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Ottomanizing the Maps of Palestine: Ottoman Appropriation of European Cartographic Knowledge and Its Utilization for Late Ottoman Needs


Maps described as 'Ottoman' often reflect external geographic knowledge, or are the work of foreigners. The article suggests defining maps as 'Ottoman' based on their use by Ottomans. Late Ottoman maps of Palestine show that Ottomans appropriated and naturalized European cartographic knowledge on a discerning basis according to particular ideological, administrative, civilian and military needs. These maps omit details that culturally or politically challenged the Ottomans' worldview, like the Judeo-Christian emphasis on biblical sites prevailing in the PEF source maps. Ottoman maps are, thus, hybrid in nature: they combine traits prevalent in Ottoman cartography, such as hand drawing and bilingualism, while also tending to highlight major topographical features, key inhabited places, roads, communications infrastructure, and administrative boundaries in answer to the Empire's post-Tanzimat necessities. Lastly, the maps themselves testify to the formation of 'Palestine' as an Ottoman space, amalgamating the Islamic connotations of Jund Filastīn with the European territorial demarcation of the Holy Land and frequently equating it with the Mutasarrifiyya of Jerusalem

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