Ottoman Egypt and the Emergence of the Modern World
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A revisionist approach to the period of world history between 1500 and 1800, away from Eurocentric accounts of early modern globalization to a more complex, multi-centered view of world transformation, with the focus on Egypt
Aiming to place Egypt clearly in the context of some of the major worldwide transformations of the three centuries from 1500 to 1800, Nelly Hanna questions the mainstream view that has identified the main sources of modern world history as the Reformation, the expansion of Europe into America and Asia, the formation of trading companies, and scientific discoveries. Recent scholarship has challenged this approach on account of its Eurocentric bias, on both the theoretical and empirical levels. Studies on India and southeast Asia, for example, reject the models of these regions as places without history, as stagnant and in decline, and as awakening only with the emergence of colonialism when they became the recipients of European culture and technology.
So far, Egypt and the rest of the Ottoman world have been left out of these approaches. Nelly Hanna fills this gap by showing that there were worldwide trends that touched Egypt, India, southeast Asia, and Europe. In all these areas, for example, there were linguistic shifts that brought the written language closer to the spoken word. She also demonstrates that technology and know-how, far from being centered only in Europe, flowed in different directions: in the eighteenth century, French entrepreneurs were trying to imitate the techniques of bleaching and dyeing of cloth that they found in Egypt and other Ottoman localities.
Based on a series of lectures given at the Middle East Center at Harvard, this groundbreaking book will be of interest to all those looking for a different perspective on the history of south-north relations.
1. Egypt 1600-1800: Between Local and Global
2. Seventeenth-Eighteenth-Century Texts: Colloquial in Language, Scholarly in form
3. Textile Artisans and Guilds of Eighteenth-Century Cairo and the World Economy
4. Artisans, Spies, and Manufacturers: Eighteenth-Century Transfers of Technology from the Ottoman Empire to France
5. Epilogue



Publié par
Date de parution 01 septembre 2014
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781617976346
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


The American University in Cairo Press
Cairo New York
This electronic edition published in 2014 by
The American University in Cairo Press
113 Sharia Kasr el Aini, Cairo, Egypt
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Copyright 2014 by Nelly Hanna
First published in hardback in 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
ISBN 978 977 416 664 8
eISBN 978 161 797 634 6
Version 1
1. Egypt from 1600 to 1800: Between Local and Global
The Multiple Narratives of Modern World History
Alternatives to Eurocentric Approaches to Modern World History
Egypt in the Light of World Transformations, 1500-1800
Consequences of These Conditions
2. Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-century Texts: Colloquial in Language, Scholarly in Form
Language Registers: What Did They Signify?
The Prehistory of This Change
The Landmarks and Their Consequences
Impact on Language around 1600
Innovations in the Way Colloquial Is Used
Another Moment of Transformation: 1900
3. Eighteenth-century Textile Artisans and Guilds and the World Economy
Artisans and Guilds Outside History ?
Textiles at the Vanguard of Change
Penetrating the International Market
The Diffusion to Four Continents
Impact of These Conditions on Textile Production
Participating in Fashions and New Trends in Cloth
Diffusion of Trends by Merchants and by Artisans
Internal Adjustments in Guilds
4. Artisans, Spies, and Manufacturers: Eighteenth-century Transfers of Technology from the Ottoman Empire to France
Transfer of Know-how, Alternatives to Eurocentrism
Revisionist Views about the Transfer of Know-how
Emerging Interest in Crafts
France and the Ottoman Empire: Textile Technology
Egyptians Are Clumsy in Everything They Do
Superiority of Ottoman Dyes
Learning the Skills of Dyeing
Difficulties (and Solutions) in the Process of Transfer
State Support and Publications
Did These Transfers Ultimately Have Any Weight?
Beginning of the Nineteenth Century: The Loss of Several Monopolies
5. Epilogue
Dating System of the French Revolution
My thanks are due to a number of persons and institutions who have helped me to bring this project to fruition. First on this list are the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and Professor Baber Johansen, former director of the Center. He extended an invitation to give the Hamilton Gibb Lectures in October-November 2012. Subsequently, William Granara, present director of the Center, gave further encouragement to the publication of the lectures in book form, and to him I express my deep gratitude.
The lectures were considerably reworked and lengthened, and an introduction was added to make the various articles conform to a set of themes that run across the book. This has entailed extensive research and much rethinking on the way the topics of the lectures were presented. This process required adaptation and extension of the original lectures. Substantial changes were made in the lectures. The chapters in the present book are the outcome of this work. The introduction explains the themes that run throughout the book and elaborates on the way they were applied to the topics covered in the three following chapters.
My gratitude also goes to Peter Gran for helpful suggestions on the text and to Madiha Doss for her comments on early drafts of chapter 2 ; and to Daniel Woodward, graduate student in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations, who helped me put the manuscript together, made helpful comments, and spared no effort in the many technicalities that this process involved.
Egypt from 1600 to 1800: Between Local and Global
The Multiple Narratives of Modern World History
The mainstream textbooks about modern world history have for a long time described the three centuries from 1500 to 1800 as a dynamic period that was the basis for the emergence of the modern world. Their narratives focus on some of the important scientific, cultural, and economic developments that took place during these centuries. Among these the most important were the Renaissance and the Reformation, which ushered in scientific and intellectual inquiry; the technological advances that opened the way for the Industrial Revolution; the Scientific Revolution, which was brought about by the discoveries by great thinkers like Copernicus (d. 1543), who questioned the earth as center of the universe, Galileo (d. 1642) and his telescope, Bacon (d. 1626; sometimes called the father of empiricism), Newton (d. 1727; a key figure in the scientific revolution), and William Harvey (d. 1647; the English physician famous for his discoveries about blood circulation). The diffusion of ideas was greatly facilitated by the invention and the spread of the printing press. Moreover, the creation of trading companies, such as the East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, eventually led to colonial domination of large parts of the world. The period was consequently portrayed as the prelude to European world hegemony, which had its sources in the great discoveries and in European expansion into the New World. Many of these developments were made possible by emerging centralized states, which supported the trading companies and encouraged intellectual and scientific discoveries. In different parts of Europe, powerful states emerged, like that of Philip II of Spain (d. 1598), Peter the Great in Russia (d. 1725), and Louis XIV in France (d. 1715), with strong rulers, often supported by strong military powers. To a considerable extent, the focus tended to privilege elites, whether thinkers who had an impact on intellectual life or the princes and rulers at the head of these growing states. 1
This narrative of the emergence of the modern world was the standard way of understanding the period from 1500 to 1800. Its explanation was, to a large extent, European oriented. In fact, its analysis leaves out most of the world beyond Europe. This view on the centrality of Europe is clearly articulated by the British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper who, some forty or so years ago, wrote, The history of the world, for the past five centuries, insofar as it has any significance, has been European history. I do not think that we need to make any apology if our study of history is European-centric. 2
The non-European world was considered to be more or less outside of history, in a state of limbo or stagnation, until the moment that it came into contact with the west. A recent book by Toby Huff, a scholar whose work has been translated into many languages, reflects a similar view, indicating that this approach continues to have considerable weight in academic circles. 3 In many studies, it still represents the dominant view.
Many of these views can be attributed to nineteenth-century thought. Writers with different intellectual leanings seem to have been in agreement with each other when it came to understanding the non-European world. Marx, writing in the mid-nineteenth century, saw China as a giant empire . . . vegetating in the teeth of time, insulated by the forced exclusion of general intercourse and thus continuing to dupe itself with delusion of Celestial perfection. 4 His opinion bears a lot of similarity to the Hegelian view, which considered many parts of the non-European world, such as India, Africa, Siberia, and so on, to be outside history. That these views have persisted up to the twenty-first century could in part be due to the intellectual weight of these thinkers.
Prior to the nineteenth century, the histories of the other regions of the world were histories of decline. When great civilizations are mentioned in surveys of the modern or the early modern world-the Chinese, Islamic, or Indian civilizations-they are usually not integrated as active agents or partners, but rather as regions in decline. Thus, these non-European regions only entered history at the moment that they started to follow the European model. This meant that entering world history was equivalent to becoming western. In other words, the history of the emergence of the modern world is a history of the west, and of the way that other peoples learned from or imitated Europeans.
Implicit in these works was a diffusionist approach, which perceived culture as having one center (Europe) from where it was diffused to other regions of the world, with variable degrees of success. This approach was consolidated with the development of imperialism-especially in the form it took in the nineteenth century. It was then projected backward two or three centuries, as a way of understanding the Ottoman Empire or Mughal India. Clearly, alternative approaches need to be developed.
Consequently, the history of many formerly colonized countries was, until a few decades ago, written to make them appear to have reached the depth of decline just before the period of colonialism or European penetration. For a long time, the historiography of Egypt and the rest of the Ottoman Empire emphasized the negative aspects of the period. In many such studies, the focus was on the despotic nature of rule and the conditions of de

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