Today I had an epiphany in Economic History thanks to Ph.D. Isa Blumi who gave a lecture on “The Ottoman Legacy: Socio-Economic Dynamics and the Origins of Modern Politics” emphasizing the economic history of Egypt and The Ottoman Empire during the 18th. and 19th Centuries.
The first great argument was rooted in how Egypt had been already transforming its economy and society long before The Napoleonic French Campaign (1798-1801). As well, he made very clear how Napoleon’s interest in acquiring Egypt’s wheat was much more important than posing for a picture in front of the Sphinx. He explained the consequences of this invasion and the resulting liberation of Egypt by the genious of Muhammad Ali Pasha.
The epiphany to my research interest came when he localized the first modern factory 2,500 miles away from the cities of Derby, Birmingham and Manchester. Most surely, researching this argument would surely enlighten the current historiography of Economic History and establish more roots of entrepreneurial activity, innovation and mass production in the Middle East. Doing this will also disentail the roots of the creation of Wealth from the Eurocentric historigraphy that has been in fact characterized by its antipodes: mercantilism, patrimonialism and altruism.
If you are interested in learning more of this subjects here are recommended readings that Professor Blumi shared with me:
- Ariel Salzmann, “An Ancien Regime Revisited: ‘Privatization’ and Political Economy in the Eighteen-Century Ottoman Empire,” Politics & Society, Vol. 21 No. 4 (December 1993): 393-423.
- Peter Gran,Islamic Roots of Capitalism: Egypt, 1760-1840 (New edition: Syracuse University Press, 1998), first two chapters.
- Judith Tucker, “Decline of the Family Economy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Egypt,” in The Modern Middle East, Albert Hourani et al eds., (Berkeley, 1993): 229-254.
- Akram Khater “’House’ to ‘Goddess of the House’: Gender, Class and Silk in 19th century Mt. Lebanon,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 28/3 (1996): 325-348.
The Great Narrative in regard to 16th Century Spain is focused on the expansion of Spanish Mercantilism in America and in how the Ottomans were defeated at the naval Battle of Lepanto bringing their dominance of the Mediterranean to a close.
Sadly (to a great extent), this Euro-centric perspective started to change and more emphasis was given to the production of knowledge in the Peninsula via the appropriation of the culture and scientific knowledge brought to Europe by the al-Andalus Muslims. The Great Narrative and its “Western exceptionalism” discourse won the battle again and it focused on how “Europe” or the “West” acquired this knowledge and created a “Renaissance of Knowledge” while forgetting the source of it.
This Western Renaissance is today widely know and studied as the School of Salamanca. A School that Western historians like to remember as the product in 100% of Catholic Religion, Spanish rationalist theological work, Western humanism and by the Protestant Reformation that was consolidated in Salamanca with the writings of the Scholastics Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta (or Azpilicueta), Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez.
The “non-western” roots of this Renaissance in the Spanish Peninsula are still not well discussed nor researched. There’s still the need for further study the inherited knowledge from the al-Andalus Muslims (who were later known as Mudéjars) and to establish a direct link of many of the roots of “Europe’s Renaissance” in places as far as the Tigris and Eufrates.
Today, my book recommendation will be a great work that exemplifies how this Great Narrative idealized the School of Salamanca as the product of 100% “Western values”. It is worth reading and studying carefully in order to not commit the same mistakes.
The School of Salamanca
Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson’s remarkable classic, The School of Salamanca, posed an extraordinary challenge when it first appeared in 1952. The book is not only a pioneering presentation of this lost school of monetary theory—fantastic thinkers of Old Spain that were more advanced than the English classicals centuries later–it is also beautifully written.
I am very happy to learn that Universidad Francisco Marroquín has a new MA in History (official website in Spanish).
It seems that the program will be leaded by the Sociologist Carlos Sabino and the Institute of Political Studies and International Relations – link in Spanish (from where I got my BA). The focus of the MA is in the teaching of methodological methods to research history topics and current historiography.
Some of the courses they will offer are:
Some of its faculty are:
The MA seems to be focused on the methodological research skills in History. I am certainly not a huge fan of Methodologies in Research and would have many things to question in regard to the focus of this M.A. Also, the Euro-centric structure of the Program is something I really do not like.
This is a great step for UFM and Guatemala. I am certain that in the following years we’ll see a change of how the M.A. programs of Social Sciences and History will evolve from such Methodology centered and Eurocentric studies into new fields of Global History, Migration Studies, Transnational Politics, International Commerce & Globalization.
I celebrate this new M.A. program in a country that needs the knowledge of Researchers and Postgraduate students urgently.