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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
September 2024
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Book description

In this innovative, interdisciplinary work, Zozan Pehlivan presents a new environmental perspective on inter-communal conflict, rooting slow violence in socio-economic shifts and climatic fluctuations. From the nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, recurrent and extreme climate disruptions became an underlying yet unacknowledged component of escalating conflict between Christian Armenian peasants and Muslim Kurdish pastoralists in Ottoman Kurdistan. By the eve of the First World War, the Ottoman state's shifting responses to these mounting tensions transformed the conflict into organized and state-sponsored violence. Pehlivan upends the 'desert-sown' thesis, and establishes a new theoretical and conceptual framework drawing on climate science, agronomy, and zoology. From this alternative vantage point, Pehlivan examines the impact of climate on local communities, their responses and resilience strategies, arguing that nineteenth-century ecological change had a transformative and antagonistic impact on economy, state and society.


‘A ground-breaking study of crisis and violence in the late Ottoman Empire, and a compelling new chapter in the environmental history of the Middle East.’

Sam White - University of Helsinki

‘In this pathbreaking and theoretically rich study, Zozan Pehlivan establishes a new benchmark in the historiography of the late Ottoman Empire and Kurdistan. The book transforms our understanding of the relationship between Kurdistan’s peoples and its geography, flora, fauna, and climate. Innovatively combining extensive archival material with data from climatology, dendrochronology, and veterinary science, Pehlivan demonstrates how climate change disrupted herding and agrarian economies and eventually transformed inter-communal relationships between pastoralists and peasants and triggered violence. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in global environmental studies, the late Ottoman Empire, and the histories of Kurdish and Armenian communities.’

Sabri Ates - Southern Methodist University


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