My dissertation addresses the role of the late Ottoman administrative system and new social structure in provincial Palestine, and the impact of Ottoman reforms on new administrative centers in the Palestinian countryside, using the history of Tulkarm-Bani Sa`b qada' (sub-district) between 1876 to 1914 as a case study. Ottoman strategy in constructing new sub-districts shifted authority away from established local and regional leaders to new towns, which had previously not held political or economic power. From 1876 to 1914, the village of Tulkarm, the seat of the new qada', underwent social, economic, demographical and environmental changes that vividly illustrate the cumulative effect of modernity throughout Palestine.
The larger perspective of this process was the Ottoman Tanzimat: the vast bush to rescue the decaying empire through legal and administrative changes. Ottoman authorities, attempted to govern domains over which they had previously exercised control in name only, focused on taxation, land ownership, town government, and general administration. Their aim was to imply the government into the daily activities of the Empire's subjects, enhancing its ability to mobilize both people and revenues. The highest stage of the Tanzimat for Palestinian rule rural life involved land tenure, beginning with the land law of 1858. The land reform was one of a number of the initiatives rising the ambitious and strength the position of `ayan.
My research will complete a missing history of modern Palestine, the provincial history. The nineteenth century saw not only a new emphasis in Palestine on monetary relations with the expansion of the market, but also the initiation of capitalist social relationships of production and exchange. Accompanying these shifts were structural changes in land tenure and ownership systems, development of industrial, artisanal and service activities, labor force transformation, population redistribution, and commensurate urban growth. Ottoman authorities introduced administrative, legal, and governmental reform (rationalization) and centralization, which also contributed to the process of transformation. No less significant was the new ‘peaceful crusade’ of religiously inspired European immigration, investment, and institutional development. Modern education expanded and increased in scope, and social values, norms, and lifestyles changed. Arab and Palestinian nationalism as well as Islamic modernist consciousness awoke. This occurred in the context of a rapidly increasing population, mainly due to natural increase and immigration, which restructured the demographic composition of the country.