BETWEEN SAVAGERY AND CIVILISATION: CEVDET PASHA’S INSPECTORSHIP IN İŞKODRA (TODAY SHKODËR)
Études balkaniques (Sofia) 2023, N 3
Istanbul 29 Mayıs University, Istanbul
Abstract: In 1861, the Sublime Porte decided to appoint Cevdet Pasha, a prominent figure of the Ottoman bureaucracy in the second half of the 19th century, to İşkodra as an inspector with exceptional administrational powers. The main reason behind this decision was unrest in the city caused by a deteriorating relationship between the people and Çerkez Abdi Pasha, the mutasarrıf of İşkodra at that time. The Montenegro issue played a substantial role in the deterioration of this relationship. Cevdet served as an inspector in İşkodra for more than a month, on returning to the capital, he wrote a detailed report about the region: Tezkire No. 18. This study examines the history of İşkodra and northern Albania in the 18th and 19th centuries in order to clarify the situation in the region during Cevdet’s inspectorship. It then critically evaluates the activities undertaken by Cevdet during his mission, using historical data obtained from various sources. One of the main points of the study is demonstrating that the change in the self-image of the Ottoman central bureaucrats after the Tanzimat led them to a different understanding of the concept of civilisation. As a result of this there was consequently a dramatic change in their view of the peripheral provinces of the Empire, such as northern Albania. Through the inclusion of his considerations of an Ottoman peripheral region with frequent references to the concepts of civilisation and savagery, Cevdet’s report reflects the semantic dynamism of these concepts for a 19th century Ottoman bureaucrat.
Keywords: Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, İşkodra (today Shkodër), Albania, Ottoman modernisation, civilisation, Tanzimat.