Crossing Borders in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Identity, Religion, and Space in Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Galata
AdvisorDarling, Linda T.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 08/16/2024
AbstractThis dissertation examines the diverse religious and ethnic communities that inhabited the main diplomatic and commercial district of the Ottoman capital Istanbul during the second half of the seventeenth century. It employs three main themes in its analysis of how regional and global transformations resonated in this important Afro-Eurasian port town, namely identity, religion, and space. It provides an account of the entangled dynamics of imperial agendas and ordinary lives in seventeenth-century Galata. During this period, Galata’s ethnic and religious composition radically changed owing to a myriad of global, regional, and local phenomena. On the one hand, the increasing presence and competition of the British, French, and Dutch empires altered the traditional balances of the Mediterranean in general, and Galata in particular. On the other, increasing religious orthodoxy, both among the Ottoman ruling elite and within society more broadly, made Galata a religiously more contested space. This work contends that space became an embodiment of these processes and that the period witnessed a considerable reconfiguration of Galata’s sociocultural dynamics. Through a close reading of a diverse set of archival sources from Ottoman and European archives, including legal court records, consular reports, diplomatic correspondence, and personal writings, I argue that the seventeenth century witnessed the origins of several processes that would have long-term implications for the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. First, in the course of the seventeenth century, the British and French replaced the Venetians as the main European trading partners of the Ottomans. By focusing on this understudied transition, my project reveals the initial stages of the intense imperial rivalry between the French and the British that laid the groundwork for imperial and colonial projects in the Middle East and North Africa. Second, owing to internal and external dynamics, the Ottoman state and society underwent a process of redefining and reestablishing sociocultural and religious hierarchies. Socioeconomic interests and grievances were often voiced through a religious and confessional discourse, resulting in stiff intercommunal competition over space that was defined by an effort to mark physical boundaries between Muslims and non-Muslims, including Europeans. I demonstrate that the era produced the first concrete steps towards the estrangement of non-Muslim subjects within the Ottoman system, a process that would have dramatic implications in later centuries.
Degree ProgramGraduate College