Sabancı Üniversitesi


HIST Webinar: Mehmet Kuru (Sabancı University)


The Limits of Foreign Trade in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire




MARCH 03, 2021



Meeting ID: 945 8077 3878

Abstract: The commercial history of the Ottoman Empire has been the subject of scholarly attention in different contexts for a long time, but the focus has generally been on mercantile groups and their economic activities, rather than the market itself. The present talk discusses the growth of Ottoman foreign trade during the pre-modern period, revisiting the commercial history of the Empire in the light of new archival data. Based on this new evidence, I will demonstrate that the integration between the European markets and Western Anatolia was not a continuous process extending from the late sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Rather, it is more accurate to refer to a phase of “early incorporation” that took place in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, commercial figures indicating that there was a narrow band of fluctuations until the nineteenth century. Furthermore, by comparing Western and Eastern commercial activities, I will argue that the aforesaid “early incorporation” was not limited to the expanding commercial ties between the Ottoman Empire and European markets, as is suggested in Eurocentric scholarship, but through caravan trade Ottoman markets also engaged with eastern economies, mainly the Iranian market, to the same degree, as a result of the economic transformation of the Ottoman Empire during the late sixteenth century.

Bio: Mehmet Kuru is an instructor in the Foundation Development Directorate at Sabancı University. He received his BA at Galatasaray University in 2007, his MA in history from Sabancı University in 2009, and his PhD in history at the University of Toronto in 2017. Currently, he is working on a book manuscript about the socio-economic transformation of the Ottoman Empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, tentatively titled Empire in Crises: Environment and Economy in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Mehmet Kuru has recently received funding from TÜBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) for two projects, one titled “Aesop Alla Turca: A study on Turkish Translations of Aesop’s Fables from the Pre-Tanzimat Era in the Context of Cultural Translation,” and another one titled “A Global-Micro Historical Study on the 17th-Century Ottoman and Mediterranean World: Customs Officer Hasan Agha and His Brother, Tuscan Gonfaloniere Anton Bogos Çelebi.”