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Comparative Criminal Justice in the Era of Modernity: A Template for Inquiry and the Ottoman Empire as Case Study

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This article lays out the broad transformations within the Ottoman criminal justice system over the course of the nineteenth century in order to demonstrate how the empire transformed its long-standing methods and approaches to criminal justice by adapting “modern” concepts and practices. In the end, it created an integrated system of justice that included new penal codes, police, courts, and corrections, thus demonstrating both its unique characteristics and its comparability with contemporary states. This article first discusses the problematic, but indispensable concept of modernity and how it has hindered comparative empire studies for the long nineteenth century. It then argues for an eclectic approach to comparative empire that adopts the concept of “improvisational blending” to understanding modernity and utilizes intermediate units of analysis in promoting the study of comparative empires. Finally, this article takes the transformation of the Ottoman criminal justice system during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as an intermediate unit of analysis to illustrate a unique Ottoman modernity that is fully comparative on the trans-imperial level.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History, Binghamton University, SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton, NY, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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