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"Trans-imperial Subjects and the Mediation of Sovereignty in the Early Modern Mediterranean"

Thursday, December 8, 2011
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

Natalie Rothman, assistant professor of history, University of Toronto

Natalie Rothman received her PhD in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan. She is specializing in the history of the Mediterranean in the early modern period. Her interests include the history of cultural mediation, the genealogies of Orientalism, and the relationship between translation and empire. Rothman’s articles have appeared in Mediterranean Historical Review, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and elsewhere. Her forthcoming book, Brokering Empire: Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul (Cornell University Press, 2011) explores how diplomatic interpreters, converts, and commercial brokers mediated and helped define political, linguistic, and religious boundaries between the Venetian and Ottoman empires in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In her new project, The Dragoman Renaissance: Diplomatic Interpreters and the Making of the Levant, funded by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant and a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Newberry Library, Rothman continues to examine the intersecting histories of early modern trans-imperial subjects. Abstract: This lecture considers the competing conceptions of sovereignty, governmentality, and mediation that shaped the relationship between Venetian and Ottoman political elites in the seventeenth century. By looking at a series of negotiations concerning corsair activities, alleged abductions, and commercial disputes, the paper asks how various forms of mediation—simultaneously textual and embodied—were instrumental in facilitating intense diplomatic activity across the Venetian-Ottoman frontier. In conclusion, the lecture suggests that diplomatic interpreters and other specially trained trans-imperial intermediaries played a vital role in both commensurating specific concepts, and articulating enduring notions of the overall incommensurability of Ottoman and European political forms.