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Commercialisation as Social Transformation: Ottoman Greeks in Amsterdam

Thursday 9 March 2017
WHAT's NEW!? Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Commercialisation as Social Transformation: Ottoman Greeks in Amsterdam

The rising tide of commercialisation among Ottoman non-Muslims in the eighteenth century has been a topic on which much ink has been spilt. Most of the scholars who wrote on the topic in question, however, seem to have an agreed position regarding their point of departure: They tend to see merchant communities as extensions of states or nations. The case of the Greek merchants who moved from the Ottoman Empire to Amsterdam is no exception. This lecture will diverge from the mainstream currents within the secondary literature by taking the said merchants as a topic on its own merit. Therefore, a special attention will be paid to the ramifications of the social transformation that this group went through from mere pedlars to a notable community which came to establish close links with a number of states in a seemingly contradictory fashion. The lecture will follow the traces of the transformation of this commercial group to the backdrop of the other major groups within the Greek Orthodox community in the Ottoman Empire, and discuss its legacy for the complex interface of state-merchant relations.

About Hasan Çolak 

Hasan Çolak

Hasan Çolak (PhD, University of Birmingham, 2013) has been Researcher in the Institute for History at Leiden University since 2013. Prior to joining Leiden, he taught at Birmingham and Bilkent Universities. His first monograph entitled ‘The Orthodox Church in the Early Modern Middle East’ was published by the Turkish Historical Society in 2015. In collaboration with Zeynep Kocabıyıkoğlu Çeçen and N. Işık Demirakın he edited ‘Ayşegül Keskin Çolak’a Armağan Tarih ve Edebiyat Yazıları’ in 2016. In addition to the history of the Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, he has published extensively on the formation and representation of Ottoman imperial ideology by Ottoman Muslim and Christian intellectuals, practices of inter-communal co-existence and conflict, and local, religious, and political identities among Greek- and Arabic-speaking Ottoman Christians. His forthcoming book (co-edited with Dr Elif Bayraktar Tellan of Istanbul Medeniyet University, to be published by the Isis Press in Istanbul) is a critical edition of early modern Ottoman appointment documents (berats) for Orthodox patriarchs as instruments of institutionalisation within Ottoman bureaucratic and Orthodox ecclesiastical contexts. Dr. Çolak’s current research focuses on the history of the Greek merchants who moved from the Ottoman domains into Amsterdam. This research has been funded by the ERC Project ‘Fighting Monopolies, Defying Empires’ led by Prof. Catia Antunes and has been granted a book contract by the MIP University Press at Kalamazoo.

This lecture is part of the WHAT's NEW?! Spring Lecture Series.

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