- What’s On
Today Belgium is a postcolonial and post-industrial state with only a minor stake in global trade and financial markets. But some 150 years ago the newly independent kingdom was an international economic heavyweight, exporting steel, weapons, machines and capital to nearly every corner of the world. One place that attracted the attention of this nation of heavy industry was the rapidly changing Ottoman Empire. There, Belgian interests morphed from those of petty traders and merchant-bankers to the large-scale infrastructural projects overseen by venture capitalists in the major cities of the Empire. On the eve of the First World War an intricate complex of investments worth millions of francs and spanning railways, mines, public utilities, and the imperial sovereign debt connected both polities. Retracing the commerce-finance nexus that united empire and kingdom, this talk proposes a different reading of the ‘diplomacies’ that lurked behind it.
Houssine Alloul is an Assistant Professor of Modern Global History at the University of Amsterdam. He specialises in international history with a focus on Modern Europe and the Later Ottoman Empire. His research interests include diplomatic and consular networks, Belgian finance capital, Leopoldian expansionism, and European travel in Ottoman lands.