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Janissaries in Ottoman Port-Cities: Muslim Financial and Political Networks in the Early Modern Mediterranean


JaNet investigates the economic and sociopolitical role of the Janissaries in the 18th and early 19th centuries through their examination as a complex of interconnected networks in the ‘extended Mediterranean’ (including major Black Sea and Danubian ports). By studying the Janissary corps, the project brings forward a radically new historical analysis concerning, on the one hand, the role of Muslims in the Ottoman and wider Mediterranean commercial economy – a role largely ignored by the bibliography – and, on the other, the processes that led to the creation of diasporas and the dissemination of people and ideas among various Muslim communities in the area.According to our thesis, in the period under examination, the Janissary corps became one of the main channels for the participation of various Muslim social strata of the Ottoman periphery in the Empire’s developing credit market and commercial life, as well as a gateway for their involvement in local and imperial politics. Moreover, it became a platform for the exchange of people, goods, and ideas between different localities covering a vast geographical area. When examined from a Mediterranean perspective, this view allows us to look beyond the information provided by Europe-centered sources and to drastically redefine the sociopolitical and financial role of Muslims in the area, an approach which historical analysis sorely lacks.The project uses a comparative approach to examine a large number of port-cities in North Africa, Egypt, the Aegean, the Adriatic, the Danube, and the Black Sea. The research team – composed of the PI, three senior researchers, five post-doctoral fellows, and two PhD candidates – will study a variety of unpublished sources in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Russian, French, and English. The team will produce a main monograph, a collective volume, several articles, two PhD dissertations, four workshops, one international conference, and a website.

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