir played an important role not only in the economy but also by exerting power within the local government (more in Chapter 7). Others made their wealth in trade, industry, and banking. Toksöz notes the particular prominence of Konstantin Hacı Mavromatis, a Greek from Cyprus who established himself in Mersin during the 1850s. His family built a fantastic network of diplomatic and financial connections throughout the Çukurova region. These bankers and merchants made their wealth from the maintenance of the economic apparatus that held the agrarian economy of Çukurova together.31 BOA, DH-İD 160-2/56, No. 5 (11 Şubat 1324 [24 February 1909]). Bennet predicted that Abidin Pasha would not profit from these lands acquisition because they were mostly in the vicinity of Adana and prone to flooding. TNA, FO 222/8/2, 1882 No. 3, Bennet to Dufferin, Adana (6 February 1882). 29 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 178. 30 Kiray, "Social Change in Çukurova: A comparison of four villages," 180. See also Ener, Tarih boyunca Adana ovasına bir bakış. 31 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 106-21. 28


Although the political economy of the Adana region may have been dominated and financed by large landholders and wealth banker-merchants, these individuals were relatively secondary in terms of the physical processes that radically changed the ecology of the Çukurova plain.32 Its transformation from pasture to plantation was carried out primarily by two actors: the human component of largely migrant labor from the various surrounding provinces of Anatolia and Syria and the plants, particularly cotton, which overtook much of the Çukurova plain by the end of the Ottoman period. Economy in Motion The worker issue in Adana is truly an issue that needs to be straightened out. They depart mostly from cold regions, walk for weeks, and come to a warm and humid climate like Çukurova, and in exchange for 30-40 paras, they work under that burning sun and spend their nights in the open. Because of such unhealthy foods [that they eat], most of them just up and die.33 Dr. Şerafeddin Mağmumi (1895)

In 1909, Adana pharmacist Hagop Terzian sought to describe his native city that had recently been ravaged by communal violence targeting the region’s Armenian population to a broader Armenian audience centered in Istanbul. He wanted to counteract assumptions that Adana was a backwards, frontier region but emphasize the role of agricultural wealth in its rapid rise. “Adana was a large and incomparable city because of progress (harachtimutiun),” he said, but simultaneously “a big village because of agriculture.”34 By most estimates, the population of Adana had doubled if not tripled in a half century to some 80,000 inhabitants, growing at a faster percentage rate than the Ottoman capital itself. Yet Adana was also a city entirely surrounded by


For more detailed research on this political economy and the rise of Adana and Mersin, see the work of Meltem Toksöz and the work of Stephan Astourian. Biray Kolluoğlu and Meltem Toksöz, Cities of the Mediterranean : from the Ottomans to the present day (London; New York; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2010); Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton; Meltem Toksöz, "Bir Coğrafya, Bir Ürün, Bir Bölge: 19. Yüzyılda Çukurova [A Geography, A Product, and a Region: Çukurova in the 19th Century]," Kebikeç 21(2006); Astourian, "Testing world-system theory, Cilicia (1830's-1890's) : Armenian-Turkish polarization and the ideology of modern Ottoman historiography". 33 Mağmumi and Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktoru'nun anıları, 175. 34 Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 10. More in Chapter 7.


orchards and fields in which local inhabitants kept livestock and agricultural workers lodged all around the city’s periphery. It was the center of a vast agrarian space that pulsated with a constant flow of labor and commerce. Throughout the year, the city of Adana expanded and contracted as if the lungs of the Çukurova plain, and cotton was the oxygen it breathed. Cotton was the chief crop linking Adana to world markets and the one that enabled urban entrepreneurs in the region to make their fortune. Businessmen and cultivators tracked the annual fluctuations in prices and demand for the various strains of cotton. The product was sold widely both within the Ottoman Empire and abroad, and while the major diplomatic empires were eager observers of the cotton trade, they were not always its major recipients, which varied with time. In 1876, the major destinations of cotton from Adana were Austria and France at about 30% of total export from Mersin; another 30% stayed in the Ottoman Empire. Spain received 10%.35 In 1903, by comparison, almost 40% of Adana’s cotton produce remained in the Ottoman Empire, perhaps indicating the impact of local spinning factories on the market, and most of the exports went to nearby Austria-Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Greece. France took only a negligible share of this produce (see Table 4 below).36 By 1908, Germany was added to the list of chief recipient countries for Çukurova cotton, of whom the foremost was Spain.37 Adana’s cotton may not have been as compatible with factories in Manchester and Lyon, which would have preferred the product of Egyptian or


Reports from Her Majesty's consuls on the manufactures, commerce, &c., of their consular districts, vol. 4 (London: Harrison and Sons, 1877), 965. 36 Italian reports indicate that Italy received around 14% of the cotton leaving Mersin as of 1905. Lamberto Vannutelli, "Cenni sulla produzione del cotone in Asia Minore," Bolletino della Società geografica italiana 7(August 1906): 863. 37 Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 16. Toksöz indicates that Germany became the largest recipient of Çukurova cotton during the last years of Ottoman rule due to the establishment of the establishment of the German Cotton Society of the Levant in 1906. Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 153.


American seed rather than Adana’s local or yerli38 variety. Despite official efforts to encourage the expansion of the former, local cultivators had persisted in planting mainly yerli.39 By the end of the Ottoman period, yerli was even on the rise as it served the purposes of growing German textile manufacturers who found that it blended well with wool.40

But more importantly,

Egyptian cotton did not take well to the region’s climate, and the American strain, which had been developed under the conditions of a centuries-old slave-labor based planation economy, was much too labor-intensive for the taste of landowners in Çukurova.41

Figure 20 Comparison of yerli (image left) and American (image right) cotton in Çukurova (Source: Source: Tsapalos et all, Rapport Sur Le Domaine Impérial De Tchoucour-Ova, pg. 60). “Yerli” of course means “local” in Turkish but because foreign sources usually refer to this cultivar by its Turkish designation I have left it as such. 39 BOA, A-MKT-MHM 256/79 (4 Ramazan 1279 [11 February 1863]); 257/97 (27 Ramazan 1279 [6 March 1279]). 40 Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 13. 41 BOA, DH-MKT 1231/9, No. 1 (13 Kanunusani 1323 [26 January 1908]); ibid., 13. E.J. Davis also noted that imported seed varieties such as Syrian wheat or Egyptian cotton needed to be constantly brought in or else the crops of subsequent years would “degenerate” and “sink back into the type of the district.” Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 56-57. Seed shortages were often an issue in Çukurova and the Ottoman administration sometimes banned seed export. BOA, ŞD 2120/53 (6 Rebiulahir 1299 [16 February 1882]); MV 49/29 (7 Rebiulahir 1307 [19 November 1889]). 38


Table 4 1903 Adana-Mersin Export Figures42 Destination of Cotton Ottoman Empire Austria-Hungary Italy Spain Greece Russia UK France

39.8% 19.9% 19.8% 10.8% 6.2% 1.5% 1.1% 0.9%

Destination of Grains and Cereals Ottoman Empire 31.1% Belgium 31.7% UK 19.6% Egypt 10.1% France 7.9%

Major exports (as % of total value) Cotton 55% Grains and cereals 18% Sesame seed 6% Timber and tree products 5%

Labor was indeed the central concern of major cultivators in Cilicia. The agrarian economy had shifted so rapidly that there was a tremendous shortage of labor in the area during the spring and fall. The days when Turkmen and Kurdish pastoralists accompanied by hundreds of thousands of animals would pour into Çukurova at the end of summer were coming to an end, and the once dominant pastoralist economy was continually being pushed to the margins of the Cilicia region. But in their place, a new type of migration emerged, one not based on the seasonal rhythms of climate and disease but rather on the times of planting and harvest on Çukurova’s cotton plantations and burgeoning fields of wheat, sesame, and barley. These workers entered the region from every direction.43 During the 1880s, roughly 40% came from the Nusayri Arab villages of Çukurova and the littoral of Northern Syria as far south as Lattakia.44 The rest came from Anatolia. Villagers from around Kayseri, the Armenian towns of the Taurus Mountains, and inland regions further east like Harput and even Erzurum came seeking fortune in the fertile plains of Çukurova. Kurdish and Assyrian migrant workers from Mardin, Diyarbakir, Van, Mosul, and even the other side of the border with Iran were added to this diverse mélange of 42

Compiled from data in Townshend, Trade of the Vilayets of Aleppo and Adana for the Year 1903 (London: Foreign Office, 1904), 24. See appendix for full table. 43 A similar relationship between the cotton-cultivating Nile Delta and Upper Egypt emerged over the latter half of the nineteenth century. Tucker, Women in nineteenth-century Egypt, 33. 44 Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 172.


labor from every corner of Cilicia’s horizon. 100 to 200 permanent migrants from as far east as Afghanistan had settled on the outskirts of Adana and Tarsus as agricultural laborers and watchmen.45 Estimates of annual labor flows varied wildly and were contingent in part on the strength a particular season’s prospective harvest. E.J. Davis reported 50,000 to 70,000 laborers annually at harvest time in 1874.46 Lt. Bennet reported 40,000 to 50,000 workers arriving in April and May as of 1881.47 In 1885, Abidin Pasha reported to Ottoman diplomats in London that 50,000 people came annually to the Çukurova region for agriculture, a number similar to his estimates for the population of Adana and its vicinity.48 Dr. Şerafeddin Pasha referred to the numbers reaching as many as 100,000 in the 1890s during an inspection of a cholera epidemic in the region, although an account by a local official in Adana from 1898 referred to just 42,000 such workers.49 A later and more detailed health inspection of the Adana region from 1901 mentioned 60-70,000 workers coming to Adana each year from outside the province.50 Meanwhile a financial inspection of the Adana province from 1903 refers to 50-60,000 migrant workers.51 W.J. Childs, who traversed the Adana region largely on foot just before the First World War, mentioned 100,000 to 150,000 migrant laborers working the agricultural land surrounding a city of roughly the same size.52 Perhaps both numbers were exaggerations, but the economy of Adana

BOA, DH-MKT 330/45 (12 Receb 1312 [27 December 1895]); ŞD 633/18, No. 4 (7 September 1893); TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1881 No. 3, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (22 January 1881). British intelligence indicated that the Afghans and Indians in Çukurova “have immigrated to escape from British rule.” Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 4344. 46 Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 172. 47 TNA, FO 222/8/2, No. 3 Bennet to Dufferin, Adana (6 February 1882). 48 BOA, HR-SFR (3) 282/31, No. 52 (11 February 1885). 49 Mağmumi and Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktoru'nun anıları, 174; Ziya, Tabsıra yahut Adana Temaşası, 18. 50 BOA, İ-DH 1386/33, no. 7 (30 Nisan 1317 [13 May 1901]). 51 BOA, A-MKT-MHM 523/51 (16 October 1903). A medical inspection from 1909 cited the same exact range. BOA, DH-MKT 2801/54, No. 1 (17 Rebiulevvel 1327 [26 March 1909]. 52 Childs, Across Asia Minor on Foot, 343. According to the 1909 account of Hakob Terzian, the workers numbered only 20,000, though the author was as keen as other to note their demographic and cultural impact. Perhaps in stating this number Terzian related mistakenly a figure that corresponded to the number of Armenian migrant 45


had grown at an alarming rate over the preceding decade. During the First World War, the Governor of Adana estimate prewar labor flows at 70-80,000 people.53 Aside from the fact that population figures of the period often vary, the disparity between these estimates is a natural consequence of the fact that the definition of who was a migrant worker and who was local was ambiguous. In general, the number of agricultural workers in Adana during the peak periods was perceived to equal or exceed the number of permanent urban inhabitants. These temporary workers formed the majority of laborers on large farms; Lt. Bennet found that a 6500 dönüm estate he visited hired 25 permanent winter hands but 120 extra workers at harvest times.54 A report from 1912 indicated that while the male and female population of local agricultural laborers in Çukurova was around 2,000, the migrant worker population could be more than 100,000.55

laborers at the time. Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 6. A British military handbook published during the Allied occupation of Cilicia after the First World War gave an even lower number for a floating population of workers at 510,000. I infer that this does not include those workers who only came for planting and harvesting. More on this in Chapter 7. Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 677. An early Republıcan report from 1925 estimated that Adana attracted 30,000 migrant workers annually. Hilmi Uran, Adana Ziraat Amelesi [Adana Agricultural Laborers] (Adana: Türksözü, 1925), 6. 53 BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 12-13, Hakkı to Dahiliye (30 Teşrinisani 1331 [13 December 1915]). 54 TNA, FO 222/8/2, pg. 54, “Report on the Vilayet of Adana” (6 February 1882). 55 Georges Tsapalos and Pierre Walter, Rapport sur le domaine impérial de Tchoucour-Ova (Paris: VilleneuveSaint-Georges, 1912), 19-20.


Figure 21 Traveling Cook in Adana (Source: / color version available at Atatürk Kitaplığı)

This annual influx left a major imprint on the city of Adana and made it one of the most expensive places to rent and own property in the Ottoman Empire.56 The presence of a large floating population of workers, many of whom were unmarried men, also impacted various aspects of the urban culture; Adana was known for a robust nightlife, with taverns (meyhane), cafes, and gambling becoming a common feature of the city.57 Street food sold by traveling cooks such as mumbar (stuffed sheep intestine), şırdan (stomach), and liver — not to mention the now renowned Adana kebabs — were relatively cheap sources of meat that workers could enjoy as a small pleasure during otherwise strenuous days of planting and harvest in Adana’s countryside.58 Workers also brought a rural feel to the city during the peak seasons of demand. The week began on Tuesday, when workers, employers and middlemen would congregate at the

Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 10. Ibid., 10-12. 58 Abdülkadir Kemali, father of novelist Orhan Kemal and native of Ceyhan, recalled in his memoirs how as a child he longed to taste the mumbar and liver that he would sometimes see workers enjoying on their breaks. Abdülkadir Kemali and Işık Ögütçü, Orhan Kemal'in babası Abdülkadir Kemali Bey'in anıları [The Memoirs of Orhan Kemal's Father Abdülkadir Kemali Bey] (Istanbul: Everest Yayınları, 2009), 4. The fact that Adana cuisine is identified by these very dishes today is a testament to how the diets of workers as well as the tastes they brought from the home countries have colored the diets of today’s Turkey. 56 57


“farmhand market (ırgat pazarı).” Dr. Şerafeddin remarked that on Tuesdays, Adana was a “human sea (insan deryası)” due to the presence of on average 40,000 or more workers in search of employment.59 The locus of this activity was the Stone Bridge, which was impassable due to the number of people gathered there for business. On the other side of the coin, working in Çukurova must have had a profound effect on the communities that contributed significant amounts of labor. Their transformation from peripheral peasants to wage laborers in the heart of the empire’s fastest growing frontier transformed many households. While workers are always referred to in the abstract, and it appears that many of them were single, young men, it is clear that a very large percentage of them were in fact women.60 The sudden rise of female wage labor among Armenians, Kurds, and Arab Nusayris, which removed women from village fields and the household economies of the mountains, had likely implications for gender roles among those ethnolinguistic groups in particular. Meanwhile, the rise of migrant labor, which was commonly referred to gurbet, meaning exile or estrangement, instilled a culture of seasonal displacement and separation among the working villagers of rural Anatolia and Syria. Beyond social effect in Adana and at home, the movement of seasonal workers fundamentally reshaped the ecology of the Çukurova plain, which witnessed the expansion of cultivation and a concurrent rise in demand for labor with every strong harvest. From the beginning of the cotton boom in the 1860s, government officials had played some role in orchestrating worker movements from Eastern Anatolia through facilitating correspondence about labor demands.61 Reports regarding need and timing would be relayed from Adana to

Mağmumi and Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktoru'nun anıları, 175. See BOA, ŞD 2120/46 (20 Teşrinisani 1296 [2 December 1880]); DH-İD 80/26 (9 Haziran 1330 [22 June 1914]); Tsapalos and Walter, Rapport sur le domaine impérial de Tchoucour-Ova, 76. 61 BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 328/84, No. 1 (8 Mart 1281 [20 March 1865]). 59 60


labor-supplying provinces such as Diyarbakir and Bitlis via the Ministry of the Interior. 62 Yet the social lubricant of this entire process was the figure of the elçibaşı, a person originating from the local villages of the migrant workers who led the convoys of caravans to Adana and negotiated the terms of labor. This figure, sometimes referred to in Ottoman documents as a mütahit, or contractor, received a wage from the employer roughly twice that of the workers and also earned a small commission from the workers themselves.63 Once on the farms, these middlemen took on the role of supervisors, dining and sleeping separately from the workers with the manager (çiftlik kâhyası) and other permanent staff. Thus, while the elçibaşı was the link between workers in their villages and employment in Adana, there was likely more animosity than solidarity between these two groups; Hilmi Uran noted that the elçibaşı was known for wielding an umbrella and a whip.64 The umbrella would have been no small status symbol, as the fields of Çukurova held little tree cover or shade to offer respite from the sun and heat. Agricultural laborers worked long days; excluding the various break times, the workday lasted roughly ten or eleven hours.65 Precisely for this reason, the workday was organized around those virtually-sacred break times (soluk) that were in and of themselves an important part of worker compensation. The farms had cooks called odacıs who supplied sustenance to the workers. One British Consul of Adana remarked, “if the food is bad, the men strike at once.”66 The workday’s end was marked by a ritualistic chant that in addition to alluding to many figures in the daily lives of Ottoman workers, mentioned by name Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, who was reportedly responsible for


BOA, DH-MKT 1712/31, No. 1 (14 March 1890). A document from 1892 reports the daily wages of mütahits and workers around Mersin at 5 and 3 kuruş respectively. BOA, ŞD 2124/28 (6 Cemaziyelahir 1310 [14 December 1892]); Uran, Adana Ziraat Amelesi, 13-14. 64 Ibid., 15. 65 Ibid., 10. 66 Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 14. 63


shortening the work week during his time in Cilicia.67 Thus, while the disparate nature of their origins discouraged worker organization these certain types of consciousness regarding labor practices comprised the moral economy that governed the migrant working class. The breaks were vital to the workers not just because they needed rest but because they were given meals provided by the farm. The first meal came after about an hour of work in the morning and was comprised of a loaf of bread. The “pilav break,” during which workers were given a bowl of bulgur or barley, came in the late morning was comprised. The next break known as the “ass break (göt soluğu),” which came at the high heat of the afternoon, was intended solely for sitting. Alongside an optional prayer break in the afternoon, a roughly fortyfive minute break for a meal occurred for lunch. The workers would generally eat a loaf of bread with barley soup, compote or ayran.68 There was usually a water boy on hand in the fields during work hours.69 Although the meals they received throughout the week were an important component of worker compensation, Dr. Şerafeddin noted that the food he encountered during his health inspections was very poor. It was common to find workers being served moldy bread or “rock-hard” pilavs cooked in foul-smelling oils. He blamed this poor nutrition for contributing to the deplorable health conditions of migrant workers in Çukurova.70 Poor nutrition contributed to the Ottoman migrant laborers’ already precarious health situation. Their movements were timed to the various agricultural seasons of the year and not to the patterns of transhumance that most residents of Cilicia practice for health reasons. “Mortality amongst the labourers is high,” E.J. Davis remarked following his visit during the 1870s. “These

Uran, Adana Ziraat Amelesi, 10. According to Damar Arıkoğlu, the local labor commission in Adana was also founded during the time of İbrahim Pasha’s occupation. Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım, 16. See also Procházka-Eisl and Procházka, The Plain of Saints and Prophets, 40. More in Chapter 11. 68 Ayran is a yogurt drink. 69 Uran, Adana Ziraat Amelesi, 7-10. 70 Mağmumi and Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktoru'nun anıları, 175. 67


poor fellows come down from a pure mountain air to the deadly heat of the Cilician plain; they are exposed all day to the burning sun… in a climate always more or less malarious.”71 Fever, sunstroke and dysentery were the most common afflictions facing these workers, and in addition to being vectors for epidemic diseases such as cholera, migrant workers in Adana contributed to the province having unusually high rates of syphilis.72 Workers would return from the fields at the end of the week only to die suddenly of malaria or another disease in the often squalid conditions of the inns or open-air encampments of workers that dotted the edge of Adana. As Davis wrote, “a man feels a little ill, headache and shivering come on, he is obliged to retire, and in an hour or two he’s dead.”73 Those who survived did not necessarily leave their microbes in Çukurova when they returned home. Samuel Jamentz, an Ottoman-Armenian doctor who grew up in the mountain town of Hadjin, which he described as “a region endowed with such incomparable climate, mountains, and water” that it made “a marvelous summer-place (amaranots),” lamented that workers would return with malaria and other disease that they contracted in the insalubrious swamps of Çukurova, thereby spreading disease otherwise foreign to the Taurus Mountains (more in Chapter 6).74 Disease was not the only risk facing these migrants. Predatory lending landed many workers in a state of chronic debt, and gambling was widespread. Elçibaşıs played a prominent role in this small-scale lending and gambling.75 Yet, going to Adana for work was perhaps the biggest gamble of all, as a poor health situation and uncertain terms of employment awaited. While demand for labor was certainly high, it often varied based on the rainfall, demand for


Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 172. Mağmumi and Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktoru'nun anıları, 177. 73 Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey. Such an episode is described at length in Orahn Kemal’s Bereketli Topraklar Üzerinde. Orhan Kemal, Bereketli Topraklar Üzerinde (Istanbul: Everest, 1954; 2008). 74 Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 236-37. 75 Uran, Adana Ziraat Amelesi, 15. 72


cotton and other crops, and the general capacity for cultivators to plant during a given year. Wages could rise as much as 50% higher than normal in a strong year, but if demand was low workers faced the reality of going home empty-handed. In an extreme case, the disruption caused by the Adana massacres left over one thousand Assyrian workers who had traveled roughly 600 km from the villages around Midyat without work in Adana and unable to return home.76 This being said, a successful season in Adana was certainly lucrative in comparison with economic opportunities in the crowded mountain regions where land and work were harder to come by.77 In April 1896, for example, the governor of Bitlis wrote to the Interior Ministry asking how much the estimated daily pay rate for workers that season would be so that it could be announced during the annual procurement of workers occurring through the region. 78 The ministry responded that while daily wages were normally 5-6 kuruş, that year authorities in Adana were reporting that it was “anticipated (melhûz) that it would not drop below 8 to 10 kuruş on average.”79 This ambiguity made working in Adana an uncertain venture; however, because Adana often reported wages for agricultural workers roughly double that of other provinces, the opportunity would have been difficult to resist.80 A British official noted in 1880 that agricultural laborers in Adana earned 5 to 12 kuruş daily plus food, and Lt. Bennet similarly indicated in 1882 that migrant workers in Adana were paid 5 to 10 kuruş daily.81


BOA, DH-MKT 2843/31 (30 Mayıs 1325 [13 June 1909]). In 1914, the governor of Adana Hakkı Pasha said the that men and “even women” of the Taurus Mountains were in a constant state of roaming due to the lack of opportunities there, and suggested that 2,000 households from the crowded town of Hadjin should be settled somewhere in Çukurova to reduce the demographic pressure. BOA, DHİD 80/26 (9 Haziran 1330 [22 June 1914]). 78 BOA, DH-MKT 2074/36, No. 1 (10 Nisan 1312 [22 April 1896]). 79 BOA, DH-MKT 2074/13, No. 2 (13 Nisan 1312 [25 April 1896]). 80 In 1892, the Governor of Adana reported daily wages of 6 kuruş, whereas the mutasarrıfs of İçel and Yozgat reported 3 and 3.5 kuruş respectively. BOA, ŞD 2124/28 (13 Kanunuevvel 1308 [25 December 1892]); 2124/29 (14 Kanunuevvel 1308 [26 December 1892]); ŞD 2124/30 (22 Kanunuevvel 1308 [3 January 1893]). 81 TNA FO 222/8/2, No. 3 Bennet to Dufferin, Adana (6 February 1882). 77


Table 5 Estimated Wages (in kuruş) of Various Professions in Ottoman Adana, February 188082 Baker Blacksmith Brickmakers Butchers Cabinet-makers Carpenters Clerks Coppersmiths Farm Laborers Annual Farm Laborers Farriers Harness-makers Masons Mechanics (engineers in mills) Millers Operatives in cotton mills Potters Shoemakers Shopmen Tanners Tinsmiths

30 to 50 / week (5 to 8 / day) 3 to 7 / day 15 to 20 / day 200 to 230 / month 14 to 18 / day 10 to 14 / day 3000 to 10000 / year 13 to 14 / day 5 to 12 / day plus food 300 to 400 / year with board 3 to 7 / day 7 to 10 / day 10 to 14 / day 4 Ottoman lira / month 7 to 9 / day 3 to 4 / day 8 to 11 / day 30 to 70 / week 2 to 4 / day 3 to 6 / day 8 to 10 / day

The above table offers indications of why migrant workers, who hailed from villages and mountain towns where wages were likely substantially lower, might undertake the arduous and risky journey to labor in the deadly fields of Çukurova. Their pay was comparable to many other professions in Adana and in a good year could exceed those amounts. Likewise, migrant laborers who came at peak agricultural times such as planting and harvesting earned substantially more per day than the annual rate of a permanent farmhand. They could also move, for example, to and from other agricultural regions such as İzmir in search of more work. Despite the numerous issues surrounding the seasonal migration of workers to various parts of Anatolia for the purposes of agricultural labor, relatively little was done by the Ottoman government beyond some oversight and regulation of movement (more in Chapter 7). Working conditions and the rights of workers vis-à-vis their employers were areas of particular ambiguity. Only with the reinstatement of the Ottoman constitution in 1908, concern for working conditions 82

Adapted from data in TNA, FO 424/106, pg. 457, Cooper to Tenterden (9 June 1880).


seems to have increased. The Şura-yı Devlet commissioned reports regarding working conditions in the agricultural sector in preparation of a document that clearly defined the rights of estateowners and cultivators towards their laborers and vice versa. The language of the documentation surrounding this measure clearly indicates that it was a matter of worker rights. The report explained that the state of agricultural workers in the Ottoman Empire was “miserable in every aspect (ez her cihet perişan),” describing these laborers as “poor” uninformed souls employed under unfavorable terms and cruelly exploited. According to this report, the protection of workers’ rights (hukuk) was not just a matter of humanity but in fact posited as critical to the proper expansion of the Ottoman Empire’s agricultural economy.83

Figure 22 Men and Women Pick Cotton at Adalı, Çukurova, ca. 1912 (Source: Tsapalos, Rapport Sur Le Domaine Impérial De Tchoucour-Ova, pg. 76)


BOA, BEO 3599/269906, no. 2 (22 Cemaziyelahir 1327 [27 June 1909]).


Producing Çukurova The Second Constitutional Era was indeed a period of rapid rise in agricultural output in the Ottoman Empire and especially in Adana, and this economic growth was chiefly the fruit of migrant labor. Adana’s annual cotton crop had already grown to over 50,000 bales during the first decade of the 1900s. The crop of 1909, despite the disruption of the Adana massacres, was easily one of the best on record, with over 75,000 bales of cotton recorded, although the following year’s crop was much subdued, due to flood and the labor effects of the violence (more in Chapter 7). However, 1911, 1912, and 1913 saw record crops, so that on the eve of the First World War, Adana’s projected cotton harvests were roughly double that of the average harvests of a decade prior (more in Chapter 10). This growth represented a general increase in agricultural output and not merely a greater concentration on cotton. For example, in March 1911, the Governor of Adana sent a telegram to the Ministry of the Interior requesting that measures be taken to encourage a greater influx of workers from Ankara, Konya, Aleppo, Mamuretülaziz, and Diyarbakir, because the year’s grain crop was exceptionally large when compared with years past and with the season coming to a close, there was still not enough labor in the region.84 In a span of decades, Çukurova had seemingly become a plantation where cultivation was limited only by the number of hands available to plant and pick the crops.


BOA, DH-İD 107/20, No. 2 (24 Mart 1327 [6 April 1911]).


Cotton Production of Çukurova (bales per year) 140000 120000 100000 80000 60000 40000 20000 0 1900














Figure 23 Estimates of Çukurova’s Annual Cotton Crop85 This growth was due in part to the slow emergence of a political economy in which landholders employed migrant labor that flowed into the province every year, and as these networks became more formalized and workers grew accustomed to this form of labor, the system acquired a certain order, albeit one that appeared most unfavorable to the workers themselves. Another factor in this growth was the slow mechanization of agriculture in Çukurova. Toksöz notes that by 1910, there were 60 threshers, 300 steam plows, 1000 reapers, 200 pumps, and 50 steam and gas engines in the vicinity of Adana.86 Mechanization allowed for increased yields and diversification of economic activity. For example, in the 1860s, one of the most highly demanded jobs for migrant laborers was that of the reaper (orakçı).87 However, as


E. C. Achard, Le coton en Cilicie et en Syrie (Paris1922). More figures of cotton production in subsequent years in Chapters 10, 11, and 14. For more numbers, see Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton; Astourian, "Testing world-system theory, Cilicia (1830's-1890's) : Armenian-Turkish polarization and the ideology of modern Ottoman historiography". 86 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 176. 87 BOA, A}-MKT-MHM 328/84, No. 1 (8 Mart 1281 [20 March 1865]).


mechanical reapers were introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century, demand for human reapers declined. This freed laborers to perform other tasks still done by hand such as hoeing. 88 Meanwhile, gangs each comprised of dozens of men toured the countryside with large imported threshing machines that greatly helped lighten the labor load of the grain crop.89 Likewise, steam plows such as the one first introduced by Abidin Pasha began to spread, albeit not in the form of individual ownership but rather as machines that could be rented or contracted.90 Nonetheless, the factor of human labor in Çukurova’s agricultural economy would remain fundamental. The concern of labor was especially important as the region began to industrialize and become more involved in the processing of cotton for export and the weaving of textiles. The cleaning of cotton, which required separating the cotton fibers from the seeds and the rest of the boll (koza) — an activity known in Turkish as koza şiflemek — had long been one of the major economic activities involved with the industry. Unlike agricultural work, the cleaning of cotton bolls was mostly carried out by local residents in the towns and villages of Çukurova, who were usually paid in kind, keeping roughly 1 out of every 8 to 10 bolls for their own sale. This allowed households that worked together – parents, children, and all – to supplement their incomes during the harvest season, and it was an activity that widowed women in particular could use to get by.91 With the spread of cotton gins and spinning mills in the Adana region, this mode of labor was industrialized. Entire families shared the responsibilities of a particular machine in a particular factory that operated continuously (with the help of electric light) as family


Uran, Adana Ziraat Amelesi, 5. Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 14. 90 Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 45. 91 Terzian notes that these families used the money to pay their rent, which was usually due on November 1. Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 9. Judith Tucker’s work on women in nineteenth century Egypt offers particular insight onto how the rise of cotton changes the nature of women’s labor and offered some opportunities for economic autonomy. Tucker, Women in nineteenth-century Egypt. For similar questions regarding silk in Mount Lebanon, see Khater, Inventing Home. 89


members—especially women and children—alternated turns on the machines.92 Arshaguhi Teodik reported seeing one such factory where hundreds of women and children worked in 1909.93 Mechanization increased demand for labor as more cotton was consumed locally; in the case of a spinning factory in Tarsus, houses were built for Armenian workers who were to be brought from Hadjin, Zeytun, and Aintab to meet the demand.94 Table 6 Number of Cotton Gins in Çukurova, 190895 Town Adana Tarsus Mersin Hamidiye (Ceyhan) Yenice In various villages

Number of Factories 14 3 2 2 1

Number of Gins 300 110 25 30 15 70

The above chart show the extent of industrialization that was occurring in Cilicia by the end of the Ottoman period. In addition to the numerous factories and workshops associated with the cotton industry, various flour, rope, ice, and oil factories could be found in the cities of Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin.96 Yet, this chart also clearly indicates an economic division of the province. The easternmost cotton gins were located in Hamidiye on the banks of the Ceyhan River that divided the province in half. The western strip of Lower Çukurova between Adana and Mersin had witnessed rapid agricultural growth, but in the eastern region of Upper Çukurova this change was not so palpable. There was another side to the story of Çukurova’s transformation.


Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 14. Arshakuhi Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia: ktsʻktur nō tʻer [A Month in Cilicia] (Istanbul: Ter-Nersesean, 1910), 58. 94 Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 11. 95 Ibid., 12. 96 For more on mechanization, see Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 168-76. 93


Figure 24 Agricultural Machinery at Work in Çukurova (Source: Tsapalos, Rapport Sur Le Domaine Impérial De Tchoucour-Ova, pg. 47). The Other Plain When Abidin Pasha inaugurated the construction of the Adana-Mersin railway line, he foretold a future in which commercial growth would accomplish what the governments of the Tanzimat period had failed to do with heavy-handed reforms. He declared that “the large products of the interior, which all gravitate by a natural law to the sea, will be stimulated to increased energy by the facilities afforded by railway communication.”97 The Western newspapers that covered this speech with anticipation were mainly concerned with how the railway would impact imports and exports, but on some level, Abidin Pasha had in his mind the disastrous episode of settlement from the 1860s and 70s. Lt. Bennet remarked that Abidin Pasha was “well aware of their past history and can… be trusted not to repeat the former 97

"The Mersina, Tarsus and Adana Railway: reprinted from the Times, May 19th, 1884," 4.


inhumanity.”98 Confident that economic change might induce the pastoralists of Cilicia to settle more easily than force, they were allowed to migrate as before during a period in which the Hamidian regime adopted a more accommodating policy towards tribal populations. The railroad, which cut travel time for goods between Adana and Mersin to 2 to 2.5 hours, did bring change, and the products of the interior did begin to “gravitate by a natural law to the sea.”99 There, a growing fleet of sailing vessels and steamships awaited. By the end of the Ottoman period, Mersin was regularly visited by steamships from the Ottoman Empire and eleven other countries, and more than 1200 vessels annually.100 This economic reorientation appeared so stark that the merchants of İskenderun, which had been the Mediterranean port of the city of Aleppo (one of the largest in the empire), petitioned the Ottoman government in 1913 to make their district part of the Adana province on the premise that their economic future was with Çukurova and that region belonged to the “Turkish” areas of Anatolia.101 Although the request was denied, it illustrates the extent to which economic growth in Adana impacted the gaze of businessmen in the region, and how in turn, that reflected on the way local communities understood their engagement with emerging discourses of national identity. 102 While economic growth was significant, it was also uneven. Until 1911, the railway stopped in Adana, and east of the city, goods moved at a slower pace. Distances between locations in Upper Çukurova remained impossibly far. For example, the traveling time between 98

Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885", 166. 99 A British consul in Adana asked to have his post moved to Mersin, where more important commercial activities and movements were taking place, saying he could “reach Adana by train in two hours” if need be. TNA, FO 195/1930, Massy to Currie, Mersina (31 March 1896), pg. 9. 100 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 152, 59. 101 Their eight points included the importance of the railroad as well as cultural, climatic, political and economic ties to Adana that were stronger than those to Aleppo. BOA, DH-İD 183-2/7, No. 2 (4 Teşrinisani 1329 [17 November 1913). 102 This detail should be intriguing for those interested in local engagement with the contentious incorporation of this region into the Republic of Turkey during the 1930s. For more, see Sarah D. Shields, Fezzes in the River : identity politics and European diplomacy in the Middle East on the eve of World War II (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).


Hamidiye (the main center of immigrant settlement in Çukurova) and the next town to the east, Osmaniye (the center of tribal settlement in Cebel-i-Bereket), was eight hours.103 Arshaguhi Teodik remarked that Eastern Çukurova was a place where villages and towns were separated by many hours and even days.104 The distance between Adana and Mersin on the coast and Adana and Sis in Upper Çukurova was the same – roughly 70 km – but while rail moved people and goods to Mersin in just 2 hours, Sis was 18 hours from Adana (see Table 7).105 The absence of adequate transportation meant that the already struggling villages of Upper Çukurova were disproportionately disconnected from markets in Adana and beyond. Major transport in the region remained in the hands of camel drivers.106


TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia, 141. 105 Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 6. 106 Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia, 151. 104


Table 7 Distances of different parts of Cilicia from provincial capital of Adana as conventionally measured in hours107 Town Mersin (by train) Tarsus Mersin Sis Osmaniye Kars Payas Hadjin

Distance 2.5 9 15 18 18 21 21 36

District Karaisalı Muhacirin Sırkıntı Gülek Bozdoğan Namrun Feke Rum

Distance 9 9 12 18 21 21 34 46

An even more vivid illustration of the diffuse geography of Upper Çukurova and the long distances faced by residents of the area might be the example of 14 households of 63 immigrants founded near the village of Kömürdülü in 1897. Their settlement was a full three hours from Kömürdülü along a very bad road, leaving them helplessly disconnected from the village and much less the outside world. In their case, the situation was extreme enough to merit resettlement to a village that would be newly founded for them called Yeniköy, approximately one hour from Cevdetiye.108 The trouble of these migrants illustrates how impossibly sparse settlement in many parts of Upper Çukurova remained. While Cebel-i Bereket sancak was similar in size to the Adana-Tarsus-Mersin region, its population as of 1914 was less than one-third of the latter’s.

107 108

SV-Adana (H. 1294 [1877]). BOA, DH-TMIK-S 69/49 (12 Receb 1325 [8 August 1907]).


Figure 25 A Circassian House in Mercimek, Upper Çukurova, ca. 1912 (Source: Tsapalos, Rapport Sur Le Domaine Impérial De Tchoucour-Ova, pg. 19). A comparatively low population density also led to numerous difficulties regarding administration of the eastern portion of the Adana province. There, local governments suffered from disproportionately poor budgets and lack of personnel. Administrative buildings and important symbols of state power such as the prison received comparatively little attention. In some cases, this state of affairs threatened the Ottoman state’s ability to monopolize violence (more in Chapter 7), but beyond this, it challenged the efficacy of provincial administrative reform, which in the case of Cilicia, had been focused on reining in unchecked autonomy and the power of local notables. In the introduction of this chapter, I discussed the Ottoman investigation of a large number of complaints by villagers in Eastern Çukurova against the tribal notables or aghas of the region. While settlement and administration reform were aimed at curtailing the power of such 254

figures, in practice the image of the oppressive village agha who controls large amounts of land and forces the local residents to obey his will became synonymous with life in rural Cilicia. Yaşar Kemal’s most famous novel, İnce Memed, revolves around the struggles that arise from a political economy characterized by landholding village aghas and the young men and women who lived under their thumbs in the diffuse and wild geography of Çukurova. 109 This uneven distribution of property and power in the countryside may seem to many readers as quintessentially tribal features of these economies. However, given the relatively egalitarian tendencies of nomadic pastoralist societies and the often disruptive influence of settlement in this regard, we may see the political economy depicted in İnce Memed as representative of the postsettlement world of Çukurova. As mentioned above, much of the Adana region’s agrarian expansion had occurred in the form of large estates that employed migrant labor. The natural consequence of this rapid expansion on uncultivated and unregistered land was for large tracts of terrain to be registered to single owners and families. However, this was somewhat contrary to post-1858 Ottoman land policy, which sought to register as much land as possible to as many people as possible in order to increase the tax base and officially register Ottoman citizens. Thus, while the 1858 Land Code did in some cases create large estates and eventually facilitated the sale and purchase of parcels of land, it was in many cases aimed at creating small landholders. The work of Martha Mundy and Richard Suamarez has shown how this may have been particularly true in Greater Syria and regions such as Transjordan, where most rural land registration occurred not in 1858 but rather over the course of subsequent decades by surveyors that went to villages and registered pieces of land that may have been held communally to individuals.110

109 110

For an English translation of this work, see Kemal, Memed, My Hawk. Mundy and Smith, Governing Property: law, administration, and production in Ottoman Syria.


By the end of the Ottoman period, the landholding pattern in Eastern Çukurova was almost exactly the same as in Western Çukurova. Around Ceyhan, 88% of cultivator households owned more than 50 dönüms of land. In the sancak of Cebel-i Bereket, the households surveyed indicated a similar figure of 74%.111 Toksöz notes that a “former nomad” named Alaybeyzade Mahmud held 5,000 dönüms alone.112 This is despite the fact that land was registered incrementally in the manner described above. As Gould shows in his study of tribal settlement in Cilicia, the registration of property occurred in the 1880s some fifteen years after settlement. When it did, the landholding pattern emerged on paper as fairly egalitarian. Unlike the western portion of the plain, relatively small plots of land were registered to individuals.113 A similar property regime would have been in play for the waves of migrants who came to Çukurova, as settlement policy involved issuing a land deed to each family. However, as Gould notes, the historical evidence of registration flies in the face of Çukurova’s notoriously unequal distribution of property during the early Republican period. Gould, referencing the ethnographic work of Wolfram Eberhard in the region, hypothesized that land may have been registered to individuals, but that in practice local notables kept the deeds and controlled access to the land. 114 I would add to this possibility one major point: the situation in Eastern Çukurova was likely such that many people abandoned or sold their land. Within the various literature on land in the Ottoman Empire, there is a general tendency to underestimate the extent to which Ottoman subjects may not have wanted to own land. I am not referring only to a desire to avoid paying taxes or conscription. In the case of Adana, I am referring in particular to settlers, be they pastoralists or immigrants, who simply did not want to 111

See above. Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 179-80. 113 Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885". 114 Ibid. 112


live in the environments where they were settled. As explained in Chapter 4, pastoralist communities settled by the Reform Division tried to return to a transhumant mode of living and abandoned agricultural lands. Within this climate, it was not only possible for land to change hands easily and at a low price; it was possible that many settlers simply left their land or were buried on it. This is also true for migrants, who frequently fled their settlement areas rather than waiting to petition for resettlement.115 In their cases, this was likely tied to the inhabitability of swampy parts of Çukurova, where settler mortality was high. Lt. Bennet described malaria in the eastern part of the plain as especially insalubrious.116 British Consul Chemerside reported in 1879 that of the new batch of immigrants who came to the İslahiye region – roughly 2000 families – most fled or died so that only 25 families or so remained. “It is really terrible to see these half-starved, fever-stricken wretches and the little skeleton babes tugging at the empty breast,” he wrote in describing the settlers’ predicament.117 Bennet meanwhile remarked upon how this dynamic had already created a small and very prosperous class of immigrant landowners around the Ceyhan River, where disease quickly whittled down large settler populations to a few hundred individuals. The emergence of large estates in Eastern Çukurova was partially a consequence of just how difficult agricultural life was there. The settlers who were able to adjust were left with bountiful land, which was worked by seasonal laborers. In May of 1866, a number of villages had been formed the members of Cerid and Tacirli communities around the town of Osmaniye. According to a count in 1916118, either half had changed name or disappeared. But four main villages still survived. Two named for Cevdet


For example, one report indicated that over 800 recent immigrant households had sold their farms and seed for cash. BOA, DH-MKT 1289/55 (10 Şaban 1326 [24 August 1908]). 116 TNA, FO 222/8/2, pg 59, “Report on the Vilayet of Adana” (February 1882). 117 TNA, FO 424/106, p395-6, Chemerside (1 October 1879). 118 Due to the impacts of conscription and the general upheaval of the war period, one might be hesitant to employ statistics from the war period; however, because these particular counts were in terms of household rather than strict population, I hypothesize that they would have been less vulnerable to those fluctuations.


Pasha and Derviş Pasha, who oversaw the forced settlement (see Chapter 3), were among the names that remained. The four villages had grown by about 7% in fifty years, one was significantly smaller. Dervişiye was essentially the same size as it had been upon its foundation in 1866. Cevdetiye, perched a gentle hill along the main road, had fared the best. Table 8 Population of four villages formed by Reform Division (in households)119 Dervişiye Tevfikiye Yaveriye Cevdetiye Total

1916 127 26 57 103 313

1866 123 40 46 81 290

WWI-era British intelligence about the Cilicia region indicated that in contrast to the economic growth occurring in the Adana-Mersin region, the countryside remained cut off. The intelligence manual described the impacts of settlement saying that “the [Afşars] have become poorer as a result of their struggles with the Turks.”120 In his study of settlement, Gould suggested in a somewhat optimistic tone that economic change in the region gradually induced tribal populations to settle. This would only appear true in the sense that the marginalization of the pastoralist economy left little alternative. However, it must be noted that even though some of the tribal groups (Cerid, Tacirli, etc.) settled during the Reform Division’s operations in Cilicia faded from the archival record after the 1870s, new nomadic groups emerged that were also targeted for settlement. The settlement of some nomads created a space for others to thrive. One particularly conspicuous group of pastoralists to emerge in late Ottoman Cilicia is the Aydınlıs. They

BOA, DH-UMVM 114/37, No. 4 (24 Teşrinisani 1332 [5 December 1916]); İ-DH 551/38360, No. 1 (9 Mayıs 1282 [22 May 1866]). 120 Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 87. 119


represented a few thousand transhumant individuals.121 This particular tribe’s name does not appear in Langlois’s original survey of the Cilicia region from the 1850s. 122 Similarly, the name does not appear in the writings of Ahmed Cevdet from the period of settlement.123 Archival documents pertaining to this tribe begin to appear around the turn of the twentieth century.124 Much like the Afşars, Cerids, Tecirlis, and Bozdoğans targeted by the Reform Division, their seasonal migration brought them through the Marash region into Çukurova on an annual basis. Their yaylas were located in the regions of İzmit, Konya, and Bursa. 125 Whether this was a new community formed out of the remnants of defeated tribes or simply a group that expanded its territory once the Reform Division had marginalized others in the region is not clear. It appears that there may be overlap between the groups formerly referred to as Afşar and the new Aydınlı in the Cilicia region. At any rate, by 1901, there were reports of clashes between police and Aydınlı sheep thieves, leading to discussion regarding their prospective settlement.126 In 1905, a letter indicating that the Aydınlıs were not registered with the census bureau and that they hid themselves in the forests of the Taurus Mountains to avoid being counted stated that since their winter quarters were in Sis and Kozan, they should be registered there. 127 When in 1907 the local government had yet failed to register them, the mutasarrıf of Kozan and governor Bahri Pasha proposed a settlement policy using military force similar to the ones implemented previously in Çukurova wherein the Aydınlıs would be allowed to migrate It is hard to get clear estimate of the Aydınlı population. In 1907, the mutasarrıf of Kozan reported around 2000 Aydınlıs in the vicinity of Hadjin during the summer, but this would have been only one segment of their total population. He also noted that their households (hane) were comprised of at least 8 to 10 people each. BOA, DHTMIK-M 258/17, No. 1 (30 Temmuz 1323 [12 August 1907]). 122 Langlois, Voyage dans la Cilicie. 123 See Cevdet, Tezâkir. 124 The earliest that I have found is a telegram referring to a report about different minority communities in the Adana region that included a description of the Aydınlıs. BOA, DH-ŞFR 172/28 (11 Mart 1311 [23 March 1895]). 125 BOA, DH-MKT 943/8, No. 1, Bahri Pasha to Dahiliye (23 Şubat 1320 [8 March 1905]). 126 The group of thieves killed a police corporal in one of these skirmishes. BOA, Y-MTV 217/7 (2 Muharrem 1319 [9 April 1901]). 127 BOA, DH-MKT 943/8, No. 2, (8 Muharrem 1323 [2 March 1905]). 121


seasonally so long as they built houses in the Adana province and registered their population.128 This was not implemented, however.129 In fact, discussions of possible tribal settlement projects during the years leading up to the First World War indicate that the Aydınlıs were one of many groups of pastoralists who wintered in various parts of Çukurova that remained outside the pale of settlement policy.130 In 1916, one roaming group of 48 families of the Aydınlıs in the district of Tacirli (see Table 8) was larger than half of the villages there.131 Some nomadic Aydınlıs would continue to move within the Adana province into the 1950s. Late Ottoman Trajectories In 1914, the governor of Adana Hakkı Bey toured the countryside of Çukurova and the Taurus Mountains just as he had done in “Kurdistan” during years prior.132 His view of the countryside reflected the unevenness described above. He reported that there was not even a single road in the area that could be considered paved (şöse). The land of Çukurova was swampy; the villages of the Taurus Mountains overcrowded. Disease and poverty were everywhere. However, the fertile land presented a tremendous potential as well. It could provide a home to tens of thousands of families of cultivators if need be.133 Upper Çukurova, swampy and remote though it remained, was certainly the agricultural and settlement frontier of Ottoman Cilicia. As Toksöz indicates, the Adana-Tarsus region had intensified cultivation to the point of near-saturation by the 1890s, and future expansion would have to occur in the uncultivated expanses of the eastern plain in areas such as modern-day Ceyhan.134


BOA, DH-TMIK-M 258/17, No. 1 (30 Temmuz 1323 [12 August 1907]). BOA, DH-TMIK-M 258/17, No. 7 (7 Teşrinisani 1323 [20 November 1907). 130 BOA, ŞD 2139/6, No. 12 (11 Şevval 1328 [2 October 1910]) 131 BOA, DH-UMVM 114/37, No. 4 (24 Teşrinisani 1332 [5 December 1916]). 132 See Hakkı, Raporlarım (Adana: Osmanlı Matbaası, 1914), 3. 133 BOA, DH-İD 80/26 (9 Haziran 1330 [22 June 1914]). 134 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 176. 129


The Ottoman government had attempted to promote cultivation in the east of the Adana province from the 1860s onward. Tribes were settled. Immigrants were brought in. Land was distributed and model farms were established. During the Second Constitutional Era, the Ottoman government even agreed to lease a large swath of the imperial holdings in Çukurova to French investors who promised to held drain the swamps and involve immigrants and local inhabitants alike in agriculture. While the disruption of the First World War would prevent the realization of this plan, the fact that attempts to settle and cultivate the more marginal regions of Çukurova led to what might in retrospect be considered a colonial venture are a testament to the intransigence of the region’s geography. From the 1860s onwards, powerful economic incentives drove Ottoman landowners to cultivate sections of the Çukurova plain that had previously been used as pasture or laid as swamps. Meanwhile, the imperatives of political reform in the Ottoman Empire also dictated that new, obedient settlements be formed in these regions. This heralded the reversal of a centurieslong process that had made the mountains the center of life in the Cilicia region. Mountain settlements had become crowded; communities that were deemed rebellious were being incrementally driven from the mountains by the Ottoman government. This process was playing out not only in the Adana region, but in many parts of the empire and the Mediterranean world.135 A number of ecological and economic factors were fueling a slow swing in settlement back towards the plains. This process, along with its uneven effect, can be observed in the demographic shifts that occurred in the Cilicia region over the last decades of Ottoman rule. The port of Mersin grew faster than any other part of the province, springing from a town with just 2000 inhabitants


See McNeill, The Mountains of the Mediterranean World : an environmental history; Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean.


during the 1860s to one of 10,000 inhabitants by the 1890s and more than 20,000 by the First World War. The town of Adana also grew rapidly, from 30,000 to as many as 80,000 registered inhabitants during this period. The town of Tarsus grew more slowly during this period, though its population doubled. According to Ottoman census figures, the Adana-Tarsus-Mersin region grew by more than 50% between 1882 and 1914, meaning that growth of urban centers outpaced population growth in the countryside. The below table offers my estimates of population in these cities based on the totality of sources I have found from the Ottoman period. Table 9 Estimated Population of Urban Centers in Cilicia136 Year Adana Tarsus Mersin Marash

1864 35000 12000 2000 25000

1914 80000 25000 25000 55000

The eastern portion of the Çukurova plain also witnessed considerable demographic growth during the last decades of the Ottoman period, according to census statistics. The sancak of Cebel-i Bereket had an almost 40% increase in population between 1882 and 1914, keeping pace with the general rate of growth in the province indicated by census data. This figure did not necessarily refer to significant urbanization as in the western part of the plain; Hamidiye, for example, was a town of just a few thousand inhabitants by the end of the Ottoman period – in other words – as small as the initial settler population that founded the town at Yarsuvat after the Crimean War, though most of those settlers had died. Instead, this increase in registered population reflected a combination of successful surveillance of a larger percentage of the tribal population and the effects of a steady influx of immigrants into the countryside. By contrast, the districts at the interface with the Taurus Mountains, Sis, Kars, and Karaisalı witnessed more


See Chapter 14 for complete discussion of sources.


limited population growth. As a sancak, the census reflected just 8% population growth for Kozan from 1882 to 1914. This likely indicates a flow of migration towards Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin coupled with low population growth among tribal populations settled in the plains regions. The mountains had been the true center of life in Cilicia, serving as the seat of local political authority and legitimacy and the locus of habitation or seasonal activity for the majority of the region’s inhabitants. But with most of the transhumant populations settled on the plains and mountain villagers flocking to the city, the mountains were losing a great deal of their importance. Although it may not refer to precise population numbers or actual changes in population, the below table based on Ottoman census data is intended to reflect a general demographic shift towards the Adana-Mersin region.


Table 10 Percentage population change reflected in 1882 and 1914 Ottoman census data137 Adana (vilayet) Sancaks Adana/Tarsus/Mersin Cebel-i Bereket Kozan Select Kazas Mersin (coast) Karaisalı (mixed) Feke/Hadjin (mountains) Sis/Kars (mixed) İslahiye (plains)

38.9% 54.9% 39.8% 8.6% 45.1% 28.5% 32.0% -9.1% 32.1%

The economic future of Cilicia clearly rested with the plains. But the mountains were still extremely important in one single regard for virtually all the region’s inhabitants: they were the only place where one could find respite from the brutal summer heat and the lingering threat of malaria. The comparative failures of settlement in Upper Çukurova are a testament to the fact that the region could not be fully transformed without a major shift in approaches to ecology. Although life in Cilicia had been reoriented towards the plain and the coast, only with the elimination of this seasonal risk could the region’s inhabitants sever ties with the yayla entirely. Largely in response to the new ecological issues posed by settlement policy, the Ottoman government made various attempts to improve living conditions in the swampy expanses of Çukurova. New approaches and understandings of malaria emerged throughout the last decades of the Ottoman period, but these new understandings in many ways only emphasized the intransigence of the disease in the face of human intervention. In the next chapter, I will discuss the transformation of longstanding practices of seasonal migration during the late Ottoman period within a rapidly changing political ecology in Cilicia. In addition to examining medical 137

Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics.


and ecological interventions aimed at eliminating disease in the Cilicia region, I will explore the various attempts to harness the region’s water resources and the intersection of commercial agriculture with malaria ecology. Realizing that it was a major barrier to settlement and an impediment to public health, the Ottoman administration adopted serious measures in hopes of scaling back malaria’s depredations. Yet, the impact of these measures would be limited, and with other aspects of settlement, economy, and geography fueling a rise in malaria, the presettlement disease ecology that defined life in the Cilicia region would endure.138 Table 11 Official Count of Human and Animal Population in Adana Province circa 1913139 Kaza




Adana Yumurtalık Karaisalı Ceyhan Osmaniye Islahiye Bahçe Hassa Dörtyol Sis Hadjin Feke Kars Mersin Tarsus Total

93,217 120,300 15,000 15,560 7,274 80,000 91,250 34,200 27,791 10,900 120,000 35,200 16,538 72,047 10,540 7,750 13,968 725 8,620 9,450 11,427 35,908 34,731 20,200 18,934 0 22,500 1,802 10,337 4,180 42,893 1,950 22,842 15,000 29,320 8,700 24,833 41,459 108,400 30,500 30,522 7,201 48,652 7,037 17,989 5,253 36,486 2,725 18,212 7,200 32,100 15,050 31,434 22,300 89,900 3,961 65,701 0 0 6,922 411,019 422,473 690,392 201,007



Buffaloes Work Animals140 4,180 29,040 140 6,260 155 13,450 295 10,600 1,810 5,730 590 22,060 0 6,730 100 2,610 170 6,054 650 26,460 283 10,514 40 5,180 2,200 12,735 0 27,758 580 14,980 11,193 200,161

For more about the agrarian economy of Çukurova during the First World War period and the decades of the Republic, see Chapters 8, 10, 11 and 14. 139 Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics; Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913]. The Ottoman agricultural statistics actually contain more detailed information about the animal population, including gender, the number of castrated males, and young. This is my simplified representation of the statistics and not precisely the categories used by the Ottoman administration to count animals and people. 140 Includes horses, mules, donkeys, camels, and oxen.



Toprakla oynayan mezarını kazar. “He who plays with the soil digs his own grave.” ~ Ottoman proverb

In a series of lectures at the Ottoman medical faculty of Istanbul in 1911, a veteran doctor named Feyzi Pasha (Feyzullah İzmidi) introduced a class of eager students to the myriad issues surrounding malaria (sıtma), which he also referred to as “swamp sickness (maraz-ı merzagi)” and “swamp fever (bataklık humması).”1 He lectured on the latest medical advances regarding the treatment of malaria, highlighting the singular role of the anopheles mosquito in transmitting the parasite between humans and displaying copious charts and figures explaining the epidemiology of the disease and its effective treatment. However, perhaps more interesting for the medical student (and certainly for the historian of medicine today) were the doctor’s anecdotes that drew on nearly forty years of medical practice. His career had overlapped with a unique period of medical history in which the Ottoman Empire witnessed the emergence of new understandings of and approaches to malaria. When he began practicing medicine in the 1870s, the seasonal fevers associated with this disease were still attributed across the globe to the Feyzullah İzmidi, Sıtma: Maraz-ı Merzagi (Istanbul: Tanin, 1911). The popular name for malaria in Anatolia was sıtma, which refers to the particular symptom of fever accompanying the disease. The term maraz-ı merzagi used by Feyzi Pasha was not common and seems to be a neologism derived from the French term paludisme, which refers to the role of swamps in facilitating the spread of malaria. There is no proper name for the disease along the lines of the English malaria, which refers to “bad air,” however, frequent mentions of “the heaviness of the air (vahamet-i hava)” when discussing malaria in nineteenth-century Ottoman documents offer a rough equivalent. This is discussed at length during Chapter 1. A very special thanks to Nermin Ersoy for personally mailing me a copy of her rare biography of Feyzi Pasha. Nermin Ersoy, Doktor Feyzullah İzmidi (Kocaeli, Turkey: self published, 1998). 1


influence of bad air and the contagious forces called miasmas that emanated from rotting organic matter in wet regions such as swamps. While state efforts to specifically tackle the disease were limited circa 1870, the Ottomans had already been involved in concentrated efforts at swamp drainage to “clean up” such lands by the time that the malaria parasite was discovered in 1880 and the mosquito as its vector in 1897.2 Even before his medical training, Feyzi — like many of his contemporaries — understood malaria well from an experiential standpoint. In fact, his troubles with the disease as a youngster had been his principal motivation for pursuing a medical career.3 Throughout his lectures, he recalled numerous encounters with malaria from his childhood, digressing into colorful anecdotes that emphasized the intense suffering of the malaria experience.4 Feyzi’s anecdotes illustrated the extent to which malaria was a commonplace disease that visited countless Ottoman subjects on an annual basis. Much of what the doctor told his students about the use of quinine and anti-mosquito precautions was based on recently acquired knowledge, but the bulk of his warnings about how one becomes afflicted with malaria were part of longstanding conceptions of disease throughout the Ottoman period.


This chapter is written primarily from the vantage point of historical understandings of malaria, i.e. malaria is largely dealt with in the way that it was understood during the periods under discussion. However, it is useful know for the purposes of comprehension that today malaria is understood as a disease caused by a parasite that lives in human blood and is transferred between humans by anopheles mosquitoes. In temperate climates, it is particularly associated with summer, the period during which mosquitoes can proliferate. In this regard, it is also associated with swamps and large regions of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. Symptoms vary depending on the person and the species of the malaria parasite contracted, but it is most commonly associated with debilitating and recurring fevers. Malaria epidemiology is discussed at greater length in Chapter 4. 3 Ersoy, Doktor Feyzullah İzmidi, 9. 4 For example: “When I was a kid, I studied at the Hanlarbaşı school in Izmit. Our house was in the Hazar İlyas neighborhood. These two neighborhoods are quite far apart. At school, from time to time a malarial spell would come, and my teacher would send me home upon noticing that I was ill. All the way home, I would drink water with great avarice from the fountain and vomit as I ran. Really in that moment, the taste of that water I drank is not something to be forgotten. As they once said in a meeting I was in, the taste might only be compared to that experienced by the inebriated when they become parched (dili damağı kuruyup) in the middle of the night, get up, and drink water as if slaking lime (kireç söndürür gibi).” İzmidi, Sıtma: Maraz-ı Merzagi, 23. Malaria was apparently so commonplace that in at least one instance, an Ottoman student was denied a makeup of an exam that he had failed because he was suffering from malaria at the time. BOA, MF-MKT 530/2 (15 Cemaziahir 1318 [10 October 1900]).


Within these understandings, geography was the key factor. He explained, for example, that his native İzmit was in a malarial zone because of its low elevation and marshy terrain resulting from proximity to lakes and wetlands. Yet, he added that even within large malarial zones, elevation was crucial, saying “although İzmit is surrounded by water and close to the sea, high places on the hills are so safe that they can be considered impervious to [malaria].” 5 If these lectures are any indication, Ottoman doctors understood malaria as a disease resulting from certain types of human interaction with their environment, and as such, the apparent rise in malaria during the nineteenth century could have been explained by ecological changes. This point was further supported by Feyzi Pasha’s recurring warnings about malaria’s differential impact on railroad workers and agricultural laborers due to their proximity to malarial spaces such as swamps or irrigation ditches and water canals. The relationship between rural labor and malaria is poignantly illustrated in a once common proverb cited by Feyzi Pasha: “He who plays with the soil digs his own grave (toprakla oynayan mezarını kazar).”6 This proverb echoed eerily similar sentiments expressed by a British traveler, Edwin Davis, who visited the expansive countryside of the Adana region during the 1870s, when the fertile Çukurova plain was in the midst of an agrarian revolution. “Wherever the virgin soil is opened,” Davis wrote, “virulent marsh fever seems to burst forth and smite down all around.” Malaria had devastated early settlers of the Çukurova plain in unprecedented ways, and as such, the Ottoman government’s attempts to prevent people from moving to the yayla (summer pasture) were regarded as a death sentence (see Chapter 4). For the modernist-minded thinkers of


Ibid., 9. Later, he reiterated that people in these elevated regions catch malaria less frequently than those living near the railroad or the port and that even living on the top floor of an apartment building could be an important factor. Ibid., 19. 6 Ibid., 14. This proverb resembles a Khorasani saying alluding to the pitfalls of digging irrigation ditches (karez) mentioned by Peter Christensen: “snake charmers, lion tamers and karez diggers very seldom die in their beds.” Peter Christensen, The decline of Iranshahr : irrigation and environments in the history of the Middle East, 500 B.C. to A.D. 1500 (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press : University of Copenhagen, 1993), 120.


the period, perhaps, the rampant malaria was a necessary byproduct of progress in that settling and working the land were understood as the only means of making areas more habitable. Davis claimed that “nothing but generations of patient culture can subdue the soil afresh, and render this plain a safe abode for man,”7 and likewise, Feyzi assured his students that “malaria likes unworked lands and desolate, empty countryside. It cannot hold up in the face of civilization and the efforts of mankind.”8 Yet, if progress was to be the answer to malaria, it was also the cause; the unprecedented settlement of new land or the digging of canals for drainage throughout the late Ottoman period inevitably imperiled countless willing and begrudging participants in this transformation who would have been better served to stay out of the wet, sickly swamps of the settlement frontier. This chapter examines how the Ottoman administration and society addressed the issue of malaria, which posed a major obstacle to the theory underlying settlement in the empire. This phenomenon was by no means unique to the Adana region, but due to its geography, the tension between disease and settlement was particularly pronounced.9 Previous studies of settlement in Adana during this period have fixed their gaze on the economic growth experienced in this region during the latter half of the nineteenth century, discussing settlement mainly in so far as it related to the facilitation of agricultural expansion.10 Vital quotidian concerns such as malaria have been ignored or mostly discussed as independent and natural factors in the Adana region, 7

Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 71. İzmidi, Sıtma: Maraz-ı Merzagi, 17. 9 The entire Marmara region, from Bursa to İzmit and Adapazarı all the way towards Anakara was an area of intense immigrant settlement where malaria was a constant issue. See BOA, A-MKT-MVL 118/65 (11 Muharrem 1277 [18 July 1860]); BOA, DH-MKT 1862/117 (13 August 1891) DH-MKT 2759/35 (13 Safer 1327 [21 February 1324]). Attempts to settle tribes in modern-day Iraq also resulted in malaria epidemics. BOA, DH-MKT 1953/84 (14 May 1892); DH-ŞFR 346/36 (21 May 1905). Meanwhile, Selanik (modern-day Greece), which by the end of the Ottoman period was one of the most industrialized, was also one of the most malarial. (Aras), Sıtma'ya Karşı Muharebe (The Battle Against Malaria). From Tripoli (modern-day Lebanon) to Trabzon, lowland settlements in the nineteenth century experienced serious troubles with malaria. 10 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton; Astourian, "Testing world-system theory, Cilicia (1830's-1890's) : Armenian-Turkish polarization and the ideology of modern Ottoman historiography"; Gerber, The Social Origins of the Modern Middle East, 85-90. 8


taking for granted the conventional wisdom of the mid-nineteenth century that settlement would eliminate the disease’s impact.11 A close tracing of Ottoman state practices, however, reveals that those officials most intimately involved with governing settlement regions had a more nuanced understanding of the predicament — the Ottoman quagmire — wherein the nature of the land as it were undermined the very means of its improvement. In an attempt to curtail the devastation wrought by malaria, the Ottoman government employed practices that diversified as understanding of malaria grew. Swamp drainage gave way to quinine as the state-of-the-art method of eliminating malaria; yet, the use of quinine fully eliminated neither malaria nor swamp drainage. In fact, older practices, especially seasonal migration, lingered not only through the Ottoman period but also as the struggle against malaria became a nationalist one during the second constitutional era and into the first decades of the Turkish Republic (discussed further in Chapters 12 and 13). High and Dry In 1878, after more than a decade of toiling on the scorching and malarial plains of Eastern Çukurova under the careful watch of gendarmes stationed at key points at the entry to the Taurus and Amanus Mountains, the leaders of more than a dozen tribes representing tens of thousands of individuals targeted by the Reform Army (Fırka-ı İslahiye) had succeeded in forcing the local government to ease its settlement policy. Governor of Aleppo Ahmed Cevdet Pasha was the figure most closely associated with the forced settlement campaigns that sought to bring civilization to the Anatolian countryside (see Chapter 3), but having conceded that the settlement project was too impractical and costly, he presided over a compromise with the One notable exception is Andrew Gordon Gould’s study of the Reform Division and the tribal settlement policies in Adana, which emphasized the impact of settlement on these communities, which was a result of the disease environment of settlement regions. However, Gould’s dissertation ended abruptly with the year 1885 with little discussion of subsequent decades or Ottoman attempts at tackling the issue of malaria. Gould, "Pashas and Brigands : Ottoman provincial reform and its impact on the nomadic tribes of southern Anatolia, 1840-1885". 11


pastoralist communities of the region regarding their seasonal movement. His declaration lifted the ban on migration during the hot summer months specifically for health reasons, even mentioning the very issue of malaria (see Chapter 4 appendix). However, this change in policy also affirmed certain aspects of the new order. Most of the tribes were not permitted to bring their animals with them during the migrations. This restriction was intended to protect the budding agricultural industry that was emerging on the very soils of their former pastures. 12 However, it likely meant a tremendous reduction in the population of their once expansive herds of sheep and goats, the economic backbone of these communities for which sufficient grass would no longer be found. Although the terms of settlement varied slightly from community to community, in many cases, the orders upheld the local population’s right to migration strictly for health reasons so long as they lived the remainder of the year as settled farmers and faithful villagers of the centralizing empire. Thus, while they maintained some autonomy, they were increasingly marginalized economically (see Chapter 5). This constant negotiation of the terms of settlement would be a major theme throughout the Ottoman domains during the final decades of the nineteenth century as more settlements were founded and muhacirs (immigrants)13 continued to pour in. Alongside nomads, who continually resisted settlement orders, muhacirs consistently sued for resettlement on the basis of an inability to adapt to the local climate of the regions they arrived in. By the end of the Ottoman period, their right to this freedom from the burdens of geography had been enshrined as a legitimate and

BOA, İ-MMS 60/2843, no. 3 (11 Teşrinievvel 1294 [23 October 1878]). This term is discussed in greater detail at the outset of the dissertation. Muhacirs are a group variously described as migrants, refugees, or immigrants. They entered the Ottoman Empire mainly from areas where Russian expansion threatened the life and livelihood of Muslim inhabitants or where they were forcibly expelled under the allegations of rebellion. Their settlement was overseen by a government commission called Muhacirîn Komisyonu. For more see Cuthell, "The Muhacirin Komisyonu : an agent in the transformation of Ottoman Anatolia 1860-1866". 12 13


indeed the only legitimate justification for resettlement.14 A prominent example from the Adana region where requests for resettlement were obliged and resulted in a positive outcome for a given community is that of Saadiye or modern-day Atlılar, where a Circassian immigrant community petitioned for resettlement to a more salubrious region. They were granted a village at a high elevation some fifty kilometers from the port of Mersin. Their culture and language — Shapsug15 in this case — survived in this village well into the latter half of the twentieth century, before urbanization and economic change more closely linked the settlement to the city of Mersin.16 Yet, the scarcity of “good land” during a period in which large landholders were also expanding to meet commercial agricultural demand meant that resettlement was sometimes not possible and would only occur after what was sometimes an ordeal of years. As for the expectation that cultivation would ameliorate malaria’s worst effects in the region with time, the efficacy of this belief in practice was questionable. Maintenance of ecological spaces where land was managed with care for the disease environment could certainly do much to eliminate swamps and wetlands, which provided the most suitable breeding ground for mosquitoes. Thus, we find many indications that by the turn of the twentieth century, inhabitants of the city of Adana perceived the “quality of the air” to be improving due to increased cultivation around the city. Yusuf Ziya, an Ottoman official who produced one of the only romanticized depictions of the region’s climate during the period, wrote in 1898 that thanks BOA, DH-HMŞ 27/68 (5 Cemazeyilevvel 1334 [10 March 1916]). Late in the Ottoman period public health officials established formal health precautions for the foundation of new villages, singling out swamps as the primary source of health issues such as malaria. Yeni Tesis Olunacak Köylerde Nazar-ı Dikkate Alınacak Esasat-ı Sıhhiye ve Mevcut Köylerin Bu Cihetleden Mümkün Olduğu Kadar Islahı, (Istanbul: Ahmed İhsan ve Şürekası, 1914), 4-5. 15 Circassian is a vague umbrella term referring to various ethnic groups of the Caucasus during the Ottoman period. Sources that are sometimes unclear about the exact origins of immigrants simply refer to them as “Circassians.” This issue is discussed elsewhere in this study. In the case of Saadiye, we know the original language of the inhabitants only due to Mehtap Çelik’s oral history interviews there. 16 Mehtap Çelik’s work on Atlılar is unpublished, but Harika Zöhre and myself recorded a short interview with her about the subject on Ottoman History Podcast. “Anadolu’ya Bir Göç Öyküsü: Mersin Atlılar Köyü,” Mehtap Çelik, Harika Zöhre, and Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, no. 112 (4 July 2013). 14


in part to the gardens and orders extending one to two hours all around the city, the heaviness or “severity of the air (vahamet-i hava),” a common reference to the presence of malaria, was subsiding year by year.17 Though no other source reflects the affection for Adana’s climate that Yusuf Ziya expressed, there are other indications with regard to the cities of Adana and Mersin that cultivation was improving the perceived quality of the air.18 However, the labor and expertise required to expand cultivation to the point of eliminating malaria was simply not available. In 1898, when the role of mosquitoes in transmitting malaria was just becoming understood, the British consul of Aleppo declared that “the Adana plain is probably the most fever stricken part of Asia Minor. The heat of summer is tropical and far more trying than in India, averaging for several months 38° or 39° centigrade during which time a pernicious and deadly malaria prevails.”19 That year, the British ViceConsul of Adana requested that the city be permanently added to the list of places where diplomatic consuls would be permitted to leave for health purposes.20 In the face of these realities, Ottoman officials devised new approaches to malaria that were very much common to this era of imperial expansion in other regions of the globe during the Hamidian period (1878-1908). The two main strategies were wetlands management and medicine. Both involved social, ecological, and biological interventions, and both came with severe drawbacks and limitations due to economic and logistical realities. Neither would be Ziya, Tabsıra yahut Adana Temaşası, 13-14, 17. Yusuf Ziya’s account is particularly fascinating in that he wrote it in part to counteract Adana’s malarial reputation. He concluded his work by stating, “Despite poor Adana’s reputation for heaviness of air, I have taken the liberty of publishing this in the form of an essay in hopes that it will aid in correcting this widespread opinion to a small degree.” Ibid., 23. 18 In 1903, British Vice-Consul Townshend noted that “The tendency of the climate is to improve under increased cultivation and the consequent disappearance of marshy ground. Malarial fever is prevalent at certain times, and there have been a few cases of cholera during the past year in the eastern part of the vilayet; but on the whole there is nothing likely to impede commerce beyond some occasional delay caused by quarantine restrictions.” Townshend, Trade of the Vilayets of Aleppo and Adana, 17. British intelligence from around Word War I indicated that the climate of Mersin was said to have improved to the point that “the town is quite habitable for Europeans all the year round.” Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 715. 19 BNA, FO 78/4938, Barnham to Salisbury, Aleppo (6 June 1898), pg. 32. 20 BNA, FO 78/4938, Barnham to Salisbury, Aleppo (2 July 1898), pg. 3. 17


successful in fully containing the disease, although at times there were signs of positive impact. However, these policies determined the trajectory for subsequent battles with malaria that continued through Second Constitutional Period (1908-1914) and well into the Republican era. Draining the Empire İskenderun (Alexandretta) is a port city on the Eastern Mediterranean in the modern-day Hatay province of Southern Turkey located at the very edge of the greater Çukurova plain. Thanks to its climate and the complaints of frequent foreign visitors, it owned the distinction of being arguably the most maligned malarial region in the Ottoman Empire. Hanna Minah, the acclaimed Syrian author, spent much of his childhood in this region, which was part of the French mandate during the interwar period. He poetically and pessimistically described this milieu in an autobiographical novel appropriately entitled “The Swamp (Al-Mustanqa`).” The region’s geography is indeed befitting of the term mustanqa` not just because of its myriad wetlands but also because of the sense of predicament or quagmire conveyed by the word’s double meaning. Managing the waters of the region to prevent malaria would require constant labor and settlement; yet, malaria was a major obstacle to both. Working on a twentieth-century understanding of disease, Minah attributed the malaria of the swampy countryside of this region to the presence of mosquitoes.21 Early modern descriptions of İskenderun by Ottoman and European travelers variously attributed the malarial quality of the region to noxious swamps, heavy air, and in one case, rotting dead frogs. These accounts all point to the prevalence at the time of miasmatic understandings of disease; the insalubrious quality of wet regions such as İskenderun was invariably a result of “bad air” caused


Minah, al-Mustanqa, 65.


by the nearby swamps (see Chapter 1 for complete discussion).22 Although these areas were not yet understood as breeding ground for malaria-spreading mosquitoes, conventional wisdom said that avoiding swamps or cleaning them would be an effective way of improving the health of the port. Given the pervasiveness of malaria and its impacts in this region and its commercial importance as the main Mediterranean port for the city of Aleppo, it is no surprise to find that İskenderun was one of the principal sites of drainage efforts in the Ottoman Empire from a relatively early period. When in 1831 Mehmed Ali sent the Egyptian army under the command of his son Ibrahim Pasha on an offensive against the Ottomans, leading to a nearly decade-long occupation of Syria and Cilicia, one of the public works projects undertaken in İskenderun was the drainage of the swamps. According to William Burckhardt Barker, the son of the British consul in Aleppo and longtime resident of Cilicia, this resulted in a few years of relatively malaria-free life in the port; however, when upkeep of the drainage canals faltered under the Ottomans İskenderun once again was “the tomb for all who inhabit it at any length of time without change of air.”23 Some eighty years after the departure of İbrahim Pasha when the French mandate government first occupied this region following World War I, they found the marshes of İskenderun in very much the same condition.24 The problem had persisted despite the


See: Teonge, The diary of Henry Teonge : Chaplain on board H.M's ships assistance, Bristol and Royal Oak 1675-1679, 112. Brémond and de Corvo, Viaggi fatti nell'Egitto superiore et inferiore : Nel Monte Sinay, e luoghi piu cospicui di quella Regione; in Gerusalemme, Giudea, Galilea, Sammaria, Palestina, Fenicia, Monte Libano, et altre Provincie di Siria; quello della Meka, e del Sepolcro di Mahometto, 269. Teixeira, Relaciones de Pedro Texeiro d'el origen descendencia y svccession de los reyes de Persia, y de Harmuz, : y de vn viage hecho por el mismo avtor dende la India Oriental hasta Italia por tierra, 194. Edib and Bianchi, Itinéraire de Constantinople à la Mecque : extrait de l'ouvrage turc intitulé: Kitab menassik el-hadj (livre des prières et des cérémonies relatives au pélerinage), 8, 22, 24, 29. For a short overview of historical understandings of malaria, see Webb, Humanity's Burden : a global history of malaria, 8-16. 23 Barker and Ainsworth, Cilicia, its former history and present state, 114. 24 "Syrie et Liban : rapport mensuel d'ensemble," (September 1921): 37. WWI-era British intelligence indicated that in İskenderun, “many of the natives live in the drier parts of the marshes, but the better-class residents leave the town as much as possible in the summer to live in the mountains to south of the town.” Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 689.


fact that throughout this era of reform, İskenderun’s drainage or “cleansing (tathir)” was attempted on numerous occasions. The first major Ottoman attempt on record was initiated in 1847 but stopped at the docks when the budget proved inadequate to extend work into the swamps surrounding the town.25 Many subsequent attempts were made during the intervening decades with a final attempt to contract drainage to a foreign company due to insufficient state funds in 1912.26 The logistical limitations of swamp cleanup throughout the entire Adana region were to be even greater and promised to reach the countryside at a much slower rate. 27 Aside from the vast tracts of wetlands that dotted the entire plain of Çukurova, properly containing malaria through water management would also require massive work on the Seyhan and Ceyhan rivers, which flooded the entire region including the city of Adana on a cyclical basis, leaving breeding pools for mosquitos in their wake. This issue too was complicated, because besides the obvious costliness and impracticality of containing the flow of an entire river, the construction of barrages and dams inevitably redirected water in ways that created property issues. Ziya Pasha’s barrage on the Seyhan River in 1878 discussed in the preface to Part 2 of this study had failed to


BOA, A-MKT 76/26 (24 Rabiulahir 1263 [11 April 1847]); A-DVN 27/39 (10 Receb 1263 [2 July 1847]); MVL 241/25, no. 2 (12 Zilkade 1267 [8 September 1851]); A-AMD 34/16 (13 Safer 1268 [8 December 1851]); İ-DH 255/15722 (11 Şevval 1268 [29 July 1852]); A-MKT-UM 290/31 (1273 [1857]). Similar reports on the impact of Iskenderun’s swamps on the health of the region were written in 1868 and 1872, with evidence of further measures taken to drain the swamps in 1879, 1893, and 1902, suggesting that the issue of drainage in Iskenderun was a continual and cyclically occurring crisis brought on by the utter infeasibility of sufficiently altering the environment so as to permanently rid the region of bad air coupled with issues like corruption and embezzlement of money intended for use in these efforts by officials or individuals charged with overseeing the work. BOA, İ-ŞD 1/31 (15 Zilhicce 1284 [8 April 1868]); Y-EE 35/94 (25 Cemazeyilevvel 1289 [31 July 1872]); ŞD 2215/65 (23 Şevval 1296 [10 October 1879]); DH-MKT 53/26 (13 Safer 1311 [26 August 1893]); BEO 2805/210320 (20 Safer 1324 [15 April 1906]); BEO 2724/204240 (20 Şevval 1320 [20 January 1903]); DHMKT 2659/5 (21 Şevval 1326 [10 January 1904]); DH-İD 44-2/18, no.4 (24 Temmuz 1328 [6 August 1912]. 27 The aforementioned 1912 report from the Aleppo governor regarding the swamps of Iskenderun indicated the intent of draining areas near the town “sooner (`acilen)” and the rural areas “later (âcilen).” BOA, DH-İD 44-2/18, no.4 (24 Temmuz 1328 [6 August 1912]). 26


achieve its purpose, damaging the governor’s reputation in Adana.28 Yet, this would not be the last failed attempt to rein in the Seyhan River, as it defiantly followed its usual course of flooding over subsequent decades, periodically destroying the barrages and bridges that crossed it.29 Arshakuhi Teodik, an Armenian from Istanbul who visited Adana in 1909 to study the impact of recent massacres on local Armenians, witnessed by chance a major flood of the Seyhan River. She described the terrible scene of damage, death, and sickness due to the flooding. Soldiers pulled the bodies of gypsies and animals from high waters that had the color and character of sewage.30 Controlling the Seyhan and the Ceyhan, which have historically convened almost as if by ritual in the center of the Çukurova plain every so often to form one massive expanse of water (more in Chapter 12), was not a simple matter.31 And given the challenges of eliminating malaria through drainage in areas of population and capital concentration such as the ports of İskenderun and Mersin or the city of Adana, attempts to curtail malaria’s impact via wetlands management in the impoverished countryside where tribes and new immigrants were being settled were sure to yield unimpressive results and come with a high cost. An early offer from a French investor to clean up some swamps in Adana during the 1870s was rejected due to hesitance about giving foreigners rights over Ottoman territory.32 Such offers were frequent in Çukurova.33 An 1888 report by Akıf Bey from the Public Works Ministry, stressed the great importance of cleaning up BOA, İ-ŞD 45/2413 (21 Rabiulahir 1296 [14 April 1879]). Records from later periods indicate regular flooding of the Seyhan River. See, BOA, DH-MKT 1444/98 (18 Zilhicce 1304 [7 September 1887]); BEO 252/18871 (24 Muharrem 1311 [7 August 1893]); BEO 729/54656 (27 Receb 1313 [13 January 1896]); MF-MKT 436/31 (7 Şevval 1316 [18 February 1889]); DH-MKT 481/29 (7 Muharrem 1320 [26 April 1902]); DH-MKT 1169/32 (9 Rabiulevvel 1325 [22 April 1907]); DH-İD 6/29 (2 Safer 1330 [22 January 1912]). 30 Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia, 66-71. 31 For example, the regulation of Nile waters in Ottoman Egypt was only possible through longstanding and intricate practices of irrigation and water management employed by large numbers of Egyptian peasants. See Mikhail, Nature and empire in Ottoman Egypt : an environmental history. As there were comparatively few rural residents of Çukurova during the Ottoman period, such practice was not possible. 32 BOA, ŞD 502/32 (4 Muharrem 1297 [18 December 1879]). 33 BOA, DH-MKT 1235/78 (19 Muharrem 1326 [22 February 1908]). 28 29


the Seyhan, Karasu, and Ceyhan rivers as well as cleaning up the swamps in the Adana province, indicating pessimistically that there simply was not enough money available for the ministry to perform the task independently, thus leaving the issue to be someday settled possibly by contracting such a project to a “respectable” company.34 Yet, where concessions were granted, they tended to inspire resistance among the local population. For example, alleged concessions made to the Baghdad Railway Company to drain swamps in Çukurova in April 1911 sparked rumors that local inhabitants might be dispossessed and inspired fierce protests in Mersin and İskenderun.35 Allowing wealthy Ottoman subjects to register large tracts of “unused” land for cleanup was an alternative to enlisting foreign companies and investors. In these contracts, improving the land through drainage and other methods was stipulated as a condition of these exceptional land grants. One family that capitalized on this policy was the Sursocks of Beirut, who owned swamplands throughout modern-day Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Syria and Çukurova (see Chapter 5).36 While certainly upsetting the distribution of wealth in the emerging agrarian economy, such landowners were not necessarily detrimental to the policy of cleanup. However, in the case of the Sursocks, there is evidence from both the İskenderun and Mersin areas that much of their property remained swampy unkempt, which during WWI provided an excuse for the local government to attempt to repossess it (more in Chapter 8).37 Another prominent landowner that acquired swampy land was Abidin Pasha, the enthusiastic governor of Adana remembered as of one of the city’s great builders (see Chapter 5). The man credited with bringing the steam plow 34

BOA, DH-MKT 1478/56 (4 Cemazeyilevvel 1305 [18 January 1888]). CADC, Turquie, Chemin de fer de Baghdad 13, pg. 5, Lancy to Cruppi, Mersin (11 April 1911); BOA, DH-İD 442/18, no.4 (24 Temmuz 1328 [6 August 1912]). 36 See USEK, Sursock 18022; 19232; 19249. 37 BOA, DH-H 9/49 (13 Ramazan 1330 [26 August 1912]); DH-İ-UM-EK 11/65 (8 Zilhicce 1333 [17 October 1915]). The Sursocks are also mentioned as having sold such swamplands in Palestine to Zionist settlers. Gershon Shafir, Land, labor, and the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 1882-1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 39. 35


and the railroad to Adana hoped to profit from his large landholdings and help agriculture thrive in Eastern Çukurova. Yet, after his death, Ottoman investigations into the legality of the land he had acquired, which were intended for the settlement of Circassian muhacirs, revealed that they were mostly abandoned.38 Clearly, a more proactive approach to the region’s ecological challenges would be necessary to eliminate wetlands, as landowners could not be trusted with the cleanup of swamps. Amidst the various difficulties of promoting swamp drainage, the Ministry of Forestry encouraged the cultivation of eucalyptus — a notoriously thirsty tree used in French Algeria and California to desiccate wetlands39 — by distributing seeds with instructions in Turkish and Arabic in hopes that local farmers and landowners would sprinkle them on the wet and diseaseprone soil of the empire’s warmest provinces.40 On the eve of the First World War, a British traveler named W.J. Childs noted the following: In portions of Mersina may be found a curious resemblance to an Australian town, due partly to the presence of Australian trees, but also to the British influence of those who constructed the railway in a new town of wide spaces and cheap land and hot climate. Approach the low-built railway station along its avenue of young eucalyptus trees — red-gums I think they are — and the illusion becomes almost perfect.41


Abidin Pasha was accused of misconduct during his governorship (see Chapter 5), yet the illegitimacy of his landholdings was only acknowledged by the state following the reinstatement of the constitution, when many of the major figures associated with the Hamidian period were marginalized and came under scrutiny. BOA, DH-İD 1602/56 (27 Rabiulahir 1331 [5 April 1913]). 39 Davis, Resurrecting the Granary of Rome, 102-04; Robert L. Santos, The eucalyptus of California : seeds of good or seeds of evil? (Denair, Calif.: Alley-Cass Publications, 1997); Jared Farmer, Trees in paradise : a California history (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013). 40 BOA, Y-PRK-UM 1/86 (23 Rabiulevvel 1297 [5 March 1880]); Y-A-HUS 290/21 (5 Şaban 1311 [11 February 1894]); DH-İD 44-2/1 (22 Ca 1329 [21 May 1911]); DH-MKT 2801/55 (13 Rabiulahir 1327 [2 July 1909]). A report from the Forests, Mines, and Agriculture Ministry referred to eucalyptus specifically as the “malaria tree (sıtma ağacı)” for its use in eliminating malaria. Abdüllatif, Orman ve Maden ve Ziraat Mecmuası, vol. 9 (Istanbul: Estepan Matbaası, 1894). Lt. Bennet had recommended the expansion of eucalyptus cultivation in the Adana province during the 1880s. BNA FO 222/8/2, No. 3 Bennet to Dufferin, Adana (6 February 1882). A financial report for Adana from 1903 also mentions the plantation of trees to improve the area. BOA, A-MKT-MHM 523/51 (16 October 1903). 41 Childs, Across Asia Minor on Foot, 341.


The example of eucalyptus growth in the Adana region, which would be expanded during the Republican period (see Chapter 12) offers an example of the globalized ecology emerging in part out of colonial spaces from Australia to Algeria. Another water-related issue exacerbating the impacts of malaria was commercial agriculture, which put workers in contact with malarial environments in the countryside during the warm months. Seasonal laborers contracted malaria with startling frequency, leading many to their deaths. The prevailing logic of the time was that the cultivation of cotton and wheat would ultimately lead to the creation of a more salubrious countryside and the malarial misfortune of workers was a natural consequence of “playing with the soil” as Feyzi Pasha put it. However, as the nature of malaria and the ecological impacts of commercial agriculture became better understood, the overall beneficial impact of agriculture vis-à-vis disease was called into question. This was especially true in the case of rice cultivation. Unlike cotton and wheat, which would be easily destroyed by inundations, rice requires wet and even aquatic soil conditions to thrive. Sitting water with vegetation such as reeds or in this case rice stalks was an absolutely ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos (see Chapter 4). Rice had been cultivated in the swampy regions of Upper Çukurova near Sis and Marash from perhaps the beginning of the Ottoman period.42 Land reform and the forced settlement of the tribes who seasonally migrated through these regions allowed local landowners to expand the cultivation of rice so that it became the main produce of Marash. Rice became viewed as extremely lucrative the way cotton was in the western half of the Adana province (see Chapter 5). However, Ottoman health officials became aware that the cultivation of rice created vast havens for mosquitoes, and during the last decade of the Ottoman period, the relationship 42

Rhoads Murphey, Regional Structure in the Ottoman Economy : a sultanic memorandum of 1636 A.D. concerning the sources and uses of the tax-farm revenues of Anatolia and the Coastal and Northern portions of Syria (Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1987), 7.


between rice cultivation and malaria was the subject of debate among Ottoman statesmen and within the parliament.43 In 1909, the Ministry of Interior ruled that the ride paddies (çeltik) in Marash must be maintained at least three kilometers from the city in order to protect public health and ward off malaria.44 However, these measures provoked tremendous pushback from cultivators in Marash, who complained that the bans of rice cultivation were unnecessary and unfair.45 This matter would remain an issue of contention in the Marash region well into the 1950s.46 Despite the complications described above, the late Ottoman period undoubtedly witnessed massive ecological interventions either sanctioned or sponsored by the state in Adana. This is only to say that these did little to achieve the often stated goal of improving public health, though they did often accomplish other goals. The more serious and successful attempts at controlling water occurred where such measures aligned with commercial interests. For example, swamp drainage between Tarsus and Mersin began immediately with the cotton boom of the 1860s in this area, and the docks in Mersin were cleaned up by 1868. 47 Similarly, the necessities of the Adana-Mersin railways and desires to run steamboats on the Seyhan River provided added impetus for water management.48


Although these debates were held well after the role of the mosquito in malaria transmission was known, the law refers to “rotten water” causing the ill health effects. The debates are extremely intriguing in that many Ottoman parliament members vehemently denied that rice paddies were the source of illness using examples from locations such as Egypt and Japan, whereas others like Nazaret Daghavaryan Efendi, a parliamentarian from Sivas, cited examples from Bulgaria where towns near rice paddies had rates of malaria as high as 75%. TBMM, MM 1/8, Vol. 2, ink50, pg. 612-620 (23 February 1909). 44 BOA, DH-MUİ 13-3/10, No. 5 (2 September 1909). 45 See BOA, DH-İD 99/6, No. 2 (16 May 1911); BOA, DH-UMVM 105/42, No. 3 (18 February 1916). British intelligence cited these marshes around Marash for their negative health effects. Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 712. 46 This is discussed in Chapters 12 and 14. 47 BOA, MVL 689/34 (18 Cemazeyilevvel 1281 [19 October 1864]); İ-MVL 582/26133 (11 Şaban 1284 [8 December 1867]). 48 BOA, A-DVN-MKL 24/3 (3 Şaban 1300 [9 June 1883]); İ-MMS 73/3342 (26 Safer 1300 [6 January 1883]).


The most ambitious projects involving water in Adana to receive approval were for irrigation, which was seen as offering great potential for boosting agricultural production. French engineers drew up a scheme to drain and irrigate the entirety of central Çukurova during the last years of the Ottoman period.49 Of course, improper irrigation has long-term ecological consequences, such as soil salination. But beyond this drawback, we can see how these irrigation projects would do little to improve the economic well-being of those being settled, whose villages were mostly east of Misis. Moreover, the stagnant water of irrigation ditches channeled mosquitoes and their larvae into the heart of rural settlements, thus only exacerbating the issue of malaria. The unintended disease consequences of public works projects such as irrigation often went undetected due to the fact that malaria was already a pervasive aspect of daily life. However, certain isolated incidents where a change in the course of a river or location of a swamp caused an immediate rise in malaria indicate the broader trend. In 1900, the course of the Savrun River, a tributary of the Ceyhan River flowing near Kars-ı Zülkadriye, was altered in order to construct an irrigation canal. This brought stagnant water into new areas near the towns of Kozan and Kars-ı Zülkadriye, resulting in complaints of health issues from the local inhabitants.50 Within seven years, the Ministry of the Interior ordered that the course of the Savrun must be returned to its original state due to these complications.51 The visions of Çukurova as a “Second Egypt (Mısır-ı Sani)” devised as early as İbrahim Pasha’s occupation of the region in the 1830s did materialize with time, leading to increasingly ambitious ecological interventions (see Chapter 1). In 1908, the Ministry of Interior called for the complete drainage and sale of swampy, unused land in the Çukurova region for the purposes of 49

BOA, HRT-H 2042/2. BOA, DH-MKT 2352/92 (30 Muharrem 1318 [30 May 1900]); BEO 2246/168435 (15 Şevval 1321). 51 BOA, DH-TMIK-M 249/44 (4 Cemazeyilahir 1325 [15 Temmuz 1907]) 50


increasing state tax revenues.52 By 1912, such imperatives had been expanded to encompass the entirety of the Ottoman Empire in a policy of universal swamp drainage.53 The virtue of draining and maintaining wetlands had been enshrined and would serve as a center of state public works policy in the coming decades of the Turkish Republic. Malaria remained an aspect of these policies well into the post-World War II period.54 Yet, over the last decades of the Ottoman period, as swamp drainage rose, understandings of malaria changed such that this policy was no longer viewed as the most efficient means of improving public health. By the 1890s, acting on the human body in the form of quinine medicines and later acting on the bodies of mosquitoes through the use of pesticides and other anti-mosquito measures would emerge as the new weapons in an evolving struggle to contain the growing impact of malaria on the settled nomads, immigrants, and agricultural workers of the Anatolian peasantry.


BOA, DH-MKT 1235/78 (19 Muharrem 1326 [22 February 1908]). BOA, BEO 4048/303549 (19 Cemazeyilahir 1330 [5 June 1912]). The public works ministry produced a map showing the locations of these swamps, with intense concentrations in the provinces of modern-day Iraq. BOA, HRT-h 372 (c1914). 54 An excellent example of this phenomenon is the ecologically disastrous draining of Lake Amik near Iskenderun and Antakya that occurred over the decades following the region’s incoproration into Turkey in 1939. More in Chapter 14. 53


Treating Europe’s Sick Man During a cholera epidemic that ravaged Anatolia and Syria in the 1890s, Ottoman health inspector Şerafeddin Pasha (Mağmumi) travelled throughout the empire overseeing the treatment and quarantine operations of the health ministry, recording his experiences in an account that is unparalleled for its time in its richness of detail regarding the disease environments of the particular regions he visited. These memoirs reflect the pervasiveness of epidemic diseases such as malaria in Adana during that period, the challenges of implementing quarantines and administering treatment in remote, rural regions, and the significant financial limitations placed on the health ministry.55 The archival record suggests that the latter issue affected Şerafeddin Pasha personally, as he had trouble being reimbursed for his activities and complained of being treated as an ordinary traveling doctor. Given the stressful conditions and hardship faced as well as witnessed by this concerned doctor and civil servant throughout his career, we may speculate as to why in November of 1914 — just months into what would come to be known as the First World War — Şerafeddin Pasha attempted suicide by hurling himself into the Bosphorus from a public ferry carrying passengers back and forth between the European and Asian sides of the Ottoman capital.56 The Hamidian period (1878-1908) coincided with the rise of bacteriology and the notion of the germ, which in turn ushered in a new era of Ottoman medicine. These new understandings resulted in the proliferation of various treatments, the rise of a modern medical corps, and the emergence of hospitals and medical schools in the empire’s cities. Alongside ecological interventions in swamps, lakes, and rivers, biological interventions intended to treat malaria Şerefeddin Mağmumi and Cahit Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktorunun seyahat anıları : yüzyil önce Anadolu ve Suriye (Istanbul: Boyut Kitapları, 2008), 173-216. 56 BOA, DH-MKT 2513/142 (8 Rabiulahir 1319 [25 July 1901]). The disillusioned doctor was rescued from the waters of the Bosphorus by his fellow passengers, who were awarded medals for their good deed. BOA, DH-KMS 29/21 (6 Muharrem 1333 [19 November 1914]). 55


came to the fore. Particularly following the discovery of the malaria parasite in 1880, quinine was seen as a potential remedy for the ailment.57 While Ottoman doctors had written about and experimented with quinine as early as the 1720s, the ability to test the blood of a patient, thereby offering a more precise identification of malaria, allowed for quinine sulfate (or sulfato as it was commonly known in the Ottoman Empire) to be administered with greater efficacy. 58 Proper use of quinine reduces or eliminates the presence of the malaria parasite in human blood, and its impact was more immediately measureable than that of swamp drainage. As the table below indicates, during the first decade of the twentieth century, when the Ottoman state began organizing the distribution of quinine, the health ministry reported that the number of annual deaths from malaria had dropped from over 15,000 to just around 3,500 in proportion with increased amounts of quinine expended.59 This chart likely did not indicate malaria’s full impact, since it was less often a mortal disease than a debilitating one, and the statistics only reflected individuals who could be tested and verified as having contracted malaria. Yet, alongside similar experiments with quinine in the Ottoman Navy, where malaria was almost completely eliminated, this data illustrates that quinine was in theory an excellent tool in combatting the disease.60

For an overview of quinine an its use in the Ottoman Empire, see Feza Günergun and Şeref Etker, "From Quinaquina to 'Quinine Law': A Bitter Chapter in the Westernization of Turkish Medicine," Osmanlı Bilim Araştırmaları 14, no. 2 (2013). 58 Rengin Dramur, "Bursalı Hekim Ali Münşi'nin Kınakına risalesi," in Bursa Halk Kültürü Sempozyumu (1.: 2002: Bursa) (Bursa: Uludağ University, 2002). 59 "Sıhhiye Mecmuası," 11(1911): 1095-100. 60 The aforementioned lecturer Feyzi Pasha referred to these new statistics in his lectures as the great promise for future anti-malarial activities. 57


Table 12 Ottoman Health Ministry Statistics on Malaria Mortality (Source: Sıhhiye Mecmuası Vol. 11)


1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910

Kg of Recorded Quinine Malaria Deaths Distributed 15865 13558 2242 9907 7234 14071 18712 20723 24351 23635 21656 22795

8513 8501 7838 4871 4160 3463 3488 3533

The use of quinine in practice, however, presented many obstacles. While the emergence of a pharmaceutical industry centered on the production of quinine medicines had greatly reduced prices by the 1890s, all quinine sulfate manufacturers were located in Europe or the Unıted States.61 This made the Ottoman Empire totally dependent on imports to meet its high quinine demands, and serious issues of regulation arose. The abundance of inferior or fraudulent medicines led to an 1889 decision to inspect and evaluate all quinine imports on the basis of international standards.62 Following this decision, there were many cases of inferior medicines imported from France and Germany being refused, and in one case, the Ottoman government was forced by Britain to accept what was claimed to be a shipment of bad quinine. 63 From British traveler E.J. Davis in the 1870s to Feyzi Pasha in the 1910s, there is ample evidence that


Webb, Humanity's Burden : a global history of malaria, 112-14. BOA, DH-MKT 1660/113 (29 Muharrem 1307 [25 September 1889]). 63 BOA, BEO 1115/83604 (5 Zilhicce 1315 [27 April 1898]); 1116/83691 (6 Zilhicce 1315 [28 April 1898]); 2195/164582 (23 Receb 1321 [15 October 1903]). 62


the quinine available in Ottoman markets was often diluted to the point of inefficacy.64 Moreover, imported quinine sulfate remained expensive for poorer Ottoman subjects and because supply flowed first through urban centers, Ottoman villagers were at the end of the supply chain though arguably most in need of medicine.65 The lack of institutional structures also posed a serious challenge to medical treatment of malaria. The Ottoman government was first moved to open hospitals in Adana and Tarsus in response to the health issues surrounding migrant workers or gureba (literally strangers) in the province.66 Over the coming decades, other Ottoman medical institutions as well as the clinics and hospitals of missionaries were opened mainly in the city of Adana.67 While these emerged to alleviate the high demand for medical treatment, they were limited in terms of their impact on the countryside due to the distance between Adana and some of the more remote villages. The Ottoman medical establishment sought to open special clinics in a few towns of the region such as Bahçe in Eastern Çukurova.68 A more important institution in terms of the relationship between the Ottoman state and public health in the countryside was the different roaming medical establishments that served villages and new settlements of muhacirs. Quinine distribution was a key component of the work

Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey, 464-70; Ersoy, Doktor Feyzullah İzmidi, 35. An early indication of this phenomenon comes in 1876 from a request by the Kaymakam of Mount Lebanon for immediate shipments of free medicine for the poor of the region, indicating that the poorest inhabitants of the mountain and particularly the Druze would otherwise suffer epidemic malaria that year. BOA, ŞD 262/53 (14 Cemazeyilahir 1293 [7 June 1876]). 66 BOA, ŞD 2116/27, No. 1 (14 Rebiulahir 1290 [30 May 1873]). A hospital was founded under Abidin Pasha in 1880 specifically to treat and inspect the tens of thousands of migrant workers in Adana treated both men and women. BOA, ŞD 2120/46, No. 7 (20 November 1880). 67 The ABCFM opened a major hospital in Adana only after the massacres in 1909, but American missionaries were known for administering medical treatment among the populations they encountered long before that. Many were physicians themselves. See Cyril Haas, Eight Months' Work in a Turkish Hospital (New York: Marshall Brothers, 1912). 68 BOA, DH-MKT 2517/48 (15 Rebiulahir 1319 [19 July 1901]). 64 65


carried out by provincial doctors and the all-important “traveling doctor (seyyar tabib).”69 Urban communities might have had reasonable access to quinine, but rural populations often relied on government intervention to secure their supply of medicine. During the earliest stages of quinine’s use, we find orders for emergency treatment of vulnerable communities such as newlyarrived muhacirs by dispatching some quinine along with a traveling doctor.70 In the Adana region, where settlements were new and urban growth was recent, the figure of the traveling doctor played a particularly critical role in the extension of health services beyond the center. However, if we recall the aforementioned Ottoman health inspector Şerafeddin Pasha’s indignant letter to the ministry complaining that he had been reduced to the role of such a doctor, we can begin to understand how the work of these individuals would have been challenging and often fruitless. In his memoirs, Şerafeddin Pasha described the desperate health situation of the Adana region during the 1890s and the utter lack of medical services outside of the city. 71 A few traveling doctors could have hardly faced down the terrifying cholera and malaria epidemics that routinely swept through the region. In fact, it seems that many did not; we find an order from 1891 demanding that doctors not abandon the villages they were sent to, as many were apparently unwilling to risk entering the sickly Anatolian countryside. Likewise, pharmacists fearing exposure to infected individuals would sometimes close their shops in times of epidemics.72 The function of rural doctors was primarily to deal with crises such as sudden epidemics; otherwise, they would roam a given province, frequenting small villages every few months to For more, see Ceren Gülser İlikan Rasimoğlu, "The Foundation of a Professional Group: Physicians in the Nineteenth Century Modernizing Ottoman Empire (1839-1908)" (Boğaziçi University, 2012). 70 BOA, A-MKT-UM 500/3 (13 Rabiulevvel 1278 [16 November 1861]); A-MKT-MHM 357/81 (23 Muharrem 1283 [7 June 1866]); DH-MKT 1551/12 (30 Muharrem 1306 [6 October 1888]); ŞD 269/42 (22 Şevval 1295 [19 October 1878]); Y-A-RES 6/41 (13 Şaban 1297 [21 July 1880]). 71 Mağmumi and Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktorunun seyahat anıları : yüzyil önce Anadolu ve Suriye, 173-77. 72 BOA, DH-MKT 1811/85 (12 Receb 1308 [21 February 1891]). 69


monitor the health situation. The diseases of primary concern for these doctors were cholera, malaria, and syphilis; they also performed the quite successful inoculation against smallpox. In 1901, there were just two such doctors in the Adana province.73 The work of these doctors was further complicated by the fact that they were treated with suspicion by the local population. The detection of cholera, for example could result in the implementation of a harsh quarantine in a particular village that would inevitably clash with the flight instincts of those fearing infection. Moreover, local medical practices often ran counter to the prescriptions of the emerging Ottoman medical corps. In the case of malaria, Anatolian peasants and townsfolk were accustomed to alleviating the feverish symptoms of malaria with a trip to the bathhouse or by consuming alcohol, both of which may have made them feel better but likely had little impact on the infection and may have made it worse.74 Convincing peasants to consume quinine sulfate and take it at the proper intervals would have been challenging, but it would become a major imperative of the Turkish Republic from the 1920s onward (see Chapter 12). Through these medical networks, it appears that quinine gradually became understood as an effective treatment for malaria. In his lectures, Feyzi Pasha declared that “there is practically nobody who does not know that quinine is the medicine for malaria.”75 In light of apparent successes and rising demand for the quinine sulfate, the Ottoman government mandated for the first time that quinine be made available in every village for a moderate price in 1911. 76 This was followed by a subsequent decision on the eve of World War I to offer free quinine to the


BOA, BEO 1713 128442 (19 Cemazeyilahir 1319 [3 September 1901]). İzmidi, Sıtma: Maraz-ı Merzagi.; Tevfik Rüştü (Aras), Sıtmaya Karşı Muharebe (Selanik: Rumeli Matbaası, 1326). The memory book of the town of Sis published by the Armenian diaspora in Lebanon also mentions in addition to “change of air (օդափոխութիւն)”, the use of various prayers. In particular, they would tie a string around the malaria-sufferer’s wrist and say an incantation, proceeding to burn the bracelet and having the patient inhale the fumes. Keleshean, Sis-Madean, 406. Among the Afşar communities of the Taurus Mountain, one remedy for fever was to wrap the patient in a sheepskin to let them sweat it out. Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar, 129. 75 İzmidi, Sıtma: Maraz-ı Merzagi, 7. 76 BOA, DH-İD 55/31 (30 Receb 1329 [29 May 1911]). 74


Ottoman poor, a final step that would have seemed to enshrine the right to anti-malarial medicine of all Ottoman citizens advocated by Committee of Union and Progress member and Salonika’s health inspector Tevfik Rüştü Pasha.77 However, with supply issues constantly arising and limits to the efficacy of quinine persisting, malaria remained part of life in Anatolia for decades to come. During World War I, shortages of quinine and the disruptions of war would in fact make the disease a big killer once again (see Chapter 9). Yet, even prior to the war in a time of peace, malaria was still deadly. In 1910, one fourth of the deaths recorded in Adana’s district of Tarsus, for example, were due to malaria.78 This rate was certainly better than the one-fourth of entire communities that were sometimes wiped out by the disease upon initial settlement, but it meant that malaria remained part of quotidian life in the Çukurova region long after effective solutions had been devised and attempted. The medical activities of La Société Anonyme “Le Coton” in Çukurova, which operated farms on imperial lands along the western banks of the Ceyhan River in eastern Çukurova (discussed in Chapter 5), offer a glimpse at some of the ecological and medical approaches to malaria in operation by the end of Ottoman rule in the Cilicia region. The company engaged in a number of activities in order to “improve the health conditions of the worker population.” These included swamp drainage, the distribution of free quinine and dispensation of medical care, the planting of trees, and pétrolage — pouring petroleum into lakes, swamps, and stagnant bodies of water to kill mosquitoes.79 The company’s approximately 60,000 francs of expenditures in this arena, most of which was dedicated to medicine and treatment and 8% of which was dedicated to

MV 231/141 (20 Cemazeyilahir 1331 [27 May 1913]); (Aras), Sıtmaya Karşı Muharebe, 1. "Sıhhiye Mecmuası," 1043. 79 The latter strategy was adopted in imitation of successful anti-mosquito campaigns carried out by the United States in Cuba that had helped reduce the impact of yellow fever. Tsapalos and Walter, Rapport sur le domaine impérial de Tchoucour-Ova, 32. 77 78


petrolage, were significant though only a fraction of its operating budget. 80 Yet, that budget allocation was marginal in comparison with the projected cost of properly desiccating the 25,000 hectares of swamp in Çukurova, which the company estimated at 3,830,000 francs.81 These figures point to the essential reason why the complete elimination of malaria, irrespective of the limits of both ecological as well as medical knowledge and practices, would remain a long way off in the realm of practical implementation. The endurance of malaria as an issue throughout the emergence of ecological and medical approaches to disease points to perhaps the biggest shift in the Ottoman citizenry’s relationship with malaria. As time went on, tribal and immigrant communities that had experienced little exposure to malaria prior to settlement simply adjusted. This process is remembered as a hard and painful one in the semi-autobiographical work of Yaşar Kemal. In As Çukurova Burns, he describes the memories of an old story teller of a village near Osmaniye (one of the towns founded in order to settle Çukurova’s tribes) regarding the long and bitter process of adjustment (see Chapter 4). The gradual acceptance of malaria as an inevitable part of daily life that must be tolerated was accompanied by a concomitant decline in these communities’ efforts to resist forced settlement as they acquiesced to growing state hegemony in the region.82 Malaria remained not only as a reminder of the intense suffering of those initial settlers but also of an irrevocable change in the relationship between the population and their geography represented by the decline and elimination of longstanding migratory lifestyles.

The company’s report, coauthored by a Greek doctor from the Algerian Pasteur Institute, indicated that expenditures in the area of health had fallen since the initial year. Ibid., 33. 81 Ibid., 38. 82 Kemal, Çukurova Yana Yana, 9-13. 80


Changes in the Air In 1901, the educators of Adana wrote to the Ministry of Education pleading for permission to spend the summer in the mountains at the yayla (see Chapter 1). While the ministry required teachers and officials to remain in the towns of Adana and Tarsus in order to register students during the summer months, the climate was simply too hard for these employees and their families to bear. Malaria had claimed the lives of a few of their children during the previous summer. Moreover, since the inhabitants of Adana usually left for the yayla anyway, the teachers saw their remaining in the city as utterly foolish. While the wealthy people of Adana could afford to spend the summer at cooler and more salubrious orchards around the city, an educator’s salary was not enough to afford such residence.83 In response, the Ministry of Education offered a compromise, saying that the families could go to the yayla but that teachers must return to the city by August 15th for student registration, meaning that they would receive some respite during the summer but nonetheless be forced to stay in Adana during the absolute peak of malaria season.84 The position of state officials with regard to seasonal migration was ultimately conflicted. On one hand, we find occasional orders that adopt the strict stance towards seasonal migration emphasized during the activities of the Fırka-ı Islahiye, the Reform Army that settled the tribes of Adana. In 1890, requests from the local governing councils of Sis (Kozan) and Kars-ı Zülkadriye (Kadirli) to move their operations to the yayla in order to escape the effects of the hot weather and malaria were denied.85 In practice, however, the phenomenon of seasonal migration, particularly among obedient, settled populations, was tolerated and even accommodated. An 83

BOA, MF-MKT 567/33, No. 1 (23 April 1901). BOA, MF-MKT 567/33, No. 2 (25 April 1901). 85 BOA, DH-MKT 1760/79 (28 Muharrem 1308 [13 September 1890]). When the kaymakam of Bahçe was investigated for misconduct in 1910, the first of the twelve charges brought against him was his having gone to the yayla without permission. BOA, ŞD 2139/10, no. 4 (22 Zilkade 1328 / 11 Teşrinisani 1326 [24 November 1910]). 84


order that 40 armed personnel or prisoner guards be used to guard the roads of the Adana province during the summer on one hand illustrates the desire to control the movement of the population but on the other represents an acquiescence to this inevitable practice. 86 Later in the Ottoman period, as the government recognized the pervasiveness of malaria better, the academic calendar of the public schools of Adana was even modified to allow students to complete exams early in May before heading to the yayla.87 The sometimes messy compromises between the Ottoman state and its employees as well as the local administration and its tribal subjects signify the ways in which mobility as a response to malaria continued to be a source of tension between state policy and local practice. While this tension resulted in the ultimate affirmation of migration or “change of air” as a legitimate excuse to move, it also changed the power dynamic in such a way that the state claimed the right to grant access to yaylas and created a situation in which poor and marginalized groups were disproportionately likely to lose access to such spaces. As the economic function of migration — i.e. as a means of finding additional pasture for animals — eroded, migration may have been unaffordable for poor villagers from Adana’s settled tribes. This certainly would have been the case for resettled immigrants, who were neither accustomed to Adana’s geography nor possessing the economic means to undertake such a journey. In other words, the yayla increasingly became a space used not as a summer pasture but rather solely as a place where those who could would find a change of air to beat the heat and malaria of the plain. This process would continue for decades into the Republic period, as the yayla was transformed into a place of leisure (see Chapter 13). BOA, BEO 389/29112 (16 Şevval 1311 [22 April 1894]) BOA, MF-MKT 1120/21 (26 Rabiulahir 1327 [17 May 1909]). Amongst his other complaints, the aforementioned health inspector Şerafeddin Mağmumi reported that he was unable to visit the famous Cave of the Seven Sleeepers near Tarsus because the keeper had locked the cave and left for the yayla for the summer. Mağmumi and Kayra, Bir Osmanlı doktorunun seyahat anıları : yüzyil önce Anadolu ve Suriye, 184. 86 87


The malarial geography of Adana touched everyone; Ottoman officials in Adana routinely asked for new posts to escape its hot climate, and in other cases officials were deemed unfit for service in Adana’s climate following a medical examination.88 Yet, the poorer segment of society and particularly those newly settled in Çukurova were least equipped to cope with the effects of Adana’s disease environment. Malaria’s impact as a consequence of new settlement was differentiated. The marginal segments of society — settled tribes, new immigrants, agricultural laborers, and poor inhabitants of remote villages — were hit the hardest.89 The effects of malaria are well-remembered among the successor communities of tribes and immigrants, who remember the period with a sense of victimhood. The Ottoman frontier experience was by no means exceptional; malaria played a critical role in nearly every area where new settlement occurred, including the United States.90 The sense that settlement was a forced condition and a site of sorrow is reminiscent of the experience of resettled American Indians and African slaves, whose suffering from the disease was imposed upon them and lingered longer than that of European settlers.91 The trends outlined in this chapter would continue into the subsequent decades of the twentieth century as the new Republic of Turkey continued policies of drainage and quinine distribution in addition to adopting novel ways of tackling malaria. Adana would emerge as one 88

BOA, DH-MKT 2126/48 (5 Receb 1316 [19 November 1898]); 2247/25 (9 Cemazeyilevvel 1317 [19 September 1899]). This phenomenon was not limited to Adana. In fact, the region where it was most pronounced was Yemen, a particularly hot climate where the Ottoman state had recently reasserted its rule and undertook what might be seen as a type of colonial endeavor during the late nineteenth century. Y-MTV 17/16 (21 Rabiulahir 1302 [17 February 1885]). See: Kuehn, Empire, Islam, and politics of difference Ottoman rule in Yemen, 1849-1919. 89 Malaria also disproportionately impacted agricultural workers and the poor. The Armenian orphanage in Adana indicated that 30% of the children at the Adana orphanage were “weak” and their main affliction was fever. Armenian Orphanage of Cilicia, "Teghekagir: 1909 Ogostos 7-1910 Dektember 31 [Report: 7 August 1909 - 31 December 1910]," Tparan O. Arzuman. 90 For example, malaria was the number one disease cause of death in Chicago during its early rise in the 1850s. M. A. Urban, "An uninhabited waste: transforming the Grand Prairie in nineteenth century Illinois, USA," Journal of Historical Geography 31, no. 4 (2005). Population movements induced by the British administration in nineteenthcentury South Asia also resulted in malaria epidemics. Samanta, Malarial Fever in Colonial Bengal; Iqbal, The Bengal Delta : ecology, state and social change, 1840-1943. 91 Humphreys, Malaria : poverty, race, and public health in the United States.


of the centers of Turkey’s — and indeed humanity’s — battle against malaria and nature (discussed in Chapter 12), used as a laboratory for research and treatment as its broader population lived under the oppression of the region’s bad air. Yet, the bad air accumulating over Adana due to settlement extended far beyond issues of disease and ecology. The climate of unrest and increasing tension between the region’s Muslim subjects (increasingly viewed as loyal) and its Christian subjects (increasingly viewed with suspicion) would culminate in a period of violence with the Adana massacre in 1909, the WWI period, and the subsequent French occupation that forever changed the human geography of Adana. The connection between malaria and communal tensions was more than metaphorical. During the Hamidian period, we can observe how the ill effects of settlement may have reverberated across society and created rifts. In 1896, an encoded telegram from the Governor of Adana to the Ministry of Interior made the alarming claim that Adana would be at risk of invasion by Armenian rebels from the mountains that summer. The reasoning stated that much of the region’s Muslim populations, including a number of “exceedingly loyal” tribes, would be away at the yayla leaving the area mostly vacated.92 Given what has already been said about malaria and the summer in Adana, this would have been a suicide mission for the supposed Armenian army. In an era of anti-Armenian paranoia about separatism that was fueled by state actors, the veracity of such speculation is questionable, and the implications of this warning are those of a potentially self-fulfilling prophecy of sectarian bloodshed. A portion of the Muslim population would have to be prevented from migrating in order to keep Adana well-stocked with loyal inhabitants. Given the importance of seasonal migration in the livelihood and health of these communities, it is easy to imagine how such policies would foster animosity between Christians and Muslims. 92

BOA, DH-ŞFR 196/21, Faik to Dahiliye, Adana (29 Temmuz 1312 [10 August 1896]).


It is dangerous to read the entire history of Anatolia’s final Ottoman decades through the lens of an impending clash between Muslims and Christians. The issue of settlement in the Ottoman Empire was bigger than political or sectarian considerations. However, one cannot ignore the fact that settlement was used to further a policy of social engineering in the Ottoman Empire. The history of Adana, a religiously and ethnically diverse yet historically cohesive part of the empire, is telling in this regard. Settlers were soldiers in a war not just against nature but also an imagined Armenian menace. This policy is spelled out in surprisingly plain terms in an 1892 order from the Ministry of the Interior indicating that because of Adana’s large indigenous non-Muslim population, Muslims that had been immigrating to Anatolia from the troubled Balkans region should be settled on vacant lands near Christian villages in order to “increase the Muslim element there (unsur-u islamın oralarda teksiri).”93 The presence of such a policy would suggest the need for a study of the ecological, social, and political impacts of settlement in tandem, and in the following chapter, I attempt to link the broader issue of settlement with the most important political questions of the empire’s final decades through an exploration of communal relations in late Ottoman Adana.


BOA, DH-MKT 2006/33 (6 Rabiulevvel 1310 [28 September 1892]).



With a little over two hundred households, Bahçe was not a big town, though it had deep roots in Cilicia.1 When Cevdet and the Reform Division visited in the 1860s, there were already “fairly well-developed villages” in the area.2 Tucked away in the forested Amanus Mountains, Bahçe’s name means “garden.” The town supported a small regional economy that revolved around the cultivation of wheat and barley and animal husbandry.3 Although somewhat inaccessible, especially during the winter, its position along the road between Adana and Aintab brought some commercial activity.4 Like many old towns of the region, Bahçe was home to a small Christian minority. About one-fifth of the population in the area was Armenian.5 There were just under 20,000 people total in the district as of 1909 and just over that number of goats. 6 Bahçe was home to the usual types of buildings one would find in an Ottoman town: a few mosques, a church, and some schools. It also had a small hospital that the Ottoman government had founded to combat syphilis.7 Alongside a small missionary presence, the recent arrival of German engineers and workers on the Baghdad railway construction had added some additional color. 8 Bahçe was a town like many towns in the Ottoman Empire.

BOA, DH-İD 80/26, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (28 Receb 1332 / 9 Haziran 1330 [22 June 1914]), pg. 3. Cevdet and Halaçoğlu, Marûzât, 128. 3 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325]. 4 Lt. Bennet was unable to visit the town itself due to snow on the roads during his tour of Cilicia in 1880. TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 - Political No. 12, Bennet to Goschen, Adana (15 December 1880). 5 Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics. 6 Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913]. 7 BOA, DH-MKT 2517/48 (15 Rebiulahir 1319 [1 August 1901]). 8 Jonathan S. McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001), 88. 1 2


In April 1909, Bahçe was the site of a gruesome massacre. Krikor Koudoulian, who was a local teacher there at the time, published a detailed eyewitness account of his version of what transpired.9 Followıng a series of violent incidents that targeted the small Armenian minority of the region, a pogrom erupted during the second week of April. It involved large bands of Muslim men attacking the Armenian inhabitants of the town and surrounding villages, setting fire to homes and attacking those they could capture. According to Koudoulian, the violence was encouraged by the local mufti and aided by local officials, many of whom would subsequently lose their posts as a result.10 After the killings were eventually halted, the mufti would be among those hanged for their part in these bloody events.11 But before then, many Armenian men, women, and children would die at the hands of their aggressors. Some were shot, some were stabbed, and some were burned alive in their homes. Some sought protection to no avail with the German workers overseeing railway construction in the area at the time, who Koudoulian said appeared entertained by the chaos.12 Many of Bahçe’s Armenians fled elsewhere. Some, like Koudoulian, fled to the mountains above the town and were thus able to escape, though they were helpless to stop the carnage that unfolded below.13 Koudoulian published his account as an example of the local rural experience during the Adana massacres of 1909, which had been widely commented upon by authors near to and far

Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, 37. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Şuşan Özoğlu, with whom I worked long hours on the sometimes graphic and exhausting published Armenian accounts of the Adana massacres. 10 Ibid., 43; H. R. Simonyan, Melissa Brown, and Alexander Arzoumanian, Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia, April 1909 (London: Gomidas Institute, 2012), 104. 11 The execution of the mufti was one of the aspects of the Ottoman government reaction that enraged some local Muslims in the wake of the massacres. See Cezmi Yurtsever, Müftüyü İdam Ettiler [They Executed the Mufti] (Adana, Turkey: Ekrem Matbaası, 2013). 12 Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, 43. 13 Ibid., 39. Koudoulian included in his account a lament written in Armeno-Turkish by a local resident who had escaped to the nearby yayla of Gövdedağı. He composed the song as he lived on grass in the mountains as he hid and wondered about the grim fate of those he knew in the towns and villages below. Ibid., 49. 9


from the epicenter of the violence.14 The massacres started in the city of Adana just two days after the beginning of Easter, when the city was filled to the brim with Christian visitors and seasonal workers involved in the annual planting of cotton.15 After a few days of violence, a second wave of massacres erupted throughout the Cilicia region. In Adana, a significant portion of the Armenian quarter was destroyed by fires and fighting. The violence in the countryside affected almost all of the villages and towns in the Çukurova plain.16 There were also reports of forced conversion.17 When all was said and done, the multitude of burned and mutilated bodies


There are many first-hand accounts and other primary source materials that were published in the years after the massacres. For a discussion the numerous Armenian publications of the period, see Simonyan, Brown, and Arzoumanian, Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia, 6-11. Bedross Der Matossian’s doctoral dissertation also contains extensive references to much of the source material available in Armenian and certain newspapers of relevance. Bedross Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)" (PhD, Columbia University, 2008). Very recently, Ari Şekeryan has published transcriptions of three Ottoman Turkish reports by Armenians, including the report of Babigian, the CUP official sent to investigate the massacres who died mysteriously after filing the report. Ari Şekeryan et al., 1909 Adana Katliamı : Üç rapor (Istanbul: Aras, 2015). I have made use of some of the Armenian and Ottoman accounts mentioned in these works, but the full breadth of the source base is too numerous to list here. There are also a number of accounts written by American missionaries and foreign observers. For one short overview from the period, see H. C. Woods, The danger zone of Europe: changes and problems in the Near East (London: T.F. Unwin, 1911); Z. Duckett Ferriman, The Young Turks and the truth about the holocaust at Adana in Asia Minor during April, 1909 (London1913); Rose Lambert, Hadjin and the Armenian Massacres (New York: Revell, 1911). I should note that most of the Armenian and foreign publications are available through HathiTrust, and the Ottoman accounts have recently been digitized and are available for download through Atatürk Kitaplığı in Istanbul. 15 Many authors have noted that Easter could be a tense time for communal relations or the outbreak of antiArmenian sentiments, and that in general, Easter brought many Armenians to the city. Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 462, 67; Meltem Toksöz, "Multiplicity or polarity: a discursive analysis of post-1908 violence in an Ottoman region," in Untold Histories of the Middle East: recovering voices from the 19th and 20th centuries, ed. Amy Singer, Christoph K. Neumann, and Selçuk Akşin Somel (Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2011), 219. 16 The Adana massacres encompassed two weeks of violence against Armenians in different parts of the Cilicia region, including two separate phases of massacre in the city of Adana. Narrating these events in full requires more space than is provided in this dissertation. The source material for the massacres is heavily weighted towards events in the city of Adana itself, especially due to the greater presence of foreign observers. This chapter deals more with contextualizing events in the countryside. For some overview of the massacres and their events, see Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 424-99; Simonyan, Brown, and Arzoumanian, Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia; Tetsuya Sahara, What happened in Adana in April 1909? : conflicting Armenian and Turkish views (Istanbul: Isis Press, 2013); Raymond H. Kévorkian, La Cilicie (1909-1921) : des massacres d'Adana au mandat français (Paris: Revue d'histoire arménienne contemporaine, 1999). 17 BOA, BEO 3591/269254, No. 1 (22 Haziran 1325 [5 July 1909]).


of humans and animals throughout the province became a danger to public health.18 The massacres, which many claimed had killed up to 20-30,000 Armenians19, earned the young and relatively obscure city of Adana a sudden infamy on the international stage and among the broader Armenian community, resulting in a spate of writings about Adana by local Armenians, foreign eye-witnesses such as American missionaries, and Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul.20 Armenian authors began to label the events as “the Great Catastrophe (medz yegherne)” years before that term would be applied to what later became known as the Armenian genocide of the WWI period.21 The Adana massacres were interpreted at the time through the political frameworks of the day that mainly employed the language of nationalist or communalist discourses. Many believed and continue to believe that the massacres were premeditated and coordinated in part by Ottoman officials, although official involvement beyond the local level has not been substantiated. But there must have been something very local about the conditions that created these massacres, even if they were incited and facilitated by certain political actors with specific goals. Why

BOA, DH-MKT 2813/75 (3 Mayıs 1325 [16 May 1909]). The question of how many people were killed during the massacres was much debated and discussed. Ottoman government officials initially estimated the number of deaths at around a few thousand but estimates rose substantially thereafter. There was a tremendous ambiguity regarding the number of casualties due to the difficulties of tracking people, especially migrant laborers. Many sources commonly refer to 20-30,000 deaths in the Cilicia region, although it is conceivable that this vague estimate was high. British Consul Doughty Wylie gave a tentative estimate of 15-25,000 immediately following the massacres. TNA, FO 195/2306, pg. 109 (21 April 1909). The number frequently cited in Armenian and foreign accounts from the period was sometimes around 30,000. For example, see Karabet Çalyan, Adana vak'asi ve mesulleri (Reforme Hınçak Cemiyeti, 1909), 23. Cemal Pasha cited a number of 17,000 Armenian and 1850 Muslim casualties. The Armenian patriarchate claimed 17,844 and later 21,361 Armenian dead. Toksöz, "Multiplicity or polarity: a discursive analysis of post-1908 violence in an Ottoman region," 224. For Babigian’s discussion of the numbers, see Hagop Babigian and Hagop Sargisyan, Atanayi egheṛně (Constantinople [Istanbul]: K. Ardzagang, 1919), 18-20. 20 One of the most famous Armenian publications on Adana and the massacres is that of Zabel Yesayan, who worked to establish orphanages in the region after the massacres. For Armenian: Zabel Yesayan, Averaknerown meǰ [Among the Ruins] (Istanbul: Aras, 2010). For Turkish: Zabel Yesayan, Yıkıntılar arasında : tanıklık (Istanbul: Aras, 2014). For French: Zabel Essayan and Léon Ketcheyan, Dans les ruines : document (Paris: Phébus-Libella, 2011). 21 Arshakuhi Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia : ktsʻktur nō tʻer (Constantinople [Istanbul]: V. & H. Ter-Nersesean, 1910), 110. Koudoulian also makes this reference. Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, բ. 18 19


would people kill their neighbors in seemingly remote locations such as Koudoulian’s Bahçe in response to troubles that started more than 100km away in Adana? Recent historiography on the Adana massacres tends to agree that there was something specific about Adana’s historical experience that made the region vulnerable to an outburst of anti-Armenian violence during the late Ottoman period. Stephan Astourian argues that “agrarian relations played a central role in the emergence of the Armenian Question and in interethnic relations.”22 Violence in Adana was tied to competition over land and differential economic outcomes of settlement. Owen Miller formulates an analogous argument, pointing to how economic and demographic change in the countryside contributed to a series of rifts between different Muslim and Christian groups operating on different layers of historical time. 23 Bedross Der Matossian notes that the massacres occurred in Adana as opposed to elsewhere because of its complex demographic makeup and the city’s centrality as a destination for migrant workers. 24 Finally, Toksöz contends that the region’s loss of economic autonomy and its linking to the national economy after the revolution upset the fragile distribution of power in the region, which had been built in relative independence from state structures.25 This perspective, which is complementary to Stephan Astourian’s reading of the issue of land in Çukurova, suggests that Cilicia’s rapid commercialization was a significant factor in what created the conditions of the Adana massacres, and that the violence was therefore a product of dynamics in the countryside. Building on this research regarding the political and socioeconomic context of the Adana massacres, this chapter focuses on the agrarian dimensions of violence in Çukurova. But more


Astourian, "The Silence of the Land: Agrarian Relations, Ethnicity, and Power," 80. Owen Robert Miller, "Conjuncture, Contingency, and Interpreting Violence in late Ottoman Cilicia" (MA, Columbia University, 2008). 24 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 446. 25 Toksöz, "Multiplicity or polarity: a discursive analysis of post-1908 violence in an Ottoman region," 216-17. 23


specifically, it focuses on the violent dimensions of agrarian intercommunality. Cilicia was home to a highly contentious countryside, and that contention was by no means limited to disputes between Armenians and their Muslim neighbors. The continuous movement of people, the rapid acquisition of land by various groups and by various means, and the rising economic competition associated with commercial development made territorial conflict a fundamental aspect of quotidian life in Cilicia. In some cases, conflict broke down along confessional or ethnic boundaries, but in others, it was simply a product of settlement’s logistical aspects and human interaction with geography. The Ottoman government coordinated settlement, monitored and regulated the ownership of land, and claimed jurisdiction over the Çukurova plain through its legal institutions. However, agrarian change was fast and hectic in Cilicia, and where the government was unable to adjudicate disputes, violence was one natural and possible outcome. While the 1909 massacres broke out in the cosmopolitan, urban provincial capital of Adana, the political tensions they embodied were formed in the countryside of what Janet Klein has called “the margins of empire.”26 The movements of workers, migrants, and weapons, which were difficult to regulate, were themselves a source of upheaval within the urban and rural life of Adana. Even if communal violence had never occurred in Çukurova in the form that the massacres assumed, various forms of contestation had pervaded life in the plain. Cilicia had been nearly impossible for the Ottoman administration to govern under the political ecology of transhumance (see Chapter 1), and with its removal and the installation of a political ecology of cotton, new issues and tensions had emerged. These tensions, while not inherently communal, are what made Ottoman Çukurova a burning plain of contention.


Klein, The Margins of Empire.


Locating Violence In his cathartic account of the Adana massacres authored from a ship in İskenderun bound for Egypt in 1909, Artin Arslanian called referred to the events as “an eternal mourning for the civilized world.”27 The view from outside Arslanian’s native Cilicia region was certainly that the violence represented uncivilized forces. Indeed, both the Turkish officials who dominated the CUP and Armenians in Istanbul alike viewed the Adana massacres through the lens of a qualitatively different and more chaotic provincial setting.28 For Armenian intellectuals like Arshaguhi Teodik, Zabel Yesayan, and the like, Adana represented a national setback and served as an impetus to expand Armenian charity works such as hospitals and orphanages. Armenians around the world, American and European observers, and the Ottoman government sought to understand how the massacres played out and who was indeed responsible for the carnage that unfolded in Adana during April 1909. But Cilician Armenians were faced with the separate question of how and why such events had occurred in their hitherto tranquil home. Hagop Terzian, an Armenian pharmacist from Adana, was among the first residents of the Cilicia region to discuss the massacres in a work entitled The Life of Adana (Ատանայի Կեանկը). This work was on some level an attempt to offer a representation of his native region to meet the sudden interest of a public that knew little about his local context and viewed Adana

Artin Arslanyan, Adana'da adalet nasıl mahkum oldu [How Justice Was Condemned in Adana] (Cairo: [unknown publisher], 1909), 5. Ari Şekeryan has recently transcribed and published the account of Arslanyan as well as Garabet Çalyan and Hagop Babigyan. Şekeryan et al., 1909 Adana Katliamı : Üç rapor. 28 Such a view is represented in the account of Arshaguhi Teodik, who toured Cilicia in the fall following the springtime massacres. During her journey through Çukurova, she imagined scenes of cruel butchery projected onto the harsh landscape of backwater towns like Hamidiye (Ceyhan) that she referred to as dark and uncivilized and its river as a “swallower of Armenians (հայակուլ).” Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia, 150. For her descriptions of life in Eastern Çukurova, see ibid., 140, 61. At one point she even remarked about the disgusting manner in which Kurdish workers she encountered devoured oranges that they plucked from roadside trees. Ibid., 164. 27


as a backward, provincial corner of the Ottoman Empire.29 Terzian sought to illustrate how modern commercial development had created an educated, progressive urban society in Adana that was suddenly shattered by anti-revolutionary violence. Outside agitators such as İhsan Fikri — the editor of the newspaper İtidal — played an important role in his narrative of the events that disrupted the harmonious spirit of the revolutionary fervor of 1908 in a city in which “the word “gavur” had almost no presence.”30 While not without some parallels, Krikor Koudoulian’s lesser-known portrayal of the rural context in Bahçe was different in this regard. His account was provocatively entitled Armenian Mountain (Hay Lere). This was his way of referring to the region of Gavurdağı or “Infidel Mountain,” officially known as Cebel-i Bereket. The creative substitution indicated that Koudoulian believed the name Gavurdağı was a derogatory reference to the area’s enduring Armenian character.31 This difference also pointed to divergent implications of the massacres in the views of these two authors. Terzian saw the violence as a backlash against the revolutionary optimism that had created such feelings of comradery among Muslims and Armenians in Cilicia who supported the constitutional movement and shouted “long live the Turks” and “long live the Armenians” to their confessional counterparts followed by chants of “long live the Ottomans!”32 Koudoulian’s narrative treated the notion of Muslim-Armenian coexistence with much greater skepticism. He referred to “a few simple-minded, old-fashioned bigwigs (միամիտ հին գլուխ ջոջեր)” of the local Armenian community in Bahçe who were easily assuaged by false

Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 11. Terzian was considered one of the most reliable firsthand observers of the massacres and he published numerous books on the issue. Many authors who use Armenian accounts, including Bedross Der Matossian, have used this account extensively. 30 Ibid., 32. Ihsan Fikri had been civil servant in Selanik. He had married the daughter of Menan Bey, the Adana notable that had played an important role in disrupting the investigation of Jackson Coffing’s murder (see Chapter 2). Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 452. 31 Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, 17. See Chapter 3. 32 Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 33. 29


assurances of protection and the continuance of the longstanding inter-confessional harmony in Cilicia amidst warnings of potential violence.33 When the violence began to erupt, the Armenians of Bahçe appealed to local Muslim officials for protection. In this case, Koudoulian offered up a saying that functioned just as well in Armenian as it does in Turkish: “he who falls in the sea grasps a snake.”34 In other words, Koudoulian saw attempts to appeal to Muslim officials as desperate and futile. The two perspectives of Terzian and Koudoulian were not contradictory or irreconcilable. During the late Ottoman period, the view from Terzian’s Adana must have been optimistic. The local Armenian community was thriving economically, politically, and culturally, and the revolution promised unprecedented political parity for non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire. For middle class Armenian professionals like Terzian, the sudden rupture must have been shocking and tragic. If Koudoulian’s narrative of the massacres in Bahçe expressed less surprise than that of his counterpart in Adana, it might have been in part based on the very different sociopolitical situation in Bahçe and the hinterland of the Cilicia region. Koudoulian himself even employed a geographically-deterministic description of the Armenians of Cilicia that hinted at the reason why Armenians of Çukurova could not defend themselves. Cilicia had a mixed climate, part mountain and part plains. As a result of their environs, the people of the mountains were tough, resourceful, energetic, freedom-loving, bold, noble and proud. Their neighbors on the plain meanwhile became calm, soft, frail and submissive. They were timid and had lost their love of freedom. In fact, he likened them to the uncivilized “little tribes” that surrounded them: “Assyrians, Fellahs (Nusayris), Kurds, Circassians, Turks, Arabs, Chaldeans, and so forth.”35

Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, 37. Ibid., 38. 35 Ibid., 28-29. 33 34


Figure 26 Krikor Koudoulian (from Hay Lere, pg. գ) While Koudoulian’s contrast between the people of the mountains and the plains was not likely a novel one, and indeed Ahmed Cevdet Pasha had held an identical view regarding the impacts of geography on Koudoulian’s own Gavurdağı during the activities of the Reform Division (see Chapter 3), his dichotomy spoke to a tension at the heart of Ottoman Armenian political life. Professionals like Terzian in Adana saw their community as flourishing, integrated, and enlightened. Koudoulian viewed the peaceful qualities of Çukurova Armenians as liabilities; for him, what they needed was more of the rebelliousness and self-reliance of Armenian mountain villagers, such as the village of Zeytun, which was often admired for its resistance to the Ottoman state. Koudoulian’s account of the massacres in Bahçe, published in 1912, reads as a cautionary tale that Armenians should recognize the danger of their situation. The history of the Adana massacres and their aftermath does not offer easy lessons about the life of Ottoman Armenians, but Armenian reactions to the violence serve as a starting point for understanding how such a massacre might occur and how relations between different communities in Cilicia were differentiated from place to place. I argue that the Adana massacres 306

comprise two distinct facets, one of which was embedded in the urban politics of Terzian’s Adana and the reaction to the revolution and the other of which was more closely linked to the rural relations represented by Koudoulian’s Bahçe. In the city, what Bedross Der Matossian refers to as a polarized public space allowed political and economic competition to transform into verbal and ultimately physical hostility during a moment of conflict and political maneuvering.36 Just as the relatively peaceful coexistence in Adana before the massacres was to the ultimate advantage of important political and economic actors in the region, the change of course in a moment of crisis represented a strategic choice by a relatively limited group of individuals to move against Armenians of a similar class that had long been competitors and suddenly appeared as enemies (more on this below). However, the foundation of the massacres was a broad arena of contention in the agrarian setting. The massacres, which involved every segment of rural society — including immigrants, pastoralists, and migrant laborers — represented a moment in which many Muslims in the countryside felt that they could not live with Armenians. This deterioration of what Nicholas Doumanis refers to as intercommunality was the potentiality for violence ignited by the political crisis of the revolution and counter-revolution.37 Although, this deterioration can be understood through the divisive language of nationalist politics that pitted Armenians against Turks and Muslims against Christians, the dynamics that made the language of nationalism meaningful for people in the Ottoman countryside must have been rooted in something more tangible than ideology. The Ottoman frontier was not a colonial frontier that enforced categories of difference


Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 444-47. 37 Nicholas Doumanis, Before the Nation : Muslim-Christian coexistence and its destruction in late Ottoman Anatolia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).


between settler and indigenous communities in legal or materials ways; yet, the nature of settlement gave rise to more complicated forms of intercommunal conflict. Beneath the Balance: Demographic Flux in Late Ottoman Cilicia The word “Gavur” had almost no presence in Adana… Often times it would be impossible to tell Armenian and Turkish youth apart when seeing them going around together. They were not differentiated by face, nor garb, nor manner; they were distinguished by name alone (anunov miayn gehaydnvein).38 Hagop Terzian, Adanayi Geanke (1909) [In Adana,] Turks used to call older Armenian males “dayı.” And they would call the ones who called them dayı “yeğenim.” Turks would also call older Armenian women “cici or cice” … In the summer months, Turks would give their house keys to a poor Armenian family when leaving for the summer home in the foot of the Taurus Mountains. That family would both spend the summer here and watch over the house. They would also receive an amount of money in exchange. The homeowner returning from the summer home would find all of his belongings in perfect condition in their proper places. 39 Damar Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım (1961)

Within local memory of conflicts between Muslims and Christians, a common trope is the juxtaposition of a harmonious coexistence destroyed by some sort of political rupture, often initiated by one side (the other side in fact) of the conflict. It is telling that the two above quotations regarding communal harmony by natives of late Ottoman Adana — one by Armenian pharmacist and intellectual Hagop Terzian and one by Turkish politician of the Adana region Damar Arıkoğlu — arose not from romanticized accounts of religious harmony but as preface to narratives of betrayal and bloodshed perpetrated by respective Turkish and Armenian neighbors. 40

These memories point to communal violence being understood as a phenomenon within which

neighbors ceased to be neighbors and discrete communities simply lost the ability to live together.

“Gavur” is a semi-derogatory term referring to non-Muslims. Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 32. Dayı means “maternal uncle” and is used to affectionately address older males. Yeğenim means “my nephew.” Cici means “sweetie” or in this context “granny” or “mama” and is used to affectionately refer to an older woman as one’s adoptive mother. Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım, 42. 40 Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 32; Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım, 42. Also Ali Münif Yeğenağa, Ali Münif Bey'in hâtiraları, ed. Taha Toros (Istanbul: Isis, 1996), 47. 38 39


In his study of memory among the communities of former Anatolian Greeks, Nicholas Doumanis describes the mundane everyday acts of living together or coexistence as “intercommunality in practice.”41 These ordinary interactions extended beyond economic interdependence to encompass forms of friendship and sympathy such as mutual home visits or acknowledgements of the communal other’s feast days. Doumanis sheds light onto how the relatively harmonious coexistence of divergent religious identities was not rooted in morals or ideology so much as in the concrete realm of daily interaction. Particularly before the ascendance of national conceptions of identity that became widespread only at the very end of the Ottoman period, proximity and putative relation were understood more through close contact rather than imaginings of shared geography or national belonging. Such intercommunality was built upon a history of mutual acknowledgement, and thus, any significant demographic flux could be disruptive to intercommunality in the sense that the arrival of newcomers would require the construction of new bonds through quotidian interaction. As a region that witnessed both diachronic and cyclical demographic upheaval during the last decades of the Ottoman period, Cilicia was naturally vulnerable to disruptions of intercommunality. The continual arrival of Muslims immigrants from different regions adjacent to the Ottoman Empire, the economic migration of Armenians and other groups from other parts of Anatolia, and the economic transformation of the countryside that thrived on seasonal labor led to a significant degree of demographic flux. Added to this flux were the natural population movements associated with the old practice of urban, rural, and pastoral transhumance.


Doumanis, Before the Nation : Muslim-Christian coexistence and its destruction in late Ottoman Anatolia, 43.


Figure 27 Estimates of annual population movements in city of Adana The above chart offers alternative way of looking at population in Adana, not diachronic, and yet indicating very dramatic demographic shifts. It approximates the annual fluctuations in the population of the city of Adana based on the lived geography throughout the seasons. It is merely an estimate, as annual movements, particularly labor flows, varied depending on the strength of a particular harvest or according to the general expansion of cultivation that occurred almost continuously. The majority of the “permanent” inhabitants of Adana (in gray) would leave the city during the summer, and large segments of population in the cold mountains (in blue), particularly Armenians of Hadjin, would spend their winters in the city (see Chapters 1 and 6). Meanwhile, a floating population of workers (in orange) coming and going from Adana to their homes in other districts and provinces, which would peak in spring and early fall contributed to a population of “non-residents” that at times was as large as the urban population


itself (see Chapter 5). While the static population of the city of Adana at turn of the century was around 50,000 and perhaps as much as 80,000 by the end of the Ottoman period, the number of individuals passing through its space and operating in it throughout the year was thus more than twice those figures. Urban spaces such as Adana and Mersin created a place for members of the various communities of the Adana region to interact, and to a significant extent, a middle class urban culture formed around the professionals, merchants, artisans, and cultivators who made their fortune from the plain but resided primarily in these urban spaces. These different communities were represented within the provincial council (meclis) and participated in the various daily and sustained interactions that would reflect a high density of connections between distinct communities living together. However, this practice of living together did not evenly include all of the itinerant populations who came to the region during the peak seasons. Many of the workers and winter inhabitants of Adana hailed from different regions with different social dynamics, and as visitors would have been more likely to identify with coreligionists in the city than the population as a whole. After all, the early state hospitals in Adana and Tarsus did not target a particular religious community; they were used to monitor and treat itinerant workers or gureba, a term that refers their being strangers, poor, and distinctly other.42 While the populations of cities like Adana were cyclically shifting, annual population movements in the countryside were equally pronounced. Pastoralists continued to practice seasonal migration after the settlement campaigns of the 1860s (see Chapter 3), and many brought their animals along despite official prohibitions (see Chapters 4 and 6). Villagers in Çukurova also practiced these migrations to avoid the heat and sickness of the plains during the 42

The Governor Abidin Pasha oversaw the construction of a new gureba hospital for men and women in Adana upon the request of local inhabitants. See BOA, ŞD 2120/46 (20 Teşrinisani 1296 [2 December 1880]). See Chapter 6 for more.


summer, and even immigrants that were relative newcomers to the geography of Adana adopted these practices to an extent. In some cases, settlements were formed with the intention of giving immigrants access to yaylas in the mountains in accordance with local practices. Meanwhile, immigrant populations settled at high elevations would often come down to Çukurova during the winter. Namely, Circassians in the Taurus Mountains wintered their horses in Çukruova although the government sometimes sought to prohibit these movements; in 1881, Lieutenant Bennet indicated that 7000 Circassian horses spent the winter on the plain.43 The seasonal movements of people to and from the cities, up and down the mountains, and in and out of the province had no inherent impact on the social relations of communities in the Cilicia region per se. However, these movements did have a few clear implications. First, people in the Adana region were hard for the authorities to track. Second, at any given time, cities like Adana as well as the countryside were full of people who belonged to somewhere else. Lastly, these movements assured that the Adana province was more integrated into the socioeconomic networks of neighboring provinces, especially the provinces of Northern Syria and Eastern Anatolia, which supplied large numbers of migrants, as well as regions to the north such as Ankara and Kayseri from whence merchants and pastoralists would continually arrive. This integration made Adana economically dynamic, but it also meant that the issues rooted in the other provinces could flare up in Cilicia. In addition to the seasonal movements of local inhabitants and workers in Cilicia, the continual influx of migrants to the Adana province fueled a rapid demographic transformation, although the ratio of Christian to Muslim inhabitants in Adana did not change substantially. The

TNA, FO 222/8/2, 1881 “Report on the Vilayet of Adana”, pg. 61 (6 February 1882). Today, there are special breeds of horses by the name of “Çukurova” and “Uzunyayla” that were developed by these communities. The Çukurova is a cross between the Uzunyayla breed and Turkish Arabian horses. Bonnie L. Hendricks, International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), 145, 430. 43


general population increase within the Cilicia region (see Chapter 5) was not merely a consequence of natural growth but rather the economic opportunities that attracted workers and merchants along with the continual arrival of immigrants who were settled into the countryside. As the economy drew migration from nearby provinces of the empire as well as foreign locals from Greece to Afghanistan, waves of Muslim migrants from the Caucasus, Balkans, and Mediterranean were periodically settled in Çukurova. The settlement of tens of thousands of Crimean and Caucasian immigrants after the Crimean War during the late 1850s and early 1860s as well as another wave of migration follow the Russo-Ottoman War in 1878 were only the beginning (See Chapters 1 and 4). Ottoman officials continued to see Adana as one of the most promising regions for migrant settlement in the decades that followed. This was due to the region’s relatively low population density and the renowned fertility of its soils.44 Periodic immigrant influxes to the Cilicia region would continue until the end of the Ottoman period. For example, more than 20,000 Muslim refugees from Crete were settled in the Adana region during the decade following the establishment of the Cretan state in 1898.45 While such migrants were Muslims, they did not necessarily speak the local languages of the Cilicia region, which were primarily Turkish and Arabic.46 For the purposes of


Yusuf Ziya, a minor official in Adana who touted its virtues in some short published reflections on the city and its countryside, estimated in 1898 that the province could hold five to ten times its roughly half-million population at the time. Ziya, Tabsıra yahut Adana Temaşası, 12-13. The Adana finance inspector indicated in 1903 that the province could accommodate some 200,000 to 300,000 more muhacirs. BOA, A-MKT-MHM 523/51 (16 October 1903). In summer 1914, the Governor of Adana İsmail Hakkı issued a more detailed report on the matter after surveying the region, and despite his remarks about the region’s insalubrious climate, remarked upon locations where thousands more households could be settled, including over 10,000 at Çukurova Çiftliği around the Ceyhan River. BOA, DH-İD 80/26 (9 Haziran 1330 [22 June 1914]). 45 BOA, A-MKT-MHM 523/51, No. 1, Necib Mehmed to Sadaret (9 Şaban 1321 / 16 Teşrinievvel 1319 [29 October 1903]). 46 Both Muslims and Christians who were native to the Cilicia region spoke primarily, Muslims from Crete, for example, mainly spoke Greek, and Circassians spoke many linguistic varieties native to the North Caucasus. The predominant language in the Adana region throughout the Ottoman period appears to have been Turkish. This is the language of the earliest extant court records. In predominantly Arabic-speaking regions, court records are normally in Arabic. However the Nusayri, Syrian and Egyptian workers of the plain as well as many inhabitants of Adana and Tarsus would have spoken Arabic. Most Armenians and Orthodox (Rum) Christians in the Cilicia region spoke


intercommunality, new linguistic barriers may have reinforced divides between different groups, especially in the countryside. And though urban spaces provided the proximity necessary for different communities to “get to know each other,” the wide expanses of Çukurova meant that new villages were often isolated from neighboring communities. The district of Ayas provides an example of the staggeringly disparate origins of villagers in that relatively sparsely populated corner of Çukurova. The following data is from 1921 but is more or less accurate for 1909 as well.47 Of 42 villages, over a quarter were inhabited mainly by the Bozdoğan Turkmens settled from the 1860s onward (see Chapter 3), and about another quarter were made up of Muslims from the Balkans (who arrived following the Balkan wars of 1912-3, i.e. after 1909). Alongside these two groups were a few Nusayri (Alawite) Arab villages, a Tatar village, a “Sudanese” village, a village of Cretan Muslims, a Kizilbash (Alevi) village, and the lone Armenian village of Nacarlı. Villages counted as “Turkish” or partly Turkish comprised just under 20%. Other elements of the population such as Nogays, Circassians, and Kurds were also present but too small in that district to comprise a majority of any village. 48 This example is merely evidence that the communities in question had not long cohabitated the same region, since most of the villages were founded by communities that had only settled in Çukurova within half a century and in many cases, only a generation prior.

Turkish; however, Armenian was the dominant region in the village of Zeytun. In addition, Kurdish was spoken by many of the communities in Eastern Çukurova, not to mention tens of thousands of laborers that came to Adana every year. 47 This data comes from a French survey of the Ayas district of the Ceyhan delta in 1921. Of course, many parts of the Çukurova plain experienced an unfathomable amount of demographic change during the years of the First World War. I have chosen this particular district because it had relatively few Armenians before the war, and Nacarlı was one of the only predominantly Armenian villages in the area (see Chapter 2). Thus, the deportation of Armenians and the process of repatriation likely had a comparatively small impact on the demographic makeup of this particular district. 48 CADN, 1SL/1/V, 287, Vol. 1. The reason why the French preferred to count the population in this manner was in part that Cilicia’s heterogeneity was a factor of instability that French administrators used to justify the establishment of colonial rule (see Chapter 10).


The situation described above made Cilicia one of the most ethno-linguistically diverse places in the Ottoman Empire. While less visible than the cosmopolitan shimmer of Istanbul, Selanik, Izmir, and Beirut, the rise of Mersin and Adana created a blend of individuals from different social classes representing almost every community in the Ottoman Empire and many from abroad. And from the beginning of the cotton boom in the 1860s until 1909, there were no signs of major discord between these different communities in the cities.49 For these reasons alone, we must not simplistically assume that demographic flux was on the whole a major source of instability or that “strangers” were solely to blame for the violence of 1909. Rather, it is necessary to more closely examine the nature of quotidian interaction between neighboring communities; Terzian and Arıkoğlu may not have been wrong about the harmonious relations of their respective groups in Adana, but the archival record suggests that such a narrative might not apply to life in the Cilician countryside. 1862: Post-Crimean War Encounters in Cilicia The brigandage of Muslim muhacirs from the Caucasus and elsewhere is a common trope within the historiography of late Ottoman Anatolia, and Circassian and Chechen communities did produce their fair share of bandits. An infamous example is that of Tek Taşak or “One-Nut” who took to the Taurus Mountains and made a (peculiar) name for himself as a ruthless outlaw during the 1870s.50 However, there are a few issues with the image of the Circassian bandit. First, Muslim immigrants, much like nomads and a wide variety of marginalized groups, rarely found a voice within the historical record, and as outsiders, they were easy scapegoats for


This only applies to the Adana-Tarsus-Mersin region and the plain. There were major massacres in Marash and Zeytun during the 1890s. More below. 50 TNA, FO 424/106 (27 October 1879), pg. 2.


violence in Anatolia.51 More importantly, fixating on migrant banditry obscures the fact that many immigrants came from communities that were expelled from their homes and faced an arduous journey the Ottoman Empire that claimed many lives only to settle in dissatisfying locations.52 Added to these points is the fact that immigrants settled in Ottoman Anatolia — or at least those settled in Çukurova — very frequently faced hostility from the local populations in the places they settled. Settlers did not bring violence; rather, violence was part and parcel of settlement. The available evidence about early conflicts between settlers and locals in Cilicia suggests in turn that the violence suffered by migrants on the part of their new neighbors was essentially a matter of territorial dispute. The attacks that the Afşars made against the Circassians settled at Uzunyayla in 1862 were a natural consequence of strange migrants beings settled onto the precious summer pastures of transhumant pastoralists (see Chapter 1). While the settlement at Uzunyayla created a major incident, the accompanying settlements in the Çukurova plain during that period did not face the same problem, even though the Afşars and many other communities wintered there as well. We may infer that this difference boiled down to a scarcity of grass at high elevations. Around that same time, Circassian immigrants settled closer to Zeytun faced a similar conflict with their new neighbors. The mid-1860s were a politically charged time around Zeytun and Marash (see Chapter 2) and men from Zeytun attacked the Circassian newcomers as a result of a perceived encroachment on their territory. Small disputes escalated into large-scale fighting between the two communities, and after the Armenians killed what was reported as more than It is telling that Lt. Bennet noted in 1880 that “as a rule the Circassians are credited with all lawless acts.” TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 1, Bennet to Goschen, Kaiserieh (16 June 1880). 52 One English traveler reported that when he met some Tatars in Çukurova during the late 1870s, “they spoke most bitterly of being forced to live out on the great plains, with no towns near enough to trade with, and always suffering from fever.” Barkley, A Ride through Asia Minor and Armenia, 195. 51


500 Circassians and the latter were unable to successfully retaliate, leaders representing the two parties apparently worked out a truce. It stands to reason that the number of Circassians killed was embellished for dramatic effect. The testimony comes not from the Ottoman archives but rather the account of Aghassi, a Zeytun native who composed an account of the village’s heroic story, which was published in French and included in the village history of Zeytun published in 1960.53 Aghassi’s account portrayed this incident as an ultimate success, as the Zeytuntsis were able to defend their ground on one hand and the two communities were ultimately able to agree to not attack and rob each other, conduct commerce freely and move between their adjacent settlements, and punish their own for any transgressions that might occur. The outcomes of these two early conflicts in the history of settlement in Cilicia speak to the process by which intercommunality was established during this formative time in the history of Ottoman Anatolia. In the case of the Afşars and Circassians, the feud between the two groups was ultimately resolved through the Ottoman use of military force first to prevent the Afşars from further attacking the Circassian settlers and second to forcibly settle the tribal communities throughout the Cilicia region (see Chapter 3). The two populations were compelled to live in proximity but not encroach on each other’s territory. In the second case of the Zeytuntsis and the Circassians, the Ottoman government exerted little or no influence over the Armenian villagers in the Taurus Mountains and the two communities essentially came to an agreement after a period of hostility. In other words, these disputes were never adjudicated by a government mediator. In one case, the approach of Ottoman officials was to separate two parties fighting over the same space, and in the other, the conflict reached a semi-permanent agreement to live together in peace.


Miowtiwn, Zêytowni patmagirk [The History of Zeytun], 344-45.


1878: Post-Russo-Ottoman War Encounters in Cilicia Acemli was a small Armenian town below the hills between Kars and Marash. While the Ottoman government had broken the power of the derebeys in the Çukurova plain (see Chapter 3), there were pockets of local autonomy within which derebeys continued to exercise their power throughout the 1870s (see Chpater 4). One such figure named Kel Kişoğlu harassed the local Armenians in Acemli, leading them to abandon their village for settlement in the hills. During the 1870s, they preferred to stay out of the plain, descending only to harvest their crops but otherwise leaving their village vacant. In 1878, immigrants from the Balkans were settled in the supposedly abandoned village of Acemli during the aftermath of the Russo-Ottoman War (93 Harbi). In the meantime, however, Kel Kişoğlu had been killed in 1877, thus making it safe for the Armenian inhabitants of Acemli to return. However, when they found their village occupied by new migrants, they complained to the local kaymakam, who offered Acemli’s Armenians monetary compensation in order to relocate. Nevertheless, the people of Acemli eventually sued to return to their village. Lt. Bennet (see Chapter 4), a British official in the region, intervened on their behalf, using his standing as representative of the British government — highly influential in the Ottoman Empire at the time — to press the local administration to return the village to its rightful owners. The immigrants who had settled in Acemli resisted on the basis that in two years of settlement, over forty of them had already died, and they would be bitter to leave a place where they had buried so many. It was a morbid claim to usufruct rights, but a fair one given that an additional transfer might well bring further hardship. Yet ultimately, the original Armenian occupants won out and the Balkan immigrants were forced to relocate. During their exit, the frustrated migrants made a point of destroying the church and many of the houses in the village,


so that the original Armenian villagers returned to ruins.54 Neither the inhabitants of Acemli nor the immigrants were to blame for the predicament, and Bennet’s narrative does not indicate that the officials involved had meant any harm; rather, the conflict was the result of a bureaucratic misunderstanding due to confusion or carelessness. Such instances were a natural outcome of the settlement process. During the Tanzimat period (1839-1878), settlement policy was carried out with some genuine concern for communal harmony and with attention to the issue of demographics.55 Nevertheless, communal conflicts were the product of inevitable ambiguities regarding land ownership in a region where so much movement occurred. In the case of Acemli, both the local Armenians and the Circassian migrants left with bitter memories of their counterparts, even though their predicament was the outcome of forces well beyond their control. 1890: the Hamidian Turn and the Place of Tribes Ermeni’den aldı yoksula verdi56

He took from the Armenian and gave to the poor from “The Lament of Çöllo,” Afşar folk song

By the 1890s, most of the land available for settlement in the Adana province was in the eastern portion on all sides of the Ceyhan River. The amount of settlement, redistribution of land,


TNA, FO 222/7/1, 1880 No. 2, Bennet to Goschen, Kaiserieh (3 August 1880); 1881 No. 10, Bennet to Goschen, Marash (11 May 1881). 55 For example, the Reform Division sought to settle multiple tribes in the same districts of Eastern Çukurova and later joined those districts to the adjacent district then called Muhacirin. When they sought to repopulate the region the port of Payas in 1870, the provincial government brought an equal number of Muslim and Christian settlers and used a similar approach to populate the town of Kars-ı Zulkadriye as well as ports such as Yumurtalık during the period. BOA, ŞD 2114/18, No. 4 (18 Şaban 1286 [10 November 1869]). This attempt to be mindful of demographic balances and create a settler population that represented a blend of the region’s different communities was pursued as a means of making the countryside of Cilicia more governable through the implantation of a full-fledged citizenry. However, such settlements were relatively few in number. Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 72. Toksöz notes that while economic factors were already drawing Armenians and Rum Orthodox from inner Anatolia at places such as Kayseri, Niğde and elsewhere to settle the coastal towns of Çukurova, this policy encouraged this process. 56 Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar, 197.


and resultant disputes that occurred there from the 1890s onward was significant.57 During the 1890s, a wave of paranoia regarding non-Muslims and Armenians in particular swept through the ranks of the Ottoman government. The archival record indicates that some officials saw large concentrations of Armenians as pockets of resistance waiting to erupt. This influenced the way provinces of Eastern Anatolia were governed in the immediate short-term (more below), and in the long-term, it created a policy of internal colonization through the explicit settlement of immigrants in close vicinity to large non-Muslim communities. This settlementality is expressed in an 1892 order from the Ministry of Interior. It indicated that because of Adana’s large indigenous non-Muslim population, Muslims that had been immigrating to Anatolia from the troubled Balkans region should be settled on vacant lands near Christian villages in order to “increase the Muslim element there (unsur-u islamın oralarda teksiri).”58 The Hamidian regime saw Christians as a fifth column in Anatolia, and migrants became participants in a project of demographic warfare.59 This policy seemed to be explicitly aimed at pitting Muslims and Christians against each other. A few years later in 1895, there was tremendous violence on the peripheries of the Cilicia region. The town of Marash witnessed a pogrom the resembled massacres that occurred elsewhere in Eastern Anatolia during the period. This pogrom coincided with successful uprisings of Armenian communities in the mountains at Zeytun and the closely linked village of Çokmerzimen (Dörtyol) by the coast.60 There were also tense moments around Hadjin but the

For overview of migration to Adana during this period, see Hilmi Bayraktar, "Kırım ve Kafkasya'dan Adana Vilayeti'ne Yapılan Göç ve İskânlar (1869-1907)," Türkiyat Araştırmaları Dergisi, no. 22 (2007). 58 BOA, DH-MKT 2006/33 (6 Rabiulevvel 1310 [28 September 1892]). 59 As one example, immigrants were settled near the village of Nacarlı, the lone center of Armenian population in its coastal district. BOA, ŞD 2130/14, no. 2 (4 Safer 1319 / 9 Mayıs 1317 [22 May 1901]). 60 With fear and news of massacre spreading throughout the Armenian community, the people of Zeytun who were supported by the Hunchaks took up arms and rebelled against the Ottoman government in October 1895. Much like Sasun, it was not the first time Zeytun had led such a resistance (see Chapters 2 and 4). The rebels at Zeytun were able to hold out for four months until the conflict was resolved through European mediation in January 1896. During 57


violence did not escalate.61 Some of the violence involved members of immigrant communities as well as the local tribes who after all comprised a very large segment of the Muslim population.62 The fact that communal relations became so contentious in the Taurus Mountains and near Marash, places where many pastoralists had been forcibly settled, suggested that as Astourian notes, unhappy settlement made tribal communities possible hotbeds of animosity. While Cilicia witnessed the aforementioned events around Marash, the Çukurova plain itself was shielded from such violence, although there was potential.63 In October 1896, the Ministry of Interior received a telegram from the mutasarrıf of Cebel-i Bereket warning that a man from Adana named Emin Bey was visiting the heads of tribes in the İslahiye region to foment an attack on local Christians.64 İslahiye remained one of the parts of the Cilician countryside where the political mission of undermining the strength of the local tribal notables during the Reform Division never quite succeeded. The Kurdish tribes in the area had been coopted but not really forced to settle, and by the 1890s, it was clear that these groups had more power in the area than the Ottoman state (see Chapter 5). Such communities appeared to the aforementioned Emin Bey as a possible reservoir of anti-Armenian sentiment or potentially willing participants in violence against Armenians for other reasons. The fact that these threats did not materialize also reflected the key role of the provincial government in preventing the escalation of communal tensions. Even if pastoralists were not that same time, militias in Çokmerzimen carried out a smaller-scale resistance of a similar variety, aided by fighters from Zeytun. Owen Miller offers a detailed analysis of what happened in Marash and Zeytun in 1895. Miller, "Conjuncture, Contingency, and Interpreting Violence in late Ottoman Cilicia". See also BOA, A-MKT-MHM 616/32, No. 1 (13 Teşrinisani 1311 [25 November 1895]). 61 The British consul said that among bad officials in the Adana region, the kaymakam of Hadjin, who was a Circassian, was good and well liked. TNA, FO 195/1930, pg. 63, Massy to Currie (17 July 1896). 62 In the mid-1890s, there are many general reports of brigandage in Cilicia, some violence aimed at Armenians and other not. TNA, FO 195/1930, 93, Massy to Currie, Hadjin (3 September 1896). See BOA, A-MKT-MHM 613/25; DH-MKT 411/76. 63 There was a relatively minor altercation in Adana during which a few Armenians were hurt or killed in February 1896. TNA, FO 195/1930, 27, Christie (ABCFM) to Christmann, Mersin (25 February 1896). 64 BOA, DH-ŞFR 200/37, Hayri to Dahiliye, Yarpuz (19 Teşrinievvel 1312 [31 October 1896]).


happy with the terms of settlement, sedentism in Çukurova did render them more governable. However, even though it was aimed and rendering them sedentary and agriculturalist, the policy of forced settlement also in some ways made these communities more distant from neighboring Armenian village. As Owen Miller notes, settlement removed certain important elements of symbiosis between transhumant communities and the settled village populations of the Cilicia region.65 In Wolfram Eberhard’s study of the impact of sedentarization in Cilicia, he stated that in the pre-Tanzimat social order of Cilicia, pastoralists and villagers achieved a high degree of harmony through their mutually-reinforcing economic activities. The animals of pastoralists fed on leftover materials after the harvest and offered free fertilizer in exchange. Pastoralists that did not farm were also reliant on villagers for purchasing grain and other agricultural products as well as material goods.66 The movement of pastoralists helped conduct trade between regions with relatively difficult conditions of transport, and pastoralists always had extra meat and milk to sell at periods of high demand such as religious feasts. With their settlement, pastoralists had a reduced capacity to share in this equation. The resultant commercialization made their contributions less relevant to the economy. In the areas with most significant concentrations of wealth in the region, the railroad was a conveyor of goods, and everything a townsman with a modest income could desire entered the port at Mersin. But commercialization of agriculture also meant reduced pasture space, and perhaps even more symbolically, less room for pastoralists to share space with neighboring communities. The more intensively that land was used for agriculture, the less that was left over for sheep and goats to extensively graze. Therefore, settlement and the broader expansion of commercial agriculture did

65 66

Miller, "Conjuncture, Contingency, and Interpreting Violence in late Ottoman Cilicia". Eberhard, "Nomads and Farmers in Southeastern Turkey: Problems of Settlement," 37-38.


create a greater disconnect between pastoralists and Christian villagers in the mountains and fostered competition over land with their neighbors in the plain. In other parts of the empire, the role of tribal communities in the massacre of Christians was widely noted. In the wake of years of massacre in Anatolia, the Ministry of Interior formed a commission in July 1896 to determine the locations and populations of yet unsettled tribes throughout the provinces of Syria, Baghdad, Mosul, Aleppo, Beirut, Diyarbakır, Mamuretulaziz, Sivas, Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Jerusalem, Zor, and Adana.67 Whether or not sedentism fueled or stemmed massacres is not clear. Astourian’s hypothesis of resentment as a result of differentiated outcomes of settlement in Çukurova holds, but structurally speaking, the fact that the provincial government wielded more power over local tribes does seem to have been a stabilizing factor during the 1890s. Nevertheless, it is important to note that restricting the movement and activities of pastoralists, while potentially keeping them in check, was not a form of adjudication in the event of disputes. 1908: On the Eve of the Revolution The different types of agrarian contention described above occurred in Cilicia throughout the late Ottoman period. In the year leading up to the July 1908 revolution, there were a number of land disputes in the Çukurova region involving local populations and new settlers. The most visible such conflict occurred near Sis in the Upper Çukurova plain. Although by the 20th century, there were much greater concentrations of Armenians in Adana and elsewhere, the small town of Sis remained the center of the communal universe for Cilician Armenians. It was home to the Holy See or “Catholicosate” of Cilicia, which had been located in Sis continuously since the late thirteenth century and had survived the defeat of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia by the Mamluks in 1375. The Catholicos of Sis, who from 1902 through to the 1930s was Sahak II 67

BOA, DH-MKT 2076/74 (18 Safer 1314 [17 July 1896]).


Khabayan, was the most important Armenian political figure in the region. Sis was located at the edge of the Çukurova plain, serving as an intermediate point between the Armenian villages of the Taurus Mountains and the urban Armenian communities of Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin.68 The town was perched attractively on the side of a sharp hill that contained a medieval fortress. Below the small town stretched expanses of wetlands that were common to the Çukurova region. In addition to the typical cereals of the Cilicia region, some of this waterlogged plain was used for the cultivation of rice. But much of the surrounding area was not under continuous cultivation. During the first decade of the twentieth century, some Circassian immigrants were given some of this swamp land for settlement in this area located very close to the town of Sis in a location called the Tılan Farm. The farm encompassed a fairly large region that occupied some 10,000 dönüms of agricultural land owned and used by the monastery of Sis. Half of the land was not under cultivation at the time. Figure 28, which appeared in an Armenian village history of Sis, exhibits the proximity of these encampments to the town. The tents of muhacirs can be seen in the distance beside the stream just outside of Sis, the picture having been taken from a hill on the edge of the town by the ruins of an old church. As the dispute that followed laid bare, this new settlement was an attempt to curtail the demographic ascendance of Armenians in the Kozan district, and it was interpreted by the Armenians of Sis as a form of encroachment. The settlers became the natural claimants to ownership of this property by virtue of their inhabitance and cultivation, but the Monastery of Sis sought to defend its ownership.69 This dispute escalated into a violent confrontation that resulted


Keleshean, Sis-Madean. In fact, the properties belonged to the endowments of the Ramazanoğlus, the Adana dynasty that governed Adana before Cilicia’s incorporation into the Ottoman Empire and for many decades after, but it had long been in use by the monastery. BOA, A-MKT-MHM 529/13, No. 12 (7 Rebiulahir 1325 [7 May 1907]). 69


in the killing of a few of the immigrants.70 The monastery asserted its rightful ownership over the land and demanded that the immigrants be removed. Yet Ottoman officials were worried about the prospect of that land being settled by new Armenians, thereby increasing the ratio of Christians in the area. The decision regarding the land dispute at the Tılan Farm indicated that as long as Armenians were not brought from another province to settle there, the land could remain under the ownership of the Sis monastery and the immigrants would settle elsewhere.71 However, the question of the Tılan Farms was reopened in 1909 when Bishop Mushegh, the prelate of the Armenian community in Adana, sought to open an agricultural school on the land. Just two weeks before the Adana massacres began, the provincial government in Adana was informed that rather than allowing “Armenians brought from outside to settle” there, the members of Muslim tribes in the regions should be given the land.72 Bishop Mushegh, who had gone to Cairo to raise money for the school was very disheartened by this development, which was a discouraging sign regarding the relationship between local officials and Armenians on the eve of the massacres, being that his relationship with the prior governor Bahri Pasha (more below) before the revolution had been excellent.73


Bishop Mushegh wrote about this in his account of the massacres. Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in PostRevolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 449-50. 71 BOA, A-MKT-MHM 529/13, No. 12 (7 Rebiulahir 1325 [7 May 1907]). 72 BOA, BEO 3521/264057 (13 Mart 1325 [26 March 1909]). 73 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 463.


Figure 28 Tents of Muslim muhacirs near Sis, likely at Tılan Farm, sometime after the beginning of Sahak II’s tenure as Catholicos of Sis in 1903. The image shows that the settlers were placed just on the other side of the river from the town of Sis along the Adana-Sis road. The photograph is taken from the vantage point of the ruins of a church on the hill at the edge of town. (Source: Keleshyan, Sismadyan)74 The fight over the Tılan Farm was in essence a conflict over access to land between local Armenians and new Muslim settlers. The monastery had always claimed right to the property, even if not all of it was cultivated, and the placement of the settlers was seen as an infringement upon those rights. Meanwhile, the Ottoman settlement officials argued that the land belonged to no one by virtue of the fact it was uncultivated in a manner consistent with the overall land policy in the empire at the time. The factor that pushed the conflict towards violence was in part the political facets of the settlement, which were threatening to the local Armenian community of Sis. This small example indicates that even after 1908, the Refugee Commission continued to maintain a policy of settling Muslims and containing large conglomerations of Armenians. The Tılan Farm affair was the most visible land dispute between local Armenians and new settlers in Cilicia leading up to the Adana massacres. However, there were many new settlers in Cilicia on the eve of the massacres, and many other instances of land disputes. One 74

Keleshean, Sis-Madean, 264.


involved a small village called Kesikkeli in the district of Kars (Kadirli) in Upper Çukurova. Kesikkeli is on the northern flank of the Ceyhan River in the middle of the plain. Based in its location, the settlement was likely created by Tatars, Circassians, or Chechens that migrated to the Ottoman Empire from the 1860s onward. Most of those immigrants probably died, but the ones who did not would have by 1908 built a small village for themselves in a region where agriculture was beginning to thrive. In summer 1908, the people of Kesikkeli had a dispute with some new migrants who had recently arrived from the Balkans. This small group of few dozen migrants had been settled in the area by the local government, but the inhabitants of Kesikkeli complained that the newcomers were encroaching upon their territory. The conflict rose to the threat of armed hostilities should the immigrants not be found a different home. The local administration investigated the situation, and their findings showed that Çukurova was more crowded than it seemed. The problem was that it was difficult to find a settlement area for the new migrants with a suitable geography that did not have the “heavy air” for which Adana was so famous, which would cause the settlers to become ill or simply leave. 75 Generations of migrants had likely suffered from malaria and high mortality as they made Kesikkeli into a sustainable settlement, but having done so, they were not eager to share the area with new neighbors. Finding a place that would be livable and available for migrants in Çukurova was difficult even though population was sparse. With large numbers of migrants arriving on a continual basis, such disputes must have been a facet of everyday life.76


In this case, the inhabitants of the original village of Kesikkeli appear to have been Muslim based on names. BOA, BEO 3318/248781, no. 4-7 (17 Haziran 1324 [30 June 1908]). 76 There were a few similar cases in Eastern Çukurova in 1908. 100 people from that region were settled in the district of Sırkıntı near Kozan that September. BOA, DH-MKT 2640/26, no. 7 (23 Eylül 1324 [6 October 1908]). Further east, there was another dispute between immigrants and locals in İslahiye. BOA, DH-MKT 2672/71 (17 Teşrinisani 1324 [30 November 1908]).


Land disputes were not only occurring in the plain. A Circassian immigrant named Bilal wrote to the Şura-yı Devlet to report a longstanding feud between members of a tribe that was settled in Çukurova and the Circassians settled in a mountain village called Burhaniye of the İnderesi region near Feke that had been founded some sixteen years before. İnderesi was a wonderful place for Circassians to settle, and the migrants were no doubt pleased with life in Burhaniye. İnderesi was classified as a yayla region, and it must have reminded the migrants of their homes in the North Caucasus.77 The problem was that as such, İnderesi was also frequented by transhumant pastoralist communities from the plain, who were forced to settle in Çukurova but in accordance with Cevdet’s modified terms of settlement, permitted to migrate. In that document (see Chapter 4 appendix), İnderesi is clearly recognized as the yayla of the Sırkıntı tribe. The Circassians and the tribes likely quarreled every summer over the issue of pasture. Then in 1907, their feud became violent. Bilal notified the Şura-yı Devlet that one of the Circassians had killed and many more injured in a conflict over that yayla.78 The conflict was the consequence of overlapping land rights. There are still other types of disputes regarding settlement that were common to frontier life in Çukurova. In spring 1909, local administrators corresponded about a group of migrants who had been stuck in limbo for an extended period. They claimed to be muhacirs from Kağızman near the city of Kars in Eastern Anatolia, a region that was occupied by the Russians. However, they had been left wandering when governors in other parts of Anatolia refused to allow them to settle, claiming that these migrants were gypsies of Iranian nationality. 79 It is not


Village surveys from the 1960s in Turkey categorized land as either mountain, yayla, plains, or hills (dalgalı). Köy İşleri Bakanlığı, Köy Envanter Etüdlerine göre Adana (Konya: Yıldız Basımevi, 1967), 14. 78 BOA, ŞD 2137/27, no. 1, Bilal to Şura-yı Devlet, Aziziye (3 Eylül 1323 [16 September 1907]). 79 BOA, DH-MKT 1235/72, no. 4 (27 Mart 1324 [9 April 1908]).


clear if their predicament was the result of a cruel or careless official, a genuine ambiguity regarding their nationality, or a linguistic barrier of some kind.80 As these examples illustrate, numerous forms of contention arose out of gray areas in the settlement policies of the Ottoman government in Çukurova. These disputes were not by any means limited to animosity between Muslims and Christians. Land was often mistakenly granted to settlers when already owned by preexisting communities, or in some cases, legal ownership was not even entirely clear. The number of these conflicts in Cilicia illustrates the level of constant contestation that was taking place in and around new agricultural settlements in the Çukurova plain on the very eve of the revolution and the massacres that would occur just one year later. It is important to note that local populations usually achieved relative harmony with new settlers once land disputes and tensions had been resolved, but the number of such conflicts means that intercommunality in the countryside of Cilicia was in a state of continuous disruption and reestablishment, and the Ottoman government was not always able to adjudicate. Life on the Margins Krikor Koudoulian’s region of Bahçe was one location where the massacres of 1909 were most violent. Accounts from the period indicate not just skirmishes, torching of homes, and violence directed at men but rather wholesale slaughter in the area.81 Bahçe was not in the Çukurova plain and did not contain a large number of settlers, and so its dynamics were not necessary comparable to those in districts such as Kars and Kozan. Yet the severity of the


It is hard to say with certainty what language such a community would have spoken. According to Tadevos Hakobyan, about 4/5 of Kağızman’s residents were Armenian at the time of the First World War; by then Kağızman had been part of the Russian Empire for a few decades. Hakobyan refers to the other residents of the region as “Turks,” but this probably just meant that they were Muslim. Tadevos Hakobyan, Patmakan Hayastani kaghaknere (Yerevan: Hayastan, 1987), 151. 81 Koudoulian’s account was not the only report from the Bahçe massacre. A Greek doctor working on the Baghdad Railway relayed an account to Doughty Wylie that told a very similar story. TNA, FO 195/2306, pg. 228 (6 May 1909).


violence could not have been a mere byproduct of the harsh mountain geography that Koudoulian referred to in the introduction to his account (see above). Bahçe, though relatively isolated, was situated at the intersection of two different realms. The Amanus Mountains separate the Çukurova plain from the plains of Southern Anatolia and Northern Syria and the borderlands region that may be referred to as the Greater Jazirah. During the massacres in Bahçe and the other towns in the Amanus region, witnesses reported that the large, organized bands of men that were attacking the towns and villages came from other provinces, all of them further east. Simonyan mentions 10,000 men from Diyarbakir, Mamuretulaziz, Antep, Marash, and Malatya in his work.82 Whether the number is accurate is certainly worth questioning, but the fact that the forces involved in the massacres in and around Bahçe that were not native to the region had come from the neighboring provinces to the east and not from the west reveals that in the Amanus region, the violence emanated not from Adana, where the massacres began, but involved outsiders coming from the other direction. Those regions of Eastern Anatolia had a very different history in the decades leading up to the 1908 revolution. Each of those provinces had seen major violence aimed at Christians during the period of the Hamidian massacres (1894-96). They were places where the Hamidiye cavalry, irregular units drawn from the various tribes of those regions, had a major presence. Indeed, Koudoulian mentions the Hamidiye by name in his account of the 1909 massacres in Bahçe.83 The Hamidiye cavalry was created for the purpose of securing Ottoman sovereignty around the border with the Russian Empire, but it was also aimed at subjugating the Armenians in those regions. In addition, these units created a means for the Ottoman Empire to project its own power in provinces when its authority had been in question. Eastern Anatolia had not 82

Simonyan, Brown, and Arzoumanian, Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia. Not to be confused with the town of Ceyhan, symbolically named Hamidiye at the time. Koudoulian, Hay leṛě, 43. 83


witnessed forced settlement campaigns on the level of the Reform Division, and the margins of local autonomy were wide. A letter in Persian from an official near the Ottoman border with Iran from 1882 highlighted some of the difficulties of governing these regions. It stated that depredations of tribes that cross back and forth between the Ottoman and Persian sides of the border annually were taking a heavy toll on the “poor refugees (muhajirin-e bicharegan)” that came to the area presumably as a result of the war with Russia a few years prior. The official reported that neither the Persian government nor he was able to prevent these tribes from moving or attacking the communities settled in the area.84 In fact, the correspondence of the Ottoman embassy in Tehran reveals that during the last decades of the Ottoman period, the uncontrolled seasonal movement of pastoralists back and forth across the border was an important diplomatic issue between the two states.85 The rationale behind the Hamidiye was that the formation of these cavalry would secure the political loyalty of mobile and generally autonomous populations in contested regions of the empire. The Ottoman government found cooperative tribes and armed them so that they could serve as extensions of imperial power into the periphery. Yet their creation led to an almost immediate escalation of violence. Some Hamidiye cavalry units made use of their newfound strength to dispossess local Armenian and Kurdish villagers. Meanwhile, Armenian communities of Anatolia had also begun to arm themselves. During the early 1890s, two Armenian revolutionary committees, the Dashnaks and Hunchaks, founded in Tbilisi and Geneva respectively, began recruiting and operating in Anatolia.

BOA, Y-PRK-TKM 4/14 (10 Teşrinisani 1298 [10 November 1882]). See BOA, HR-SFR (20) 7/130 (14 Kanunuevvel 1298). See also Khazeni, Tribes and empire on the margins of nineteenth-century Iran. 84 85


After some small clashes in Anatolia during the early 1890s, the first major confrontation of the period occurred with the Sasun resistance in 1894.86 The dynamics of the Sasun rebellion and its ultimate conclusion laid bare the new tensions emerging in the political landscape of Anatolia. With the Ottoman government unable to assert formal rule in remote mountain regions it resorted to arming groups that could not be trusted to enact its will. When Armenians rebelled, the Ottoman government took it as a pretext to use harsh repressive measures or turn a blind eye to localized violence against Armenians. While conflicts between local Armenian and Kurdish communities were not wholly a nineteenth century phenomenon, the fact that the Sasun rebellion pitted Armenians supported by international organizations against local tribes armed by the Ottoman government, portended a dangerous escalation of these conflicts. Lastly, the people of Sasun had not been attacked by their neighbors but rather armed men who crossed over from another province. During 1895, a series of violent massacres occurred throughout the Eastern Anatolian provinces. They reached not only into the countryside but into the cities and towns as well. 87 Though they affected urban spaces, these instances of violence were embedded in the dynamics of the countryside that led to the Sasun rebellion and massacres. However, it is difficult to generalize about who supported and fueled the massacres, who stood by, and what forces worked to stem the violence. The Hamidiye cavalry played a major role in the massacres in parts of 86

Sasun, located in the mountains west of Lake Van, was a predominantly Armenian region where dozens of villages had long provided a unified front to Ottoman interference in their affairs. Like many communities throughout the mountains of Anatolia, they were known to live under the Ottomans in a state of semi-autonomy. In 1893, their villages were reportedly attacked by and successfully defended from a group of Kurds from Diyarbakir reportedly seeking to extract tribute. In 1894, the Sasuntsis refused to pay taxes to the Ottoman government until this situation was rectified, but instead, soldiers and irregular cavalry were sent against them. With a militia supported by the Dashnaks, the Sasuntsis resisted but were ultimately defeated, resulting in a massacre of few thousand villagers in the area of Sasun. Jelle Verheij, "Diyarbekir and the Armenian Crisis of 1895," in Social Relations in Ottoman Diyarbekir, 1870-1915, ed. Joost Jongerden and Jelle Verheij (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2012), 94. 87 For example, the city of Diyarbekir saw clashes in November 1895 that claimed the lives of between 300 and 1200 Armenians as well as 70 to 200 Muslims. As Jelle Verheij points out, given the size of cities and towns of the period, these were extremely large numbers. Ibid., 86.


Anatolia, yet where main actors can be identified, it appears that figures with no formal position nor involvement with the Hamidiye were the primary movers in some cases. 88 This was the nature of such pogroms, which started with a specific agitation but quickly swept in other elements. Massacres happened in most of the provinces of Eastern Anatolia: Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Erzurum, Mamuretülaziz, Sivas, Trabzon, and Van. They varied from small incidents to incredible mass slaughters. In addition to no less than tens of thousands and possible more than 100,000 Armenians killed during those years, families were dispossessed, women were abducted, and mass conversions to Islam occurred in the provinces affected.89 Just as the 1909 massacres were trigged by political flux in Adana, the revolutionary period was also a time of political flux in Eastern Anatolia due to the reorganization of the Hamidiye cavalry. With the declaration of the reinstatement of the constitution, the Hamidye — a symbol holdover of Abdülhamid II’s legacy — was targeted for reform. But as Janet Klein notes, during that first year, little was actually done to change the Hamidiye other than the fact that its name was changed and the government asked the cavalry to hand in their rifles.90 She also states that the supporters of the Hamidiye tended to oppose the new government of the CUP.91 The revolution had rekindled the discontent of many supporters of the old order in the Hamidiye regions. The people from those regions would have brought those sentiments with them as they traveled to Çukurova.


In Diyarbakır for example, Jelle Verheij argues that rural Kurds and Hamidiye regiments had little role. Ibid., 134. Selim Deringil, ""The Armenian Question Is Finally Closed": Mass Conversions of Armenians in Anatolia during the Hamidian Massacres of 1895-1897," compstudsocihist Comparative Studies in Society and History 51, no. 2 (2009). 90 Klein, The Margins of Empire, 107. 91 Ibid., 114. 89


Marginal Movements Accounts of 10,000 men traveling hundreds of kilometers to attack Armenians that they did not know may sound bizarre and even senseless. However, it is important to note that in spring 1909, tens of thousands of such men would have already been traveling to the Çukurova region, where they would earn extra money by working on the farms of the region during the cotton planting season. Throughout the 1909 massacres, especially in the city of Adana, these workers were cited as some of the principal perpetrators of violence as well as the victims. The conflicts between these workers greatly intensified the scale of the massacres, pointing to the ways in which communal violence can migrate. In a telegram following the massacres, the brand new governor of Adana Mustafa Zihni Pasha explained that “the region is full of outsiders (yabancı). Especially at crop times every year 50-60,000 workers come here. And this year a lot of workers came. Both [Armenians and Muslims] are obsessed with increasing their number of casualties by exploiting the large amount of workers and strangers whose names and circumstances are unknown.”92 The Babigian report indicated that there were over 10,000 Armenians living around the Adana train station in tents, easy targets for armed mobs. 93 Doughty Wylie noted that the few hundred Muslims who were killed in Adana were almost entirely from among these workers, and there is little question that many of the Armenians who were killed, particularly in the city of Adana, died at the hands of other workers from Eastern Anatolia or Northern Syria.94 From the very beginning of the cotton boom of the 1860s, the unmonitored movement of migrant workers and their haphazard residence in the city of Adana had been a concern for local authorities, as these groups were seen as prone to criminal acts. For example, in September of BOA, DH-ŞFR 413/110, Zihni to Dahiliye, Adana (13 May 1325 [26 May 1909]). Babigian and Sargisyan, Atanayi egheṛně, 18-20. 94 TNA, FO 195/2306 (21 April 1909), pg. 109. 92 93


1870, a police corporal was talking with someone on the street near the government building in Adana when he was suddenly assaulted by a dagger-wielding Iranian man named Celib. The witnesses who identified Celib were Ottoman subjects from Süleymaniye and Diyarbakır. 95 Like Celib, they were probably Kurdish workers who had come to Adana from further east looking for work during the fall harvest. Because the culprit was a foreign subject, the case involved the Iranian Consulate in Adana. The fact that labor migration brought foreign workers to Adana was one complication created by these unprecedented flows of traffic, and the Ottoman government sought to impose regulations that would somehow prevent the violent crimes associated with workers from taking place.96 Especially during the Hamidian period, provincial administrations sought to more tightly regulate the movement of its subjects on the whole. Ottoman villagers were not usually allowed to move freely between provinces however they liked. Normally, one required a note of transit or mürur tezkeresi to travel for purposes such as visiting family, work, medical treatment, or “change of air.”97 However, these seasonal movements of workers, which were relatively unsupervised, allowed individuals to anonymously traverse Anatolia towards Adana and then elsewhere to cities such as Istanbul.98 Concern over these movements extended to the issue of

BOA, İ-DA 8/194 (14 Cemaziyelahir 1287 [11 September 1870]). BOA, DH-EUM-MTK 77/18 (18 May 1330 [31 May 1914]). This was true not only in the case of agricultural workers but also railroad workers constructing the railway of eastern Çukurova in 1914. BOA, DH-EUM-MTK 77/64 (28 June 1914). 97 BOA, DH-TMIK-M 4/35, Enis to Dahiliye, Diyarbakır (1 Mayıs 1312 [13 May 1896]). For more on mürur tezkeresi, see İlkay Yılmaz, Serseri, Anarşist ve Fesadın Peşinde: II. Abdülhamid Dönemi Güvenlik Politikaları Ekseninde Mürur Tezkereleri, Pasaportlar ve Otel Kayıtları (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı, 2014). 98 BOA, DH-TMIK 210/56 (7 Şevval 1323 [22 November 1905]). As workers, particularly Armenians, moved from other parts of Anatolia to Adana either on a seasonal basis or permanently, they soon became tied to other migration networks. The growth of commercial agriculture in the Eastern Mediterranean had resulted in large waves of migration to the Americas and elsewhere with the rise of steam travel. Mount Lebanon was one of the earliest and most prolific migrant-producing regions of the late Ottoman period, although return migration was also frequent. See Khater, Inventing Home. With the massacres of the 1890s in Eastern Anatolia, many Armenians looked to leave the Ottoman Empire. Armenian migration to the Americas was relatively limited before the 1890s, with only a handful of migrants moving for employment or education, mostly as a result of incorporation into the social world of American missionary communities. By the eve of the First World War, there were an estimated 60,000 Armenians 95 96


illicit emigration, as Ottoman officials feared that such migration would strengthen Armenian separatist activities. In 1893, the Ministry of the Interior warned officials in the Adana region not to allow workers to leave the empire via Mersin.99 During this same time period, the Ottoman government also became concerned about the security issues caused by migrant workers along their way and in Adana. Reports from this period mention numbers of migrants between 70100,000 arriving every year in Adana, Kozan, and Cebel-i Bereket. In order to supervise these movements, the government created a mobile (seyyar) gendarmerie of about 50 soldiers to travel with the worker caravans and supervise them.100 When the CUP took power in 1908, they lifted many restrictions on movement in in the spirit of liberalism and in opposition to the politics of the ancien regime. The magnitude of migrations within the empire thereafter was amplified. 101 While this level of mobility points to the way in which the social problems of Eastern Anatolia migrated with the workers who came to Cilicia, we should not assume that workers were inherently predisposed towards violent acts any more than another segment of society. Rather, it is worth considering as in the case of the settlers of Çukurova described above the extent to which contention played a major role in the lives of migrant workers. The nature of labor relations reveals in fact that workers were almost constantly fighting — not about religion and ethnicity — but rather about money. Although they arrived to Adana with promises of expected wage ranges, their pay was essentially negotiated on a weekly basis. The value of their in the United States alone, and many of these were from labor-supplying regions such as Harput and Bitlis. Anny P. Bakalian, Armenian-Americans : from being to feeling Armenian (New Brunswick (U.S.A.): Transaction Publishers, 1993), 9-10. For example, According to statistics published by Asbarez, an Armenian newspaper in Fresno, over 25% percent of the region’s residents hailed from Harput. Asbarez Zhoghovadzu [Asbarez Digest], (Fresno, CA: Asbarez Publishers, 1918), 306. For more, see David E. Gutman, "Sojourners, smugglers, and the state: transhemispheric migration flows and the politics of mobility in Eastern Anatolia, 1888-1908" (Binghamton University, 2012). 99 BOA, DH-MKT 19/34, No. 3 (30 January 1893). 100 BOA, ŞD 2126/7, No. 2, Rıza to Askeri (8 Ağustos 1310 [20 August 1894]); No. 3, Faik to Sadaret, Adana (11 Eylül 1310 [23 September 1894]). 101 See Gutman, "Sojourners, smugglers, and the state: transhemispheric migration flows and the politics of mobility in Eastern Anatolia, 1888-1908".


labor was literally determined by the open market, the ırgat pazarı when employers and workers convened weekly in the center of Adana to make arrangements. Arguing with employers, middlemen and other workers was a general feature of live as a migrant worker in Adana. Terzian described Adana as a place where migrant laborers could work hard during the day and play hard at night. For the single men who stayed in Adana, usually at modest inns, in tents, or in the open air, gambling and drinking were common diversions. For Terzian, figures such as the local tough guy, Kasap Misag or Misag the Butcher, played a crucial role in keeping the peace in the sometimes rowdy Adana nightlife. Misag was known to put other troublemakers in their places, and Terzian mentions that the owners of theaters and taverns would enlist his services to keep everyone else in line. For Terzian, this type of figure was not a source of violence per se; quite the contrary, he was helping to keep the peace in a sometimes contentious urban environment.102 Migrant workers are also relevant for the discussion of intercommunality because of their uniquely fragmentary social formation. They came from a wide variety of towns and villages from different corners of the empire, and aside for their companions from the same region, many had few connections in Adana. The exception to this case are villagers from nearby places such as Hadjin. In either event, communal belonging may have served as a more relevant bond for these workers, who did not maintain sustained interaction with people in Adana throughout the year. Whatever their familial or communal identities were back home, when they came to Adana, they were Kurds from Bitlis, Armenians from Harput, and Nusayris from Lattakia. It is likely that Muslim and Christian workers saw each other’s respective groups as economic competitors. Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 10-11. Kasap Misag was one of the Armenians executed in the aftermath of the 1909 massacres and he became a symbol of injustice for local Armenians, who saw him as a scapegoat. As Der Matossian points out, Artin Arslanian equated this incident with the Dreyfus Affair. Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in PostRevolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 496. 102


1909: Moment of Rupture Some observers have detected an economic dimension, perhaps even a class dimension, in the events of the Adana massacres. In some cases, the violence included not only killing but also the burning of Armenian farms by Muslim villagers from the Çukurova plain, the vandalizing of agricultural equipment, and the destruction of account books by those who owed money to Armenian shop owners.103 To this effect, Astourian cites the memoirs of Damar Arıkoğlu, who claimed that the sudden wealth of Armenians was the source of outrage for Muslims in Adana.104 When exploring this economic component, we must be mindful of which actors most benefited from the narrative of undeserved Armenian wealth in Adana. Tribal communities in the countryside lost out during the expansion of commercial agriculture in the Çukurova region, as Astourian points out, which may have fostered resentment.105 But at the time of the massacres, the group that would have most benefited from destroying the wealth of Armenian merchants and landowners was likely that of their wealthy Muslim counterparts. In the city of Adana, notables, officials, and businessmen played a key role in ensuring communal harmony and also in disrupting it. From the 1860s onward, the urban population of Adana and Mersin enjoyed a period of steady prosperity, and Muslims and Christians lived rather well together under the ecology of cotton. During the attacks on Christians that occurred all across Eastern Anatolia during the 1890s, no comparable incidents occurred in the Çukurova plain or in the city of Adana. There were certainly moments of communal tension, and smaller incidents took place, but Muslim notables in Adana played a helpful role in preventing


Astourian, "The Silence of the Land: Agrarian Relations, Ethnicity, and Power."; Miller, "Conjuncture, Contingency, and Interpreting Violence in late Ottoman Cilicia"; Taner Akçam, A shameful act : the Armenian genocide and the question of Turkish responsibility (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), 69. 104 Astourian, "The Silence of the Land: Agrarian Relations, Ethnicity, and Power," 78. 105 Ibid., 72-80.


escalation.106 In the years leading up to the 1908 revolution, tensions were fairly low, and Bahri Pasha, the Governor of Adana, was credited with keeping the peace by maintaining good relationships with Armenian leaders.107 Bahri Pasha was friends with Bishop Mushegh Seropian, who was appointed prelate of Adana and helped open many Armenian schools in Çukurova region.108 Terzian wrote that in the city of Adana, the disruption of relations between Armenians and Muslims, who were on the whole like “brothers,” was due to just a few anti-Armenian people.109 One of the outspoken enemies of Armenians in Adana during the late Ottoman period was Bağdadizade Abdülkadir Efendi, a local notable who apparently saw Armenian merchants as his main economic competition. He had been a tax-farmer, and was involved in numerous business activities in the region.110 Abdülkadir was wealthy and influential, and he liked to have his way; the British Consul in Adana stated in 1896 that Abdülkadir Efendi was “virtually Governor of the Country, Vali and all officials being in terror of him.” He had usurped the farm of Armenian notable Garabed Gökderelian during the latter’s temporary exile in Akka, and upon the Gökderelian’s return, Abdülkadir’s men beat him severely. As such, the two were archrivals.111 Abdülkadir was also at odds with the new governor Bahri Pasha, and in 1901, he and a few others were exiled to different provinces by the governor. The official charge was that

TNA, FO 195/193, Christie (ABCFM) to Christmann, Mersin (25 February 1896), pg. 27; Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 31. For more discussion of the 1890s: Miller, "Conjuncture, Contingency, and Interpreting Violence in late Ottoman Cilicia". 107 Bahri Pasha was the Governor of Adana for twelve years. Terzian said that he was known for taking bribes, but we was also know for kindness to Armenians. According to Terzian’s account, Bahri Pasha was a crude “mountain man” but he knew how to handle politics. Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 28-30. 108 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 448-49. 109 Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 31. 110 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 143. Bağdadizade Abdülkadir Efendi was the co-owner of a large sugar beet farm, although his attempts at building a factory had failed. Ibid., 155-56. 111 TNA, FO 195/1930, pg. 105 (7 November 1896). For more, see Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in PostRevolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 461. 106


Abdülkadir was a member of the CUP; however, British Consul Massy thought this accusation to be a fabricated pretext being that Abdülkadir Efendi was an “old-school Moslem.” In fact, he stated that Abdülkadir Efendi was “very fanatical and overbearing towards Christians and being very rich and unscrupulous, he has always been considered a source of great danger in case of any disturbance.”112 While European Consuls were not always the most reliable observers of local politics and judges of character, Massy proved to be right on multiple counts. Abdülkadir was not only not a member of the CUP, but in fact, he would return to Adana and become the chief opponent of the CUP after the revolution, even starting a newspaper in direct opposition to the newspaper İtidal, edited by local CUP leader İhsan Fikri.113 The latter also had a checkered past in the region. Fikri had been a civil servant in Selanik before coming to Adana. He was married to the daughter of Minan Bey, another Adana notable who figured prominently in the Coffing affair for his role in impeding the investigation (see Chapter 2).114 İhsan Fikri had been imprisoned at one point in Payas but convinced Bahri Pasha to set him free. With the revolution and the removal of Bahri Pasha, İhsan Fikri became a leading figure under the CUP in Adana.115 Armenians in the cities of Adana and Mersin had enthusiastically greeted the revolution of 1908, but over the years that followed, the political situation became more contentious. Der Matossian argues that political conflicts that came with the revolution and changes such as the


TNA, FO 195/2095, no. 28, Massy to Conor, Adana (21 May 1901). Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 452. 114 This being the same Minan Bey is my own inference. Terzian, Atanayi keankʻě, 36. Mentioned in Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 452. 115 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 451. There seems to have been little direct connection between the FikriAbdülkadir rivalry and Armenian politics in Adana other than the fact that Armenian notables had maintained good relations with Bahri Pasha, the former Governor of Adana, and that the Catholicos of Sis refused to side with Abdülkadir Efendi against İhsan Fikri. Ibid., 454. 113


removal of Bahri Pasha as governor damaged the relationship between the local government and the Armenian population, which had been excellent before.116 Bishop Mushegh, who had been trying to build an agricultural school near Sis (see above), traveled throughout the province in spring 1909 to meet with different officials and Armenian leaders, and reported that the situation was tense and local officials seemed unengaged with the new order of the CUP.117 On April 13, 1909, the event known as 31 Mart Vakası118 signaled the beginning of a challenge to the postrevolutionary political system in the form of a counterrevolutionary movement that occupied Istanbul for almost two weeks.119 The next day, the violence against Armenians in Adana began. While this too was part of a counterrevolutionary backlash, the violence perpetrated against Armenians appears to have arisen from local dynamics as well. Just some days before the counterrevolution began, a skirmish between an Armenian man and some Muslims in Adana resulted in the killing of two Muslims, and the Armenian made fled to Cyprus. This event became a scandal with sectarian overtones. İhsan Fikri had allegedly made an anti-Armenian speech in its aftermath.120 Therefore, one may argue that tensions were already high before the Adana massacres began on April 14. The bloodshed appears to have spread entirely due to rumors that Armenians would attack Muslims or vice versa. These massacres lasted three days and they involved all different segments of the population in the city. Abdülkadir Efendi played a leading role in inciting the violence. He claimed that his old rival Gökderelian was leading Armenian fighters to an uprising


Ibid., 451-56. Ibid., 459. 118 The 31 Mart or “31 March” incident illustrates the issue of dates when trying to study the day by day events of the massacres. In some cases, sources refer to the Rumi calendar used in the Ottoman Empire, which was two weeks behind the Western or “Gregorian” calendar used internationally today. All dates below refer to Gregorian dates. 119 Der Matossian, Shattered Dreams of Revolution : from liberty to violence in the late Ottoman Empire, 149-54. 120 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 465. 117


in Adana.121 The chief of the local gendarmerie witnessed Abdülkadir order the killing of an Armenian merchant in the market and immediately resigned from his post.122 Other notable Armenians were attacked, and in addition, a mob of different elements representing the spectrum of agrarian life in Adana was assembled to carry out attacks on the inns where Armenians lodged.123 A large swath of the Armenian Quarter was destroyed, and the Seyhan River was teeming with the unidentified bodies of the slain.124 In the days that followed, Abdülkadir Efendi’s rival İhsan Fikri published articles in İtidal claiming that the violence was the result of an Armenian uprising.125 These articles spread rumors about Armenian sedition a fueled second wave of massacres not just in the city of Adana but throughout the countryside.126 As Der Matossian notes, it is difficult to interpret Fikri’s puzzling connection to inciting the violence, which placed him in the same camp as his rival Abdülkadir Efendi and at odds with the CUP’s Armenian allies. Whatever the case, the rumors of Armenian plots against Muslims gained momentum, and in the days that followed, antiArmenian massacres occurred in Tarsus and nearly every district east of Adana. 127 In Cebel-i Bereket, where local officials were generally ambivalent towards the revolution, many including the mutasarrıf of the district Mehemd Asaf Efendi played a role in spreading the rumor that the Armenians were rising up.128


Ibid., 461. Ibid., 468. 123 Ibid., 467-71. 124 BOA, DH-ŞFR 413/110, Zihni to Dahiliye, Adana (13 May 1325 [26 May 1909]). 125 This newspaper has been transcribed and published. Ahmet Uçar, Kemal Erkan, and Selman Soydemir, Adana İtidal Gazetesi : (5 Eylül 1908 - 31 Temmuz 1909), vol. 1-2 (Ankara: TTK, 2014). 126 Hagop Terzian noted that Fikri had been inconsistent in his statements about Armenians, sometimes praising them and sometimes defaming them. Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 453. 127 Simonyan offers a district by district overview. Simonyan, Brown, and Arzoumanian, Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia, 39-136. 128 Asaf was accused of distributing weapons and releasing the Muslim prisoners from the Payas jail. Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 486. The Ottoman government conducted a thorough investigation of the 122


Many of the rumors concerned Bishop Mushegh’s alleged advocacy of an armed struggle against the state.129 There is no indication that such an uprising was either imminent or attempted. In most cases, it appears that the Armenians of Cilicia were not armed, despite having been warned of danger by Mushegh and others of the need for self-protection.130 In places where they were well-armed, such as Çokmerzimen, Zeytun, and Hadjin, they were able to repel attackers, who do not appear to have been so numerous as to defeat a well-defended settlement.131 The CUP investigating commission would ultimately rule that no planned Armenian uprising existed.132 Thus, while the rumors of an Armenian uprising in 1909 persisted within some historiography, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests otherwise. 133 Yet as Owen Miller has noted in his discussion of communal violence in Cilicia, even when rumors are false, it is important to ask why and under what circumstance they may be accepted as true. 134 The rumors united a diverse group of actors with different grievances against a common other. There were many more factors involved in the Adana massacres that may be further reflections of broader transformation. For example, in many cases of violence against Christians

massacres in Cebel-i Bereket and Asaf Efendi’s conduct that contains a number of conflicting testimonies by various officials, Armenian residents, and Asaf himself regarding his behavior and his statements about Bishop Mushegh. BOA, ŞD 2138/21. 129 For İhsan Fikri’s publications of rumors in İtidal, see Uçar, Erkan, and Soydemir, Adana İtidal Gazetesi : (5 Eylül 1908 - 31 Temmuz 1909). Many of the testimonies in the Ottoman investigation of the massacres in Cebel-i Bereket by low-level officials repeated the narrative of sedition, while others emphasized the inflammatory statements of Mehmed Asaf. The Armenian municipal doctor of Erzin testified that Mushegh had said that Prince Sabahaddin was “a man of quite enlightened opinion (gayet münevver fikirli bir adamdır)” and that “we have not yet been able to attain our freedom.” This suggests that the types of political discussions Mushegh was having regarded the situation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire but the extent of their seditiousness was questionable. BOA, ŞD 2138/21, no. 17 130 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 459. 131 For Teodik’s account of defense of Çokmerzimen (Dörtyol), see Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia, 166-93. 132 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 497. 133 See ibid., 437-39. In addition to Mehmed Asaf, Damar Arıkoğlu and Ali Münif, two Adana natives, offered similar views in their memoirs. Yeğenağa, Ali Münif Bey'in hâtiraları; Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım. For an overview of competing discourses about the Adana massacres in its aftermath and their trajectories, see Toksöz, "Multiplicity or polarity: a discursive analysis of post-1908 violence in an Ottoman region." 134 Miller, "Conjuncture, Contingency, and Interpreting Violence in late Ottoman Cilicia".


during the nineteenth and twentieth century, Muslim notables of the cities and towns emerged as defenders of Christians who were able to curtail the violence. In the case of the 1909 massacres, we find little by way of such notables involved in stemming the rising tide of animosity. Meanwhile, the historiography points to the inefficacy and even instigating role on the part of some local state officials. Unlike the Cilicia of the 1860s, when derebeys such as Mıstık Pasha were able to influence the outcome of moments of tension, no comparable figures appear to have existed in either the city or the countryside. Instead, some of the most heroic feats of defense and protection of Christians can be attributed to symbols of the emergent bourgeoisie in Cilicia, such as factory owners. Teodik noted that the Tripani cotton factory in Adana, owned by a Greek merchant, sheltered 12,000 Armenians during the violence and they used the factory machines to spray hot water at the attackers.135 Meanwhile, in Ceyhan (Hamidiye), a French woman named Sabatier and her husband, who owned one of the only factories east of Adana, protected hundreds of Armenians who hid amongst the bales of cotton. Rather than hot water, they had used their French flag in order to ward off angry mobs.136 The changes in the political economy of Cilicia had left Muslims and Christians overall more divided and more reliant on state officials as opposed to local notables in times of crisis. But the only thing that we can say with certainty about the reasons why Muslims in Cilicia decided to attack nearby Christians in the spring of 1909 is that there was no single reason. Motivation likely ranged from the economic and political to the personal and in some cases even psychological. Sometimes an eruption of a burning hate for the other is hard to explain without a psychoanalytical framework. In the space above, I have attempted to outline some of the ways in

Teodik, Amis mě i Kilikia, 57. Ibid., 142-47. See also Babigian and Sargisyan, Atanayi egheṛně, 17; Woods, The danger zone of Europe: changes and problems in the Near East, 156-57. 135 136


which structural aspects of the settlement experience in Cilicia created arenas of contention where disputes could be settled or escalate depending on a variety of factors. Conclusion to Part 2 Although the Adana massacres occurred within the context of a transforming and increasingly uneven plain, there are limits to the extent that the agrarian transformations described above can explain the violence that occurred. There is indeed even danger in overrationalizing the events in question. However, it is important to emphasize that the Adana massacres did not occur as an outburst of violence between communities with a long history of hatred, nor were they the product of external disruption of an old and static society that existed in perfect harmony. The Çukurova of the 1909 Adana massacres simply did not exist a half-century prior. The communities involved, their ways of life, and their relationships with each other were all novel features of life in Cilicia that emerged from the frontier experience, and the violence that occurred was an indirect result of that experience and the region’s engagement with the larger developments in imperial and global politics. Life in the countryside of the Adana region was not inherently violent, but the constant movement of people and property certainly created more room for misunderstanding, confusion, competition, and conflict. The Adana massacres occurred during a key period of redefinition and ambiguity within the new government brought to power by the revolution. In the end, order was restored in the Cilicia region through the arrival of military reinforcements. Under the command of Cemal Pasha, who would remain until his appointment as Governor of Baghdad in 1911, the Ottoman military was able to subdue the unrest in a similar fashion to the way in which military had been used in Mount Lebanon and Damascus some decades prior. Many parties would ultimately be dissatisfied with the way in which the matter was resolved. The Ottoman government executed


dozens of Muslims, an unprecedented act that caused outrage from their coreligionists.137 Six Armenians also were also hanged for their alleged involvement in the massacres. Many Armenians felt that these executions were carried out merely to appease Muslims, and that the men did not deserve such a fate.138 Doughty Wylie noted that even most of the Muslims executed were largely symbolic victims, saying “I regret justice very doubtful in individual cases and all hung are unimportant men.”139 By contrast, Bağdadizade Abdülkadir Efendi was censured lightly for his involvement, receiving a sentence of two years in exile.140 The Adana massacres left a deep imprint on life in Cilicia, and lingered at the forefront of the public memory. Yet in the aftermath of the violence, which lasted weeks, people resumed their quotidian affairs with an astonishing quickness. The Armenians of Adana, aided by their broader community, international charity, and even some small assistance from the Ottoman government, immediately set about rebuilding their homes and businesses and caring for the orphans and widows left behind by the massacres.141 Economic activity in the region continued, and the fall harvest more or less occurred on schedule. Missionary reports indicated that the relative communal harmony the region had once known was rebounding. By the time that Arhsaguhi Teodik had visited the region in fall 1909, people had gone back to living as normal. Cyril Haas, the head of the new American hospital in Adana that was founded to aid the Armenian community, reported that the hospital had attracted the attention of many Muslims as Yeğenağa, Ali Münif Bey'in hâtiraları, 54. Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 496. 139 TNA, FO 195/2306, pg. 414 (15 June 1909). 140 Der Matossian, "Ethnic Politics in Post-Revolutionary Ottoman Empire : Armenians, Arabs, and Jews during the second constitutional period (1908-1909)", 498. 141 There were a number of Armenian orphanages established in Adana. The Armenian Patriarchate had orphanages in Adana, Hadjin, Marash, Antep, Dörtyol, and Hasanbeyli following the massacres. There were thousands of Armenian orphans cared for by Armenian, missionary, and Ottoman state orphanages. Armenian Patriarchate, Kilikioy Orbakhnam Teghekagir 1909 Ogostos 7-1910 Dektember 31 (Constantinople [Istanbul]: Tparan ew Kazmatun O. Arzuman, 1911), 33. See also Nazan Maksudyan, Orphans and Destitute Children in the late Ottoman Empire (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014). 137 138


well, who were happy to receive treatment for work injuries and other ailments.142 There was even some bit of satisfaction with the government of Cemal Pasha and his role in helping to restore prosperity and stability in Adana.143 The agricultural economy recovered within a year.144 One British traveler who walked across Anatolia after the period of the massacres said that the atmosphere was much more optimistic in Adana than in other Ottoman cities, calling Adana “a throbbing town… with an unmistakable air of prosperity and confidence in the future.”145 Of course, the picture was not as rosy as this. The very fact that the CUP government reasserted control in the region by arresting culprits, dismissing officials, and executing a large number of Muslims and a few Armenians mostly to save face, was a profound expression of its lack of hegemony in Cilicia that would not be forgotten by its detractors. When Cemal Pasha contracted a very debilitating case of malaria in 1911, these voices of discontent began to stir and concerns of further unrest became the talk of the town in Adana. 146 Meanwhile, a British diplomat in Van reported in spring 1910 that he had heard rumors of the need for “another Adana” in Eastern Anatolia, pointing to ways in which Cilicia was never very distant from political developments elsewhere.147 The overall picture of Cilician society during the years leading up until the First World War is of multiple potentialities and simultaneous forms of convergence and divergence between the empire’s different communities. When economic activity was normal, and the government did its job to uphold its obligations, people lived together quite well and thrived even in the 142

Cyril F. Haas, An International Hospital in Turkey (Boston: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1913). 143 The American missionary William Nesbitt Chambers who worked on relief for survivors in Adana, responded to rumors that Cemal Pasha had been hanged in 1916 saying that “Djemal, you know, was my friend and I could not altogether loose (sic) faith in him” ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 669, No. 298, Chambers to Barton, Philadelphia (11 October 1916). 144 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 198. 145 Childs, Across Asia Minor on Foot, 343. 146 TNA, FO 195/2366, pg. 9, 38. 147 TNA, FO 424/223, pg 115, Morgan to Lowther, Van (25 April 1910).


shadow of horrible violence. When local crisis or larger events such as the Balkan Wars polarized society and old animosity and anxieties returned, the tensions bubbled very close to the surface. Communal harmony depended not only on the quotidian practices of townsfolk and villagers in the Cilicia region but also contingencies dictated by external forces. In some sense, the Adana massacres were something that happened on the imperial stage, and their location in Adana itself was partly circumstantial. Adana was the quintessential interface between the city and the countryside, and Cilicia was at the intersection of the core regions of the Ottoman Empire in Western Anatolia and the imperial borderlands of Eastern Anatolia. The various political tensions that existed in those different spaces converged on the Adana region in a moment of crisis. As for Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the Adana massacres shattered their confidence in the new constitutional order.148 Nevertheless, many places in the empire, such as the capital of Istanbul, continued to be a center of Armenian cultural efflorescence. Hagop Terzian, like countless Armenian intellectuals of the day, left his home in Adana for Istanbul, where he stayed for the years leading up to the First World War. He published a number of works about Adana and the massacres, and he became regarded as an authority on the events that took place and the life of Armenians in his home region.149 Terzian would be among the Armenian intellectuals and professionals arrested in Istanbul on April 24, 1915, a day remembered as Red Sunday. After being shuffled around Central Anatolia for a few months, he was executed along with a number of his peers that August.150 As for Krikor Koudoulian, I am not certain where he was at the time of the First World War. However, he turned up in 1928 at the Mesropian Seminary in the neighborhood of Pavlovo in Sofia, Bulgaria as the author of a 148

See Der Matossian, Shattered Dreams of Revolution : from liberty to violence in the late Ottoman Empire. Simonyan, Brown, and Arzoumanian, Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia, 7. 150 Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 529. 149


book about the history and geography of historical Armenia called The Armenian World (Haygagan Ashkharh).151 The people of Ottoman Cilicia, who participated in an exciting but sometimes tumultuous experiment of frontier settlement, might have followed various paths together after the massacres. Perhaps, as had occurred in Lebanon some decades prior, they might have enjoyed what Engin Akarlı called a “long peace” together in the prosperous Çukurova plain.152 Or maybe more conflict was to come. The CUP government would ultimately decide for the people of Cilicia whether or not they could live together in the midst of a war that nobody in the region had a hand in starting. In the process, the war years and the socioeconomic conditions it brought would ravage the countryside, bringing displacement, scarcity, and radical ecological consequences. After the war, many of the Cilician Armenians would return for a final attempt to live in their native Cilicia once again, but by that time, there would be little hope of the equilibrium that had defined much of the late Ottoman period.


Krikor Koudoulian, Haygagan Ashkharh [The Armenian World] (Sofia: Balikjiyan, 1928). Engin Deniz Akarlı, The long peace : Ottoman Lebanon, 1861-1920 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). 152


PART 3 (1914-1922) A community history of the Adana Armenians compiled and published in Beirut contains a number of songs pertaining to life in Ottoman Cilicia. Among them are some lyrics by Movses Hagopyan, a native of Adana who sought to encapsulate the feelings surrounding mobilization for war or seferberlik through a composition called “The Tale of Mobilization (Seferberlik Destanı).” He described step by step the impact of the war in the Adana region, an experience that was similar in many provinces throughout empire, and highlighted the grief and anxiety caused by mobilization.1 The first verse read: Seferberlik verdi bize çok mihnet Çekmediğim asla kaldı mı zahmet Bütün efkârları sardı adavet Buna karışmadık kaldı mı millet

Mobilization has brought much hardship to us Is there any trouble that I have not lived? Hostility has captured everyone’s thoughts Is there any nation still not part of this?

While many songs were composed about the unique plight of Armenians before, during, and after the war, Hagopyan’s composition referred to a more general crisis. 2 The devaluation of currency through the introduction of banknotes, the scarcity of the wartime economy, and the general panic created by mobilization dominate the lyrics. 3 This was how mobilization affected most Ottoman citizens, who experienced the war as a disruption of quotidian life.


Biwzand Eghiayean, Atanayi hayots` patmut`iwn [The History of Adana's Armenians] (Beirut: Atanayi Hayrenakts`akan Miut`yan Varch`ut`iwn, 1970), 821. The poem is recorded in this work in Armeno-Turkish. 2 For discussion of history and memory in Armenian laments and lullabies, see Melissa Bilal, "Thou need'st not weep, for I have wept full sore: An affective genealogy of the Armenian lullaby in Turkey" (University of Chicago, 2013). 3 For the interested reader, the complete lyrics transcribed from Armeno-Turkish are as follows: Seferberlik verdi bize çok mihnet / Çekmediğim asla kaldı mı zahmet / Bütün efkârları sardı adavet / Buna karışmadık kaldı mı millet / Umum milletler bir bir karıştı / Evlad-ı insan havaya uçtu / Bulutlar üstün hemen kavuştu / Kuş uçmasına hacet mi kaldı / Hacet kalmadı kuş uçmasına / Bak teyyarenin yarışmasına / Usta muvaffık uçurmasına / Bundan acayip sanaat mı kaldı / Acayıp teyyare uçtu havada / Mitrayöz gürler, bomba ziyade / Şehidler bin-bin, cennet ne fayda / Fani dünyada lezzet mi kaldı / Fani dünyada kalmadı lezzet / Her başa gelmiş niçe bin zahmet / Harb uzurunda kırıldı millet / Telefat verdi, tazat mı kaldı / Telefat verdim, al kan ağlarım / Çektiğim derdi destan yazarım / Umum dünyaya beyan ederim / Fukara başa mihnet mi kaldı / Asıl fukara çekti mihneti / Enmedi kendinin hiç rağbeti / Kalmadı arifin hassiyeti / Cevahir olsa kıymet mi kaldı / Cevahir kıymet atıldı boşa / Banknot başladı alışverişe / Yüzlük bir kayma onbeş kuruşa / Dini yoluna hizmet mi kaldı / Dini yoluna


As Cilician Armenians wrote songs of sorrow, their Muslim neighbors composed their own laments. According to a study by Ahmet Özdemir in his native region of Sarız, the Afşars of the Taurus Mountains still remember the song of “The Seventeeners (Onyedililer’in Ağıdı).” It told the story of young men born in the Rumi year 1317 or 1901/02. They were as young as 13 when the war began, but as long years of fighting dragged on and the age of conscription inched down into the teens, these young men became eligible for service.4 Their song was as follows: Mızıkalar çalınıyor Asker olan gelsin deyi Onyedili asker olmuş Topluyorlar ölsün deyi

The trumpets sound “Let the soldiers come” they cry The “Seventeener” has become a soldier They gather them to die

There is scant evidence that those who remember the “seventeeners” who were gathered up to die tend to equate that history of suffering with the plight of Ottoman Armenians. In the case of the Afşar communities in Özdemir’s study, numerous songs point to memories of deep-seated enmity between the Afşars and Armenians of the Taurus Mountains.5 Though the late Ottoman period was characterized by a mixture of convergence and divergence between different religious and ethnic groups (see Chapter 7), the First World War period represented a categorical rupture. The conflict that shattered the Ottoman Empire into a number of smaller polities has defined the unique national experiences and identities of the postOttoman world in a fundamental way. Yet at the very core of each of these “national” historical experiences, Turkish, Armenian, Arab, Kurdish, Greek, or otherwise, we find similar tales of involuntary motion, wandering, and exile during the war period. This was the common denominator of the Ottoman experience of seferberlik. In Greater Syria and Mount Lebanon in kalmadı hizmet / Millet içinde çok bir hiyanet / Küçükten büyük yoktur itaat / İzzet çoğaldı, mihnet mi kaldı / İzzet çoğaldı, arttı cefalar / Mihnet çoğaldı, gitti sefalar / Kayboldu bütün gümüş paralar / Altun sarfına niyet mi kaldı. 4 Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar, 39-42. Here “seventeener” or onyedili refers to someone born in the Rumi year 1317 or 1901/2. These individuals were 13 to 17 years of age during the First World War, and by 1917 or 1918, they had begun to be conscripted. Yiğit Akın’s doctoral dissertation, which mentions this song and others, contains further discussion of the memory of conscription within Turkish songs. Yiğit Akın, "The Ottoman home front during World War I: everyday politics, society, and culture" (Ohio State University, 2011), 227. 5 Özdemir, Öyküleriyle Ağıtlar, 75-83, 152-54, 97-99, 367-70.


particular, the Arabic version of the word safarbarlik evokes the story of national suffering.6 It marks the period when vast swaths of the population starved under the conditions of war and the authoritarian government of Cemal Pasha.7 For Armenians, seferberlik is now inextricable from the memory of the Armenian genocide, a mass expulsion of Anatolian Armenians to the Syrian Desert that through death marches, executions, and various forms of violence killed around half of their population and sent most of the rest into exile. In Turkey, one might argue that the horrors of mobilization are buried a bit deeper beneath “the myth of a military nation” as Ayşegül Altınay has put it.8 However, Yiğit Akın has shown that songs and stories that lament the hundreds of thousands of conscript soldiers who died and went missing during the war serve as “sites of memory” of mobilization’s hardship in Turkey as well.9 Evidence of that shared experience or even solidarity between different communities in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War is usually overshadowed by these national narratives, which are predicated upon an imagined divide between different ethnolinguistic groups inhabiting the same space in regions such as Cilicia. The political developments during and after the war obscured the memory of shared suffering in Cilicia, such as the economic hardship in the fall 1914 when an American missionary in Marash noted that “relations between Christians and Moslems are not strained, in fact their common trouble seems to have drawn them together.”10 The dominant narratives today emphasize the ways in which the conditions of war


Najwa al-Qattan, "Safarbarlik : Ottoman Syria and the Great War," in From the Syrian land to the states of Syria and Lebanon, ed. Thomas Philipp and Christoph Schumann (Würzburg: Ergon in Kommission, 2004). See the film Safar Barlik for a memorable dramatization of the First World War period in Mount Lebanon. Fayruz et al., Safar Barlik (Lebanon: Prime, 1966/2004). 7 For an overview, see M. Talha Çiçek, War and state formation in Syria : Cemal Pasha's governorate during World War I, 1914-1917 (London: Routledge, 2014). 8 Ayşe Gül Altınay, The Myth of the Military Nation : militarism, gender, and education in Turkey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 8. 9 For discussion of these songs, see Akın, "The Ottoman home front during World War I: everyday politics, society, and culture". 10 ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 672, no. 343, Woodley to Barton, Marash (29 August 1914).


pushed people apart. Such narratives silence deviant examples, especially those that emphasize resistance to polarization. For example, another American missionary in Hadjin, just south of Sarız in the Taurus Mountains, noted that “The Moslems of Fekke and Yerebakan were very much opposed to the sending of the Armenians from those villages. They said they were not guilty of anything, possessed no weapons, lived peacefully, and were friends with them, and were besides their artisans and tradesmen. Through their efforts they put off the deportation about three months, but in the end they also were ineffectual to save them.”11 That same missionary also made the following observation after the Armenians had been deported from Hadjin were replaced with Muslim refugees: Shortly after the exiling of the Armenian families of Hadjin took place about thirty families of Muhajirs were sent in by the Government to take their place. These unfortunate people were refugees from Roumelia at the time of the Balkan War. For two years they had been wandering, always sent on by the Turkish Government from place to place, and finally placed in the houses just vacated by those who also were to face months of wandering and homelessness. Four families came to live close to our end of the city. We at once decided to show them friendliness. They responded in a touching way, came frequently to call and poured out their over-burdened hearts. When they first came the men were too weak to work, all were subject to chills and fever, and of the whole village from which these people had come only two children were living. One of the women spoke with horror at having to live in a house with such association, saying that only they knew what such suffering meant.12

A fuller understanding of the quotidian experience of WWI in the Ottoman Empire entails peeling back the political narratives of the conflict, whether the stories of battles, the machinations of great powers, or the numerous armed conflicts that occurred in its aftermath. Those political events not only tore apart the socioeconomic fabric of Ottoman society but also convinced many descendants of Ottoman Christians and Muslims in Cilicia that their grandparents had been mortal enemies without a shared past. But there is a deeper layer to that history. Beneath the political polarization and fragmentation was an economic and indeed ecological process of devastation that pervaded Ottoman society. ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 670, pg. 96A, Edith Cold, “Exile of the Armenian People of Hadjin and Vicinity” (16 December 1915). 12 Ibid. 11


In the following chapters, I will build on an emerging body of scholarship that studies the social history of the First World War, examining the war’s impacts on daily life in the Cilicia region through the lens of ecology. Part 2 of this dissertation explored the theme of transformation in Cilicia and the creation of a new cotton ecology out of the old political ecology of transhumance. Part 3 will focus on moments of rupture and events of destruction in the history of Ottoman Cilicia, studying the local history of the WWI experience and the subsequent French Mandate in the region. As a result of these disruptions, disease and scarcity spread throughout Cilicia, producing a harsh wartime ecology that replaced the comparatively prosperous ecology of cotton. Over almost a decade of upheaval, the commercial economy of the Cilicia region was stalled and hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were displaced, many on multiple occasions. The Armenians of Cilicia were expelled from homes twice, first under the deportation of the 1915-16 genocide and again with the French withdrawal from Cilicia during 1921-22. Muslim refugees from Eastern Anatolia and elsewhere fled to the Adana region during the war, but as resistance to the French presence escalated, many of those refugees wandered once more in the semi-stateless hinterland of postwar Anatolia. Understanding the experiences of people who lived in regions like Cilicia that were peripheral to the forces that created the First World War but devastated by its impact requires the intensely local focus employed in this study. However, I also seek to highlight the ways in which Cilicia was very central to the events of the period. Its geographical situation at the juncture of different railroad lines, the various types of movements the region witnessed, and its economic collapse that epitomized the Ottoman experience of war all made Cilicia’s trials a very key component of the global story of the First World War. In emphasizing this fact, I also point to ways in which localized ruptures had far-reaching effects. The Armenian genocide, for example,


devastated that community but also undermined the economy of the Ottoman Empire. Wartime displacement not only killed those were subjected to deportation or expulsion but also spread disease that ultimately attained a much wider impact. The conditions created by the war wrought unanticipated effects, transformation of both society and ecologies, even allowing malaria — a disease which throughout this study has been confined to the plains — to invade the Taurus Mountains and reach the airy plateaus of the Cilician highlands. In this regard, not even Cilicia’s geography remained as it had been in the aftermath of the war.



In late May 1914, a provincial official in Adana telegraphed the Ministry of Interior about the need for immediate action with regard to the annual military draft lottery that was scheduled for the coming summer. “Since it will not be possible to conduct the drawing of numbers in July and August because the inhabitants of Feke and Kars will be at the yayla, and doing it in their absence will be unfair to them,” he reasoned, “this year the drawing of numbers should begin at the beginning of June and next year in early May.”1 The local government in Adana had grown accustomed to accommodating the annual movement of much of the region’s populations between the villages and towns of the Çukurova plain and the breezy summer homes of the Taurus Mountains. Limiting the movements of hot and bothered Cilicians — whether the seasonal migrations of pastoralists in Eastern Çukurova (see Chapter 4), the settlement process of immigrants, or merely the summer vacations of families (see Chapter 6) — generated discontent and ultimately undermined the function of local governance and economy. And so with military conscription, too, officials provided allowances for migration. In other words, they accommodated local practices even amidst one of the most coercive of all government policies, ensuring, in the process, that movement dictated by the seasons did not impinge upon movement dictated by the state. 1

BOA, DH-İD 206/10, no. 8 (25 Mayıs 1330 [7 June 1914]).


The telegram found its place in a file about conducting the draft lottery and inspection of soldiers born in 1310 or 1894/95 throughout the empire during mid-August 1914. By that time, the Ottoman Empire would have already begun mobilizing for what we now know as the First World War. Those who had made it to the yayla before June might have been very lucky to avoid the first round of conscription in a conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman soldiers. The fact that this file on the 1914 lottery carried over into the war period was a coincidence; these discussions started well before mobilization was announced. But whether or not Ottoman administrators were as eager for war as their contemporaries in Europe, as the work of Mustafa Aksakal has shown, by 1914 the Ottoman military knew that it had to be prepared for mobilization or be “ready to move” in the wake of the war in Libya (1911) and the Balkans Wars (1912-3).2 A related question regards the extent to which Ottoman society was prepared to handle the material demands of the First World War. While the Ottoman army had proven itself in large-scale mobilizations of the past, it was the great structural outlier among combatant states in the conflict.3 The First World War was a global confrontation between industrialized colonial empires. The Ottoman Empire had undergone significant industrialization over prior decades, but not nearly to the extent of other combatant states. According to the oft-cited data of Ahmet Emin


This chapter does not discuss the geopolitical context of the First World War at any great length, but for good discussion of the Ottoman Empire’s positioning in that context, see Mustafa Aksakal, The Ottoman Road to War in 1914 : the Ottoman Empire and the First World War (Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008). Aksakal cites a peculiar incident that occurred in June 1914 in which sealed envelopes were sent to Tarsus with instructions that they only be opened in the event of mobilization. However, local officials mistakenly broke the seal prematurely, revealing mobilization orders for the villages of the region and leading to a widespread panic about impending war and conscription. Mustafa Aksakal, "The Ottoman Empire," in Empires at war : 1911-1923, ed. Robert Gerwarth and Erez Manela (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 18-19. The Ottoman Empire began mobilization in August 1914 as preparation for a state of “armed neutrality” before joining the war. M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, A Brief History of the late Ottoman Empire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), 177. 3 This chapter is heavily influenced by my participation in “The World During the First World War” symposium held in Hanover, Germany in 2013, which featured dozens of papers on the First World War experience in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. See Helmut Bley and Anorthe Kremers, The World During the First World War: Perceptions, Experiences, and Consequences (Essen, Ruhr: Klartext, 2014).


Yalman, the Ottoman Empire possessed a fraction of the railway per square km found in Germany and France and several times less than India.4 The Ottoman Empire was a very agrarian empire in a very industrial war.5 Moreover, unlike other states such as Britain and France (but more like Germany and Russia), it had no colonial wealth or subject population to call upon. The Ottoman state presided over a vast imperial terrain, but almost every person in that space was an Ottoman citizen, meaning that while Britain and France mustered millions of soldiers from their colonies to fight in Europe and elsewhere, the Ottoman army could only draw on its own population.6 The First World War was a total war in the sense that every aspect of the conflict muddled the lines between the military and the civilian. The Ottoman population bore a great economic burden, and civilians suffered from the hunger and disease that affected so many soldiers as well.7 In many ways, this put pressure on civilians, especially women, children and men who were not at the fronts, to work harder, produce more, and devote greater household resources to the war effort.8 However, in the Ottoman case, as in other parts of the world, the war


Ahmet Emin Yalman, Turkey in the World War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930), 85. Şevket Pamuk, "The Ottoman Economy in World War I," in The Economics of World War I, ed. S. N. Broadberry and Mark Harrison (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 112-18. In the words of Caroline Finkel, “The Ottoman Empire was an agricultural state which had thrown itself into an industrialized war.” Caroline Finkel, Osman's Dream : the story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923 (New York: Basic Books, 2006), 529. 6 The fact that the two most agrarian empires in the war—the Ottomans and the Russians—could not outsource suffering to East Africa or South Asia is critical to understanding why neither of those states survived the period intact. For comparison, see Michael A. Reynolds, Shattering Empires : the clash and collapse of the Ottoman and Russian empires, 1908-1918 (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011). 7 There is a strong and growing body of work on the Ottoman military and mobilization during the First World War. See Mehmet Beşikçi, The Ottoman Mobilization of Manpower in the First World War: between voluntarism and resistance (Leiden: Brill, 2012); Akın, "The Ottoman home front during World War I: everyday politics, society, and culture"; Edward J. Erickson, Ordered to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001); Zürcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: from the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk's Turkey. Much of the work on the Ottoman wartime experience beyond the battlefield and the effects of mobilization buılds on Ahmet Emin Yalman’s work, published in English in 1930, which established a particular national reading and critique of Ottoman involvement in the war its impacts. Yalman, Turkey in the World War. See also Maurice Larcher, La guerre turque dans la guerre mondiale (Paris: E. Chiron : Berger-Levrault, 1926). 8 See Akın, "The Ottoman home front during World War I: everyday politics, society, and culture", 122-79. 5


caused a dramatic drop in agrarian production. Wartime policies sometimes did more to exacerbate these impacts on local economies than to ameliorate them. This chapter contributes the global study of the civilian experience of WWI away from the battlefronts, and in particular, the ecological impacts of the war period on the Cilicia region. Mobilization and other conditions related to the war disrupted flows of labor and goods, causing an immediate economic downturn that lingered with the ecology of war.9 The forced expulsion of the Armenian population doubled the severity of that downturn. Whereas more organic movements such as intercourse between the mountains and the plains were integral aspects of life in Cilicia, the involuntary movements of the First World War devastated the region’s economy and the people who lived there. During the war years, the Ottoman government made efforts to increase agricultural production and improve the distribution of food in the empire, as by 1916, people were beginning to starve in many places such as Adana. However, these efforts fell well short of ameliorating the impact of the war, and on the contrary, the scarcity and starvation that had emerged in Greater Syria as early as 1915 gradually made their way to the Ottoman capital. The last decades of the Ottoman period had been years of rising cultivation in Cilicia, but due to the impacts of mobilization and the war, the period of 1914-1918, especially with regard to cotton cultivation, might be best characterized as fallowed years.

The concept of an ecology of war is evoked in many different senses, often with regard to war’s impacts on environments and its contribution to ecological degradation. An ecology of war close to my understanding, which is a new relationship between human beings and their lived environments as a result of wartime conditions, is employed in Micah Muscolino’s recent monograph. Micah S. Muscolino, The Ecology of War in China : Henan Province, the Yellow River, and beyond, 1938-1950 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015). 9


August 1914: The Mobilizing Empire The condition of the people is deplorable. They have no money, scant food, and famine looms up ahead. The men have been called out by the stringent new mobilization laws and hardly any are left to gather the standing grain. In a short time much of the harvest will be lost. Trade is at a standstill. Quite half the shops in the Bazar are closed. I could pour out a long tale of woe but do not think that it would be wise to do so in a letter which may be subjected to censorship. 10 American Missionary E.C. Woodley in Marash, August 29, 1914

Over the decades leading up to WWI, a new ecology had emerged in the Çukurova plain. Agricultural production was coordinated by an ascendant class of cultivators who commanded vast surpluses of cotton, grain, and sesame, the products of the labors of tens of thousands of annual migrant workers (see Chapter 5). Those workers were transforming swamps into wellmaintained agricultural fields, and though the process was very uneven, its trajectory had been firmly established. As one of the great economic powerhouses of the empire, Cilicia might have had much to offer the war effort. But Çukurova’s economy was intensely commercialized, built upon a cotton industry that apparently thrived more on peace than on total war. Mobilization in 1914 caused economic problems throughout the empire, especially in provinces like Adana. Agriculture in Çukurova was predicated on perennial seasonal movements of laborers, the majority of whom were men of service age conscripted through the mobilization law. The conscription of potential laborers had a tremendously detrimental effect on agriculture, particularly the labor-intensive cultivation of cotton. During the first year of the war, approximately 50,000 of the roughly 200,000 Muslim males (including children) in the Adana province were mobilized.11 Mobilization also stipulated a requisition of all types of draft animals for the war effort. The Adana province contained an estimated 200,000 oxen, horses, mules, donkeys, and camels on the eve of the war, meaning more than one animal per household on

10 11

ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 672, no. 343, Woodley to Barton, Marash (29 August 1914). BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 12-13, Hakkı to Dahiliye (30 Teşrinisani 1331 [13 December 1915]).


average.12 These animals were needed for usual agricultural labor and transport in the yet sparsely populated countryside of Ottoman Cilicia. To make matters worse, the Ottoman government placed a ban on agricultural exports and abrogated foreign concessions, meaning that the commercial class of Adana and Mersin was suddenly cut off from important Mediterranean markets.13 The cotton industry in Adana and Mersin was threatened by this sudden change in circumstances. Cotton played a disproportionately large role in the economic life of Cilicia (see Chapter 5). Before the war, more than one quarter of all agricultural land in the Adana province was devoted to cotton cultivation, making Adana’s agricultural economy the most heavily commercialized in the empire.14 Many of the factories and workshops in the towns of Çukurova revolved around the processing of cotton.15 Cotton had already been planted in spring of 1914 and as the harvest occurred in late August and early September, it was to be gathered precisely at the time that mobilization began. Because of the emergency ban on exports and the loss of labor, local cultivators were hard-pressed to harvest and sell an annual cotton crop that they estimated at a whopping 120,000 bales, arguably the best crop in the region’s history.16 Though much of the cotton was harvested, by the end of 1914, local cotton prices dropped by 50% due to lack of demand, and commercial revenues plummeted.17

Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913]. 13 Ahmed Emin Yalman referred to these mobilization policies as “militarism gone mad.” Yalman, Turkey in the World War, 107. 14 It is important to bear in mind that irrespective of the province, during the early twentieth century, the overwhelming majority of land in the Ottoman Empire was dedicated to food production. 15 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325]. 16 BOA, BEO 4340/325451, no. 3 (25 Kanunusani 1330 [7 February 1915]). US commercial estimates offered a similar figure of 115,000 bales. "Supplement to Commerce Reports," in Daily consular and trade reports (Washington: US Chamber of Commerce, 1915), 8. 17 Ibid., 8. 12


For prices and exports to suddenly decline meant losses not just for landowners but also for workers, whose wages were affected by the market and whose labor was often paid in kind. This was especially true for women and children who cleaned and sorted cotton to supplement household income, and with many households suddenly short on male workers, the blow was even more intense.18 But the highly influential cultivating class in Adana and Mersin was most outraged by the effects of mobilization policies on the cotton economy, since many were heavily invested and indeed indebted as a result of the engagement in this normally lucrative sector. In response to the livid complaints of Adana and Mersin’s most prominent merchants and cultivators, the Ottoman government lifted the ban on cotton export in November 1914 and allowed for the “unrestricted and unconditional” sale of cotton after the needs of the military were met.19 Yet even after the Ottoman government lifted the ban on cotton export, the economic damage of the war could not be fully undone. “As you know, Adana’s principal wealth is cotton,” a group of cultivators wrote in a telegram to Ministry of the Interior in January 1915 that complained about the war’s impact. Less than 10% of the cotton harvest had been exported. “Maybe there are merchants in Istanbul that commit to bringing goods to the country from abroad by land via Bulgaria,” they noted.20 However, in Adana, conditions were different. The British blockade was in full effect, and no ship captain dared to anchor in Mersin to unload goods like coffee and sugar, the export of which had been prohibited by the Allies. In the end, only about one-third of the cotton produced in the Adana region during 1914 could be exported,


Families that cleaned and processed cotton bolls were usually paid by being allowed to keep and sell 1/8 to 1/10 of their product. For more, see Chapter 5. 19 BOA, BEO 4340/325451, no. 3 (25 Kanunusani 1330 [7 February 1915]). 20 BOA, BEO 4340/325451, no. 3 (25 Kanunusani 1330 [7 February 1915]).


mostly by land. Roughly 10,000 more bales—about 8-10% of the crop—were purchased by the military.21 The failure to profit from 1914’s bountiful cotton yields amounted to much more than a loss of annual revenue in the case of many cultivators. On the heels of many very good years, ascendant landowners assumed greater risk in order to increase profits. Cotton cultivation required significant investment in seed, machinery, and labor, and because so many cultivated on borrowed money, expenditures were calibrated to anticipated price and demand. For these cultivators to be suddenly unable to reap what they had sown brought a risk of defaulting on loans from Ziraat Bankası, local financiers, or foreign banks. For example, in the winter of 1914/15, the case of eight landowners collectively possessing some 17,000 dönüms of primarily agricultural land came to the Ministry of Interior. The distribution of these lands illustrates where the most aggressive expansion of agriculture and venture capitalism was occurring in Çukurova during the late Ottoman period. As Toksöz has argued, the Ceyhan region east of Adana had become the new area of investment. Of the eight borrowers in question, six possessed lands in Ceyhan, representing 85% of the total property in question (see Table 13). The owners ranged from elite landowning Armenian families of Adana and Marie Sursock22, a member of the Sursock family, to aspiring Muslim landowners of Eastern Çukurova such as Alaybeyzade Mehmed.23 These cultivators had used their lands as collateral on loans from the German Anatolian Cotton Company. When their payments faltered, the company came into possession of the properties.

BOA, MV 196/121, (11 Şubat 1330 [24 February 1915]); "Supplement to Commerce Reports," 8. Originally I had thought this might be Donna Maria Sursock, the wife of Alfred Sursock, but it seems that there was another Marie Sursock in the region, married to a man named Vasil Sursock. "Yeni bir iddia: Vasil Sersok ile zevcesi Casus mudur? [A New Allegation: are Vasil Sursock and his wife spies?]," Yeni Adana 31 July 1929. 23 Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants, and Cotton, 180. 21 22


Table 13 Çukurova cultivators indebted to German Anatolian Cotton Company with amount of debt in lira and size of collateral in dönüms (Source: BOA, BEO 4341/325518, no. 2) Borrower Agop Bizdigyan and Sons Agop Mangoyan Marie Sursock Marie Sursock Alaybeyzade Mehmed Mısırlızade Ali Sabitzade Ahmed and Hacı Zeydullah Hasan bin Sadık Boğos Hoberyan Totals

Location Adana Adana Tarsus Ceyhan Ceyhan Ceyhan Ceyhan Ceyhan Ceyhan

Collateral Size 2555 32 Factory + 3 dnms 4035 5000 368 1082 2955 1004 17,031

Debt 2500 680 1300 3000 3000 250 500 1000 913 13,143

Upon understanding the scale of these “huge (cesim)”24 landholdings, the Ottoman administrators who dealt with the case determined that the German company could not assume ownership of the land as a foreign entity. They ruled that the original owners should maintain control of these lands.25 In addition, the Ministry of Interior elected in February 1915 to loan Ziraat Bankası in Adana some 50,000 lira in funds in order to prevent widespread bankruptcy among the cultivators of the Cilicia region.26 This represented a very substantial amount of assistance; when compared with the provincial budget for agriculture and industry in Adana, 50,000 lira was equal to almost 10% of the total expenditures for Rumi year 1330 [1914/15].27 The cotton crisis of 1914-15 in Cilicia illustrated the precarious state of the sudden commercial growth in the region, which was tightly bound to foreign markets and credit. Cotton had proven lucrative over prior decades, but a single year of high losses pushed many towards default. 24

As I explained in Chapter 5, any parcel of land larger than 100 dönüms owned by a single household was classified as “large” and these lands were all many times larger than this. 25 BOA, BEO 4341/325518, no. 3 (29 Kanunusani 1330 [11 February 1915]); MV 196/135 (13 Rebiulahir 1333 [15 Şubat 1330 / 28 February 1915]). 26 BOA, MV 196/124 (9 Rebiulahir 1333 [11 Şubat 1330 / 24 February 1915]). 27 Adana vilayetinin 1330 senesi muvazene-i hususiyesinin masraf müfredatı, (Adana: Adana Vilayet Matbaası, 1330 [1914/15]), 3.


While the conditions of the war period threatened Adana’s wealthiest merchants and landowners, they had broader impact on the normally bountiful food supply. The Cilicia region, like much of Greater Syria, exported large amounts of grain to other parts of the Ottoman Empire — chiefly Izmir and Istanbul — as well as to many foreign countries during a good year. According to French statistics, the Adana province exported 38,000,000 kg of wheat and barley in 1913, just over 15% of the year’s harvest as reflected in Ottoman reports.28 In fact, this percentage may be low if French statistics did not fully capture intra-Ottoman export, but at any rate, all sources indicate that Adana maintained a major agricultural surplus of grain going into the war.29 While cotton and its cultivators suffered, grain did somewhat better, mostly due to the prescient policies of Adana Governor İsmail Hakkı implemented in August 1914. He warned the Ministry of Interior that if the harvests of sesame and cotton did not occur, the province would lose around 1.5 million lira. Hakkı reasoned that many of the newly mobilizing conscripts, who ranged from twenty to forty years of age, had received no training yet and were not immediately ready for action anyway. Therefore, their mobilization could be delayed for three months until the completion of the harvest.30 This could not save the cotton trade, which was reliant on export, but it likely offset the war’s immediate impact on the food supply by delaying the departure of villagers involved in the threshing and preparation of wheat and barley. Nonetheless, the grain harvest of 1914 in Cilicia was lower than average. The Adana province, particularly Eastern

CADN, 1SL/1/V, 304 “Description des produits agricoles et autres produits exportés du Vilayet Adana pendant l’année 1913” (11 April 1919); Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913], 36. 29 Doughty Wylie’s 1909 report on agriculture in Adana indicated that most of Adana’s wheat remained in the Ottoman Empire and that 25% of the barley and 75% of the oats went to the UK. Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 15. 30 BOA, DH-ŞFR 436/25, Hakkı to Dahiliye (27 Temmuz 1330 [9 August 1914]). 28


Çukurova, had experienced crop damage due to excessive rain.31 Even with Hakkı’s maneuvering, a shortage of hands ensured that the fall harvest rotted in the fields in the hinterland regions towards Marash.32 Already harvested grain began to go bad due to lack of means of transport.33 When evaluated alongside Ottoman and French statistics from before the war, US commercial reports indicate a serious decline in grain production and export.34 Cilicia produced enough wheat, barley, and oats to meet local demand, but its surplus was comparatively small. When the Ministry of Interior inquired about the amount of grain left in the provincial reserves of Adana in October 1914, the response was that provisions in Adana “did not exceed” 2-3 million kg.35


"Supplement to Commerce Reports," 8. ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 672, no. 343, Woodley to Barton (2 October 1914). 33 BOA, DH-ŞFR 445/25, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (7 Teşrinievvel 1330 [20 October 1914]). 34 Raw US figures for 1914’s crop do not appear to be reliable for strict comparison with Ottoman prewar figures. If US numbers are reasonably accurate, the wheat, barley, and oat yields for 1914 were only 10% of the 1913 numbers, with exports declining in turn. This number is far too low, since 1915 was by all accounts a worse year, but Ottoman statistics reported numbers many times higher than the US numbers for 1914. It is reasonable to assume that the US numbers for grain yields were low and unlikely to fully encompass wheat grown for local consumption. For example, 1914 was apparently a good year for sesame in Cilicia according to US reports, but the numbers are only 30% of Ottoman statistics for sesame production in 1913. "Supplement to Commerce Reports," 8; Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913], 315. But the anecdotal observations of decreased export appear accurate, and where they offer comparison, US production numbers for other products such as yarn in Adana reflect a decrease of 60%. "Supplement to Commerce Reports," 8. 35 BOA, DH-ŞFR 46/60 (9 Teşrinievvel 1330 [22 October 1914]). In order to put this number in perspective, I will offer a crude representation of what this would have meant in terms of food supply. Let us assume that 2 million kg of provisions of mostly wheat and barley (these were the main foodstuffs produced in the region) contain roughly 3000 kcal per kg or 6 billion kcal before being reduced to flour and other derivatives (when in the form of flour, about 10% more). An ordinary Ottoman citizen even in times of scarcity might be able to add a few hundred calories to the daily diet using other foods but generally rely heavily on grain-based meals. In order to avoid serious malnutrition, that person would probably need at least 700 kcal per day from the grain. As a low number, let us estimate the population of the Adana province at around 400,000 people. 2 6 kg provisions x 3000 kcal per kg / 700 kcal per day / 400000 people = 21.43 days, meaning that two million kg of wheat and barley, which sounds like a staggering figure, would therefore be enough to feed the population of the whole province for three weeks or so, depending on the variability of the metrics we are employing here. It is important to bear in mind that this is a calculation purely based on calories and that other factors regarding infrastructure and various impacts of scarcity on markets and distribution would not allow for grain to be distributed in such a strictly even manner. This is only to say that 2-3 million kg of grain was only enough food to feed the entire Ottoman Empire for about a day and not very well at that. The 1914 Ottoman census put the prewar population of the Ottoman Empire at around 18.5 million. Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics, 188-89. 32


Winter 1914: Missed Connections Small though it was, Adana’s agricultural surplus could help in a number of areas. First and foremost, grain from Adana was essential to provisioning the soldiers and animals of the Ottoman army. Perhaps no less important, however, was export to urban areas in the Ottoman Empire. Alongside the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, the province of Beirut, a highly commercialized region that, like Adana, had strong links to Mediterranean trade, was a major importer of food.36 The province’s population, which did not include the semi-autonomous district of Mount Lebanon, was about twice that of Adana’s, although its amount of food staple production was significantly lower (see Table 14). In addition to grain from abroad, the port of Beirut had historically received shipments of grain from other provinces of Greater Syria. The rise of Mersin and the constant traffic of steamships and sailing vessels in and out of the port made Adana and Beirut neighboring provinces for all intents and purposes. A train from Adana could reach Mersin in less than 3 hours, and the trip between Mersin and Beirut could be completed within a single day by sea if need be.37


This Beirut comparison has developed in part out of many conversations with my Georgetown colleague Graham Pitts, with whom I have published a short article on food and agriculture in Cilicia and Lebanon during the First World War. Chris Gratien and Graham Pitts, "Towards an Environmental History of World War I: Human and Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Mediterranean," in The World During the First World War, ed. Helmut Bley and Anorthe Kremer (Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2014). 37 Mersin and Beirut are separated by roughly 180 nautical miles. A steamship traveling at 15 knots would be able to complete the journey in 12 hours.


Table 14: Mean annual production of five major food staples in Greater Syria, 1909/191338 Population Wheat Barley Oats Millet Maize (Corn) Total

Beirut Adana Aleppo 825,000 411,000 668,000 kg produced per capita 236 475 240 85 244 114 15 113 5 31 20 18 10 12 7 377 865 384

Syria 918,000 350 154 2 11 8 526

Beirut was particularly hurt by the limitations on production and trade due to wartime policies. Its reliance on exports for cash and imports for grain was ill-suited for such conditions. What made matters much worse for Beirut was the Allied blockade. The blockade was implemented by the British and designed to prevent the movement of goods along the Ottoman Empire’s Mediterranean coast. As a result, it had a major impact not just on the Ottoman army but also on the circulation of food and commodities between local populations of the provinces.39 For example, in late September 1914, Ottoman ships in the vicinity of Beirut, Iskenderun, and Mersin were being intercepted by the British blockade, disrupting the movement of flour and wheat.40 The blockade appears to have been very effective in its goals. By November 1914, the Beirut province faced extreme scarcity. In a request to Adana, Aleppo, and Damascus for immediate grain shipments to Beirut, Ali Münif Bey, a high-ranking CUP adviser and soon to be 38

Compiled data from two Ottoman statistical publications. Raw production amounts expressed in bushels converted to kg using the mean kıyye per bushel factors for each province in the publications. Bushel weights varied from province to province. 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325], 4-5; Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913], 36-39, 52-55; Karpat, Ottoman Population, 18301914 : demographic and social characteristics, 188-89. 39 Cyprus had been under British administration for many decades and was formally annexed by Britain during the First World War, making British control of the Eastern Mediterranean much easier. The British operated POW camps on Cyprus that would later become internment camps for illegal Jewish migrants to Palestine. See Ulvi Keser, Kıbrıs, 1914-1923 (Levent, Istanbul: Akdeniz Haber Ajansı, 2000). 40 BOA, DH-ŞFR 442/47, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (15 Eylül 1330 [28 September 1914]).


Governor of Mount Lebanon, reported that “famine (kaht) has begun to emerge and hundreds of poor and needy are pressuring the government.” The grain was needed not just for Beirut itself but in Jerusalem as well. The province required a shipment of its daily grain requirements, eight railway cars’ worth, as soon as possible.41 If a railway car or vagon held 80,000 kg of grain, this meant over 600,000 kg in total, a tall order for any province during wartime.42 İsmail Hakkı reported that Adana could supply the provisions needed by Beirut. However, the blockade made sea transport impossible and the two provinces were not yet connected by rail. Grain in Adana and Mersin could reach İskenderun very quickly. But at the İskenderun railway station, the grain would have to be loaded onto animals — in short supply at the time — and transported some seventy km to Katma (Afrin), from whence it could proceed by rail to Beirut.43 This episode illustrated the problems that the blockade and the general wartime conditions would pose to provisioning in the Ottoman Empire, especially in locations such as Beirut.44 Both the decline in grain production in Cilicia as well as increased difficulties in moving agricultural produce generated effects that had serious implications well beyond the borders of the Adana province. And because the movement of grain had to be coordinated through state institutions and merchants, passing through multiple stages of transfer, there was no guaranteeing that it would reach markets at a fair price. This is only one example of the

BOA, DH-ŞFR 47/118, Ali Münif to Adana, Aleppo, and Syria (9 Tişrinisani 1330 [22 November 1914]). The amount of food that railway car could hold depended on the type of grain and whether or not it had been processed, i.e. flour would be a denser form of food than unprocessed wheat. Available documentation for the archives regarding shipments reveals an average of around 80,000 kg per car. For example, 6 cars of potatoes and corn sent form Adapazarı to Istanbul in 1915 contained 489,000 kg of food in total. BOA, DH-İ-UM 93-2/1-83, No. 7 (4 Ağustos 1331 [17 August 1915]). 43 BOA, DH-ŞFR 666/10, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (10 Tişrinisani 1330 [23 November 1914]). 44 For more on how the blockade influenced the economy and politics of Beirut and Greater Syria during the war, see Melanie Schulze Tanielian, "Feeding the City: the Beirut Municipality and the Politics of Food During World War I," International Journal of Middle East Studies 46, no. 4 (2014); Linda Schatkowski Schilcher, "The famine of 1915-1918 in Greater Syria," in Problems of the modern Middle East in historical perspective : essays in honour of Albert Hourani, ed. John P. Spagnolo and Albert Hourani (Reading, UK: Ithaca Press, 1992). Also Gratien and Pitts, "Towards an Environmental History of World War I: Human and Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Mediterranean." 41 42


logistical constraints encountered as the Cilicia region sought to export surplus grain to other parts of the empire during the first year of the war.45 Spring 1915: The Wartime Ecology If economic crisis was beyond the control of individuals, the Ottoman state could do a little more, and, indeed, attempted to accelerate agricultural development. In March 1915, the Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture resolved to adopt measures related to agricultural production. This entailed increased administrative involvement in the agrarian economy of Adana, Aleppo, and Beirut, where the impacts of mobilization and the Allied blockade were particularly pronounced. The principal measure regarding agriculture in Adana concerned support for the cotton industry, namely the extension of more loans to local cultivators, about 25,000 lira in total.46 An additional overall concern was labor; head of the ministry Ahmed Nesimi acknowledged that at planting and harvest time cultivators were experiencing “great difficulties” in finding workers. He indicated that everything should be done to ensure that there were enough workers around at these crucial times, which entailed the use of conscript labor battalions when available. However, another aspect of the plan was to offset the labor effects of mobilization through industrializing the empire’s agriculture. This included doubling the number of mechanical reapers in the empire to 500 through imports from the United States and the use of pesticides such as sulfur and copper sulfate or bluestone (göztaşı) to ward off plant diseases. It also meant diversifying the food supply to better incorporate foods most useful for emergency provisioning such as potatoes and corn (mısır).47 Successful mobilization would have to be more

See also: BOA, DH-ŞFR 50/242; 253; 51/61; 99. BOA, DH-SYS 123-09/21-08, no. 30 (18 Mart 1331 [31 March 1915]). 47 BOA, DH-SYS 123-09/21-08, no. 29 (3 Mart 1331 [16 March 1915]). In a short work on the use of chemical fertilizers for potato cultivation from 1915, a certain Kiryako Efendi noted that the Ottomans’ adversaries were trying to “kill them through starvation” and that chemically-fertilized potatoes, which Germany was already producing with dazzling results, could be used to overcome this obstacle. “We must hasten to grow potatoes,” he 45 46


than moving troops and ammunition to the front; it would require a comprehensive provisioning and agricultural policy along with a more thorough mobilization of nature. In the Adana region, this entailed the development of a five-year plan involving expenditures in the areas of agriculture and technical training in order to raise Ottoman agriculture “to the level of Europe (Avrupa derecesine).”48 These plans were signs that Ottoman administrators were beginning to understand that it would be a long war, and that food would play a critical role. The Ministry of Agriculture struggled to implement all of these imperatives. Warning signs of trouble in Adana came as the grain harvest approached in May. The Ministry of Interior had already missed the chance to send the six labor battalions needed for planting, and in May, it was late in scrambling to send the 15,000 hands that Adana needed for the harvest. 49 For example, a group of eleven cultivators in the Ceyhan region complained to the government that neither funds nor laborers for agriculture were available as promised, and their harvests would go to waste. They said that by request of the government, they had greatly expanded their area of cultivation. 1915 had brought them bountiful harvests. But their annual produce normally relied on some 10,000 migrant workers, and meanwhile the government had not even sent the 5,000 needed for the harvest and threshing.50 In the case of the Ceyhan cultivators, about two weeks later with the harvest in jeopardy, arrangements were still being made.51 The results of this harvest (described below) suggest that the policies adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture in spring of 1915 were inadequate or infeasible.

warned, indicating that the war experience should be a hard-learned lesson (ders-i ibret). Kiryako, Patates Zıraatı ve Kimyevi Gübre [Potato Cultivation and Chemical Fertilizer] (Istanbul: Matbaa-ı Hayriye, 1331 [1915]), 2. 48 More below. BOA, DH-UMVM 82/61, no. 4 (17 Kanunusani 1331 [30 January 1916]). 49 BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-1/1-20, no. 4, Ahmed Nesimi to Dahiliye (27 Cemaziulahir 1333 / 29 Nisan 1331 [12 May 1915]). 50 BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-1/1-20, no. 11, Mücteba et al to Dahiliye (26 Nisan 1331 [9 May 1915]). 51 BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-1/1-20, no. 9 (9 Receb 1333 / 10 Mayıs 1331 [23 May 1915]).


Even then, there were factors that seemed beyond the realm of agrarian policy. During the spring of 1915, swarms of locusts began to spread throughout Greater Syria. They devoured the crops and orchards of countless villages, wreaking particular havoc in Palestine. By May, they had traveled some 500 km from that region into Cilicia, creating tremendous anxiety about further devastation in Anatolia. While locusts were typically associated with the more sparsely populated and arid expanses of the Jazirah and the Hejaz, the insects were known to rear their heads occasionally in Çukurova during years of unusual swarming. But with measures in place regarding their extermination, damage could be minimized. Locusts could be eliminated fairly easily while in egg or larval form using fire or burial, but they were virtually unstoppable once they sprouted wings.52 These airborne (uçkun) locusts began to appear in the periphery of the Adana province around İslahiye and Marash, soon spreading north towards Elbistan, Sivas, Niğde, and the Cappadocia region by June of 1915. In the interior beyond the Kozan Mountains, they attacked some fifteen villages and destroyed much of the summer crops. While efforts to exterminate the adult locusts were largely ineffective, local inhabitants along with the labor battalions in the region were able to destroy most of the new generation.53 Damage due to locusts along with a wheat fungus (kınacık), according to the local government in Adana, did substantial harm to the 1915 wheat harvest.54 In parts of Anatolia, the Ottoman government was able to mobilize large numbers of people to combat locusts as had been done before, thereby reducing their impact.55 However, in

See Ertan Gökmen, "Batı Anadolu'da Çekirge Felaketi (1850-1915)," Belleten 74, no. 269 (April 2010). BOA, DH-İ-UM 56/2, no. 3 (24 Mayıs 1331 [6 June 1915]); 56/4, no. 5 (2 Haziran 1331 [15 June 1915]). 54 BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 23-25, Hakkı to Dahiliye (24 Eylül 1331 [7 October 1915]). 55 Cengiz Mutlu, Birinci Dünya Savaşı'nda amele taburları: 1914-1918 [Labor Battalions in the First World War] (Istanbul: IQ Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, 2007), 95-97; Mustafa Aksakal, "The Ottoman Empire," in Empires at war : 1911-1923, ed. Robert Gerwarth and Erez Manela (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). Zachary Foster has also shared with me his yet unpublished work on locust eradication efforts in Palestine, which draws on some interesting sources from Zionist archives. 52 53


Palestine and elsewhere closer to the source of the outbreak, the crop damage was more severe. 56 1915 would be remembered in those regions within the popular memory as the “year of the locust (`am al-jarrad),” as locusts were blamed for much of the famine and scarcity that occurred.57 Zachary Foster has convincingly substantiated this link, arguing that the locusts may have pushed the agrarian economy of Greater Syria over the brink of starvation.58 What remains to be further evaluated, however, is the extent to which the spread of locusts itself was a consequence of the war’s ecological effects. Within the normal practices of agrarian life, farmers would have certainly been on the lookout for locusts and adapted means of dealing with them. Likewise, state approaches to locust control had been formalized by the late Ottoman period. 59 This does not mean that such approaches were highly effective. But it is certainly conceivable that the removal of large numbers of men from village ecologies due to conscription shifted the balance between the locusts and humans in the Ottoman Empire. This is the impression one takes from the account of ABCFM missionary Edith Cold, who spent summer of 1915 in Hadjin. She and her colleagues battled the locusts for months. “They first appeared in early June and ravaged the country till September,” she wrote. “They destroyed our vineyards, and we had to fight day after day to keep them out of the Compound. When we destroyed those hatched on our premises, their places were quickly filled by armies coming down the mountain side. When I left many of the villages were suffering for the lack of


This being said, significant damage from locusts stretched very far into the hinterland region of Anatolia, not only to the Anti-Taurus and Cappadocia regions, but in fact as far the provinces around Lake Eğridir, which reported in fall 1915 that they had no surplus grain to export to Adana, Izmir, and Bursa due to locust damage. BOA, DH-İ-UM 89-4/1-47 (25 Teşrinievvel 1331 [7 November 1915]). 57 See Salim Tamari, Year of the Locust: a soldier's diary and the erasure of Palestine's Ottoman past (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011). 58 Zachary J. Foster, "The 1915 Locust Attack in Syria and Palestine and its Role in the Famine During the First World War," Middle Eastern Studies (2014). 59 In 1913, the Ottoman government passed a law regarding the obligations of subjects vis-à-vis the control of locusts, which included notifying the heads of villages and tribes about any locust citing and various extermination measures. Çekirgenin İtlafına Dair Kanun ve Talimat, (Dersaadet [Istanbul]: Matbaa-yı Hayriye, 1329 [1913/14]).


food due to the locust scourge.”60 Locusts could be especially harmful to remote mountain areas like Hadjin with relatively poor access to food from outside and relatively high reliance on orchards and gardens. Yet if Cold and company felt isolated and outnumbered in the battle against the locusts of Hadjin, a town so often remarked upon for its incredible population density, it was in no small part due to human factors. Hadjin and many nearby villages had been emptied of their populations during the summer of 1915 for entirely political reasons. The Armenian inhabitants of Hadjin had been incrementally deported across Çukurova and towards Aleppo and the Syrian Desert, the locusts arriving in wake of their departure. On their journey, the Armenian civilians of Hadjin and the rest of the Cilicia region carried the Ottoman experience of the First World War with them, taking Cilicia’s wartime story on bitter a detour across the empire and indeed the globe. Summer 1915: The Armenian Genocide Of all the war’s impacts, the event that most contributed to the unraveling of the economy in Cilicia was arguably the expulsion of Armenians from Anatolia, a measure remembered as the Armenian genocide.61 As Ottoman citizens, most Armenians were in theory to serve in the Ottoman army and labor battalions like all other people in the empire, meanwhile contributing dutifully to the wartime economy. Yet following the arrest, deportation, and subsequent execution of a large number of Armenian intellectuals and professionals in April 1915, the ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 670, pg. 96A, Edith Cold, “Exile of the Armenian People of Hadjin and Vicinity (16 December 1915). 61 There is not space to cover exactly what different historians have meant by the term genocide or how different authors have defined the case of the Armenian genocide, a label that has been much argued and debated. The term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin to describe the actions of the Nazi regime during the Second World War, and Lemkin considered the Armenian genocide to be a prior example of that phenomenon. I use the term Armenian genocide in this dissertation as a label for these events overwhelmingly favored by Armenians today and convincingly substantiated by a number of historical works. For a select list of works on the subject in English that address the question of genocide directly, see Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide; Akçam, The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity : the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Ottoman Empire; Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide : imperialism, nationalism, and the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians; Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey; Suny, Göçek, and Naimark, A Question of Genocide : Armenians and Turks at the end of the Ottoman Empire; Suny, "They can live in the desert but nowhere else" : a history of the Armenian genocide. 60


Ottoman government incrementally organized a series of deportations of Armenians to temporary camps over the course of succeeding months. By September, local officials had begun to remove or attempt to remove resident Armenians in all parts of Anatolia. CUP offiicals framed this policy as a security measure. They justified the deportations by casting Armenians as a dangerous or disloyal community prone to acts of rebellion and resistance as well as collusion with the Ottomans’ enemies, namely the Russian Empire. However, the measures were not limited to targeting Armenian political or paramilitary groups. They involved the deportation of entire families, not just near the fronts but throughout Anatolia. Upwards of half of the Ottoman Armenian population died of disease, starvation, and outright massacre through deliberate policies implemented by the CUP.62


The Armenian genocide was incremental and carried out in different ways in different locations. For a work that attempts to offer a comprehensive overview of these measures, see Raymond Kévorkian’s The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History, which treats the deportation phases in a district by district manner, leading to significant repetition but creating a very thorough catalog of available information about the particularities of each local. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 265-698. Actual figures regarding mortality of Armenians during the First World War vary widely and have been hotly debated and politicized. The figure of 1.5 million Armenians that is often cited refers to the estimations of the Armenian population of Anatolia that was targeted for deportation, not the number who died per se. Since sources with precise indications of population change and mortality during the war are not available for deported Armenians, historians are forced to rely on estimates and inferences that create room for ambiguity. For example, McCarthy indicates a mortality rate of 40% based on a more or less 1.5 million pre-war population estimate and using data regarding refugee populations outside of Anatolia in 1918. One of the crucial figures that comprise this calculation is an estimate for 400,000 Anatolian Armenian refugee survivors in the Caucasus, a number that has been widely cited in numerous sources including by Richard Hovannisian. However, whereas McCarthy counts all of these as survivors, as Fuat Dündar notes, the starvation conditions in the region at the time meant that many of these Armenian refugees died in a period of very high mortality. In fact, he cites a French source stating that 1000 people per day were dying. This is one example of how definitions of survival and death with regard to the Armenian genocide can result in substantially different calculations of mortality, opening a tremendous arena for interpretation, doubt, and even manipulation. McCarthy, Muslims and Minorities : the population of Ottoman Anatolia and the end of the empire, 130; Fuat Dündar, Crime of numbers : the role of statistics in the armenian question (New Brunswick: Transaction, 2010), 153. Another issue involved in the ambiguity is that of conversion to Islam in order to escape deportation. Some have argued that a significant percentage of the Armenian population, as much as 5-10% converted for that purpose, and that it appears many Armenian soldiers converted during the war for similar reasons. Zürcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: from the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk's Turkey, 173. Kevorkian also mentions mass forced conversion in Syria under the government of Cemal Pasha. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 681-82. Here, whether or not those conversions “stuck” after the deportations and the war were over becomes a major issue when tabulating the number of survivors. The CUP was concerned that conversion was being used as a survival strategy. For example, Talat Pasha issued a telegram in July 1915 saying, “It is becoming understood that some of the deported Armenians are being left in their places due to their embrace of Islam (ihtida etmeleri)… and that even some civil servants are serving as an intermediary for them.” He stressed repeatedly that “it is absolutely not permissible to make


At the outset of the war, there were around 100,000 Armenians in Cilicia (includes Marash) along with undocumented residents from other provinces.63 Over the period between April and October of 1915, most of the Armenians in Cilicia — along with Armenians in nearly all of the other provinces in Anatolia — would be removed from civilian life, deported first to camps along the Baghdad Railway line and eventually into the Syrian Desert towards Zor and Mosul. Cilicia witnessed many phases of the deportation process. The Armenians of Zeytun and Dörtyol (Çokmerzimen) were among the first to be deported in Anatolia due to putative security concerns.64 Throughout 1915 and 1916, Armenians from further west passed through the province en route to Syria. Meanwhile, the Armenians of Adana were among the last to be deported. The Governor of Adana İsmail Hakkı did not wish to carry out the deportation order. Hakkı apparently stalled or ignored deportation orders from the central government in the case of many families in the city of Adana itself.65 Due to irregularities in the Adana province, Ali Münif Bey, a native of the Cilicia region, claimed that he was dispatched to Adana to see to the initial deportations personally.66 Because of the close ties between Cemal Pasha and the Armenians of Adana, some Armenians in Cilicia were able to secure relatively favorable terms, exceptional treatment with regard to converts (mühtediler).” BOA, DH-ŞFR 54A/49 (7 Temmuz 1331 [20 July 1915]). 63 This figure is based on the pre-war Ottoman census and is therefore a conservative estimate. Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics, 172-73, 86-87. Those who claim somewhat higher population estimates for Armenians in Cilicia prior to the First World War may be justified. 64 The Armenian inhabitants of Zeytun were deported in mid-April after months of tense relations between a hostile local gendarmerie and bands of deserters. However, given that desertion was widespread and the men in question were rather marginal, the relationship between would-be rebels in Zeytun and deportation appears to have been pretextual. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 585-89. Similar issues regarding suspicion of loyalty occurred in Dörtyol, formerly Çokmerzimen, following Allied attacks there in 1914. Here too Armenians were deported early, some to Damascus and the rest to Northern Syria, in April of 1915. Ibid., 589-90. 65 Ibid., 594. İsmail Hakkı had apparently spent the summer in Marash—as Adana governors so often did—where he received a telegram from Talat Pasha in August 1915 requesting again for all Armenians that had not been sent off to be deported. BOA, DH-ŞFR 54A/271 (22 Temmuz 1331 [4 August 1915]). 66 Ali Münif Bey was exiled for his prominent role in organizing the deportations but was able to return once Turkey gained independence. In fact, he was major of Adana during the 1920s. He gives some rather minimal discussion of the deportations and how he was implicated in his memoirs. Yeğenağa, Ali Münif Bey'in hâtiraları, 77-79. See Akçam, The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity : the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Ottoman Empire, 19-20.


as many were in permitted to reside in Hama and Damascus for the rest of the war period, as opposed to being marched into the Jazirah.67 Around 20,000 Armenians were expelled from the city of Adana in the fall of 1915, and as Adana Governor Hakkı reported, over 50,000 were deported from the province as a whole.68 Most Armenians from the countryside in Cilicia were eventually deported to points further east, where thirst, starvation, and massacres affected hundreds of thousands of people.69 Hakkı had warned that reserves of provisions provided to Armenian deportees from both Adana and elsewhere, even under perfect conditions, would run out well before the journey was over, exposing large numbers of people to extreme hunger and poverty as they were moved from place to place over the course of the following months and years.70 According to the figures in the reports of Talat Pasha that have been published by Murat Bardakçı, almost 40% of the


Some of the most virulently anti-Armenian figures within the local administration of Adana had been removed as a result of the massacres in 1909, and many have referred to Cemal Pasha’s close relationship with wealthy Armenians in Adana as further explanation for how many escaped the worst that deportation had to offer. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 594, 674. The Catholicos of Sis wrote to Cemal Pasha for help as the Cilician Armenians were first being deported in summer 1915. Zak'aria Pztikean, Kilikean kskiçner (1903-1915) [Cilician Sorrows] (Beirut: Tparan Hrazdan, 1927), 194. American missionaries commented that the Armenians of Adana appeared to be in much better shape than those of most provinces and that there were an unusual number of men in their caravans. ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 670, pg. 145A, “Miss Frearson’s Experience and Observations in Turkey”; Reel 672, pg. 292A, “The Exiling of the Armenians: Adana District.” 68 ABC 16.19.5, Reel 672, pg. 292A, “The Exiling of the Armenians: Adana District”; Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 595. Also: BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 12-13, Hakkı to Dahiliye (30 Teşrinisani 1331 [13 December 1915]). The census listed 50,139 Gregorian Armenians in the sancaks of Adana, Kozan, Cebel-i Bereket, Tarsus and Mersin. It also counted some 2500 Armenian Catholics and 5000 Protestants of various backgrounds in the Adana province. Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 : demographic and social characteristics. Adana Governor Hakkı Bey claimed that by 1914 the census figures were accurate. BOA, DH-EUM-2-Şb 73/48, no. 1, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (15 Eylül 1331 [28 September 1915]). 69 By July 1915, the Catholicos of Sis counted more than 13,000 Cilician Armenians from other rural towns and villages who had arrived in Aleppo as well as Al-Bab and Menbic (Manbij) to the northeast. Among them were over 4000 Armenians from Hadjin alone. Pztikean, Kilikean kskiçner (1903-1915) [Cilician Sorrows], 193. The incremental deportation of Armenians from the Cilicia region continued over the following months. A rather thorough report on the Christian population of the Adana province and a chart indicating the number of Armenians deported as of September 1915 reflects the state of affairs at that time, although more deportations would occur subsequently. BOA, DH-EUM-2-Şb 73/48, no. 1, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (15 Eylül 1331 [28 September 1915]). 70 BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 23-25, Hakkı to Dahiliye (24 Eylül 1331 [7 October 1915]).


Armenians from the Adana province were “missing” by 1917, meaning either dead or unaccounted for.71 The CUP government was aware of the ways in which removing all Armenian civilians from their home provinces would negatively impact the economy. 72 Some Armenians were able to avoid or delay deportation because they were deemed valuable to the war effort. Most adult males that initially escaped deportation were workers and professionals deemed essential to the war, and these individuals such as railroad employees were in turn able to offer help to other Armenians during or after the deportations, even as the functioning railway played a fundamental role in their removal.73 Many Armenians were also part of the conscripted labor battalions and

Murat Bardakçı, Talât Paş a'nın evrak-ı metrûkesi : sadrazam Talât Paş a'nın özel arş ivinde bulunan Ermeni tehciri konusundaki belgeler ve hususı̂ yazış malar (Cagaloglu, Istanbul: Everest Yayinlari, 2008). Ara Sarafian has published analysis of the figures detailed in Bardakçı’s work in English. For Adana province, see Ara Sarafian, Talaat Pasha's report on the Armenian Genocide, 1917 (London: Taderon Press, 2011), 44. In comparison with Eastern Anatolian provinces, where the dead and missing were over 90% of the population or other parts of Anatolia such as Bursa and Izmit where over 70% of the Armenian population fell into that category, Armenians of Adana survived the war at a much higher rate. In 1917, over 10,000 Adana Armenians were in the province and more than 15,000 were in the provinces of Syria and Aleppo; by war’s end around 20,000 Armenians were in the province of Adana, having either escaped deportation or returned after 1917 (more in Chapter 10). Ibid., 44; Vahé Tachjian, La France en Cilicie et en Haute-Mésopotamie : aux confins de la Turquie, de la Syrie et de l'Irak : (1919-1933) (Paris: Karthala, 2004), 63. 72 One example from the Adana region is a telegram written by Talat Pasha from September 1915. It stated that “because moving (sevk) Armenian child laborers working in the filament factory in Adana would cause the factory to shut down, a delay of moving the aforementioned Armenian children along with their families is being announced by the Ministry of War until Muslim children can fill their places.” BOA, DH-ŞFR 55A/230 (30 Ağustos 1331 [12 September 1915]). Given that deportation bore fatal risks, even a short delay might have meant the difference between life and death for these girls and boys. But not all child workers of the region were as lucky; around the same time, an order was issued mandating the deportation of the men and Armenian children working at the Adana silk factory, an enterprise that could be more easily sacrificed. BOA, DH-ŞFR 489/16 (1 Eylül 1331 [14 September 1915]). 73 Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 580. Kévorkian mentions around 1000 craftsmen and skilled workers who were allowed to stay with their families in Adana. Ibid., 595. As merely one example of an Ottoman Armenian whose profession allowed his family to survive the war, I mention the case for Samuel Jamentz, an Armenian doctor from Hadjin educated in American Protestant institutions. He spent the war as a doctor stationed at military hospital in Bandırma. In the history of Cilicia, there are many stories like that of Samuel Jamentz about Armenians who found a way to avoid and survive deportation and help others escape such a fate. Poghosean, Hachěni ěndhanur patmutʻiwně, 236. Samuel Jamentz later moved with his family to the United States. Through correspondence with a descendent of Dr. Jamentz named Michael Jamentz, I was able to obtain a photograph of Dr. Jamentz carrying out his medical duties in Bandırma during the war. 71


continued to work throughout the period of 1915-16, though most of the workers were also eventually deported or killed.74 The Armenian community of the Adana province was in many ways the keystone of the local economy. On one hand, many of the large landholders and prominent merchants who normally orchestrated agricultural activity in the region were Armenian, and on the other, a substantial segment of the working class, especially the migrant workers who came from other parts of Anatolia, were also Armenian. In the city, Armenians were overrepresented among medical professionals and artisans alike. The deportations targeted entire families and not just men, which further exacerbated the economic impact, as women and children had taken on larger economic roles during the war. In fact, the impacts of the Armenian genocide on the broader population of the Ottoman Empire extended well beyond the economic realm (more in Chapter 9). The seizure of Armenian property may have benefited the Ottoman government or at least certain members of the CUP in particular ways, but removal of Armenians from local economies in places like Cilicia triggered a massive crisis that hampered the war effort. The loss of Armenian families would exacerbate the woes of those who remained in Cilicia for the rest of the war period. Fall 1915: The Empty Plain As I explained above, the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture had sought in spring 1915 to prevent a recurrence of the sort of economic crisis that had occurred the prior year due to mobilization. Yet the year of 1915 would be remembered as a time of scarcity, famine, and misery in the southeastern provinces of the empire. In Greater Syria starvation was widespread.


Zürcher indicates that around 75% of the men in labor battalions were Armenians, saying that while the battalions were not created in order to aid in the destruction of the Armenian community per se, gathering these large groups of unarmed men under the supervision of the Ottoman military certainly helped facilitate the massacres. Zürcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: from the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk's Turkey, 172.


In the most heavily impacted regions such as Mount Lebanon, up to a third of the population would perish during the war.75 While not a normally a famine-prone region, Cilicia was not immune to the war’s effects. Economic life in Adana was very adversely affected by the forced removal of the Armenian population. ABCFM missionary William Nesbitt Chambers noted that over two-thirds of the businesses in Adana relied on Armenians, and that after the deportation of some 18,000 people, “the city seemed deserted.” 76 Even Damar Arıkoğlu, who in his memoirs blamed the Armenians of Cilicia for the 1909 Adana massacres, did not deny the grave economic consequences of the deportations. “Moving the Armenians to Syria made our Province of Adana a completely empty void (tamtakır bir boşluk),” he would recall.77 As the many stories of displacement described above ran their course, the agrarian downturn caused by wartime conditions and the labor effects of the deportations threatened Adana’s economy. Whereas Adana had enjoyed a small food surplus during 1914, by 1915, the food supply was severely jeopardized. The implications of the labor shortage were clear. Even if cultivators could sow enough seed to feed the province, a shortage of hands to harvest grain would prove a tremendous obstacle. The province struggled to find 15,000 hands of conscripted labor for harvest when normal labors flows at harvest time were often many times that number (see Chapter 5). In light of these challenges, Governor Hakkı would warn that the demands of the army upon the grain supply in Adana were dangerously high. The harvest of 1915 was much reduced; when compared with years leading up to the war, grain production was less than half (see Table 15 below). This decline appears to have been much sharper than in provinces closer to the capital, where total production was just 20% lower than prewar averages in 1915 and 27% 75

The forthcoming work of Graham Pitts will elaborate further upon the varying estimates of the death toll in Mount Lebanon. See also Gratien and Pitts, "Towards an Environmental History of World War I: Human and Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Mediterranean." 76 ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 669, Chambers to Barton (31 October 1915). 77 Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım, 69.


lower in 1916.78 Adana exported lots of grain during a good year, but the army was requesting over 40% of the wheat crop and over 55% of the barley to provision some 20,000 military personnel and 5000 animals. Moreover, Hakkı noted that “while [Adana] is renowned as an agricultural region, that renown is more for cotton than cereals.” The needs of the army were simply more than the province could safely provide.79 Table 15 Deviation of wartime grain production estimates in Adana80 in millions of kg. Wheat Barley Oats Total

1915 70 36 21 127

1909/1913 Mean 184 77 46 307

% Decrease 61.9% 53.1% 54.6% 58.6%

Meanwhile, the wartime conditions that had so angered and worried the cotton cultivators of Adana in the fall of 1914 continued to erode the commercial agriculture of Cilicia that relied heavily on cotton export. Hakkı reported that the year’s crops had not flourished and “due to present circumstances (ahval-ı hazıra) and since all of the coastlines are blockaded, the crops that could be obtained cannot be exported and have remained in all the cultivators’ hands.” He added, “because of the loss of commerce, the already present economic crisis in this country


Pamuk, "The Ottoman Economy in World War I," 120. The fact that Germany and the other Allies of the Ottomans were experiencing similar agrarian woes may have been a major exacerbating factor. Vedat Eldem, Harp ve mütareke yıllarında Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun ekonomisi (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1994), 39. 79 BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 10/28, no. 1 (20 Ağustos 1331 [2 September 1915]). 80 This table uses production numbers from two official agricultural statistics reports from Rumi years 1325 and 1329. Overall production of grains for Adana as indicated suggests that 1913 was a bad grain harvest in comparison with 1909, while cotton production was even. British Consul Doughty Wylie referred to the impending 1909 crop as a “bumper harvest,” indicating that perhaps production was especially good that year. Wylie, Report for the Year 1908, 8. Thus, I have averaged the two numbers for the purposes of comparison with the statistics reported by Adana governor İsmail Hakkı in August 1915. These numbers should only be taken as approximations. The numbers for 1909/1913 are converted from bushels to kilograms, using the appropriate kıyye per bushel factors in the study and converting kıyye as 1.282 kg. Numbers for 1909 are adjusted to remove the İçel district, which was independent of Adana in 1913 and 1915. 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325]; Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913]. Also BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 10/28, no. 1 (20 Ağustos 1331 [2 September 1915]).


has doubled in severity.”81 The losses had a particularly adverse impact on heavily indebted cultivators. Unable to make payments on their loans to Ziraat Bankası, more cultivators were once again on the verge of defaulting. In response to the crisis, the director of Ziraat Bankası announced that as had been done during the prior year, the cultivators in Adana who were truly unable to make payments on their loans could delay payment until the subsequent cotton harvest.82 This financial shock sent a wave of crisis through the local economy of Cilicia that was reflected in nearly every aspect of life. A close-up view of the Sursock family and its finances in Mersin and Tarsus during the war further illustrates the complexity of the war’s economic effects. The Sursocks were a Greek Orthodox family based in Beirut that owned many properties along the Mediterranean littoral (see Chapters 5 and 6). These included commercial buildings in the port of Mersin and farm lands acquired as “empty lands (arazi-yi haliye).” One of the properties in Ceyhan mentioned above that was threatened by repossession by the German Anatolia Cotton Company belonged to Marie Sursock, the wife of Vasil Sursock in Tarsus. Moreover, in 1915, as the processes of confiscating Armenian property were underway, the municipality in Mersin tried to seize some of their lands on the basis that they were not being maintained and remained in a swampy state.83 The Sursocks were able to maintain their ownership of the former lands due to the intercession of the Ottoman government on the behalf of local cultivators and the latter through the intercession of their friend Cemal Pasha.84

BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 10/92, no. 2 (22 Ağustos 1331 [5 September 1915]). BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 10/92, no. 3 (14 Eylül 1331 [27 September 1915]). 83 BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 11/65, Hakkı to Dahiliye (26 Eylül 1331 [9 October 1915]); The Sursocks protested that the seizure was illegal. BOA, DH-UMVM 104/23, no. 12, Alfred and Michel Sursock to Beirut Vilayeti (21 Mayıs 1331 [3 June 1915]). 84 USEK, Sursock, 19249/216, to Dikran Durry (5 August 1915). 81 82


Even more than their own agricultural land in the Cilicia region, which was a small fraction of the family’s total wealth, the properties of the Sursocks illustrate the gloomy fates of middle class merchants and cultivators in Çukurova, especially Armenians. The Sursocks owned a large amount of real estate in the heart of Mersin, including many shops and properties in the eponymous Sursock Quarter of the city, and as the family itself was largely based in Beirut, these properties were occupied by various tenants. Even though they were offering deep discounts — charging just 20% of rent during wartime — they had trouble collecting on these spaces and agricultural land around Tarsus.85 A frustrated letter to their main intermediary in Mersin, Dikran Durry, complained of the particular trouble in collecting rents there (see Table 16 below), exclaiming that “you have lowered the rents to a very reduced price. Instead of the 4000 lira, which we were collecting before the war, the rents of Mersin have been reduced to 500 lira of which we only collect half!!!!!”86 The names of the tenants that paid reduced rent or failed to pay reveal much about precisely what the war did to commerce in Cilicia. A half-dozen of those tenants who had not paid their rent were Armenians that had been deported from the region. 87 Most of the others were prominent financial figures such as Hasan Kırk, a Muslim businessman who was one of the signatories of the original complaint of cotton cultivators of Çukurova in 1914. Mersin was a town built by the Mediterranean cotton trade that thrived on liberal economic conditions and political stability. It had little place in the wartime economy given that the coast was blockaded for much of the war.88


USEK, Sursock, 19249/197, to Durry (31 May 1915); 260, to Durry (15 May 1916); 272, to Durry (29 September 1916). 86 USEK, Sursock, 19249/283, to Durry (2 May 1917). 87 The Sursocks would try to collect on these rents from the Ottoman government. USEK, Sursock, 19249/302, to Durry (24 April 1918); 335 (12 September 1918). 88 A map reflecting British intelligence from the period showed three of the four main piers of Mersin destroyed after 1915 due to bombing that occurred. TNA, FO 925/41301.


Table 16 Commercial rents collected by Sursock family in Mersin (in lira)89 Location Sursock Quarter Muhammadiye Market & Old Bedestan Arpacı Han Rus Pazarı (Souk Roussi) New Building (Nouvelle Bâtisse)91 Totals

1915/16 no. of rents 11 9

1916/17 Rents 7 3

1917/18 revenue rents 43 12 11 4

revenue 105 39

revenue 104 13

9 290

34 4

10 12 2

32 25 17

12 14 3

71 29 18







One last financial matter that highlights the unintended consequences of wartime policy concerns the issue of inflation. E.C. Woodley, an ABCFM missionary in Marash, painted a particularly vivid picture of how the behavioral side of economics influenced the result of the introduction of paper money into the Ottoman economy in 1915.92 Woodley and other missionaries in Cilicia knew this story well because they were strictly limited to transacting in paper money after this point, which resulted in major complications regarding the devaluing of remittances for Near East Relief aid to Armenians after 1915. Writing in 1919, Woodley explained how the new paper money produced unanticipated results. The Ottoman paper currency was introduced in 1915 as one to one equivalent with the gold lira, but by the end of the war the paper version was worth less than 20% of the coin equivalent. This depreciation occurred in spite of laws and policies encouraging the use of paper money, at certain points even forbidding the use of coin in the markets.


USEK, Sursock, 19249/295-96 (2 August 1918); 328 (31 July 1918). The lists of rents in the Sursock family records normally contain the name of the tenant and the unit number, but for 1915/16 this information is not provided for Rus Pazarı. Thus, this number is extrapolated from subsequent years. 91 Apparently constructed during the war period, this building was a fairly high rent place and the Sursocks’ tenants included the Chamber of Commerce. 92 While I have narrated this development through the provincial lens of Woodley’s testimony, a short overview of paper money in the Ottoman Empire is available in Sevket Pamuk, A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire (New York; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 222-24. 90


Woodley observed that “When the use of coin was forbidden, the merchants displayed their poorest goods and sold them at the highest rates, and the villagers refused to bring their grain and produce to sell. The markets practically closed and people went hungry.” The impact of paper money varied from locale to locale. While that account accurately described Marash, in Adana, for example, paper money took hold but with unusual effect. “The people hid their money and dealt only in paper,” Woodley explained, “but instead of advancing the prices of goods 400% the traders advanced them 1000%.”93 Inflation and lack of faith in the paper currency were worst in provinces furthest from the Ottoman capital; by August 1917, one gold lira would be worth 430 kuruş in Istanbul and 450 kuruş in Bursa and Izmir. Meanwhile, It was 600 kuruş in Adana, 555 in Beirut, and as much as 766 in Mosul.94 As the conflict and Ottoman financial woes worsened, the government began to print money ad hoc, creating a risk of further inflating the currency. But here, Ottoman citizens tried to use this state of affairs to their advantage, hoarding their coin while paying their taxes in the much devalued but officially equal paper currency promoted by the government. Even if the government reacted by raising tax rates, this ultimately hurt the treasury and undermined the Ottoman currency.95 The moral economy within which paper money was introduced in the Ottoman Empire illustrates the grave implications of wartime fiscal policy for people in Cilicia.

ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 672, pg. 394A, E.C. Woodley, “The Currency Situation in Turkey, 1914-1919.” Pamuk, A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire, 223. 95 ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 672, pg. 394A, E.C. Woodley, “The Currency Situation in Turkey, 1914-1919.” 93 94


Winter 1915-16: “We Cannot Find Bread” The country became miserable. Starvation, poverty, despair. Huge crowds in front of the bakeries. People fighting with each other to get bread that was like mud, obtained with a ration card. The cries of those who could not get it. People fainting from hunger. It was becoming normal. There was no counting the people begging for bread. The streets had become the realm of the poor and hungry.96 Damar Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım [My Memoirs] (1961)

Mobilization and the expulsion of the local Armenian community devastated the economy of the Cilicia region, which would not recover for the rest of the war. As the sagas of the Anatolian Armenians and Ottoman soldiers played out on the margins of the empire, the local situation in Adana and the surrounding area became increasingly dire. The winter of 1915-16 would bring famine to the Cilicia region, not just in the countryside, but even in the once thriving city of Adana. Governor Hakkı declared as early as October that reduced harvests coupled with the demands of the military and the overall impact of the deportations on the region’s food supply could be headed towards “a critical famine (buhranlı bir kaht).” The province did not even have enough seed for the coming year.97 Hunger was spreading in Adana, and the ABCFM hospital reported feeding roughly 150 people per day alone.98 Meanwhile, there were major shortages of items like coffee and salt as well as fuel. One American missionary claimed that people in Adana resorted to using fruit trees — normally held as highly valuable — and the homes of deported Armenians for firewood. One of her Muslim neighbors had “all last winter used the flooring of her [own] house for cooking her food.”99 In the middle of December, Hakkı wrote to the Ministry of Interior to explain the impact of mobilization and the deportation of Armenians on his province. A quarter of the men had been Arıkoğlu, Hâtıralarım, 69. Üngör and Polatel refer to this quotation and provide many other interesting details about the specific economic impacts of the deportation of Armenians on the economy and life of the Adana region. Mehmet Polatel and Ümit Üngör, Confiscation and Colonization : the Young Turks seizure of Armenian property (London: Continuum, 2011), 107-32. 97 BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 23-25, Hakkı to Dahiliye (24 Eylül 1331 [7 October 1915]). 98 ABC 16.9.5, Reel 671, pg. 7, Haas to Barton (9 October 1915). 99 ABC 16.9.5, Reel 672, pg. 292A, Elizabeth Webb, “The Exiling of the Armenians: Adana District.” 96


taken away by the war effort, and a similar number of Armenians had been removed from the economy. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Armenians passing through Adana and elsewhere had been left to fend for themselves during deportations. He calculated that there were about 100,000 males left in the province, many of whom were children or unfit to work. A similar decline in the animal population had occurred. Moreover, of the 70-80,000 migrant workers that had come from other provinces in recent years, none were coming. The provincial government had up until that point failed to put one or two of the nine labor battalions in the province charged with road and rail construction towards agriculture. These conditions created a situation in which Hakkı noted that the province might not even have two-weeks’ worth of grain left, and the provincial government was scrambling to facilitate whatever planting might be possible.100 As the economic situation worsened, many pleaded for help, positioning their claims on the basis of their family’s service to the nation. By the end of the winter in February 1916, prices of basic foodstuffs in Cilicia spiked to unprecedented levels, and the municipal government in Adana could not procure enough wheat to regulate the supply of bread.101 The treasurer of the Adana province reported that a bushel of grain had reached 6 mecidiyes or roughly 120 kuruş.102 Considering that the going rate for a bushel of wheat in Adana before the war was 20-25 kuruş, this reflected a dramatic rise in the cost of food.103 As a result, the poor simply “could not buy it” and grain was becoming increasingly monopolized by a few merchants and profiteers

BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 12-13, Hakkı to Dahiliye (30 Teşrinisani 1331 [13 December 1915]). During the war period, women took up a larger role in agriculture in order to compensate for the dearth of labor in the villages, however, it is unclear to what extent the government worked to actively mobilize female labor in the Adana region. 101 BOA, DH-İ-UM 98-2/1-51, no. 4, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (15 Kanunusani 1331 [28 January 1916]). 102 BOA, DH-ŞFR 667/43 (27 Kanunusani 1331 [9 Şubat 1916]). 103 1325 senesi Asya ve Afrika-yı Osmani Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of Ottoman Asia and Africa for Year 1325], 14; Memalik-i Osmaniye'nin 1329 Senesine Mahsus Zıraat İstatistiği [Agricultural Statistics of the Ottoman Empire for Year of 1913], 36. 100


(muhtekirin).104 In fact, financial stress and hunger had escalated to the point that families began to pressure the government. A telegram from a woman named Ayşe speaking on behalf of “all the military families of Adana” demanded that the government look after their provisioning (iaşe). She wrote, “We receive a salary of 30 kuruş [per month] and a bushel of wheat is six mecidiye (i.e. 120 kuruş). We and our children are being wiped out by hunger while our men are sacrificing their lives for the sake of protecting the state and religion (din ve devlet).”105 Such a frank and desperate message to the Ministry of Interior from an ordinary citizen identified simply as “Ayşe” may sound unusual, but as Yiğit Akın has shown, there are in fact many such telegrams strewn about the various documents and correspondence concerning provisioning in the Ottoman Empire from 1916 onward. Often penned by the wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters of Ottoman military personnel, they consistently assert their basic right to eat as part and parcel of their family’s service to war effort. 106 For example, a telegram to the Ministry of Interior sent within a day of Ayşe’s call for assistance during the winter of 1916 bears the signatures of 15 women from Tarsus who hailed from the families of Muslim soldiers (şehit gazi asakir-i islamiye). They too asked for government intervention in urban provisioning in the Cilicia region, declaring that “The local businessmen do not accept banknotes. We cannot buy the things we need to buy. We will die from hunger with paper in our hands. A bushel of wheat has risen to 100 kuruş. We cannot find bread.”107 By February of 1916, it was painfully clear that Ottoman provisioning practices did not meet the needs of civilian populations during wartime. Over prior decades, the government had played little role in the regulation of the food supply beyond sometimes banning export from BOA, DH-ŞFR 667/43 (27 Kanunusani 1331 [9 Şubat 1916]). BOA, DH-İ-UM 88-3/4-26, no. 10, Ayşe to Dahiliye, Adana (31 Kanunusani 1331 [13 February 1916]). 106 See Yiğit Akın, "War, Women, and the State: The Politics of Sacrifice in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War," Journal of Women's History 26, no. 3 (2014). 107 BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 15/51, no. 2, Münire et al to Dahiliye, Tarsus (30 Kanunusani 1331 [12 February 1916]). 104 105


regions of scarcity, facilitating the movement of emergency supplies, and implementing price ceilings called narhs, which were very difficult to enforce. Early responses to scarcity during the war as described above were improvised and failed to systematically address the issues that gave rise to provisioning issues. For the most part, the Ottoman administration sought to orchestrate the movement of flour and grain to places where it was critically needed. This was the initial response to the looming famine of February 1916 in Adana. The provincial treasurer proposed that the best solution was to sell the 80,000 kg of grain reserves belonging to the 4th Army of Syria led by Cemal Pasha to the local population at a moderate price. 108 After some correspondence with Cemal Pasha and the Ministry of Interior, the provincial government ended up purchasing grain from the Province of Konya — the only region in a position to supply it — allowing residents of the city to purchase a meager two kg each at a reduced price.109 But such measures were only short-term solutions to the chronic scarcity that was emerging throughout the empire. The Ottoman Empire did not possess well-defined civilian provisioning practices during the first years of the war. An investigation of the impacts of certain measures on various provinces from 1916 illustrated why systematic approaches were so difficult to adopt. Each province reported different obstacles. Whereas in Beirut, free trade had allowed profiteers to monopolize the grain supply, thereby exacerbating famine, the local government in Adana claimed that measures such as price ceilings were ultimately counterproductive and that trade should be free.110 In other words, according to these explanations, free trade caused the famine in Lebanon whereas absence of free trade caused famine conditions in Adana. The new Governor

BOA, DH-ŞFR 667/43 (27 Kanunusani 1331 [9 Şubat 1916]). BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 15/57 (1 Şubat 1331 [14 February 1916]); DH-UMVM 136/20 (3 Şubat 1331 [16 February 1916]). 110 BOA, DH-İ-UM 98-2/1-51, no. 31, Azmi to Dahiliye, Beirut (11 Nisan 1332 [24 April 1916]). 108 109


of Adana Cevdet Bey (more in Chapter 9) noted that the biggest obstacle to provisioning in the sparsely population Adana province was not so much supply but rather transportation issues, which left producers with grain rotting in their hands.111 Beirut and Adana were just two examples of provisioning that the Ottoman government drew on while trying to formulate a more comprehensive approach.112 Summer 1916: The Refugees However grave the situation may have been in Adana, at the margins of the Ottoman Empire, especially Eastern Anatolia, matters were even worse. From 1915 onward, the level of internal displacement in the Ottoman Empire increased not just among Christian populations but also Muslim immigrants and refugees. Some of these refugees were Ottoman Muslims displaced by the Balkan Wars that had yet to settle down after up to two years of itinerancy. In many cases, they were settled in the places of Armenians almost immediately after deportation was carried out.113 Others were fleeing the combat zone in Eastern Anatolia, which after 1915, extended well into the Ottoman provinces of Van and Bitlis. The Refugees and Tribes Directorate (Aşair ve Muhacirin Müdüriyet-i Umumiyesi) began making arrangements for these people to replace Armenian deportees even before the orders had been implemented in places like Adana. 114 The


BOA, DH-İ-UM 98-2/1-51, no. 34, Cevdet to Dahiliye, Adana (17 Nisan 1332 [30 April 1916]). For a summary of the experience in each province, see BOA, DH-İ-UM 98-2/1-51, no. 15-17. 113 Kevorkian cites this fact as an example of the planning involved in the Armenian genocide, especially in the case of Zeytun, which was exceptionally emptied in April 1915 and where Balkan muhacirs were settled immediately following the deportations. In this way, Zeytun appears as an early model for more universal deportations and settlements over the course of the subsequent year. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 588. 114 One plan involved settling refugees that had been settled in Syria in the place of Armenians in Anatolia, in turn settling the many nomadic tribes of Syria in their stead. Such plans reflect the ambition of CUP demographic engineering. For example Ali Münif notified the government in Syria during June of 1915 that “Because the refugees residing in Fiham Çayırgahı and all the others will to be sent to places vacated by Armenians from Aleppo, Adana, and Urfa for settlement, there is no need for them to build houses for themselves. The land vacated by the refugees should be prepared for settlement of tribes.” BOA, DH-ŞFR 54/95, Ali Münif to Suriye (9 Haziran 1331 [22 June 1915]). It does seem that in the end, settlement policies during the war were ultimately limited to refugees and for the most part excluded the longstanding attempts at tribal settlement, but this is a subject that absolutely demands further study, as the relationship between the Ottoman state and tribes in Syria, Iraq, and Eastern Anatolia comprised a very major issue of concern during the war. 112


fighting in Eastern Anatolia devastated the local communities, which suffered not only from extreme scarcity of food but also threat of violence. An ABCFM report on relief activities for Armenians and Assyrians included these Kurdish refugees in their potential purview, describing their plight in staccato prose: “Kurds - pillaged and plundered - men killed - crops not planted as before - animals taken - destitute.”115 However, the plight of these refugees was not only limited to the effects of war. Yiğit Akın notes that the CUP saw the refugee crisis in Eastern Anatolia as an opportunity for “demographic engineering.” Resettling Kurdish populations in other parts of the empire would facilitate their integration and break up their preexisting socioeconomic and political structures, and the government limited where Muslim refugees could settle.116 The Ottoman government deliberately moved these communities further and further westward, transferring them from one location to another. Ümit Üngör refers to the transport of Kurdish populations during the war as an explicit policy of deportation that began in 1916 immediately after the deportations of Armenians had concluded. This policy was in Üngör’s formulation an attempt to bring about further ethnolinguistic homogeneity in Eastern Anatolia by removing other non-Turkish elements.117 The removal of large concentrations of Kurdish population that had fled fighting in the east from the Province of Diyarbakır where they had taken refuge did clearly indicate that Ottoman officials were concerned with the ethnic makeup of refugees and the demographics of regions they were sent to. As a major interface between Eastern Anatolia and the rest of the empire, the Cilicia region played a large role in the movements of refugees throughout the empire. At first, refugees

ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 670, “Relief Work.” See Akçam, The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity : the Armenian genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Ottoman Empire, 50-53. 117 Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey, 110. 115 116


arrived slowly and under some degree of Ottoman surveillance. For example in the summer of 1916, a telegram from the provincial treasurer in Adana reported the presence of over 500 new refugees (mülteci) in the province. Most were settled in towns that had possessed large Armenian populations, and while the provincial government sought some 5000 lira for short-term assistance, settlement was carried out with the hopes that many of the refugees would easily find work on the farms and in the factories of Çukurova where labor shortages were acute. 118 These figures for the summer of 1916 did not encompass the size of the refugee population in Adana, but rather demonstrate an instance of how such refugees were settled largely in the countryside.119 Refugees were to be settled specifically in the places from which Armenians or Greeks had departed. But as Balkan refugees were settled and the numbers of those coming from Eastern Anatolia grew, the Ministry of Interior became concerned with managing the Kurdishness of many families within the latter group and the influence it might have on their new regions of settlement. In the Adana region, this meant that those refugees from the Balkans and Anatolia who were “Turks” would be permanently settled. Meanwhile, those who were “Kurds” were to remain in Adana to the end of the war and then return to their regions of origin.120 Most of these refugees fell short of becoming full-fledged settlers and many were unfit to work. As a result, they did not become active members of the agrarian economy. A German officer somewhat appalled with the miserable state of Kurdish refugees at Mamure wondered with a tone of

BOA, DH-ŞFR 528/31, Ahmed Besim to Dahiliye, Adana (27 Temmuz 1332 [9 August 1916]). Whereas 99 and 69 refugees had been settled in Adana and Tarsus respectively, there were 132 in the much smaller town of Sis, 70 in Hadjin, and 66 in Dörtyol, along with 44 in Bahçe and 40 in Yumurtalık. Thus, roughly half were settled in the three most predominantly Armenian towns of Sis, Hadjin, and Dörtyol. In some cases, the vacated houses intended for muhacirs had already been illegally occupied by others or partially demolished. BOA, DH-ŞFR 528/12 Şükrü General Director of Muhacirin in Adana to Dahiliye, Adana (24 Temmuz 1332 [6 August 1916]). 119 A small number of the refugees from the east were Iranian nationals identified as “Turkish” (İranlı Türk). BOA, DH-ŞFR 524/100, Tahsin to Dahiliye, Diyarbakır (21 Haziran 1332 [4 July 1916]). 120 BOA, DH-SN-THR 77/47, no. 1, Nüfüs to Dahiliye (14 November 1917). 118


skepticism, “Is really anything going to be organized for their reception in Adana? Will they be given land, cattle, and tools? Or will they go to pieces in misery?”121 More people would continue to arrive throughout the war, so by the following spring of 1917, the population of refugees in Cilicia had risen tremendously.122 The Governor of Adana Cevdet Bey reported that there were over 16,000 refugees (muhacir ve mülteci), over 4000 of whom were in the district of Kozan alone. He requested over one million kuruş to provision these refugees and the other needy people in cities like Adana and estimated that another 500,000 kuruş would be needed for further refugees coming from Urfa. 123 In the end, those coming from Urfa would be estimated at almost another 10,000 individuals in need of another one million kuruş for provisions.124 In Urfa, the extreme crowding of refugees was creating major issues in terms of provisioning, where some refugees had been blamed for petty crimes such as assault and the theft of cattle and onions.125 Their exodus left these communities in a very precarious situation. By August 1917, the Adana province had received over 30,000 lira in assistance for refugees and other needs. Yet they were requesting a much larger number—about 300,000 lira—for the purposes of facilitating the active participation of refugees in the province’s agriculture. The Ministry of Interior, however, reported that such an amount was infeasible, deciding that the refugees should be given “a few dönüms” of land in hopes that they could grow something.126 Though the natural desire was to make refugees agriculturally productive and self-sufficient, in practice they required a


Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey, 116. Some files about the muhacirs who came to Adana during the war period may be found in the archives of the Turkish Republic (BCA). For example, some muhacirs were settled in the predominantly Christian villages near the city of Adana such as Hristiyanköyü, İncirlik and Şeyh Murad in 1916. BCA, 272-0-0-11 8/6/4, no. 2 Cevdet to Dahiliye, Adana (23 Mart 1332 [5 April 1916]). 123 BOA, DH-ŞFR 547/7, Cevdet to Dahiliye, Adana (1 March 1917). 124 BOA, DH-ŞFR 549/92, Cevdet to Dahiliye, Adana (28 March 1917). 125 BOA, DH-ŞFR 74/25, Talat to Urfa Mutasarrıflığı (3 March 1917). 126 BOA, DH-ŞFR 79/71, Dahiliye to Adana Province (8 August 1917). 122


tremendous amount of state assistance. By June 1918, the Governor of Adana Nazım requested approximately 50,000 lira in order to provision a local population of 18,120 refugees. 127 Much like the deportations of Armenians, this huge problem of internal displacement was singularly detrimental to the war effort in terms of the mobilization of people and resources as well as consumption of finances. 1917: Just Deserters? Millions of men would be mobilized for the Ottoman war effort. By the end of 1915, around 50,000 men from the Adana province — almost 15% of the total population and more than 25% of the male population — had been mobilized.128 This conformed to a pattern throughout the empire. The number of Ottoman soldiers who served in the military during the World War I period was estimated at around 3 million. As the hardships of war set in, the condition of Ottoman soldiers worsened. Over 700,000 were reported injured by war’s end; official statistics counted over 500,000 dead, predominantly due to disease.129 Conscription sent men from every town and village throughout the empire on arduous long-distance journeys, but no two journeys were the same. For many, the journey ended in the trenches of Ottoman fronts like Gallipoli. The diary of Mehmed Fasih, a native of Mersin, who served as an officer in Gallipoli illustrates the many hazards found there: disease, malnutrition, violence, and anxiety.130 Then there were those who were captured in battle. They usually spent the rest of the war as POWs in far-off locations. I cite as one example the case of an Ottoman soldier named Osman from Kars-ı Zülkadriye, the small town in Upper Çukurova rebuilt through the activities of the

BOA, DH-ŞFR 587/151, Nazım to Dahiliye, Adana (22 June 1918). BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 31, no. 12-13, Hakkı to Dahiliye (30 Teşrinisani 1331 [13 December 1915]). 129 Yalman, Turkey in the World War, 253. 130 Mehmed Fasih and Murat Çulcu, Kanlısırt Günlügü : Mehmed Fasih Bey'in Çanakkale anıları (Istanbul: Arba, 1997). Salim Tamari offers substantial treatment of this diary in Year of the Locust. Tamari, Year of the Locust: a soldier's diary and the erasure of Palestine's Ottoman past. 127 128


Reform Division during the 1860s. A scribbled note in the archives of the Red Crescent reveals that his father Hacı Süleyman went to the post office of Kars to send 160 kuruş to Osman, his captive son, a prisoner in a British camp in Bellary, India.131 The hardship of the soldier was never merely a personal sacrifice or loss; the war’s impacts on families, widows, and orphans affected by the departure or loss of a young soldier comprise an extremely critical facet of this story.132 Although many soldiers went dutifully to the fronts to face all the perils that war brought, avoidance of conscription was very widespread. Potential recruits took drastic measures such as maiming their trigger fingers to avoid entering the army ranks. But in the desperate times of the First World War, even a finger was not a fair trade for military service. 133 Those unfit for battle could still wind up in the equally arduous service within labor battalions, which Zürcher estimates contained between 25,000 to 50,000 individuals during the war. The working conditions of these battalions were usually abysmal, often as bad as or even worse than those of soldiers.134 As a result, desertion was extremely common, and the archival record reflects continued efforts by the Ottoman government to track down deserters or “runaways (firari)” as well as bakaya, soldiers who simply did not report for duty. These men were pushed to the margins of society by virtue of the fact that avoiding military service required them to evade the gaze of the Ottoman surveillance apparatus, which despite many gaps, was always roving. In provinces such as Adana, the gendarmerie was locked in an endless game of cat and mouse with men avoiding military service.

TKA, 817/16, Hacı Süleyman to Hilal-ı Ahmer, Kars-ı Zülkadriye (29 July 1917). Again, I refer to the work of Yiğit Akın on women and the politics of provisioning and petitioning during the war. Akın, "War, Women, and the State: The Politics of Sacrifice in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War." 133 BOA, BEO 4401/330040 (17 Şubat 1331 [1 March 1916]). 134 Zürcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: from the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk's Turkey, 171. 131 132


The number of deserters rose dramatically in 1917. Zürcher cites the figure of over 300,000 men having deserted by December 1917.135 Again, the Cilicia region was no exception to this phenomenon. From the beginning of the war until July 1917, there were over 20,000 instances of desertion (firari and bakaya), overwhelmingly by Muslims, it would appear, in İçel alone. Over a third had not been apprehended by the gendarmerie. 136 Monthly reports by the gendarmerie in Adana reflect a similar and steady rise in the number of outstanding deserters.137 To give a typical example of what desertion looked like on the local level, the table below details the number of deserters from the Adana province and their increase during a particular month in 1917, as well as the number who were captured during that time. The table shows that over 4000 men from the Adana province were registered as deserters as of October 1917, and in the course of a month that number increased by 30%, less than half the total number of deserters apprehended during the same period.138 Given the scale of the numbers listed here, grappling with desertion must have become the primary activity of the Ottoman gendarmerie during the war.


Ibid., 177. While deserters were seen as disloyal, given the conditions described above, Yalman commented that “without the mass desertions during the last period of the War, the survival of the Turkish nation might have become problematical.” Yalman, Turkey in the World War, 253. 136 BOA, DH-EUM-6-Şb 19/64, no. 5 (8 October 1917). 137 BOA, DH-EUM-6-Şb 11/31, no 2 (6 Tişrinisani 1332 [19 November 1916]); 20/10, no. 13 (8 July 1917); 19/64, no. 6 (12 October 1917). 138 BOA, DH-EUM-6-Şb 28/66, no. 5. (9 November 1917).


Table 17 Adana Gendarmerie Runaway Statistics, November 1917 (Source: BOA, DH-EUM-6-Şb 28/66, no. 5.) District

New runaways, November 1917 192

New Total


Runaways as of October 1917 1335


Number Caught, November 179

Number Remaining 1348









































































Since deserters were by definition fugitives who disobeyed the mobilization laws, it is perhaps only natural that some flouted other laws as well. While it is important to note that the vast majority of firaris and bakaya counted in the gendarmerie reports of the Adana province were listed as not having perpetrated any other criminal act, the war period did see an emergence of serious issues regarding state monopolization of violence in the countryside. An American missionary commented already in September of 1914 that the roads of Cilicia were “infested by robbers” who were mainly deserters fleeing military service, forced to live on the margins of society.139 Throughout the war period, and particularly during the last years, the gendarmerie in the periphery of the Cilicia region near Marash and Gavurdağı was confronted by a diverse assortment of armed bands that represented mobilization’s discontents. In some cases, they merely arose from the rebellious ranks of villagers who resisted conscription. One example is the band of Akkaş, who squared off with the gendarmerie in Çerçili and Kayabaşı, the same sites of


ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 672, pg. 346, Woodley to Barton, Marash (16 September 1914).


battle during the operations of the Reform Division.140 The emergence of banditry in Gavurdağı might not have been historically unprecedented, but it reflected the ways in which the war period posed challenges to Ottoman hegemony in the countryside of the home front: organized bands of outlaws in many cases operated in the same geographies that had been the crucible of Ottoman centralization efforts in the nineteenth century. For example, in 1917, the gendarmerie in the district of Marash was confronted with three different bands or çetes carrying out violence and robbery in the countryside. One was comprised of Kurdish Alevis141 based in the Elbistan region led by a deserter named Hasan. They started as just a few bandits who after carrying out an attack on the gendarmerie and killing four personnel, drew over thirty deserters to their ranks, subsequently robbing a local village of a large amount of property and livestock and killing a gendarme who had taken eight bakaya into custody. The second çete of a similar size was comprised of Armenians hiding in the mountains around Zeytun, whose alleged crimes included slitting the throats of two muhacirs. The last çete was also comprised of about thirty Armenians roaming between İslahiye, Maraş, and Pazarcık. Their crimes included killing and dismembering the imam of a village and stealing around 3000 lira from a villager. With regard to the latter two çetes, the investigating Ottoman official made no mention of any political affiliation, only that it was unbelievable how easy it had become for “any old bum or nobody who gets ahold of a weapon (eline geçiren her aciz ve serseri)” to take up a life of brigandage in the countryside.142 In each of these above cases, it is telling that the violence perpetrated by these armed bans contained elements of reprisal. Whether deserters intimidating and attacking the local gendarmerie or Armenians killing an imam, all of these acts of brigandage represented graphic BOA, DH-EUM-6-Şb 2/4, no. 8, Adana gendarmerie to Dahiliye (7 Eylül 1331 [20 September 1915]). The document states “Şiiülmezheb Kürtler.” 142 BOA, DH-EUM-6-Şb 27/25, no. 9, Haleb Mülkiye Müfettişi Şekib to Dahiliye (15 September 1917). 140 141


expressions of discontent with the wartime conditions or political violence aimed at Armenians. The vast majority of discontents did not express their frustration in such ways, but many of those who did perpetrate brigandage during the war, such as Armenian survivors in Cilicia, did so as a reaction to what the war did to them. Displacement, while a natural outcome of mobilization, deportation, and combat, was a destabilizing force in the provinces in the Ottoman Empire. It was an important aspect of how and why the local economy of regions like Cilicia struggled in the face of the war’s demands, and like the attempted annihilation of local Armenian populations and the ambitious movement of refugees throughout Anatolia, the issue of desertion revealed that the Ottoman government was engaged in internal battles in the midst of a multi-front war against global empires. Towards a War Ecology? Mobilization, displacement, and economic disruption fundamentally changed the ecology of the Adana region. The expansion of cotton and cereal cultivation that had continued more or less steadily for several decades witnessed a profound reversal. Much of the Çukurova plain laid fallow during the war. The war changed the relationship between Ottoman citizens and the land, resulting in a crisis of agrarian production, nutrition, and public health. These impacts impelled Ottoman officials to adopt new approaches to the management of resources, orchestrating agricultural production, and the control of disease that may be seen as more interventionist or indicating a form of command ecology. I had hoped to offer more involved discussion of the impacts of the various shifts in policy proposed by the Ottoman administration from 1916 onward; however, I do not have clear evidence of significant impacts with regard to the Cilicia region in particular. We can speak of a shift in the political culture and the development of certain practices and attitudes regarding public health and agriculture that would influence post


Ottoman states but it is unclear if there were actually significant impacts brought about by such policies during the war period.

Figure 29 Ottoman labor battalion on the march in Mamure, near Islahiye (Source: Schilling, "Kriegshygienische Erfahrungen in Der Türkei," 1921, pg. 153) The most critical disruption caused by mobilization was the damage done to agricultural production throughout the Ottoman Empire, which was especially harmful in regions like Cilicia that relied heavily on migrant labor. In order to compensate for this effect, the CUP more assertively promoted a notion of “war agriculture” from 1916 onward, increasing budgetary allocations in the agricultural sphere and equating agriculture labor with other civic duties such as military service.143 During the war period, provincial governments became more insistent about military intervention to provide labor battalions for planting and harvest. For example, Governor Hakkı requested that during February 1916, 10-15 labor battalions of workers to carry out the planting and suggested the English, French, and Russian prisoners of war with


Yalman, Turkey in the World War, 129-30.


agricultural skills be used to provide further support.144 By 1917, it had become standard procedure in Cilicia and Syria for the province to request labor battalions upon specific instructions of the Ministry of Agriculture at harvest time.145 Agricultural manuals such as Agriculture in a Practical and Modern Army, published by the military in 1917, emphasized the importance of mechanization and the application of new agronomical techniques in the production of wheat, corn, and other food staples.146 Meanwhile, the CUP began to promote the cultivation of fairly uncommon but hardy staples towards the end of the war through its agricultural publication Çiftçiler Derneği Mecmuası (The Farmers Association Magazine).147 This publication also featured numerous articles on the importance of agriculture as civic and indeed Islamic duties, stressing the value of women’s labor during wartime.148 While attempts to overhaul the agricultural economy of the Ottoman Empire during the war may have had clear results in some provinces, evidence of the actual impact of wartime agrarian policies in the Adana region is difficult to locate. For example, despite ambitious plans to expand the role of the state in agricultural production, a 1917 review of the five-year plan for agriculture in Adana indicated that no significant increase in expenditures for the increased mechanization of agriculture in the region had been made beyond the purchase of a single sprayer (pülverizatör) used in protecting orchards from insects and diseases.149 Nor should the failure to implement these plans be entirely surprising. It is unrealistic to imagine that heavily


BOA, DH-İ-UM 59-2/1 39, no. 2 (13 Kanunuevvel 1331 [26 December 1915]). BOA, DH-ŞFR 76/136, Mustafa Sırrı to Syria, Beirut, Aleppo, Adana, Jerusalem, and İçel (15 May 1917). 146 Mehmed Esad, Fenni ve Ameli Orduda Ziraat [Agriculture in a Practical and Modern Army] (Istanbul: Matbaa-ı Askeriye, 1333 [1917]). For more on the translation of “fenni” as “modern,” see Chapter 13. 147 Hüseyin Tayfur, "Patates Ziraatı: Patato Diseases (Potato Cultivation: Potato Diseases)," Çiftçiler Derneği Mecmuası (The Farmers Association Magazine) 1, no. 6 (1 March 1917); Y. Sami, "Mısır Ziraatı (Maize Cultivation)," Çiftçiler Derneği Mecmuası (The Farmers Association Magazine) 1, no. 6 (1 March 1917). 148 Çiftçiler Derneği Mecmuası [The Farmers Association Magazine] 1, no. 4 (11 December 1916): 58-59; M.N., "Bahçede [In the Garden]," Çiftçiler Derneği Mecmuası [The Farmers Association Magazine] 1, no. 9 (15 June 1917): 136-38. 149 BOA, DH-UMVM 82/61, no. 8 (17 March 1917). 145


invested and indebted cultivators could radically convert their lands over to new crops, especially given the shortage of local labor and expertise, for which even labor battalions could not truly compensate. Total grain yields throughout the empire continued to decline in 1917 and 1918. The amount of total land cultivated with wheat in the empire, even when excluding the provinces of that were zones of combat, dropped by more than 25% between 1914 and 1918, and total yields dropped by almost half.150 This effect must have been even more pronounced in the Adana province. Based on available correspondence, Cilicia experienced extreme scarcity for the remainder of the war and verged on famine at least twice in 1917 and 1918.151 By March of 1918, women in the villages of the vast countryside between Mersin and Silifke complained that they were unable to support their families, the poorest among them having been reduced to eating acorns gathered from the forest.152 Clearly, agricultural journal articles meant little for families such as these. Yet still these sources point toward a cultural and political shift towards different ways of understanding the relationship between the state and society. This phenomenon can be observed in numerous fields, including public health. Constant movement, malnutrition, and transportation issues made Ottoman citizens more vulnerable to a number of diseases during the war period, and supplying the army with fundamental medicines such as quinine sulfate would have put stress on local markets. In regions like Cilicia, malaria was still highly endemic despite improvements in the area of public health and some efforts at swamp drainage in key areas such Eldem, Harp ve mütareke yıllarında Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun ekonomisi, 37. Cemal Pasha warned in October of 1917 of impending famine in Adana if a new governor was not sent. BOA, DH-ŞFR 569/42, Cemal to Dahiliye, Adana (22 October 1917). Cemal Pasha and Cevdet Bey had some major disagreements regarding provisioning methods during the prior year. BOA, DH-İ-UM-EK 36/68 (16 July 1917). For mention of seed shortages in Adana and İçel during winter 1918, see BOA, DH-İ-UM 13-1/2-37, no. 2, Mustafa Sırrı to Dahiliye (27 January 1918). 152 BOA, DH-İ-UM 20-02/2-50 (6 March 1918). 150 151


the ports of Mersin and İskenderun. As in the case of provisioning, the Ottoman government adopted many policies regarding health and medicine that went beyond securing the well-being of the military. Foremost among them was a quinine law, adopted in 1917, that affirmed the right of all Ottoman citizens to anti-malarial medicines, a policy that had first been articulated following the 1908 Revolution (see Chapter 6). Among the provisions in this law was the stipulation that quinine be purchased by the government and sold to Ottoman citizens with a standard markup of 15%.153 Even beyond this, the Ottoman government resolved to begin manufacturing its own quinine to make the medicines much more affordable.154 Here too, it is clear that the reach of these practices was relatively limited. For example, correspondence between the Red Crescent and the Ministry of Interior reveals that even Ottoman personnel in the Cilicia region did not have reliable access to quinine sulfate during the last years of the war.155 Yet the very involvement of the Red Crescent in the arena of civilian relief, much like the ascendance of Near East Relief and other international charities in assisting Armenian refugees and other groups in the Middle East, was a fairly novel development and indicative of a trend that would define the postwar period. The very organizations involved in providing relief during the war, supported heavily by donations, would lay the foundation for national health programs in Republican Turkey. Similarly, the Ottoman government’s relative success in selling bonds further proved the potential of civic participation in the war effort.156

BOA, İ-DUİT 81/9, no. 2 (12 Cemazeyilahir 1335 / 4 Nisan 1333 [4 April 1917]). Z. Koylu and N. Doğan, "Birinci dünya savaşı sırasında Osmanlı devleti'nde sıtma mücadelesi ve bu amaçla yapılan yasal düzenlemeler," Türkiye Parazitolojii Dergisi 34, no. 3 (2010). 155 BOA, DH-EUM-SSM 27/36, no. 9 (3 October 1917); no. 2 (1 July 1918). 156 The Ottoman Empire managed to sell 18 million lira in war bonds during 1918. Pamuk, A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire, 223. American missionary in Marash E.C. Woodley offered a somewhat conflicting perspective. Woodley remarked upon how exceptional it was that Ottoman citizens refused to give up their gold, even in exchange for heavily-promoted government bonds, which Woodley judged to be an “inconceivable stretch of patriotism.” ABC, 16.9.5, Reel 672, pg. 394A, E.C. Woodley, “The Currency Situation in Turkey, 1914-1919.” 153 154


The emergence of these new approaches to ecology and a changing political culture coincided with the ecological disaster of the First World War. The Ottoman Empire was not alone among combatant states that witnessed agrarian struggles or the spread of disease and scarcity as a result of the war. The First World War revealed the ways in which extra-human factors impinged upon human activity as well as the challenges that state and society faced when confronted by ecological events such as famine or epidemics. Although human decision-making was at the center of the war story, more people were killed by microbes than enemy soldiers during the war period. In the next chapter, I examine one case of a malaria epidemic from the Cilicia region in order to further elucidate the relationship between conflict, displacement, and ecology during the First World War.


CHAPTER 9 1916: YEAR OF THE MOSQUITO Disease is a head of the Hydra, War. M.R. Smallman-Raynor and A.D. Cliff, War Epidemics )2004)1

In late May of 1918, a Swiss engineer from Basel by the name of Lütneger was eager to leave the Ottoman Empire. He had been employed on the construction projects in Belemedik, the small mountain village where a German company was constructing a railway tunnel through the Taurus region. Lütneger wrote to the Ottoman Ministry of Interior for permission to return home, citing his inability to “adapt to the climate.”2 This looked like a possible reference to malaria, the type of justification used by countless civil servants and immigrants in the Ottoman Empire who asked for reappointment elsewhere or applied for change of air (see Chapter 6). Of course, change of air was often a good excuse to escape a bad situation, but what made this case unusual was that the region to which Lütneger claimed to be unable to acclimate must have been very similar to his own. Tucked away between mountain peaks, Belemedik’s climate was if anything Alpine, and with average temperatures in June hovering around 20°C (68°F), there was no better time to be in a Taurus Mountain town.3 How was Lütneger unable to adapt to such a climate? The answer to this question is found in a paper from a 1925 conference in Lütneger’s home country. Two doctors, Ernest Basso, based in Izmir, and Eugen Bentmann, a German doctor who worked in a tropical disease laboratory in Ankara during the First World War,


Matthew Smallman-Raynor and A. D. Cliff, War Epidemics: an historical geography of infectious diseases in military conflict and civil strife, 1850-2000 (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 3. 2 BOA, DH-EUM-SSM 22/36, no. 3 (27 May 1918) 3 For example, a French writer covering the history of the French occupation in Cilicia described the region as “Egypt with the Alps,” referring to the well-watered Çukurova plain and the nearby snow-capped Taurus Mountains. Du Véou, La Passion de la Cilicie, 1919-1922, 312.


presented a study of malaria in Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine to the League of Nations in Geneva, which was in the process of developing a number of global health initiatives.4 Basso and Bentmann conceded that there was relatively little scientific data on the subject, and as such, rather than being a comprehensive overview of malaria in the Middle East per se, their contribution was comprised of a series of scattered observations from various published reports including their own experiences as doctors.5 Bentmann had spent the last part of the war in Belemedik, the same place where Lütneger reported being unable to adapt to the climate. During WWI, Bentmann was part of a team of tropical disease specialists who conducted tests and administered treatment in the military hospitals of the Ottoman Empire. Their laboratory, which had been originally based in Ankara, was moved to the Taurus Mountains in 1917 with the expressed purpose of studying a devastating and strange malaria epidemic there.6 In the summer of 1916, doctors in and around Belemedik were dismayed as soldiers and workers died under their care in large numbers from what by that time was a treatable disease. What made the malaria epidemic all the more peculiar is that its epicenter was very atypical. Belemedik was a picturesque village in the mountains that before the arrival of railway construction crews and military personnel had served mainly as a summer pasture for local pastoralists. It was a yayla, the very place that one might go to escape summertime afflictions such as malaria. An outbreak of the disease at this location defied


I located this report in the files of the famed parasitologist Dr. Emile Brumpt at the Pasteur Institute archives in Paris. IP, BPT-G1, SDN/OH CH 275, “Deux rapports sur le paludisme en Asie Mineure, en Syrie et en Palestine.” However, the report was also published at the time and is available in a few libraries. See Ernest Basso and Eugen Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme en Asie Mineure, en Syrie et en Palestine [Two Reports on Malaria in Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine] (Geneva: League of Nations, 1925). 5 Ralph Collins consulted this essay in his report on public health in Republican Turkey, filed to the Rockefeller Foundation in 1926, but considered the report of Basso and Bentmann somewhat inadequate and did not make much mention of the incident I am about to discuss. See RAC, 805 Turkey, Box 1 1.1 Projects, Folder 1, Ralph Collins, “Public Health in Turkey” (1926), pg. 64-65. More in Chapter 12. 6 RAC, 805 Turkey, Box 1 1.1 Projects, Folder 1, Ralph Collins, “Public Health in Turkey” (1926), pg. 64-65.


conventional medical wisdom of the time, making the temperate Taurus Mountains the unlikely fixation of tropical disease researchers from Europe. Following the war, Bentmann and his colleagues hypothesized various causes for the epidemic. Some reasoned that there was a unique species of malaria or mosquito in question. But when weighing the handful of articles in German published on the subject, Bentmann ultimately concluded that environmental factors were at the heart of the epidemic. Countless people passed through Belemedik during the war, and many of them arrived with sicknesses contracted elsewhere. When coupled with other ecological conditions, this movement facilitated a malaria outbreak. For Bentmann, there was nothing so special about the malaria of the Taurus Mountains; rather, the conditions of war were exceptional. These conditions made the year of the epidemic — 1916 — “a year the mosquitoes swarmed (une année où les moustiques pulullaient).”7 In fact, as I explain in this chapter, Bentmann’s description of the Belemedik malaria epidemic only scratched the surface of factors contributing to a wartime ecology that fostered disease and famine throughout the empire, even in regions as far from the fighting as Taurus Mountain villages. The movement of troops, internal displacement, and relocation of prisoners of war all contributed to the spread of disease in the empire. The malaria epidemics were in part and expression of how the hardship of the road affected various communities with different circumstances, from Ottoman soldiers and Allied POWs to Armenian deportees and Muslim refugees. However, once the impacts of these wartime dislocations unfolded, malaria did not neatly differentiate between distinct groups of people. In the end, everyone would be touched by the rise of malaria during the war, a disease that due to ecological conditions of the period, succeeded in conquering the slopes of the Taurus range even faster than the Baghdad Railway. 7

Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 19.


Anopheline Frontiers: the Mountains and Malaria Mobilization triggered an economic decline, displacement fueled the spread of poverty and suffering, and the war conditions created a climate of tremendous scarcity, even famine, in some regions of the Ottoman Empire. These factors converged to create what might be labeled an ecology of war (see Chapter 8). A staggering amount of land in Çukurova — perhaps even a majority of the land that was under cultivation on the eve of the war — lay fallow during the war years or was planted only for crops to rot in waste without sufficient labor for the harvest. According to a postwar Armenian medical report discussing the widespread malaria in the Cilicia region, around one-seventh of the agricultural land in Çukurova was cultivated as of 1919.8 That same report, as all postwar accounts and reports did, referred to epidemic levels of malaria affecting the population, citing the lack of cultivation as a contributing factor. In other words, the fallow lands proved fertile ground for malaria. Indeed, residents of Çukurova perceived the rise in cultivation and the proper maintenance of fields as one of the main vehicles driving improved health conditions in the region over the last decades of the Ottoman period. But even more crucially perhaps, the level of displacement and involuntary movement, which had often made people more susceptible to disease (see Chapters 1, 4, 5, and 6), combined with a general state of malnutrition, made Ottoman citizens vulnerable to the impact of normally more manageable ailments such as malaria as well as typhus, the great killer of starving bodies.9 During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire witnessed a significant rise in epidemic disease. Ahmet Emin Yalman indicated that the Ottoman military reported more than 400,000

Dr. Ghazarosyan, Teġekagir hay bžškakan aṙak'elowt'ean (Kilikia) : Mayis-Ōgostos 1919 [Report of the Armenian Medical Mission (Cilicia): May-August 1919] (Paris: Imprimerie Turabian, 1920), 36. 9 For the correlation between typhus and other disease during war, see Smallman-Raynor and Cliff, War Epidemics: an historical geography of infectious diseases in military conflict and civil strife, 1850-2000, 6-7. 8


cases of malaria alone during the war and over 20,000 malaria-induced deaths.10 Beyond army statistics, there is a paucity of quantitative data regarding malaria rates and mortality among Ottoman civilians before and during the war. The Ottoman Ministry of Health claimed that it had succeeded in bringing about a significant decline in malaria deaths across the empire due to the dispensation of quinine during the early twentieth century (see Chapter 6). Many sources note that wartime movement, as it did in other regions of the world, brought more virulent strains of malaria to Anatolia, and it is clear that malaria was very rampant in Anatolia after the war (more in Chapter 12).11 Even if quantitative assessment remains murky, what cannot be denied is that a qualitative shift in the malaria ecology occurred during the war. This is perfectly reflected in a case from the Pozantı district of the Taurus Mountains of the Cilicia region. Amidst all of the upheaval of the period, this development may seem trivial, but it is truly momentous in light of the material presented in the previous chapters. During summer 1916, malaria came to the yaylas of the Taurus Mountains, one of the few locations considered safe from its reach.12 I was unable to find much mention of the malaria epidemic that occurred in Belemedik and the Pozantı region of the Taurus Mountains during the war in the Ottoman archives; however, due to the presence of German doctors in that region, the event is fairly welldocumented. The district of Pozantı is located about 80 km north of Tarsus. The small village of Belemedik, the stated epicenter of the epidemic, is some 12 km from the town of Pozantı.13 Before the 20th century, the site of Belemedik was the secluded yayla of local Tahtacıs, transhumant pastoralists that moved between the Taurus Mountains and the coast west of Mersin,


Yalman, Turkey in the World War, 253. See Kyle T. Evered and Emine Ö. Evered, "Governing population, public health, and malaria in the early Turkish republic," Journal of Historical Geography 37, no. 4 (2011): 475-76. 12 See Chapter 1 for a complete discussion of the relationship between the yayla and malaria. 13 Bentmann had published an article on the subject a few years prior. Eugen Bentmann, "Kriegsärztliche Erfahrungen in Anatolien [Military Medcial Experiences in Anatolia]," Archiv fuer schiffs-und tropen-hygiene Vol. 27(1923). 11


residing in permanent villages near the coast and taking up residence in tents during the summer.14 They supplemented their livelihood through forestry, using the well-wooded slopes of the Cilician highlands.15 Belemedik was a good place to spend the summer. It has an elevation of around 700 meters and was surrounded by forested mountains and plateaus. Though the Çakıt River flowed through the area, there was no place for swamps and no significant irrigated agricultural activity that might allow mosquitoes to breed in large numbers. As I have emphasized throughout this study, these types of areas were if anything regions where the local population of Cilicia would go to escape the malaria of the plains during the summer. Belemedik had virtually no permanent population before the twentieth century. In fact, it does not seem that a place called Belemedik existed before the beginning of a railway through the region.16 Its name, according to legend, derived from the frequent confused utterances of “bilemedik” or “we couldn’t get it” among Turkish workers during the challenging construction of an elaborate system of railway tunnels by the German company Holzmann beginning in 1911. The town grew with the influx of railroad workers and employees involved in the construction of the tracks that would connect to the Adana line and from there to the Baghdad Railway or Baghdadbahn. The construction project, which involved tunneling through the valley of the Çakıt River to connect the Taurus Mountains to the Çukurova plain below, was ambitious to say the least. Due to the difficult working conditions, the tunnels were not complete at the outset of


Admiralty, A Handbook of Asia Minor, 43. This particular region was viewed by Ottoman administrators as remote and until the activities of the Ministry of Forestry increased very late in the Ottoman period, there was relatively little direct contact between the Tahtacıs in the Taurus Mountains and the local government. With the rise in construction and trade through the port of Mersin, Tahtacıs who migrated between the Taurus Mountains and the Eastern Mediterranean littoral became involved in selling lumber to businessmen and smugglers of the coast, who according to one report from the 1870s, offered goods to the Tahtacıs at exorbitant prices. BOA, ŞD 2117/1, no. 1 Naşid to Sadaret (27 Safer 1289 / 24 Nisan 1288 [6 May 1872]). During the First World War, the Ministry of Interior became more interested in the Tahtacıs and Çepnis of the Taurus Mountains as distinct ethnic groups. See BOA, DH-ŞFR 87/350 (30 May 1918). 16 I could not find a reference to Belemedik in any Ottoman sources from before the construction of the railroad, but this does not absolutely mean that the name did not have a prior origin. 15


the war. The tunneling operations at Belemedik themselves were not even completed until 1915, at which point work crews could complete construction of the railway.17 Throughout the war period, the village was inhabited by a large number of workers and German military personnel. Worker health had been an issue at Baghdad Railway construction sites, but not so much in Belemedik. In fact, during the first year of construction in the Cilicia region in 1911, disease had ravaged the ranks of the German railroad workers in Çukurova in June. As a result, they retreated into the Taurus Mountains to begin tunnel construction not far from Belemedik in order to find refuge from the summer scourge and salvage the lost work time. 18 Thus, when a malaria epidemic broke out at Belemedik in the summer of 1916, it came as a shock to the German doctors who treated the soldiers and employees there. Bentmann’s report indicated that in August of 1916, “mortality caused by malaria at the hospital in Belemedik” was over 50% and remained above 20% until December.19 This does not mean that malaria mortality in the entire area was 50% but rather solely among the patients who were taken into care at the special military hospital in Belemedik. This fact made the epidemic all the more anomalous given the medical treatments for malaria available at the time. A number of German doctors were stationed in the Pozantı region at some point during the war. Some doctors reported that the malaria parasite was demonstrating an unusually high resistance to quinine. One doctor reported that as many as 95% of the soldiers and workers he was responsible for had malaria.20


McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway, 118. Ibid., 88-89. 19 Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 21. I have not conducted complete research in German, as I lack the linguistic ability to do so; however, I was able to track down some of the other articles about the malaria epidemic in Belemedik written by German doctors because Bentmann cites them in his French-language article presented to the League of Nations. Helmut Becker also refers to some of these publications in his dissertation. Helmut Becker, "I. Dünya Savaşında (1914-1918) Osmanlı Cephesinde Askerî Tababet ve Eczacılık (Alman Kaynaklarına Göre)" (Istanbul University, 1983). 20 H. Flebbe, "Ueber die Malaria im Taurus (Kleinasian) [Malaria in the Taurus (Asia Minor)]," Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 45, no. 5 (April 1919): 126. 18


Malaria came back strong the following summer. Between August 1917 and July 1918, the hospitals in the region recorded 2,798 cases of malaria, almost 7% of which were fatal — a very high rate for malaria in the Mediterranean context.21 During that time, 36.9% of the blood samples at the German laboratory in the Taurus Mountains tested positive for malaria, a figure that was equal to immediate postwar malaria rates for the plain (see Chapter 12). 22


exceptional number of German personnel died and were buried in the quiet mountain villages of the area during the war.23 As malaria began to cut through the ranks of German personnel and take on the form of an epidemic, it attracted more attention. In 1917, the German laboratory in Ankara where Dr. Bentmann was employed moved to the Taurus Mountains to better study the perplexing malaria outbreak.24 Bentmann said he was motivated to go to the Taurus by idea that the malaria of each area needed to be studied separately in accordance with its local conditions and particularities.25 Because of its geography, the Pozantı region became the improbable focus of a team of German tropical disease specialists.26 During the years following the war, a number of German doctors who worked along the Baghdad railway had published their findings on malaria in journals such as Archiv fuer schiffs-und tropen-hygiene and Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift, debating the complex causes of the epidemic of Belemedik and similar cases in the Amanus region. Dr. Flebbe, assuming that malaria could not be present in a location such as Belemedik, had originally

Becker, "I. Dünya Savaşında (1914-1918) Osmanlı Cephesinde Askerî Tababet ve Eczacılık (Alman Kaynaklarına Göre)", 51. 22 Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 21. 23 To this day, there is a small German cemetery in the nearby Tahtacı village of Çamalan. 24 RAC, 805 Turkey, Box 1 1.1 Projects, Folder 1, Ralph Collins, “Public Health in Turkey” (1926), pg. 64-65. 25 Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 25. 26 Becker, "I. Dünya Savaşında (1914-1918) Osmanlı Cephesinde Askerî Tababet ve Eczacılık (Alman Kaynaklarına Göre)", 49-54. 21


characterized the epidemic as an unknown fever before discovering that it was malaria.27 Recognizing the unusually intense symptoms and high rate of mortality, some hypothesized that an especially virulent or quinine-resistant variety of malaria was at work due to the high inefficacy of medicines in Belemedik.28 Suspicion of a novel disease was certainly warranted given the exceptional circumstances. But in his presentation to the League of Nations, Bentmann argued that “it would be better to study the question of the causes of the increase of intensity in the context of a general survey of all the causes that have transformed endemic malaria to epidemic malaria in the Taurus.” In his closing remarks, he reiterated that while it may have been possible to identify a quinine-resistant malaria parasite, “Personally, I am drawn to a different point of view in determining the cause of the exceptionally serious epidemic that raged during the summer of 1916 in the Taurus and spread with extraordinary rapidity.” Arguing for more emphasis upon epidemiological analysis, he advocated considering all the environmental factors that contributed to the epidemic before accepting the hypothesis of a special quinine-resistant strain of malaria.29 For Dr. Bentmann, the primary cause of the epidemic was not a super species of malaria but rather that the conditions in 1916 were right for mosquitoes to thrive and prey on the people at Belemedik”30 Conventional wisdom about the mountainous geography of Belemedik would have judged it an unlikely location in which to encounter malaria. But malaria is a parasite that lives in human blood and is transmitted between humans by anopheles mosquitoes. Therefore, any place


Viktor Schilling, "Kriegshygienische Erfahrungen in der Türkei (Cilicien, Nordsyrien)," Archiv fuer schiffs-und tropen-hygiene 25, no. Supplement 1 (1921): 121. 28 Viktor Schilling, "Ueber relativ chininresistente Malaria im cilicischen Taurus und Amanus [Relatively QuinineResitant Malaria in the Cilician Taurus and Amanus]," Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 45, no. 17 (April 1919): 463-64; Flebbe, "Ueber die Malaria im Taurus (Kleinasian) [Malaria in the Taurus (Asia Minor)]," 126-28. 29 Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 27. 30 Ibid., 19.


with people and a place for mosquitoes to breed could potentially witness a malaria outbreak. As was noted by a number of German travelers who passed through the Taurus Mountains during the late Ottoman period, there were some traces of endemic malaria in this region, though this was seen as malaria imported from the lowlands of Çukurova.31 By corroborating with the observation of a doctor named Doflein who worked in the mountainous regions of Macedonia, Bentmann identified what he believed to be the vector for the 1916 epidemic: anopheles superpictus, a species of mosquito that “one hardly meets on the plain.”32 While a vector of malaria, superpictus was not known as the most common in Cilicia.33 But the most important aspect of superpictus for our purposes is that superpictus females can survive in cold climates and remain active feeders during the winter or in relatively cool locations like Belemedik. 34 As Adana Malaria Institute director Ahmet Rafet Pek would explain in his 1945 work Sıtma Notları, superpictus was a mosquito that could “reach distances eight or nine kilometers from its home by scaling mountains and hills.”35 In the words of Bentmann, “in the Taurus, there is a special mosquito that only thrives in mountainous regions. This fact is proof of the existence in the Taurus of a special form of malaria distinct from that of the plain.”36 It was possible if not normally likely for malaria to occur around Belemedik under the right ecological conditions. The Ecology of Rail


Bentmann, "Kriegsärztliche Erfahrungen in Anatolien [Military Medcial Experiences in Anatolia]," 19. Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 24. 33 The more common malaria vectors of the Çukurova region according to studies during the 1920s were Anopholes maculipennis or Anopheles eletus. RAC, 805 Turkey, Box 1 1.1 Projects, Folder 1, Ralph Collins, “Public Health in Turkey” (1926); Ekrem Tok, "Adana mıntakasında Sıtma mücadelesi [The anti-malarial campaign in the Adana region]," Sıhhiye Mecmuası 5, no. 31/32 (November 1929): 1302. 34 Becker, Mosquitoes and Their Control, 185. 35 Rafet Ahmet Pek, Sıtma Notları (Adana: Türksözü, 1945), 34. A recent study of malaria in Iran noted that anopheles superpictus was found at over 2000m. M. A. Oshaghi et al., "The Anopheles superpictus complex: introduction of a new malaria vector complex in Iran," Bulletin de la Société de pathologie exotique 101, no. 5 (2008): 429. 36 Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 24. 32


In general, infectious disease was common at construction sites in the Ottoman Empire.37 Yet with no swamps or important sites of intensive agriculture, the Pozantı region did not possess many of the environmental conditions typically associated with malaria. However, the construction of the railroad through that area began to cause rapid ecological transformation. Even a small amount of human activity was capable of creating a mosquito-friendly environment. According to Bentmann, “the considerable number of trees felled during the war” in the well-wooded Taurus region triggered sudden erosion and provided more spaces for mosquitoes to breed.38 The puddles that would have begun to form on treeless ground or at the bottom of eroded slopes would have been perfectly adequate sanctuary for mosquitoes. The construction activities themselves, which required the hollowing of trenches and constantly working in holes where mosquitoes were sure to thrive also added to this effect. One of the best places for mosquitoes to breed and attack may well have been the under-construction railway tunnels themselves. German doctors also referred to the possibly poor placement of certain encampments in the Belemedik area. Bentmann referred to the location of the German automobile corps camp, which while located a hilltop some 800-900m in elevation, was nonetheless vulnerable to wet, mosquito prone terrain nearby.39 As an ad-hoc settlement of construction workers and military personnel in which many people lived in tents of hastily-built structures intended for temporary residence, the village of Belemedik may have contained a landscape more vulnerable to malaria than other longstanding villages of the Taurus Mountains region.


McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway, 88. Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 24. 39 Bentmann also highlighted the poor placement of an encampment for the large German automobile corps in a location particularly susceptible to mosquitoes. Ibid., 19. However, as Dr. Schilling noted, they had parked on a hilltop at an altitude of about 800-900m, which must not have seemed particularly malarial at the time. Schilling, "Kriegshygienische Erfahrungen in der Türkei (Cilicien, Nordsyrien)," 121. 38


Figure 30 Houses and Encampments at Belemedik during WWI. The hospital is on the hill on the right. (Source: Gunter Hartnagel Collection) In addition to changes in the landscape initiated by construction activities, the railway contributed to the ecological conditions that created the malaria epidemic in the Taurus Mountains by bringing more potential victims of mosquitoes to the area. In fact, as mosquitoes were perfectly capable of riding railway cars, the railroad may have even transported malaria vectors in the same cars that carried the hosts. The Taurus region served as a convergence between Anatolian railways coming from the west and the Adana railway that led towards the Baghdad and Hejaz railways. As a result, the Pozantı-Belemedik area became a central stopping point. For most of the war, the Taurus Mountains were one of the primarily impediments to the Ottoman railway system. At the outset of 1916, a 37km stretch of rail between Belemedik and Dorak remained incomplete. 40 That line, which connected Pozantı in the Taurus Mountains and Yenice in the Çukurova plain below


McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway, 118.


through the rail tunnels at Belemedik was not completed until 1918. This meant that the transfer between these two lines consisted of several kilometers crossed on foot or on animals. Moreover, as the map from Bentmann’s report below shows (see Figure 31), a form of rail called Decauville, which was of a lighter gauge than the railways to which it connected, completed the gap between the Taurus Mountains and the main line of the Adana railway. This further complicated transfer. Belemedik was situated at the intersection of regions that innumerable passengers were not only obliged to pass but also where they were forced to linger during a complex transfer from the plains to the mountains of inner Anatolia and vice versa. From grains and lemon to camels and humans, the combination of speedy rail leading to a brutal bottleneck led to all sorts of accumulation.41 All transport at sites between Belemedik and the plain was carried out by animals.42 The large number of hosts for malaria parasites who additional provided meals form mosquitoes was clearly a crucial factor in the malaria epidemic that prevailed in the Taurus Mountains during the First World War. Bentmann argued that malaria must have gained a foothold slowly from the beginning of railway construction in 1911, and that with the immense amount of traffic during the war “from 1915 onward,” the number of hosts began to grow rapidly. As I will illustrate below, people came to Pozantı from near and far. Their movements were the very movements that defined the war period, and their convergence at Pozantı was what made that region the center of a moment in history in which mosquitoes won the day.

See BOA, DH-ŞFR 459/57, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (15 Kanunusani 1330 [25 January 1915]); 484/105, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (7 Ağustos 1331 [20 August 1915]); DH-İ-UM-EK 21/84, Trablusşamlı Hacı Ahmed Şakir to Dahiliye, Dersaadet (24 Eylül 1332 [7 October 1916]). 42 McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway, 121. 41


Figure 31 Map of rails in Pozantı region (Source: Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 1925) 418

Malaria and Movement In his study, Bentmann indicated that there was a general outbreak of tropical malaria in Anatolia during the year of 1916.43 The Belemedik epidemic did not occur in isolation but rather as an extension of the general heightened risk of malaria that came with the war. The timing of the epidemic and its climax in the summer of 1916 were not accidental. That year witnessed peak levels of movement in Anatolia. The movements, which made people vulnerable to disease environments and facilitated the spread of infection, had a disastrous impact on public health just as they had devastated local economies (see Chapter 8). Malaria was one of the principal afflictions affecting Ottoman soldiers during the First World War. The disease was endemic to most of the major fronts such as Gallipoli, Syria, Yemen, and Mesopotamia. Even the journey to the fronts posed the risk of malaria. As Zürcher notes, almost all the soldiers headed to the Syrian and Mesopotamian front had to pass through Adana and İskenderun, the most malarial regions of the empire during the summer, so many were likely sick on arrival.44 Even if malaria was not highly endemic in the Taurus Mountains, from all sides soldiers arrived sick and hungry from regions in which epidemic rates of malaria existed. Thus, even without a trace of endemic malaria in Belemedik itself, there would have been thousands of men with malaria passing through on a continual basis. Bentmann argued that the rail workers, military personnel, and various people at or passing through Belemedik created the critical mass of human blood necessary for mosquitoes to feed and for parasites to proliferate, and similar epidemics occurred during the war on the other side of Cilicia around the Amanus

43 44

Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 22. Zürcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: from the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk's Turkey, 176.


tunnels were proof of that as well.45 As many as 100% of the workers there were affected by a wartime malaria epidemic.46 Bentmann noted that by 1916, it was clear that the Ottoman army was having serious issues with the supply of quinine, which could only be an effective suppressant of malaria if administered regularly to all the troops. This contributed to a rise in cases of malaria among Ottoman and German soldiers in the empire. At the Taurus military hospital, formations of soldiers with malaria continued to arrive even before summer hit, and according to a German doctor Flebbe, the vast majority of soldiers who passed through the Taurus region in July and August of 1916 suffered from malaria (see Table 18).47 Table 18 Formations of soldiers and their malaria rates at Taurus hospital (Source: Flebbe, “Ueber die Malaria im Taurus,” pg. 126) Formation Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Number of Soldiers 16 72 72 72 111 52 72 72 44 52 54

Date of Arrival February 19, 1916 February 20, 1916 February 27, 1916 February 25, 1916 February 29, 1916 April 21, 1916 July 14, 1916 July 14, 1916 August 10, 1916 August 21, 1916 September 4, 1916

% with Malaria 87.5% 16.6% 22.2% 50.0% 39.6% 53.8% 93.0% (97.2%) 69.4% 79.5% 28.8% 33.3% (64.5%)

Soldiers at the various Ottoman fronts of the war were prime targets for mosquitoes, and it is little surprise that such high malaria rates were to be found among the soldiers who passed through Pozantı during the summer of 1916. But epidemic disease in the empire was not limited to military personnel, and there is no reason to assume that soldiers were the sole or primary 45

Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 25. Hilmar Kaiser, "The Baghdad Railway and the Armenian genocide, 1915-1916: a case study in German resistance and complicity," in Remembrance and denial : the case of the Armenian genocide, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), 108. 47 Flebbe, "Ueber die Malaria im Taurus (Kleinasian) [Malaria in the Taurus (Asia Minor)]," 126. 46


carriers of malaria or the principal population affected by the disease. Soldiers were the main group treated by Bentmann and the other doctors in the Taurus Mountains, and therefore, these groups comprised the main focus of their articles. However, an expanded view of movement in the empire throughout the war as expressed in the Taurus Mountains bottleneck reveals a much wider phenomenon of displacement contributing to the spread of infectious disease throughout Ottoman society. Amidst the malaria epidemic of 1916, three partially-overlapping groups continued to move in and out of Pozantı and the village of Belemedik in particular. These were Armenian deportees and laborers, Muslim refugees from Eastern Anatolia, and Allied prisoners of war (see Chapter 8 for context). While such groups were to be found in many parts of Anatolia, as a region of railway construction and major transfer point, Pozantı became a place where tens of thousands of displaced people congregated in makeshift shelters throughout the war period. Non-Muslims conscripted into labor battalions were present at construction sites in Pozantı from the beginning of the First World War and remained there throughout. With the beginning of deportations in 1915, the Armenian population of that region to swell. The Baghdad Railway played a fundamental role in the systematic deportation of the Armenian population of many parts of Anatolia.48 Armenians from the Western region of Anatolia, from Bursa and Izmit to Ankara and Konya, were deported along the rail line between Istanbul and the Adana region during the summer of 1915. The last stop on this route was the Pozantı train station. According to Kevorkian, the number of deportees who followed this route either by train or by foot totaled In this regard, Hilmar Kaiser’s chapter on the Baghdad Railway and the Armenian Genocide is a good companion to this section. Kaiser, "The Baghdad Railway and the Armenian genocide, 1915-1916: a case study in German resistance and complicity." McMurray’s study of the Baghdad Railway by contrasts makes little mention of the connection between the Armenian genocide and the railway, although he notes in an endnote that “Witnesses of the massacres reported that the railway played a central role in facilitating the deportations and murders of much of the Ottoman-Armenian population. The Germans used many of the same methods, albeit on a grander scale, to achieve similar results in the Second World War.” McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway, 133. 48


as many as 400,000.49 If this is the case, during the 1915-16 period, the number of Armenians who passed through Pozantı was probably comparable to the number of soldiers if not more, and their condition was even worse. While under ideal conditions, a train from Istanbul to Pozantı could arrive in less than 24 hours, the break in the rail line complicated the process of these deportees’ journey onward to Adana and from there to Syria and beyond, and as a result, large camps formed in the train stations between Konya and Pozantı.50 These weary travelers, much like the passing soldiers, could potentially bring the ailments of the lowlands with them into the Taurus Mountains during the initial phase of deportations, which were carried out during the summer and fall of 1915.51 An extreme example of some of the malarial geography Armenian encountered during this process involves the 4000 residents of Zeytun who were expelled towards Central Anatolia from Zeytun in April 1915. They passed through Pozantı during their forced march from their mountain village near Marash through the Çukurova plain and past Tarsus up into the Taurus Mountains, where they continued onward to Konya.52 During 1915, the camps between Konya and Pozantı saw famine and disease begin to spread throughout the Armenian population. Kevorkian states that as many as 10,000 Armenians died in the Pozantı camp during the summer and fall of 1915. 53 While subsequent deportations to Syria were well under way by September 1915, they were carried out very gradually. An extra military detachment was sent to Pozantı in the fall of 1915 solely for the purpose of maintaining order there due to the numbers of people in the camps.54 The movement of Armenians towards


Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 501, 49, 80. Ibid., 580. 51 Ibid., 977. 52 Ibid., 571. 53 Ibid., 977. 54 BOA, DH-ŞFR 488/52, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (27 Ağustos 1331 [9 September 1915]). 50


Pozantı continued over subsequent months.55 In October 1915, there were more than 20,000 Armenian deportees in the railway stations between Eskişehir and Pozantı. But Cemal Pasha recommended they not be sent onward to the “desert (çöl)” until the spring due to transport issues in the Taurus Mountains during winter.56 In a prior telegram he had warned that there were already 200,000 Armenians in Aleppo and that if an outbreak of infectious disease among the Armenians emerged, “it will be difficult to protect the 4th Army.”57 An inspection soon after revealed that there were about 6,000 Armenians around the Pozantı station, many of whom had infectious diseases, and that they had been living in stables and tents “like gypsies.”58 Meanwhile, in December 1915, the Governor of Konya wrote to the Ministry of Interior saying that the Armenians being sent from his area to Mosul would be moved to Pozantı.59 A similar scenario unfolded in the Osmaniye region on the other side of the Çukurova plain where the Amanus tunnels were being constructed.60 In January 1916, Talat inquired about the reported 20,000 Armenians congregated in the Pozantı region. The military was reporting “the necessity of their being sent to the places they are to go caravan by caravan, stating that their provisioning in homes will not be possible, just as


For example, the Governor of Konya reported sending 1050 Armenians in 14 train cars in October 1915. BOA, DH-ŞFR 494/57, Samih to Dahiliye, Konya (10 Teşrinievvel 1331 [23 October 1915]). 56 BOA, DH-ŞFR 495/45, Cemal to Dahiliye, Küdüs (17 Teşrinievvel 1331 [30 October 1915]). 57 BOA, DH-ŞFR 493/119, Cemal to Dahiliye, Küdüs (3 Teşrinievvel 1331 [16 October 1915]). 58 BOA, DH-ŞFR 496/21, İsmail to Dahiliye, Adana (23 Teşrinievvel 1331 [5 November 1915]). 59 BOA, DH-ŞFR 502/81, Samih Rıfat to Dahiliye, Konya (12 Kanunuevvel 1331 [25 December 1915]). 60 In November of 1915, Fethi Bey, the mutasarrıf of Osmaniye, reported that in the span of a few days, trains had brought some 40,000 “Armenian deportees (Ermeni muhacirin)” to the plain of Osmaniye where they had begun to “accumulate,” and that “because [he] did not view this as befitting the interests of the state and nation (menfaat-ı devlet ve milletine muvafık görmediğimden),” military personnel were used to bring the Armenians past Islahiye into the Aleppo province for further relocation. BOA, DH-ŞFR 496/75, Fethi to Dahiliye, Osmaniye (26 Teşrinievvel 1331 [8 November 1915]). Fethi Bey was describing Mamure, the end of the Adana railway, where missionary Elizabeth Cold reported that a camp of over 60,000 “refugees” was gradually broken up over the course of winter 1915/16. ABC 16.19.5, Reel 672, pg. 292A, “The Exiling of the Armenians: Adana District.” Kevorkian refers to 40,000 people dying at the camp in Mamure during the summer and fall of 1915. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 977.


their transport by rail is not presently possible.”61 Throughout the governorship of Hakkı Bey, large numbers of Armenians had been able to take refuge in the Cilicia region, especially in areas of railroad construction. In the early months of 1916, a second exodus of Armenians — this time out of the Pozantı region — commenced. By the end of January, Hakkı notified the Ministry of Interior that there were reportedly no Armenian deportees (muhacir) between Pozantı and Gülek or Gülek and Tarsus, although this may not have been the case.62 Kevorkian indicates that the appointment of Cevdet Bey, Enver Pasha’s brother-in-law, as the new Governor of Adana in February 1916 facilitated a more aggressive removal of Armenians from Cilicia and the resolution of irregularities such as the ballooning Armenian population of labor battalions.63 However, it would appear that some Armenians were able to remain in the Pozantı region even after this due to the importance of the construction projects. Armenian experts and laborers were critical to the construction of the railway. Thus, while the Armenian workers at Belemedik were supposed to be deported, an Armenian doctor named Boyajian stationed in the area along with the aforementioned Swiss engineer Lütneger convinced the Ottoman military official responsible for the deportations to allow the Armenians to stay.64 Talat telegraphed Adana in June 1916 informing them that it was not possible for deported Armenian railroad workers to return to their original construction sites, however, in order to ensure that the construction continue quickly and without interruption, the government would be cautious about deporting

BOA, DH-ŞFR 60/69, Talat to Adana, Konya, and Niğde (7 Kanunusani 1331 [20 January 1916]). BOA, DH-ŞFR 506/115, Hakkı to Dahiliye, Adana (13 Kanunusani [26 January 1916]). 63 Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 688. Kevorkian calls Cevdet Bey “a radical partisan of the regime,” noting that his governorship in Van provoked, perhaps by design, the revolt that was used as a main justification for the deportation orders. Ibid., 231. The Armenians lingering in the Cilicia region included the labor battalions around the Amanus tunnels, where Cevdet reported that around 10,000 Armenians were present and that while prior estimates may have been exaggerated, he believed that there was “a further number of Armenian families that have taken refuge in various places with the protection of railroad officials and are still hidden from the sight of the police.” BOA, DH-ŞFR 521/31, Cevdet to Dahiliye, Adana (15 Mayıs 1332 [28 May 1916]). 64 Ibid., 689. 61 62


Armenian workers henceforth.65 Only a small portion of the Armenian workers in Pozantı were deported in the end, and there were around 3000 Armenians working on the Belemedik connection between Pozantı and Dorak well into the last year of the war.66 In other words, both the deportation of Armenians as well as the ability of Armenians to resist deportation in Pozantı added to an unusually high conglomeration of people, many of whom suffered malnutrition and sub-standard living conditions, in the Taurus Mountains around Belemedik during the war years. The multitudes of Armenian deportees who passed through Pozantı during 1915-16 were not the only large group of probable malaria sufferers conspicuously not mentioned in the reports of the German doctors and the presentation of Dr. Bentmann at the League of Nations. Grigor Balakian, an Armenian Bishop, took refuge in the Belemedik region throughout 1916 under the false identity of Herr Bernstein, a German machinist.67 That December, he encountered a few hundred Turkish and Kurdish refugees from Bitlis who had fled the Russian advance. 68 They were in desperate condition and their “camels, horses, mules, and donkeys — all reduced to skin and bones.”69 It was not just displacement due to fighting that brought Muslim refugees to the Taurus region. Muhacirs from the Balkan Wars and more recent refugees were dispatched to the Pozantı station for transfer elsewhere, such as many of those settled in Adana during the course of the war.70 Since these transfers occurred in the wake of the deportations of Armenians, large numbers of refugees were passing through Pozantı and Belemedik throughout 1916 and 1917 precisely as the malaria epidemic was taking place.

BOA, DH-ŞFR 65/59, Talat to Adana (9 Haziran 1332 [22 June 1916]). Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 687. 67 Grigoris Balakian, Peter Balakian, and Aris G. Sevag, Armenian Golgotha (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), 320. 68 In fact Balakian stated that they were fleeing the armies of Andranik Pasha, referring to Andranik Ozanian, the Armenian military commander who led a regiment of Armenian volunteers in the Russian army. 69 Balakian, Balakian, and Sevag, Armenian Golgotha, 335. 70 BOA, DH-ŞFR 68/159, Talat to Adana (19 Eylül 1332 [2 October 1916]). 65 66


There was yet another group of very sizeable population that participated in the peculiar cosmopolitanism that took shape in Belemedik during the war. It is hard to find a complete estimate, but there must have been thousands of Allied POWs in Pozantı and Belemedik during the last years of the war. The POWs were sent there from the beginning of 1916 onward largely in order to replace deported Armenian workers. For example, men from the large POW camps in Afyonkarahisar and Çankırı were sent to work in Belemedik in February 1916. 71 One source mentions around 1600 British and Indian soldiers alone sent to work in Belemedik following the deportation of the Armenians from the area in June 1916, just as the malaria epidemic was beginning to escalate.72 They had been captured at Kut-el-Amara, 100 miles south of Baghdad and marched all the way to the Amanus Mountains.73 Jonathan McMurray indicates that some 13,000 such soldiers had been captured at Kut-el-Amara and sent towards the Taurus and Amanus construction sites.74 As for the living conditions of these POWs, there is a number of sources comprised of recollections of Allied soldiers, especially Australians and New Zealanders who spent time in Belemedik. These sources indicate that aside from the rigors of forced labor, the POWs enjoyed a fair amount of freedom, allowing them to organize football matches, briefly publish a newspaper called the Belemedik Bugger in 1916, hold memorable drinking sessions filled with rakı and wine, and even to carouse with women in the nearby area.75 Yet many of the soldiers


BOA, HR-SYS 2221/4, Besim Ömer to Hariciye (20 Kanunusani 1331 [2 February 1916]). Joseph O'Neill, Blood-Dark Track : a family history (London: Granta Books, 2000), 309. Balakian referred to Russian, French, and Italians POWs celebrating a somber New Year in Belemedik in 1917. Balakian, Balakian, and Sevag, Armenian Golgotha, 324-25. See also BOA, DH-EUM-25/28 (8 November 1917). 73 Kaiser, "The Baghdad Railway and the Armenian genocide, 1915-1916: a case study in German resistance and complicity," 89. There were also many Italian prisoners working on the tunnels. BOA, DH-EUM-5-Şb 49/24 (25 November 1917). 74 McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway, 122. 75 Kate Ariotti, "Australian Prisoners of the Turks: Negotiating Culture Clash in Captivity," in Other fronts, other wars? : First World War studies on the eve of the centennial, ed. Joachim Bürgschwentner, Matthias Egger, and 72


brought to Belemedik would have been captured in Syria or Mesopotamia, and if they had not contracted malaria at the front, would certainly have been exposed to malarial environments on the long journey across the empire. There were also Russian POWs in Pozantı and Belemedik, already 748 by April 1916.76 It is possible that Russian POWs were treated more harshly in response to treatment of Ottoman prisoners in Russia, and there were a large number of attempted escapes by Russians in Pozantı and Belemedik during the war.77 In the end, many POWs died of illness in Belemedik from 1916 onward, and their presence must have increased the possibility of a malaria epidemic.78 British correspondence from the war period reveals a spate of POWs who died of sickness, mostly in Cilicia, during 1916, including those who died in Bahçe and Bor in the Amanus and Taurus Mountains respectively.79 The final factor fueling the malaria epidemic in the Pozantı region was the critical shortages of provisions and inadequate housing in the Taurus Mountains. The difficulties of supplying tens of thousands of people with food, clothing and shelter imperiled the health of people at remote sites like Belemedik. Those settlements were kept afloat only by emergency purchases carried out by the German military convoy, which drove as far as Konya to obtain foodstuffs from the villages. By winter of 1916, the Baghdad Railway company would report that at many work sites as many as 80% of all workers were ill.80

Gunda Barth-Scalmani (2014), 151. For mention of Belemedik Bugger, see Graham Seal, The Soldiers' Press : Trench Journals in the First World War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 228. 76 BOA, HR-SYS 2221/8, No. 1, Bauer to Hariciye (4 Nisan 1331 [17 April 1916]). See also BOA, HR-SYS 2221/4. 77 BOA, HR-SYS 2221/8, No. 3, Cevad to Harbiye, Stockholm (24 Kanunusani 1331 [6 Şubat 1916]). For different instances of Russian runaways from the Taurus region during the war, see BOA, DH-EUM-5-Şb 31/37; DH-EUM6-Şb 16/13; 17/63; 20/35; DH-EUM-SSM 11/7; DH-ŞFR 79/248. 78 Don Kindell and Gordon Smith, Royal Navy roll of honour : World War I, 1914-1918: by date and ship unit, vol. Vol. 2 (Penarth: Naval-History.Net, 2009), 275. Michael White mentions a group of Australian POWs who fled Belemedik but were forced to turn themselves in when hunger and illness got the best of them. M. W. D. White, Australian submarines : a history (Canberra: AGPS Press, 1992), 73. 79 TNA, FO 383/456/13209 (21 January 1918); 40368 (29 January 1918). 80 McMurray, Distant ties Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway, 124.


Figure 32 Allied prisoners at camp in Belemedik (Source: Australian War Memorial, H19412)

Figure 33 Grave of officer Stephen John Gilbert, died in Belemedik in October 1916 from "malaria and typhus" while working on the railway (Source: Australian War Memorial P01645.004)


Mosquitoes, Locusts, and People Until the very end of the war, the bouts with malaria in Belemedik recurred. They appear to have continued even after. In November 1918, a French civil prisoner in Aleppo en route to Istanbul and from there to France fell ill in Belemedik and died at the local hospital. 81 As I will highlight in Chapter 10, malaria lingered among displaced populations in the Taurus Mountains during the French Mandate period.82 Even the hapless Tahtacıs, who had for long relied on their quiet mountain environs as a refuge from disease and outsiders alike, would ultimately fall victim to a deadly malaria epidemic; half of the Tahtacıs examined in Çamalan during April 1918 tested positive for the parasite, meaning that by the end of the war, malaria was widespread among a population that might normally have enjoyed malaria free summers.83 The transhumant mode of existence that defined their way of life was to a large extent an outgrowth of a desire to avoid the summer malaria of the Mediterranean coast of İçel between Mersin and Silifke. Yet as the war’s impact in terms of hunger, disease, and poverty reached its peak in 1916, malaria overcame the mountainous geography to find them in their last refuge: the yayla. The other side of this story of human suffering was the mosquito’s triumphant conquest of Cilicia’s mountain landscape. While Dr. Bentmann was certainly correct in emphasizing the unique conditions that contributed to the malaria epidemic, it was equally remarkable and surprising that malaria could spread in the time and place that it did. The 1916 Taurus Mountain malaria epidemic was certainly a reminder of the adaptability of both vectors and parasites to the conditions created by humans. Yet it would be misleading to attribute too much causation to random or static environmental factors. The malaria epidemic was caused by the railroad, the war, and all that came with it. Mosquitoes capitalized. 81

BOA, HR-SYS 2249/57, no. 2, Légation des Pays-Bas to Hariciye, Pera (8 November 1918). TKA, 1123/16.5. 83 Basso and Bentmann, Deux rapports sur le paludisme, 22. 82


Although this chapter has focused on the circumstances surrounding one specific epidemic in one region of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, there are undoubtedly many stories like Belemedik’s. Indeed, a similar account could be written about the construction sites in the Amanus Mountains, which also witnessed the rampant spread of malaria in 1916. A more thorough examination of malaria during the war utilizing German sources84 may reveal that 1916 was truly the year of the mosquito for much of the empire in the way that 1915 was remembered as “the year of the locust” in Greater Syria (see Chapter 8). These phenomena may be fruitful starting points for understanding the environmental history of the First World War in the Ottoman Empire, which would ultimately have much to contribute to the global story of the war period. Just like the global flu pandemic of 1918, which killed tens of millions of people, these events must have been shaped by the conditions of the war, although in the end, they took on a life of their own.85 In this regard, it is striking that in his detailed presentation to the League of Nations about the various hypotheses of predominantly German doctors regarding the spread of malaria in the Ottoman Empire and in the Taurus Mountains in particular during the First World War, Dr. Bentmann did not elaborate upon all of the factors I have pointed to here. Although he made the case for an environmental basis for the 1916 malaria epidemic rooted in wartime conditions, he did not so much as mention the presence of a large number of hungry and sick Armenians at 84

I say German sources because I have been unable to fully evaluate them in this study. The German articles cited in this chapter indicate however that German doctors and researchers were very involved in matters of public health in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. As of my latest research at the Ottoman archives in spring of 2015, I can say that the available material related to disease and public health in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War is not as rich as one might expect, and it does not appear that the records of the Ministry of Public Health have been systematically opened or catalogued as of yet. However, the catalog of the Ottoman archives is receiving more and more documents as new collections are added. More detailed research or the subsequent release of more documents may reveal a larger degree of documentation that what I have encountered in my study of Cilicia. 85 For some discussion of diseases such as measles and influenza during the First World War situated within a broader context of disease in military history, see Smallman-Raynor and Cliff, War Epidemics: an historical geography of infectious diseases in military conflict and civil strife, 1850-2000.


ground zero of the epidemic in question or for that matter the Muslim refugees and Allied prisoners of war.86 Was he self-censoring in order to avoid creating controversy out of what was meant to be a presentation of German medical research in the Middle East during the First World War and the future of anti-malarial campaigns in the region? Bentmann was not alone in his silence. The publications about these malaria epidemics that appeared in the German medical journals during the postwar period appear to have little to say about these issues. But the comments of Viktor Schilling, a German doctor who published on the spread of malaria in the Taurus Mountains, are rather revealing in this regard. Though he made no mention of the tens of thousands of displaced people around Pozantı and Belemedik, he did reference the ways in which Armenians suffered from typhus and cholera during the deportation eastward. Towards the end of his article, he also made some remarks about the cruel treatment inflicted on the Armenians. “Almost as miserable” were the Muslim refugees of Eastern Anatolia.87 Yet his footnote to this section also defended the German army against allegations of having participated in “atrocities” against the Armenians, saying that the Germans simply could not intervene and that some did what they could to help. The last line of his footnote was perhaps most vexing: “one must also concede to the Turks self-defense as a


Here I should note that I found little reference to these articles on the malaria epidemic on the Taurus Mountains outside the group of German scientists who wrote and cited them. The discussion was largely a self-referential one in this regard. Bentmann’s study was briefly mentioned in an Anglophone medical review. "Malaria," Medical science abstracts & reviews 2, no. 4 (July 1920): 320. British Naval Intelligence from the WWII period had apparently made use of Bentmann’s studies as well. Turkey, vol. 1, Naval Intelligence Handbooks (Oxford: (British) Naval Intelligence Division, 1942), 257. I found a handful of historians, who are cited above, that refer to these studies in some capacity. Becker, "I. Dünya S