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Prisons in the Late Ottoman Empire

Microcosms of Modernity

Kent F. Schull

Paperback (Forthcoming)
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Revises Western images of Ottoman prisons as sites of Oriental brutality

Read an interview with Kent F. Schull about the book (pdf)

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List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Note on Transliteration and Pronunciation
1. Ottoman Criminal Justice & the Transformation of Islamic Criminal Law and Punishment in the Age of Modernity, 1839-1922
2. Prison Reform in the Late Ottoman Empire: the State’s Perspectives
3. Counting the Incarcerated: Knowledge, Power & the Prison Population
4. The Spatialisation of Incarceration: Reforms, Response & the Reality of Prison Life
5. Disciplining the Disciplinarians: Combating Corruption and Abuse through the Professionalisation of the Prison Cadre
6. Creating Juvenile Delinquents: Redefining Childhood in the late Ottoman Empire

About the Author

Kent F. Schull is an Assistant Professor of Ottoman and modern Middle East history at Binghamton University. He has graduate degrees in Jewish Studies (Oxon) and in Ottoman and modern Middle East history (UCLA) and is a twice Fulbright scholar to Turkey. His publications include several articles, scholarly contributions, and a forthcoming co-edited volume on Ottoman sociolegal history and identity.


A well-documented contribution to the budding historiography of Middle Eastern prisons but also to the study of late Ottoman reform. Schull cogently argues that Ottoman prison reform as well as Ottoman reform in general were not just imitations of Western examples, but rather distinctly Ottoman responses to internal crises and Western encroachments.

- Rudolph Peters, Emeritus Professor of Islamic Law, University of Amsterdam

In this theoretically and empirically rich account Kent Schull shows how prisons, prisoners, and prison reform fit in the transformation of the Ottoman state in the nineteenth century. By shedding light on a much neglected aspect of Ottoman state practice, this book significantly improves our understanding of one of the most crucial periods in Ottoman history.

- Reşat Kasaba, Stanley D. Golub Chair, Professor of International Studies, University of Washington

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