Exploring Empires from Below: New Perspectives on the Early Modern Mediterranean (A Panel in Honor of John Marino)

AHA Session 71
Society for Italian Historical Studies 3
Friday, January 8, 2016: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Room A601 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level)
Peter Arnade, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Thomas J. Kuehn, Clemson University

Session Abstract

The panel brings into view the realities on the ground and the point of view of subjects, merchants, officials, and travelers across this complex region. Two empires in particular – the Ottoman and the Spanish – receive close scrutiny. Echoing John Marino’s earlier work, all panelists shift  the perspective from the grander claims of imperial authority to reveal local and regional realities that complicate our view of both regimes and of the region as well as the people who shaped its landscape and transformed its culture. In so doing the papers uncover the voices and the activities of those who, while incorporated into early modern imperial agendas, traveled across borders and elaborated social, economic, and cultural activities that could deviate from or reinvent goals generated at the centers of imperial power. These papers also refute current misconceptions about lesser known parts of the Mediterranean world. Below the shine of royal dynasties, international politics, trade and banking, there is an entire world of economic activities, social interactions, and global contacts which still remain unexplored. As John Marino's fine historical analysis has shown, the late medieval and early modern Mediterranean and its imperial powers embraced all of this.  Through a prosopographical analysis of both local and immigrant individuals immersed in the region’s economy Eleni Sakellariou provides a new perspective on social and economic change in a region formerly characterized as motionless. CÚline Dauverd examines how the Spanish viceroys appropriated the Neapolitan festival of San Gennaro to resolve the contradictions between their imperial rule and Catholic faith and address local doubts about their right to rule.  Zoe Griffith analyzes the way local elites in Egypt’s Mediterranean port cities navigated between the center of the Ottoman Empire (Istanbul) and Cairo as they built economic and political capital through local investments and new ventures across the Mediterranean sea.

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