Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, University of California / Los Angeles

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Yale University
Outsourcing Empire: Contracting Out the Ottoman Postal System, 1690-1840

This dissertation project studies the fiscal reform of the Ottoman postal network that began in the 1690s. Confronted with constraints of costs, manpower, and distance, the Ottoman empire, just like other early modern empires, employed outsourcing as a strategy of state centralization and empowerment. While private military contracting in western Europe dominates the literature on outsourcing in the early modern world, there has been no English-language monograph about the Ottoman postal network, which presents an important Eurasian, non-military case study. Far from bringing about a devolution of power, my research suggests that outsourcing increased the flow of information about postal operations from the provinces to the capital, Istanbul, which in turn enabled more efficient state regulation of the system. More importantly, the state acquired a clearer vision of local level imperial operations through these private contractors, many of whom were provincial notables. Combining approaches from history and political sociology with business management and organization theory, this dissertation examines early modern communication networks as well as structural “parallels” among the Ottomans, Habsburgs, and Qing, large empires that similarly outsourced state functions to private contractors.