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This project focuses on a key institution in the nineteenth-century Ottoman legal history: the "secular" nizami courts. During this century, shar‘i courts’ jurisdiction was gradually limited as nizami courts became the primary provincial judicial institutions-operating in close connection with the administrative councils. Local notables, who were influential members in both institutions, related local political economy to the judicio-administrative practices. Despite their significance, the nizami courts have not been properly analyzed because their records are not easily available. This project will analyze untapped local records of a provincial nizami court in Ottoman-administered Bulgaria and relate its practices to local administrative council. It will be the first detailed study of a nizami court in its proper context.
Safa Saraçoğlu is Associate Professor of History at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. His research has focused on governance in the Ottoman Empire. As part of that, he is exploring the structure of local administrative and judiciary institutions and how members of this judicio-administrative sphere negotiated on particular issues such as administrative malpractice, property debates of refugee settlements.