Ali Atabey

Doctoral Candidate, HistoryUniversity of Arizona

Award Information

2016 IDRF Program

HistoryUniversity of Arizona

Crossing Borders in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Europeans in Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Galata

In 1617, Fatma Hatun, an ordinary Ottoman woman, agreed to pay a certain amount of money to the Venetian merchant Pavlo to save her son, a war captive imprisoned on Chios Island. This project takes as its subject the lived experiences of European merchants, diplomats, and travelers, such as Pavlo, in the seventeenth century Middle East. The focus is upon Istanbul, the seat of the Ottoman Empire, and particularly Galata, the main commercial and diplomatic district of the city where most Europeans resided. Merchants, diplomats, sailors, missionaries, and travelers acquired official documents guaranteeing the safety of their lives and property during their stay, thereby becoming muste'min, i.e. protected foreigners. Utilizing a diverse set of archival sources composed of legal court records, commercial records, consular reports, diplomatic correspondences, and personal writings from archives located in Istanbul, London, and Paris, this research demonstrates interdependent relations and the fluidity of social bonds between Europeans and local Ottoman subjects. Traditional historiography portrays a picture of conflict and difference. This dissertation seeks to problematize these conventional views of cultural binary oppositions such as East and West, Christian and Muslim, insider and outsider, and local and foreigner. Without underestimating the existence of conflict, it seeks to probe the assumed political, linguistic, and religious boundaries to reveal dense cross-cultural and cross-religious exchange, interdependence, and shared business networks between Europeans and Ottoman subjects, as well as the multifaceted identities of the early modern Mediterranean.