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Part I Histories, Ch.6 The Ottoman Empire, the Origins of Extraterritoriality, and International Legal Theory

Umut Özsu

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 17 July 2024

Customary international law — General principles of international law — Sources of international law

This chapter argues that it was partly through engagement with the Ottoman Empire, particularly its tradition of extraterritorial consular jurisdiction, that nineteenth-century European and American jurists came to view China, Japan, and a number of other states as ‘semi-civilized’, setting them against ‘civilized’ states on the one hand and ‘savage’ peoples on the other. These states on the ‘semi-periphery’ exercise a greater degree of agency in international law, given their closeness to dominant centers of economic and intellectual production that had come under their influence, as well as their possession of national traditions and state institutions resilient enough to resist formal colonization. These traits are especially evident in the case of the Ottoman Empire, a powerful state that made a point of modifying its profile for different audiences.

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