Sep 19, 2016

Disease and Landscape in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

with Lori Jones

hosted by Chris Gratien, Nir Shafir, and Andreas Guidi

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Genomic research is resolving old questions about the history of plague, revealing, for example, that the Black Death was caused by the same species of plague that exists today and demonstrating the complex ways in which plague moved throughout the medieval and early modern world. Yet even as scientific methods today shed light on the history of plague, past understandings and depictions of disease remain both highly relevant and ignored. In this episode, we chat with Lori Jones about early modern European views of plague and explore the relationship between disease, landscape, and geography within the European imagination. We talk about the origins of environmental understandings of disease and how plague became increasingly associated with eastern and southern locales such as the Ottoman Empire and Southern Europe. We also have a separate conversation (beginning at 32:30) about the misuse of medieval images concerning disease and medicine in the 21st century as digital media facilitate both the spread and disembodiment of historical images. 

Sep 15, 2016

Colonialism and the Politics of Identity in Morocco

with Jonathan Wyrtzen

hosted by Chris Gratien

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In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa, European colonial rule lasted only for a matter of decades, and yet its influence in the realms of politics and economy have been profound. In this episode, we talk to Jonathan Wyrtzen about the legacy of colonialism in Morocco for the politics of identity, which is the subject of his new book entitled Making Morocco. As Dr. Wyrzten explains, colonial rule shaped understandings of issues such as territoriality, religion, ethnicity, and gender that remain relevant to this day.

Sep 9, 2016

Religious Pluralism in the Late Ottoman Balkans

with Nathalie Clayer

hosted by Chris Gratien and Nir Shafir

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While the millet system has been used as a means of studying the special case of religious pluralism in the Ottoman Empire, many have pointed to the limitations of this framework in which religious communities appears as segmented units separate by firm boundaries. In this interview with Nathalie Clayer, we discuss new ways of thinking about religious pluralism in the Ottoman Empire through the case of the late Ottoman Balkans by interrogating notions such as conversion, orthodoxy, and ethnic identity.

Sep 7, 2016

Religious Sentiment and Political Liberties in Colonial South Asia

with Julie Stephens

hosted by Chris Gratien and Tyler Conklin

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During the 1920s, a publisher in Lahore published a satire on the domestic life of the Prophet Muhammad during a period of religious polemics and communal tension between Muslims and Hindus under British rule. The inflammatory text soon became a legal matter, first when the publisher was brought to trial and acquitted for "attempts to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes" and again when he was murdered a few years later in retaliation for the publication. In this episode, Julie Stephens explores how this case highlights debates over the meaning of religious and political liberties, secularism, and legal transformation during British colonial rule in South Asia. In doing so, she challenges the binary juxtaposition between secular reason and religious sentiment, instead pointing to their mutual entanglement in histories of law and empire.

Sep 4, 2016

Gendered Politics of Conversion in Early Modern Aleppo

with Elyse Semerdjian

hosted by Chris Gratien

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The changing of one's religion may be viewed today as a matter of personal spirituality or identity, but as the historiography of the Ottoman Empire and elsewhere increasingly shows, conversion was often a public act with political, socioeconomic, and gendered components. In this episode, Elyse Semerdjian returns to the podcast to discuss her research on conversion in early modern Aleppo and how women sometimes utilized the act of conversion (or non-conversion) and the legal structures of the Ottoman Empire to gain the upper hand in familial and economic matters.

Sep 1, 2016

Capitalism and the Courts in 19th Century Egypt

with Omar Cheta

hosted by Zoe Griffith

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The Capitulations are regarded as one of the most obvious and humiliating signs of European dominance over Ottoman markets and diplomatic relations in the 19th century, granting European merchants and their Ottoman protégés extensive extraterritorial privileges within the empire. In this podcast, Professor Omar Cheta probes the limits of the Capitulations in the Ottoman province of Egypt, where the power of the local Khedives intersected and overlapped with the sovereignty of the sultan and the capitulatory authority of the British consulate. Commercial disputes involving European merchants and their protected agents on Ottoman-Egyptian soil reveal the ambiguous and negotiable nature of jurisdiction and legal identities in the mid-19th century. These ambiguous boundaries provided spaces for merchants and officials to contest the terms of extraterritorial privileges. The creation of new legal forums such as the mixed Merchants' Courts gave rise to new norms and procedures, while reliance on Shari'a traditions continued to appear in unexpected places.