Habits of the Market: Com. Networks, Reg. Fin., and Resist. in t. Ott. Tobacco Trade (c. 1858-1912)

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Our fifth W’OTSAp meeting on March 17 started with Christine Philliou (University of California, Berkeley), who shared with us the history of OTSA’s Travel Grant and introduced Vangelis Kechriotis (https://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2015/12/vangelis.html), in whose memory this grant was created in 2016. The meeting featured the winner of our Vangelis Kechriotis Memorial Travel Grant in 2020, Kaleb Herman Adney (University of California, Los Angeles), who shared his dissertation project, Habits of the Market: Commercial Networks, Regional Finance, and Resistance in the Ottoman Tobacco Trade (c. 1858-1912). Eyal Ginio (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) provided commentary and Erdem Kabadayı (Koç University) moderated the session.

Herman’s dissertation project examines the political economy of tobacco in Western Thrace and Eastern Macedonia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During this time, market dynamics provided investment and profit-making opportunities for commercial elites while simultaneously limiting the accessibility and potential benefits of these opportunities for burgeoning communities of merchants and cultivators. A number of legal and political mechanisms stimulated the commercialization of agriculture, contributed to increased personal as well as imperial debt, incentivized smuggling, and shaped social relations amongst regional communities. These factors played a significant role in economic and political behavior and, as such, contributed to creating a culture in late Ottoman Thrace and Macedonia that was engineered for volatility, especially in the forms of illegal commerce and political violence.

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