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Under Osman's TreeThe Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and Environmental History$
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Alan Mikhail

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226427171

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226427201.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Expert Measures

Expert Measures

(p.93) 5 Expert Measures
Under Osman's Tree

Alan Mikhail

University of Chicago Press

This chapter zooms in on one particular figure in the highly complex and vast history of labor in rural Ottoman Egypt—the engineer. Local engineers played an integral role in the manipulation of rural environments and helped to maintain and develop constructive relationships between local communities and the imperial administration. A shared interest in the upkeep and functionality of infrastructure such as canals, embankments, roads, bridges, and quays meant that rural peoples and the Ottoman state were in regular communication about complicated matters related to the repair, manipulation, and maintenance of these public works. The figure of the engineer was of particular importance because he was a kind of middleman between peasant interests and imperial concerns. The history of these engineers thus illuminates much of the logic and function of Ottoman governance in rural areas of the empire in the early modern period. This chapter ends with an analysis of the enduring importance of rural engineers as experts in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   engineers, courts, al-Daqahliyya, expertise, irrigation repairs, School of Engineering, Mehmet 'Ali, infrastructure, measurement

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