Genealogies of a Category
This chapter traces the genealogy the categories “Turchi” (Turks) and “Levantini” (Levantines) to institutionalized practices of mediation in the commercial sphere. It explores how the defining properties and prototypical centers of these categories shifted, both overtime and synchronically, from one institution to another. Using case studies of two petitioning campaigns, one over the taxation of “Levantini” merchandise and the other over the forced relocation of Ottoman and Safavid Muslim merchants to a designated exchange house, it documents how the categories “Venetian” and “Ottoman,” “European” and “Levantine,” were picked up and recalibrated within specific institutions in Venice and beyond. By considering instantiations of the deployment of the term at specific junctures, it shows that the category “Levantine” emerged through the ongoing negotiations between trans-imperial subjects and Venetian elites in several institutional frameworks, and specifically through the Venetian Board of Trade.
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