Whose property is it? The state, non-Muslim communities, and the question of property ownership from the late Ottoman Empire through the Turkish nation state
Ozil, Ayşe (2019) Whose property is it? The state, non-Muslim communities, and the question of property ownership from the late Ottoman Empire through the Turkish nation state. Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, 6 (1). pp. 211-235. ISSN 2376-0699 (Print) 2376-0702 (Online)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.2979/jottturstuass.6.1.12
This article traces the long trajectory of non-Muslim corporate status and communal property ownership from the late Ottoman Empire into the Turkish nation state. It examines how non-Muslim communal property ownership has been an issue in the lands of Turkey. The principal focus of this investigation is on the question of secularization, more specifically on the ways in which a modernizing state and society rethinks the status of religious communities at law and in practice. The article argues that legal ambiguity and practical uncertainty has been a persistent and common feature of non-Muslim communal property ownership from the late empire to the republic. A good example of this ambiguity is the non-Muslim position in the vakıf (charitable foundation) framework. Contesting one of the main assumptions of existing studies which projects the contemporary situation into the past, this examination demonstrates how non-Muslim communal institutions of the empire were not commonly designated as vakıf—on a legal and institutional level. The article shows the varied ways in which non-Muslim communities have held property. Further, in historicizing secularization, this essay investigates how the Turkish nation state gradually articulated a vakıf framework for them under state control, which began to take effect in the second half of the twentieth century. The examination is based on a comparative analysis of state and communal documentation.
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