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Bobovius and the Republic of Letters

with Michael Tworek

hosted by Nir Shafir, Polina Ivanova, and Shireen Hamza

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A man known as Wojciech Bobowski to some, Albertus Bobovius to others, and Ali Ufki to yet others, is one of the prime examples of an early modern intermediary operating in the seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire. In this podcast, we discuss with Michael Tworek the fascinating figure of the Bobovius, from his childhood in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, to his capture in a Tatar slave raid, to his numerous translations both from and to Ottoman Turkish. These included musical treatises, the translation of the New Testament, the Genevan Psalter and more. In particular, we focus on how Bobovius mediated and developed his image as an inter-imperial mediator to his correspondents in the Republic of Letters.

A New History
of Print in Ottoman Cairo

with Kathryn Schwartz

hosted by Nir Shafir

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We often regard print as a motor of social change, leaving revolutions in its wake, whether political and religious. For historians of the Middle East, this line of thought always leads to the (predictable) question: why didn’t Muslims or Ottomans or Arabs adopt print? In this episode, Kathryn Schwartz discusses why this question is often poorly posed and then delves into an in-depth look at how and why people used print in one particular historical context—nineteenth-century Cairo. Touching upon topics such Napoleon, Mehmed Ali, and the Bulaq press, we explore how print slowly and haphazardly embedded itself into various aspects of Egyptian learned life. This fresh history casts nineteenth-century Egypt in a new light by examining the technological adaptation of print not as an act of unstoppable and transformative modernity, but as a slow and incremental expansion of already existing practices of book production.