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Trade and Pluralism in Early Modern Galata
Mediterranean Encounters traces the layered history of Galata – a Mediterranean and Black Sea port – to the Ottoman conquest, and its transformation into a hub of European trade and diplomacy as well as a pluralist society of the early modern period. Framing the history of Ottoman-European encounters within the institution of ahdnames (commercial and diplomatic treaties), this thoughtful book offers a critical perspective on the existing scholarship. For too long, the Ottoman empire has been defined as an absolutist military power driven by religious conviction, culturally and politically apart from the rest of Europe, and devoid of a commercial policy. By taking a close look at Galata, Fariba Zarinebaf provides a different approach based on a history of commerce, co-existence, competition, and collaboration through the lens of Ottoman legal records, diplomatic correspondence, and petitions. She shows that this port was just as cosmopolitan and pluralist as any large European port and argues that the Ottoman world was not peripheral to European modernity but very much part of it.
“An outstanding work in early modern Mediterranean history, Fariba Zarinebaf’s Mediterranean Encounters explores commercial, legal, and cultural relations in Galata with depth and vigour. This fascinating analysis brings to life the rich history of Galata’s inhabitants – Muslims, Christians and Jews – and carefully examines their relationship to the empire in which they lived, as well as to the empires around them, their commerce, their trading relations, their leisure practices, and their everyday life. Offering a rich and sophisticated reading of sources in three languages, and incorporating research methodologies from microhistory, legal history, urban history, and gender studies, Mediterranean Encounters is a vivid and fascinating history of the city of Istanbul. A marvellous read.”
Orit Bashkin, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, University of Chicago
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