SUMMARY:This panel brings together ongoing case studies of the dynamics of Transottoman mobility, exemplified by coeval intellectual concepts connecting the Ottoman Empire with Tsarist Russia and Poland-Lithuania in the second half of the 18th century. Within the framework of a re-evaluation of relations between two powerful empires (Ottoman and Russian) in a Transottoman context, the contemporary circulation of imperial knowledge and ideas deserves particular attention. During this understudied period, these relations were characterized by a number of events and phenomena, in particular Russian expansion to the south, the Polish issue under Catherine II. (r. 1762-96), Mustafa III. (r.1757-74), Abdulhamid I. (r. 1774-89), and Selim III (r. 1789-1807), the Ottoman-Russian wars of 1768-74 and 1787-92, and the beginning of diplomatic relations and intellectual encounters between both powers and Poland-Lithuania. Covering the last decades of the 18th century, the four papers will address a variety of aspects of this encounter that led to the increased circulation of both knowledge and intellectual and diplomatic concepts.
Relating to the Ottoman declaration of war against Russia in 1768, the first paper discusses how and the extent to which Ottoman diplomats adopted concepts of Enlightenment, as well as the ways that such concepts were comparable to Russian attitudes towards Poland-Lithuania. Focusing on the last two pre-war decades, the paper endeavors to explain how the circulation of knowledge served to legitimize the war against Russia. Using the concept of semiosphere, the second paper investigates the mobility of knowledge on multiple levels as exemplified in the captivity narrative written by Necati Efendi, who during the war served as an Ottoman official in the Crimea and was taken with others to St Petersburg as a prisoner of war along. The third paper explores the nature and results of the Polish alliance with Istanbul based on an embassy report by Piotr Potocki, the last Polish-Lithuanian envoy to the Ottoman Empire. Focusing on two German travel accounts by Heinrich Christoph von Reimers (1812) and Johann Christoph Struve (d.1812) on the Russian legation to Istanbul in 1793-94, the fourth paper analyzes the coeval political and multi-cultural context, along with the narrative structures of both eyewitness reports.
Through its contributions, the panel will provide new insights into the intellectual and mental dimensions of the interrelations between Istanbul, St Petersburg, and Warsaw in the second half of the 18th century.