The Improvement of Ottoman Population Statistics under the Challenge of 19th. Century Epidemics

Emine Tonta Ak, Fatih Sultan Mehmed Vakif √úniversitesi

19th. century was a long century for the Ottoman Empire full of various epidemics and pandemics. Since the 1830s, The Ottoman State, including hospitals, city governing bodies and municipalities has been institutionally structured in order to combat long epidemics threatining its population. Through these institutional structures, it became an challenging obligation for all those institutional organisms to follow and record the statistics about the bodies of the empire. Thereby especially starting with the 1831 plague and ongoing various cholera epidemics until the end of the century, systematic disease and death recording mechanism had to be established in the empire. The statistical improvement escalated especially during the reign of Abdülhamid II, to combat epidemics. It is understood that all death cases occurred were recorded in daily, weekly and quarterly charts and transformed into annual and death statistics of the Ministry of Health. It's also important to note that The Ottoman women had become visible for the first time in those death records. Practice of keeping death and illness records settled esp. during the epidemic years. Therefore the aim of the study is to re-interprete the 19th.century Ottoman population statistical improvement in terms of the new bio-political approach of the state apparatus vis a vis epidemics faced on.

Keywords: Policy, Politics and demography, Mortality, Gender

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 29. Consequences of Pandemics: Lessons from History