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Skidmore College
Greenberg Middle East Scholar-In-Residence
Greenberg Scholar In Residence Title

Rule of Law in the Middle East: The Ottoman Antecedent

a lecture by Avi Rubin, 2014 Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Davis Auditorium, Skidmore College

The event is free and open to the public.

The paradigm of "Oriental despotism," which had emerged in Renaissance thought and later dominated Orientalist scholarship, has been systematically refuted since the 1970s, mainly (but not exclusively) through the scholarship of social historians of the Middle East. Taking up a socio-legal perspective, the lecture will offer the rule of law as a key category for analyzing social and legal change in the Ottoman Empire. Rule of law as it developed in the 19-century Ottoman Empire was a precursor to particular versions of the rule of law in the successor nation states, namely Turkey, most of the Arab states and Israel. Hence, any attempt to understand the law as it has been imagined in the modern Middle East should take into account the Ottoman antecedent.

Avi RubinAvi Rubin is the 2014 Greenberg Scholar-in-Residence at Skidmore. He is a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, where he has been a faculty member since 2007. Rubin completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University. His research interests lie in the area of Ottoman social and legal history, with a focus on 19th-century socio-legal change and modernity. His book and articles address various aspects of the passage of Ottoman law to modernity, the rule of law in the modern Middle East and the social history of late Ottoman Palestine. Rubin is a member of the Young Scholars Forum at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

While in residence at Skidmore, Rubin teaches a course titled "19th Century Middle East: The Passage of the Middle East to Modernity." The far-reaching political, social, economic and cultural transformations that were evident in various parts of the Middle East between the late 18th century and the early 20th century raise a series of questions concerning the nature of Middle East modernities in the past and the present. In order to address these questions in a meaningful fashion, this course will first explore the meaning of modernity as a category of description and analysis. Based on this discussion, the course will address selected themes in the passage of Ottoman societies to modernity.


The Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence Series is made possible by a gift from Skidmore alumna Jane Greenberg. The series enables the college to host an Israeli scholar who through teaching, lecturing and participating in campus life educates the community on a range of topics concerning political life in the Middle East.