‘Ignorance’ in Action: Labor Protests in the Hamidian Period
This chapter focuses on the period between 1876 and 1908, when Sultan Abdülhamid II built an autocratic regime. Although during this period workers were denied the right to strike and organize in unions, tobacco factories and warehouses frequently became the sites of labor protests. The chapter investigates the causes, major events, and consequences of the strikes that occurred in the empire’s major tobacco production and processing centers in the 1890s and early 1900s. It traces the sources of solidarity and tension among mobilized workers, and the role played by the Hamidian government in the settlement of the disputes. Hence, it sheds some new light on how tobacco workers expressed their grievances and demands during the autocratic Hamidian period and how the government of Abdülhamid II viewed and responded to labor unrest.