This short contribution is a slightly edited version of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture that Donald Quataert gave at Binghamton University on 5 November 2010—his last public lecture before his death in February 2011. Quataert was a tireless advocate of the method of “history from below,” which reflects the perspectives of ordinary working men and women in the past. He saw it as a necessary corrective to much of the state-centered historiography in the field of Ottoman history. It was in this vein, too, that he trained his graduate students at Binghamton University. Quataert presented several different versions of this talk earlier at Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of Washington, and the University of Toronto. A number of footnotes and a select bibliography have been added, which may prove useful for future scholarly endeavors.

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