Did Ottoman Sultans Ban Print?

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This study examines the effects of Ottoman imperial rule on long-run development in Europe. Using a novel geographical dataset that tracks territorial changes at the sub-national level over 600 years, we identify a negative effect of Ottoman rule on modern economic performance. Contemporary survey data provides strong support for a causal mechanism involving reduced human capital accumulation. This insight is confirmed by a regression discontinuity analysis using historical data from Romania. We uncover large causal effects of Ottoman rule on literacy rates from the 19th century, which persisted throughout the 20th century. We argue that the late adoption of the printing press in the empire was an important determinant of low human capital accumulation and illustrate this using data on the spread of the printing press.
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In the period 1450–1900, Europeans travelled to places both near and far, encountering landscapes and people. These encounters changed the world. New contact zones influenced how Europeans perceived themselves and the "other", and transformed the circulation of knowledge, objects and ideas, both locally and globally. Travelogues, which are relics of these processes, come in different shapes and sizes. Each of them has been shaped by an endless number of factors, but portrays a unique "reality". These "realities" varied widely, both diachronically and synchronically, but during the modern period an increasing volume of travel literature was produced all over Europe and became more and more accessible to all parts of society.
This dissertation integrates the eastern borderland region of Van into the history of Ottoman modernization in the nineteenth-century. Through a case study of Van, this dissertation traces processes of secularization and democratization in the context of Ottoman Armenian nation-making. In an in-depth study of Armenian print culture, I read newspapers, periodicals and books produced in Venice, Istanbul, the Russian Empire and Van in conjunction with handwritten petitions from Van Armenians directed to the Constantinople Armenian Patriarchate and the Catholicosate of Ējmiatsin—the highest office of the Armenian Church located in the Russian Empire. Weaving together different modes of communication, this dissertation illustrates how Van and its inhabitants shaped Ottoman modernity. To decenter the role of the Ottoman state reforms launched in 1839, known as the Tanzimat, this dissertation begins instead with the 1820s. I examine Ottoman modernization through the spheres of technologies of communication, education, and discourses on love of nation and patria, as well as the politics of representation voiced by migrants from Van in Istanbul. I analyze how the language of colonialism in print media forged enduring categories of difference between the metropole and the Ottoman East as it simultaneously served to cultivate affective bonds among Armenians and their patria—Armenia.
Cambridge Core - Middle East Studies - Cosmopolitan Radicalism - by Zeina Maasri
This article outlines the development of the history of the book not only as an academic discipline in its own right but as a field of study of critical, potentially central, importance for the advancement of the humanities in general. The history of the book helps revise the earlier relative marginalisation of cultural vis-à-vis political history. The publication in 1958 of L’apparition du livre by Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin has been followed by a series of multivolume, multi-authored national histories of the book and libraries, first in France, then in Britain, the United States and elsewhere. The history of book is having considerable influence in many areas of historical investigation, such as general history, literary history, the history of science and the history of religion. With the ‘Digital Revolution’, the history of the book is now converging with studies of the other media and, together with the growth of postcolonial/post-imperial studies in general, offers the prospect of a balanced and nuanced approach within the global academy to understanding the world’s media past, present and future.
This article describes how the study of Middle Eastern book history arose from scholarship on the history of the book, a multifaceted line of inquiry which developed around the early modern European experience of print. I argue that these origins influenced Middle Eastern book history insofar as it took the topic of printing as its main focus. However, an unevenness characterized this focus since European printing became commonplace from the early sixteenth century onwards, whereas printing in the Middle East took off during the nineteenth century. The 400 years that separated these phenomena marked the rise of modern Europe, which print was considered to have helped advance. These years were also interpreted as representing the decline of the Islamicate world until it modernized along a Western model, including its widespread adoption of print. Focusing largely on scholarship written in English, I summarize the effects that such thinking has had in shaping Middle Eastern book history, and then conclude with my sense of the state of current research.
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