History, Department of


Date of this Version



European History Quarterly, January 2013, vol. 43 no. 1, pp 119-121.
doi: 10.1177/0265691412469497a


In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire along with Egypt and Iran emerged as debtor states. This was the direct result of the extensive social, political and economic transformations that were taking place in the region. Extensive reforms under the rubric of defensive modernization aimed at saving these countries from political decline. Economic reforms aimed at preventing the encroachment of European powers within the political economy of these countries. However, drastic changes in the capitalist world economy led to mounting pressure over these economies and transformed them from economically self-sufficient countries to peripheral debtor states. By concentrating on the Ottoman Empire, Murat Birdal’s excellent book on The Political Economy of Ottoman Public Debt provides us with a rare glimpse of a debtor state by analysing the major European institution that aimed at securing the payment of the Ottoman debt: the Ottoman Public Debt Administration (OPDA) founded in 1881.