Aleksandar Shopov (München): From Morocco to Egypt to Istanbul: An Alternate History of the Spread of Tobacco
This talk presents research from a new book project on the early years of tobacco in the Ottoman eastern Mediterranean. It centers on two unpublished manuscripts, both Turkish or Arabic translations made in Istanbul around 1600 of slightly earlier treatises on the medicinal properties of tobacco. I contextualize these fascinating works within the early history of tobacco and its diffusion in Ottoman lands. Exploring the pathways through which tobacco and knowledge about it moved, including through the Sahara and via Morocco, I treat this as a multidirectional process in which not only Western European merchants but also Ottoman and West African merchants, physicians, laborers, and slaves took part. Rather than receiving or being 'infected' with tobacco, Ottomans actively produced knowledge about this and other new plants from the Americas. I also examine the possibilities for tobacco's early agricultural acclimatization in the Eastern Mediterranean, arguing that its success was enabled by a change in the land regime that led by the late sixteenth century to increased enclosure, privatization of land, and investment in farming both in countrysides and in cities, including Istanbul itself.
- Zeit: 17-19 Uhr c.t.
- Ort: Historicum, Raum K 026