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Law Research Seminar Series: The Power of Discretion: Regimes of Exception in the Late Ottoman Empire

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

The Power of Discretion: Regimes of Exception in the Late Ottoman Empire

Noémi Lévy-Aksu 

A central issue in current politics and legal studies, regimes of exception can be traced to the Ancient times. Yet one of the consequences of the reconfiguration of law and sovereignty in the 19th century world was the emergence of specific notions defining regimes of exception, such as the state of siege or the state of emergency. As legal notions and governmental tools, these regimes of exception epitomized the tensions between authority and rights and reframed the question of discretion in the new constitutional regimes as well as in non-constitutional states. This presentation will focus on the Ottoman case, where the equivalent of a state of emergency appeared in the first Constitution in 1876 and was frequently implemented in various localities until the end of the Empire. Questioning how the Ottoman state of emergency related to constitutionalism and Islamic legal tradition, the paper will rely on legal sources and local cases to discuss different levels of discretionary powers and their political meaning.

Noémi Lévy-Aksu is an assistant professor of Ottoman history at Bo�aziçi University and a Newton International Fellow at Birkbeck School of Law.

Law Research Seminars are held on Wednesdays at lunchtime. The seminars are free and open to the public, and a light lunch is provided.


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