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This is a call for abstract-submission for a multi-session panel on the legal history of the Ottoman Empire focusing on the complex relationship between laws, legality and legitimacy. The end goal for this project will be an edited volume on the transformation of “how law was legitimized” over the course of the history of Ottoman Empire. A brief outline of the general focus of the project is provided below. Those interested must submit their presentation titles and abstracts (maximum 300 words) to the panel organizers by February 1st, 2013. “Law” represents a formal, institutional normative order. Laws, however, do not constitute the only form of normative order; there are other normative orders without explicitly-formulated norms (MacCormick 2007, 18). Such informal normative practices, including various “customs”, are often based on mutual understandings about interpretive practices and structures (Dworkin 1986, 45-55). Formalization processes of such practices are always political because they involve negotiations among different groups on how to articulate a formal version of “existing norms.” Legislation is one of these political processes through which such practices and structures become formalized. Law-making, because of its political nature, requires justification, which comes in the form of legitimacy. Legitimacy, in this context, emerges as a political concept dealing with a particular political/moral question: “what gives this (or any) particular law-maker the right to demand what one should obey?” This chain of relationship between laws, legality and legitimacy has taken a particular form for several post-enlightenment thinkers. Legality, as something that can be proven through rules of reason, became the basis for legitimacy (Habermas 1975, 98; Schecter 2005, 30; Schmitt 2004, 97). While Weber considered this as one of the defining features of “formal justice,” the supposed lack of legal formalism in “Kadijustiz” became the distinguishing feature of societies that rely on “substantive justice.” The inaccuracy of “Kadijustiz”—defined as “informal judgments rendered in terms of concrete ethical or other practical valuations” (Weber 1978, 976)—has been noted by several scholars including Haim Gerber (1994), Huricihan İslamoğlu (2011) and Avi Rubin (2011). There are at least two factors contributing to the Weberian misperception of relationship between law, legality and legitimacy in the Ottoman Empire: it fails to understand the normative consistency in the Ottoman legal system and it assumes that the peculiar nature of the historical relationship between the intellectuals, religious establishment and sovereign authority in the “Western world” is universal. We believe that questioning “how law was legitimized” in the Ottoman Empire over the long-run can help avoid this misperception and understand the legal transformation of the Ottoman Empire from the perspective of Islamic law. We invite fellow scholars to discuss the peculiar relationship between laws, legality and legitimacy in the Ottoman Empire across time. Such an examination can shed light to various points including: * Changing notions of “justice” within the empire over the history of the Empire * Changing notions of legitimate government over the history of the Empire * The relationship between judiciary institutions and legitimacy of the sovereign * (Gendered) conceptualization of individuals’ rights and obligations in legal rhetoric and its relation with the legitimacy of the sovereign * Access to and utilization of judicial institutions and their significance for local politics and economy * The relationship between law-making and economic institutions * The relationship between law-making and religious institutions * Political economy of law-making and application of laws at the local level Those interested must have their presentation titles and abstracts of no more than 300 words to the panel organizers by February 1st, 2013. This will allow the organizers sufficient time to select and arrange the abstracts into suitable panels and submit the overall proposal to MESA. The selected panelists must then upload their abstracts to the MESA website by February 15th. Please send your full name, academic affiliation, contact information, title and abstract to Safa Saraçoğlu firstname.lastname@example.org and Kent F. Schull email@example.com no later than February 1st, 2013. Safa Saraçoğlu and Kent F. Schull