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Consuls between the Nation and Global Capital: A Comparative History of Belgian, Italian, and U.S. Economic Diplomacy in Ottoman Salonika, 1823–1912.

This project centers on Western economic diplomacy in the Ottoman Empire during the long 19th century, an era of capitalist globalization. Most of the scholarship privileges macro-historical approaches and overemphasizes the roles of the so-called five Great Powers to the detriment of other states with which the Ottomans maintained intense economic and diplomatic relations. This project proposes a comparative micro-history of three aspiring powers whose relationships with the Ottoman Empire have rarely been studied, namely Belgium, Italy and the United States. It examines the mediating roles of their consular representatives in furthering foreign trade, finance and investments in the seaport of Salonika, the Empire's main industrial center. Calling attention to this powerful (but neglected) group of local go-betweens reveals the process of foreign capitalist penetration into the Ottoman lands to be more conflicted, contradictory and transnational than is usually surmised. Most consuls were deeply embedded in Ottoman urban society and had stakes in the banks, merchant houses and companies they advised. Microhistorical study shows that their interests were colored by conflicting allegiances across national boundaries and a concern to maintain and reinforce their local powerbases. Ignored in the literature, the study of these intermediaries, balancing on a tightrope between the nation and global capital, is crucial to complicate Euro-American interests in the Ottoman lands.
Date:1 Oct 2018  →  30 Sep 2019
Project type:Collaboration project