A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1600–1760
'A Commerce of Knowledge', authored by Simon Mills, tells the story of three generations of Church of England chaplains who served the English Levant Company in Syria during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Reconstructing the careers of its protagonists in the cosmopolitan city of Ottoman Aleppo, the book investigates the links between English commercial and diplomatic expansion, and English scholarly and missionary interests: the study of Middle-Eastern languages; the exploration of biblical and Greco-Roman antiquities; and the early dissemination of Protestant literature in Arabic.
Early modern Orientalism is usually conceived as an episode in the history of scholarship. By shifting the focus to Aleppo, 'A Commerce of Knowledge' brings to light the connections between two seemingly separate worlds, tracing the emergence of new kinds of philological and archaeological enquiry in England back to a series of real-world encounters between the chaplains and the scribes, booksellers, priests, rabbis, and sheikhs they encountered in the Ottoman Empire.
This webinar is chaired by Professor Marina Rustow, Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Professor of History at Princeton University.