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CONFERENCE REPORT: Rethinking Europe in a Global Perspective, 11th Symposium of the Working Group for Early Modern History in the Association of German Historians, Heidelberg, 17–19 September 2015

by Tobias Graf (Heidelberg) and Lina Weber (Amsterdam), published 18 November 2015

Full programmeLiterature cited

"Rethinking Europe in a Global Perspective" was the motto of the eleventh conference of the Working Group for Early Modern History in the Association of German Historians, which marked the twentieth anniversary of the group's first symposium held in 1995. In the opening ceremony, SUSAN RICHTER (Heidelberg) as host and head of the organizing committee stressed the need to question the concept of Europe and its accompanying narratives not only in response to current developments – a dimension emphasized by ECKART WÜRZNER, the lord major of Heidelberg, in his welcome address – but also from the point of view of contemporaries. Consequently, RICHTER reiterated the central question of whether and in what contexts Europe was meaningful to people living in the early modern period. She defined the aim of the conference as the inspection of both self-perceptions and foreign images of Europe and the disclosure of processes of transcultural transfers that both may help to redefine contemporary Europe. True to the theme of the conference, the conference and panel organizers undertook considerable efforts to open the event to participants from outside Germany. The success of this undertaking was reflected not only in the considerable number of speakers from abroad, but also the fact that roughly half the panels were held in English.

Panel Ia investigated global history from the perspective of provincial Europe. FREDERIK ALBRITTON JONSSON (Chicago) showed the pivotal role of the Swedish cameralist Pehr Kalm in late eighteenth-century discussions about global climatic change. Kalm combined the collection of data from popular memory with Linnean taxomony and global comparisons to develop a reform program for the Swedish economy. In his paper, RENAUX MORIEUX (Cambridge) claimed that the borders between land and sea had been fluid in the early modern era. Looking at the local contacts of peninsulas, he presented various theoretical and practical issues of sovereignty and exchange on the global level. The panel concluded with MARK SOMOS's (Harvard) investigation into a broad range of theological and political conceptions of the state of nature in the early modern period. He highlighted their relevance in the American struggle for independence which generated considerable attention and interest in Europe.

When opening Panel Ib, KIM SIEBENHÜHNER (Berne) reminded the audience that global entanglements were constitutive of European consumer societies. The relevant scholarly discussion, however, has so far been dominated by studies of the so-called consumer revolutions in Britain and the Netherlands. The papers by CHRISTINE FERTIG (Münster), JOHN JORDAN (Berne), and SIEBENHÜHNER accordingly focused on changes in material culture in Germany and Switzerland but approached the subject from very different angles and on the basis of very different kinds of sources. Focusing on spices and plants, FERTIG studied both the imports of such items through the port of Hamburg and the circulation of knowledge about them in early modern publications. She traced the ways in which knowledge about such plants, their products, and their uses were systematized in merchants' manuals and encyclopaedias, especially because they presented increasingly attractive commodities. JORDAN, transferring methodologies tried and tested in the context of the study of consumer culture in England, investigated the changes in the material culture of the citizens of Berne on the basis of probate records. Although still work in progress, his comparison with similar research undertaken in England and the Netherlands indicates that the city of Berne underwent a comparable consumer revolution significantly later and quite probably in a more limited form. SIEBENHÜHNER, for her part, emphasized the selectiveness with which European producers adopted and adapted production technologies from abroad, especially from India in the context of dying and printing textiles. Such selectiveness had a variety of reasons such as lack of detailed expertise, the unavailability of certain raw materials, and the high labour costs in Europe which made printing more economically viable than painting cloth. Although expertise was initially imported from India, because of these constraints, production sites became veritable chemical laboratories and the eighteenth century what SIEBENHÜHNER called "a century of experimentation". In his commentary, BRUNO BLONDÉ (Antwerp), considered all three papers examples of "acting local, thinking global" and stressed the importance of the local appropriation of foreign goods and production techniques which, above all, required a receptive mindset. The degree of receptiveness, he suggested, may go a long way towards explaining why and when certain innovations were accepted, while others never caught on or did so only much later.

The Chinese Rites Controversy of the seventeenth century is the best known example of the issues at the heart of Panel IIa which investigated the tensions arising between local Catholic practices and the decrees of the Council of Trent. These tensions, as CHRISTIAN WINDLER (Berne) pointed out in his introduction, contradicted the universal claims of post-Tridentine Catholicism. NADINE AMSLER (Berne) examined the ways in which Jesuit missionaries in China adapted Christian ritualistic practices to accommodate Chinese sensibilities not only in the context of the veneration of ancestors, but also in order to comply to the Confucian ideal of strict gender segregation. Probably soon after the expulsion of the Jesuits from Nanjing in 1610, which had been fuelled by accusations of sexual indecency, the missionaries began to refrain from physical contact with female converts even when, as in the sacraments of baptism and extreme unction, such ritualized contact was regarded as an integral element of ritual performance by the Tridentine regulations. Similar issues about the validity of Christian rituals and sacraments whose performance deviated from the procedure laid down at Trent arose much closer to home as a result of the coexistence of a variety of Christian denominations alongside Catholicism in the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe itself. CECILIA CRISTELLON (Frankfurt, read in her absence by CHRISTIAN WINDLER) illustrated the Catholic Church's internal divisions and negotiations over accommodation in the case of mixed marriages between Catholics and Protestants, while CESARE SANTUS (Pisa/Paris) pointed out the hitherto unstudied entanglement between these issues in Europe and the Chinese and Malabar Rites Controversies which took place not only at the same time, but were examined by the very same consultors of the Holy Office in Rome. All papers stressed that, in spite of fierce controversies, pragmatic arguments in the face of religious pluralism on the ground often ruled the day. In INES ZUPANOV'S (Paris) view, such pragmatism stemmed partially from the vagueness of the Tridentine decrees themselves whose interpretation gave significant agency to what she referred to as "small decision makers", but also from the fact that Catholic expansion had an imperialist dimension in a social and cultural as well as a political and commercial sense.

Panel IIb dealt with war and the question of whether it advanced global entanglements. MARIAN FÜSSEL (Göttingen) argued for applying the term "globally conducted war" rather than "world war" for the global conflicts of the early modern period. He underlined this suggestion by presenting the connections between the different belligerents in the War of the Spanish Succession and their contemporary perceptions. In SVEN EXTERBRINK's (Heidelberg) view, in contrast, the Seven Years' War merits being called a first "world war" since this conflict does not fit into the typology of the dynastic wars of the ancien regimes but fulfils all criteria of the concept of "world war" in which various local and regional conflicts merge to attain a global dimension. Using the methodological tools of praxeology, TIM NEU (Göttingen) investigated the logistics of finance through a case study of Great Britain during the American War of Independence. Here, he claimed, the logistics of finance fostered global entanglements and led to a certain form of war capitalism In his commentary, CHRISTOPH KAMPANN (Marburg) questioned the thesis that war had promoted global entanglements. On the contrary, he stated, they further divided the world as belligerents aimed at destroying each other. KAMPMANN ended with a call for a new typology of early-modern wars.

Panel IIIa presented the connections between knowledge and European expansion by investigating long-distance cooperation and their epistemic settings. BENJAMIN STEINER (Erfurt) showed how knowledge about (West-)Africa was integrated directly and indirectly in the process of French state-building during the seventeenth century. SUSANNE FRIEDRICH (München) examined how the Dutch Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie dealt with knowledge and nescience during its expansion overseas, focusing on the experts employed by the VOC to collect data about unknown territories. Unsurprisingly, the information thus obtained was treated with utmost secrecy. In the last paper of this panel, JORUN POETTERING (München) explored how Portugal acquired knowledge about its American colonies. She concluded that the interest in exploitable natural resources prevailed while an "economy of mercy" (Gnadenökonomie) prevented a change in the Portuguese epistemic setting. In his commentary, ARNDT BRENDECKE (München) concluded that the papers illustrated that similar challenges of expansion overseas had led to different formations of knowledge which, in turn, depended on their respective national settings. He stressed the political dimension of knowledge and the difficulty of defining the concept.

The social and cultural construction of hegemonic masculinity in the context of Europe's increasing interactions with other parts of the globe formed the central theme of the papers in Panel IIIb. While CLAUDIA OPITZ-BALAKHAL (Basel) and SUSANNA BURGHARTZ (Basel) examined instances of masculinity ideals developed at vis-à-vis fellow Europeans as well as those they encountered abroad, ANNA DI CAPRIO (Basel) engaged with the challenges to European ideals of men as powerful and in charge of their own destiny posed by experiences of captivity and enslavement in the Ottoman Empire. ANNA BECKER (Basel), then, turned the tables to examine the strategic use of masculinity and femininity in Garcilaso de la Vega's defence of Inka culture, language, and history as being on a par, even superior, to those of the Spanish conquistadors. All papers pointed to a plurality of ideas about what constituted masculinity to such an extent that CLAUDIA ULBRICH (Berlin), in her concluding comments, questioned whether gender was, indeed, the most appropriate category in these contexts. After all, not only do hegemonic ideals of masculinity in a given society not apply to women, not even men are uniformly subject to them. In the course of the discussion, BURGHARTZ poignantly observed the apparent paradox that while masculinity frequently is, it need not in all cases be connected to actual men.

As HARRIET RUDOLPH (Regensburg) pointed out in her introduction to Panel IVa, in spite of a "cultural turn" in the history of diplomacy, the material culture of diplomatic encounters has so far attracted very little attention, even though material objects – not only gifts, but also food served at banquets and the settings in which such encounters took place – were of enormous importance. Consequently, her opening remarks as well as the papers presented drew attention to the heuristic benefits of paying closer attention to the use of material objects in diplomacy. In case of contacts between the Portuguese and the West African kingdom of Benin (GREGOR METZIG, Regensburg) as well as the English efforts in the Ottoman Empire (MICHAEL TALBOT, Greenwich), the exchange of gifts was closely linked to the realization of commercial goals. While in the former case the trade quotas awarded to Portuguese merchants depended largely on the envoys' ability to please the Oba of Benin, in the latter, the gifts given were used to promote British commercial interests, for instance in stimulating the export of watches to Ottoman markets. VOLKER DEPKAT's (Regensburg) discussion of peace medals awarded by the United States to Native American chiefs and notables in the context of treaty signings highlighted their integral role in diplomatic relations. While such items had primarily a commemorative function for US officials, they were usually regarded as the embodiment of the treaty and the commitments under its terms by Native Americans. The meanings attached to such gifts, however, changed over time, as SONAL SINGH (Delhi) reminded the audience in the case of the Mughal emperor's "gift" of the right to collect taxes in Bengal and Orissa to the East India Company after the Battle of Plassey (1757). The terminology not only camouflaged the violence of the events which had led to this concession, it also rested on the fiction that the Mughals were still in a position to enforce their claims on the territories in question. In the case of the divani, the Mughal emperor's "gift" served to legitimize the assumption of territorial control by the British only after they had gained de facto control over these regions, which, in the case of Orissa, occurred only gradually from the 1760s onwards.

While the majority of panels had a tendency to look outward from Europe, the papers in Panel IVb consciously looked in on the continent from regions which historians, by and large, still tend to treat as peripheral. Such exclusive views of Europe partially have their origins in early modern discourses which harked back to antiquity, a topic addressed by GERRITT KLOSS, the dean of Heidelberg University's Faculty of Philosophy, during the opening ceremony the previous day. Even then, however, such views were not uncontested. INKEN SCHMIDT-VOGES (Osnabrück), for instance, highlighted the attempts of the Swedish Catholic ecclesiast Olaus Magnus, who was exiled and settled in Rome in the 1530s, to contravene classical geography in presenting Sweden as an integral part of Europe, even a Christian bulwark against Muscovy. Russia itself did not consider itself to be a peripheral region in any case, as ARINA LASAREWA (Moskow) pointed out. Especially from the seventeenth century onwards, Russian histories and cosmographies represented Moskow as a "third Rome" (after the ancient Roman capital and Constantinople) and the territories it ruled over consequently as an imperial centre whose roots reached back to antiquity. The Ottoman Empire, in contrast, experienced a transition of its self-perception which led it to increasingly look towards Europe in admiration in the eighteenth century. This development, as MARKUS KOLLER (Bochum) showed, was closely linked to an internal rhetoric of military and administrative decline from what was now regarded as the golden age of the mid-sixteenth century, particularly the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent.

The papers in Panel Va emphasized the global dimension of the development of knowledge about the natural world in the early modern period while, at the same time, questioning established narratives of agency which, by and large, have been dominated by Bruno Latour's emphasis on hierarchical knowledge networks. ANDRES PRETO (Boulder), ANNE MARISS (Tübingen), ALIX COOPER (Stony Brooks), and SARAH EASTERBY-SMITH (St Andrews) drew attention to the importance of the contributions made by individuals normally seen as, at best, on the sidelines of the pursuit of natural philosophy. Such actors included not only confident – male – astronomers in the Iberian colonies, who challenged established theories on the basis of their observations (PRETO), and educated women like the German naturalist Maria Sibylle Marian, who actively participated in the production of knowledge about nature (COOPER), but also, for example, the sailors who served alongside the naturalists Joseph Banks and Johann Reinhold Forster during James Cook's voyages and shared their first-hand experience of the far-flung regions of the globe with them (MARISS). Moreover, expeditions to gain knowledge of exotic plants were not an exclusive preserve of erudite men, as EASTERBY-SMITH showed. In the late seventeenth century, Louis XIV of France dispatched two royal gardeners to Mysore to make scientific observations and bring back specimens as part of diplomatic attempts to strengthen the political alliance with the sultanate of Mysore. Acknowledging the importance of such "non-canonical" actors and spaces, ULRIKE STRASSER (San Diego) suggested complementing this approach to the history of European science by paying greater attention to objects in the vein of Arjun Appadurai's call for attention to the "social life of things" which, among other things, may help disentangle social complexities in an attempt to recover the voices and contributions of further actors (Appadurai 1986). Ultimately, she raised the question of what, in fact, is European about what we have become accustomed to calling "European science", a question which, in her opinion, has so far not been satisfactorily answered.

Attempts to utilize the Enlightenment distinction between civilisation and barbarism in order to draw borders and constitute otherness provided the focus of Panel Vb. According to ANDREAS PEČAR's (Halle) opening remarks, the panel aimed at reconsidering the complex (self-)images arising from this mental mapping. KARSTEN HOLSTE (Halle) showed how Polish-Lithuanian elites used a strategy of exoticization conducted both by themselves and Wester Europeans to make arguments in favour of, as well as against political reforms. In the case of Galicia, KLEMENS KAPS (Sevilla) showed that the Habsburgs treated the region as an internal colony, using the paradigm of civilisation to legitimise their reform programs there. Changing the focus to Western Europe, DAMIEN TRICOIRE (Halle) arrived at the diagnosis that the French philosophes, being driven by fear of a narrative which rooted French history in barbarism, consciously envisioned their Enlightenment movement as a civilising liberation from a dark past. MORITZ BAUMSTARK (Halle) investigated the topos of "English barbarism" during the Scottish Enlightenment which was employed in various political, cultural, and historiographical contexts to claim Scotland's superiority over the metropolis and lay open the latter's ruin.

Panel VIa challenged the common assumption that modern diplomacy is a Western European achievement. By "provincializing" Europe and looking at both practices and discourses of diplomacy, FLORIAN KÜHNEL (Berlin) argued, it is possible to trace its global origins. Not least because of its geographic location, Russia occupied an ambivalent position. Although the "Europeanization" of the realm under Peter the Great had tied his empire more closely into the European diplomatic system, a persistent discourse of Russian barbarism prevent its full admission. By taking a Russian perspective, JAN HENNINGS (Istanbul) showed that Europe was only one of several regions of significance for diplomatic contacts alongside China and the Ottoman Empire. European envoys on missions abroad frequently had to adapt to local diplomatic ceremonial and practices, as in the case of diplomatic missions to the Mughal court which ANTJE FLÜCHTER (Bielefeld) examined in her paper. The need to comply to local models in order to succeed in their mission often meant that the freedom of action of such envoys was rather limited. In the context of the difficulties experienced by the British consuls at the Moroccan court during the late eighteenth century, ANDRÉ KRISCHER (Münster, read in his absence by FLORIAN KÜHNEL), whose paper examined practices of gift-giving and self-representation, emphasized the importance of symbolic communication in diplomacy. The session was concluded by CHRISTIAN WINDLER (Berne) who called for a new vocabulary to more adequately grasp early modern diplomacy. Such a vocabulary should be deduced from an analysis of the distinct logics and relations of inner- as well as extra-European diplomacy.

Seen from the vantage points of European, Russian, and Ottoman history, the regions now comprising Ukraine – the focus of Panel VIb – were, as JAN KUSBER (Mainz) put it in a brief summary of the region's history, "a periphery from every direction". Nevertheless, CHRISTINE ROLLE (Aachen) argued, Europeans were better informed about this part of the world than the region's peripheral status would lead one to expect. Military conflicts such as the Cossack uprisings, in particular, featured in contemporary handwritten newsletters and printed newspapers, even as the presentation of such information was directed and manipulated by neighbouring countries to reflect their own interests in the region. In light of Russia's recent annexation of the Crimea, KERSTIN JOBST (Wien) drew attention to the continuities of discourses about the peninsula as the mythical cradle of Russian Orthodox Christianity between present-day Russia and the reign of Catherine the Great during which the Russian Empire had first conquered this region from Ottoman suzerainty. As all three speakers emphasized, while the regions which currently form Ukraine were ethnically diverse and dominated by different elites who were culturally and politically tied to Poland-Lithuania, Hungary, Moldavia, and the Ottoman Empire respectively, the politics of history in the ongoing conflict merit greater scholarly attention to the empirical history of this region.

Panel VIIa, introduced by LOTHAR SCHILLING (Augsburg), investigated the globalisation of knowledge during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to challenge the "great divergence" thesis from the perspective of the history of science. By focusing on cultures of innovation, the papers argued that Europe's opposition to the rest of the world cannot not simply be taken as a given. Instead, Europeans adapted foreign knowledge in order to overcome scepticism and make it applicable to their own countries. While extra-European technical knowledge is usually regarded as having had little impact on Europe, MARCUS POPPLOW (Berlin) argued that the search for the global dimensions of technical engineering required a combination of comparative and entangled history on a local level in the respective contact. JAKOB VOGEL (Paris) presented the case study of investigated the perception of Latin-American mining practices by Europeans. Although the colonial setting had been highly influential in Latin-American mining, the respective governments began to systematically gather knowledge on the relevant practices and technologies only in the 1780s when they sent proponents of the Enlightenment to conduct investigations. In the final paper of the panel, REGINA DAUSER (Augsburg) turned her attention to the combination of European and extra-European knowledge in the context of tobacco cultivation in the Electoral Palatinate, where, in the second half of the eighteenth century, after a crisis, the authorities tried to combine the Palatinate's farmers' local knowledge with that of the leader in the tobacco market, America, in order to reform the cultivation of this profitable resource.

Panel VIIb engaged with the representation of Christian Europe's classical Other, the Ottoman Empire and the "Turks". HIRAM KÜMPER (Mannheim) and MARTIN WREDE (Grenoble) concurred in their assessment of a fundamental change in Christian-European approaches to the Ottomans in the aftermath of the Ottoman defeat during the second siege of Vienna (1683). In WREDE's analysis, the military victories won from the early eighteenth century onwards resulted in the substitution of scorn and derision for the fear which had dominated the representation of the "Turk" as the archenemy of Christendom in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. This was mirrored, albeit with some delay, by a greater and more sympathetic interest in Ottoman economic practices from the mid-eighteenth century, as KÜMPER argued. Until then, the Ottomans' status as "infidels" and "religious enemies" had provided justification for attempts to profit economically at their expense through practices such as usury and cheating. CHARLOTTE COLDING SMITH pointed at a degree of ambiguity which arose from the special place which "Turkish" objects such as weapons and manuscript books held in European libraries and Kunstkammern, even though they were often misclassified as objects of "Indian" origins. ERICH PELZER (Mannheim), moreover, questioned the monolithic nature of the representation of the Ottomans throughout Europe. His discussion of French examples reveals a much more amiable stance in France than in the Holy Roman Empire, in particular, where discourses were dominated by the motif of the "fear of the Turks" from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

The ways in which objects, plants, animals, and people brought to Europe from all over the world as a result of exploration, trade, and diplomatic exchanges gradually transformed European culture in complex processes of appropriation and adaptation was the subject of Panel VIIc. Such appropriations and adaptations are particularly evident in court ceremonial, for instance in the context of the Siamese legation sent to the king of France in 1686 or the reception and visual representation of the so-called "four Indian kings" by Queen Anne of England (r. 1702–14) discussed by MARK HÄBERLEIN (Bamberg). But the fascination with exotic goods, plants, and animals quickly spread from the courts outward so that the use of porcelain (EVA STRÖBER, Leeuwarden), the keeping of monkeys as pets (ALAN ROSS, Paris), and the cultivation of New-World plants (MICHAELA SCHMÖLZ-HÄBERLEIN, Bamberg) gradually became a more wide-spread, if primarily urban and burgeois phenomenon in the late sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The accompanying processes of transculturation are made strikingly evident, as SCHMÖLZ-HÄBERLEIN showed, in the case of still life paintings of flowers whose arrangements combined species from widely distant parts of the globe in Chinese vases.

The first day of the conference concluded with an interdisciplinary disputation on the periodic concept of the "The Renaissance" between the historian of Europe THOMAS MAISSEN (Paris/Heidelberg) and the Sinologist BARBARA MITTLER (Heidelberg). Exploring the question of whether China experienced a period which, in nature, character, and significance, is comparable to the European artistic, literary, and intellectual movement of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries connected to such individuals as Giorgio Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo, the dialogue showcased an issue of the methodological debates arising from interdisciplinary cooperation. In his introduction to the session, NIKOLAS JASPERT (Heidelberg) pointed out the current trend towards such "cross-area studies", reminding the audience that history, as taught and studied in German universities in particular, is, in spite of the grand claim made by the name of the subject, a field of European, often national, area studies. JASPERT therefore welcomed "cross-area" initiatives such as Heidelberg University's own Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" whose establishment has made a significant difference at the university by enriching historical scholarship there through the new approaches of entangled, comparative, and extra-European history. MAISSEN generally questioned the usefulness of applying concepts of periodization developed in the context of Christian Europe for ordering the history of other regions of the globe because they embody specific world views which become meaningless in other contexts. The concept of "The Renaissance" was coined by the humanist Giorgio Vasari in the sixteenth century to describe a contemporary movement in the arts and literature, but expanded and popularized in the nineteenth century by the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt to characterize an entire period. Although Burckhardt's view has been criticized not least for its inherent teleology by several generations of historians, MAISSEN emphasized the pivotal role of humanism in offering a new perspective of time, a tripartite vision of history, now divided into antiquity, the "dark ages", and the present with the goal of producing a dialogue with antiquity to shape the present. In MAISSEN's view, China did not have such a Renaissance, indeed did not need it, because it had been in continuous dialogue with its own antiquity embodied by Confucianism until well into the twentieth century.

The sinologist BARBARA MITTLER (Heidelberg), in contrast, stressed the dynamics and flexibility of concepts rather than their origins. Picking up MAISSEN's characterization of the Renaissance as a movement which sought to produce a new present in dialogue with a past regarded as long lost, she pointed to the first half of the twentieth century as a period of Renaissance in China. In this period, thinkers like Hu Shih looked not to Confucian antiquity, but, on the contrary, to the Chinese vernaculars in order to modernise Chinese culture along the lines of an ideology which stressed the importance of the "masses". Hu, who had studied in the US, explicitly compared this movement and its aims to the European Renaissance although it was not meant as an imitation of European history but rather as an attempt to emancipate China from European dominance. Consequently, MITTLER argued that, if we accept that while term "Renaissance" and similar concepts are always adapted to national biases, they are instances of generic phenomena and can therefore be used as analytical tools, they provide a chance for creating a truly global periodization.

The art historian HENRY KEAZOR (Heidelberg) offered a formal response to the debate between MAISSEN and MITTLER in which he called period concepts "cookie cutters" which give the past a recognizable shape by cutting away heterogeneity and contradictions. Invoking Ludwik Fleck's epistemology which states that observers invariably take their own presuppositions as starting points, KEAZOR emphasized that ideas of periodization are heuristic tools but not evidence in themselves, especially so since history is constructed and reconstructed by later generations to reflect their own concerns.

The ensuing discussion with the audience focused on the question of the heuristic added value of the use and non-use of the concept of a Renaissance in both the Chinese and the European contexts. As one participant pointed out, the two disputants' positions were closer to each other than they appeared, if one separated the aspect of the history of the concept of "Renaissance" from the comparison of the phenomena thus described. While MAISSEN insisted on the importance of convention for scholarly communication, MITTLER admitted that even though the term "Renaissance" was used by the proponents of the twentieth-century Chinese movement to describe their endeavour, it is not one she would use in her own scholarly analysis.

Panel VIIIa dealt with the question of European communication with as well as about local rulers in Southeast and East Asia. In his paper, ANTONIO VASCONCELOS DE SALDANHA (Macau) investigated diplomatic letters of the early sixteenth century and showed how the Portuguese developed codes of addressing Asian rulers in order to create and maintain a relationship of mutual acknowledgment. Issues of vocabulary provided a particular challenge to the Dutch, as PETER BORSCHBERG (Singapur) pointed out, who had difficulties in finding vernacular terms not only when addressing local rulers, but, more importantly, which adequately conveyed the concept of republican sovereignty in a world dominated by kings and. The issue of territorial borders and their creation by Europeans in Southeast Asia was addressed by ALEXANDER DROST (Greifswald). Since the Malayans did not have a fixed concept of borders but perceived space as fluid and open, the impact of European attempts at demarcation in this region remained limited. Concluding the panel, MANUEL LOBATO (Lissabon) discussed the letters of Moluccan kept in Portuguese and Spanish collections, drawing particular attention to their materiality, the difficulties of contemporary translation, and their value as sources for the study of early modern diplomacy and political plotting.

The early modern period was characterized by normative plurality – even in the field of law. Such plurality, as ANTJE FLÜCHTER (Bielefeld) pointed out when she introduced Panel VIIIb, was frequent in the context of imperial expansion where nascent colonial powers such as the Dutch in West Africa or the French in South India made conscious attempts to judge their newly acquired subjects according to their own laws. But it was also to be found in Europe itself. FLÜCHTER and CHRISTINA BRAUNER (Bielefeld) argued that this situation merits paying closer attention to the historical reality of legal pluralism, particularly from a transcultural perspective. The importance of the transfer and appropriation of ideas from abroad in redefining legal norms was highlighted by ULRIKE LUDWIG's (Dresden) discussion of legislation concerning duels in the Holy Roman Empire and the development of that concept, which initially referred to brawls but increasingly, following French models, came to be restricted to ritualized fights between members of the nobility in the sense it acquired by the middle of the nineteenth century. Such legislation, first introduced in the seventeenth century, represented a significant innovation since, for the first time, it permitted the criminal persecution of noblemen. The plurality of legal norms was a particular challenge in the Mediterranean, which WOLFGANG KAISER (Paris) described as a laboratory of maritime law, especially because the relative ease with which territorial boundaries could be crossed meant that legal questions often involved a variety of different legal traditions. Kaiser emphasized that, in spite of a mosaic of norms and jurisdictional institutions, litigants were not free to engage in forum shopping, even when litigation pertaining to the same case was simultaneously undertaken in several ports in different parts of the Mediterranean. THOMAS DUVE (Frankfurt) introduced the perspective of a historian of law with his investigation into normative conflicts in Spain's New-World colonies. Although the Spanish crown issued legislation, the Iberian legal system needed to be adapted to the new realities of this specific colonial context, which, in turn, required a concretization of norms in the face of their plurality. The legal uncertainty which gave rise to this process frequently led to the invocation of legal instruments to determine questions of social status.

DAGMAR FREIST (Oldenburg) described the aim of Panel IXa as one of jumpstarting a methodological discussion about how to study global history without losing sight of human agency and the plurality of historical voices. Taking up this invitation to reflect upon the global historian's craft, FRANCESCA TRIVELLATO (Yale, read in her absence by ANNIKA RAAPKE), in an erudite discussion of historiography, advocated adopting the approach of global microhistory as the new orthodoxy in scholarship. With reference to pioneering scholars like Carlo Ginzburg and Sanjay Subrahmanyam as well as her own work, she emphasized the ability of microhistory to create a symbiosis between the micro- and macrolevels of historical analysis (Ginzburg 1992, Subrahmanyam 2011, Trivellato 2009). Even Fernand Braudel, who is remembered exclusively for his structuralist approach and his advocacy of the long-term perspective, acknowledged the coexistence of, and dialogue between the various spatial and temporal scales. MARGARET HUNT'S (Uppsala) minute investigation of the largely ignored siege of English-held Bombay by Mughal forces in 1689 provided a case study which illustrated the power of the microhistorical approach in paying attention to the agency of individuals, for instance in English soldiers deserting the East India Company to join the besieger, and questioning often triumphalist metanarratives and the nationalist frameworks in which they are embedded. The methodological observations were complemented by LUCAS HAASIS and ANNIKA RAAPKE (Oldenburg) whose report on their ongoing investigation into the increasingly global virtual reality sustained by eighteenth-century letters put into focus FREIST's remarks about the relational nature of global history. At a human and intimate level, private correspondence, in particular, allows deep insights into how contemporaries handled and made sense of their globality. HANS MEDICK (Göttingen), who described himself as a "first-generation microhistorian", welcomed the recent revival of microhistory as global microhistory of whose heuristic and analytical potential he declared himself very optimistic. At the same time, he seconded TRIVELLATO's warning against focusing unduly on what he called "early modern globe trotters" and likewise advocated steering a middle course between the study of the highly mobile few and the far less mobile many.

Panel IXb focused on the question of the perception of legitimacy of claims to sovereignty in the context of the recognition under international law of America and Russia in the eighteenth century. SIMON KARSTENS (Trier) highlighted the value of the diplomatic correspondence and interactions with both new powers which reveal an implicit conception of Europe. While European statesmen and diplomats perceived America as belonging to Europe because of its cultural heritage, Russia was regarded as foreign and different. Although several factors contributed to a smooth and quick recognition under international law of the United States after the American Revolution, MICHAEL HOCHGESCHWENDER (München) emphasized that the claims to sovereignty of the US, due to their peripheral position in the European system of powers, were not perceived as a threat to the existence of the established European states. On the contrary, especially France regarded the situation arising from the independence of the former British colony as a chance to weaken its rival Great Britain. The circumstances were different in the case of Russia which expanded across three continents during the eighteenth century. While the tsarist empire's colonization of Siberia and Alaska were motivated mainly by economic interests, HENNER KROPP (Regensburg) pointed out that its expansion towards Europe followed a political logic. Although Russia, too, was eventually admitted to the "circle of the European powers", it continued to be treated as an in many ways alien entity. In her commentary, HELGA SCHNABEL-SCHÜLE (Trier) stressed the importance of such discourses of alterity in constituting Europe as more than a purely geographical entity as well as the difficulties stemming from the attempts to transfer European concepts of statehood to regions outside Europe.

The final session of the conference offered three synoptic comments on the panels and papers of the previous sessions. RENATE DÜRR (Tübingen) concluded that it is indeed necessary to rethink Europe and place the continent more firmly into its contemporary global contexts. In her view, doing so provides scholarship on the early modern period with relevance in current debates especially in the context of discussions over a European Sonderweg. Since research into early modern history thus gains political relevance and utility, historians should be careful, however, not to succumb to pressures and temptations to simply make history fit the argument. In this context, DÜRR was particularly struck by the great willingness to reflect on the use and meaning of terms and categories evinced in all sessions. Against this background, she considered the identification and study of universals the central challenge of global history. In his concluding statement, HILLARD VON THIESSEN (Rostock) focused on the history of diplomacy and Europe's relations with the outside world which had been central to many papers presented at the conference. This in itself was a marked departure from the first conference of the Working Group for Early Modern History in the Association of German Historians in 1995. In this context, VON THIESSEN emphasized the extent to which most speakers concerned with "international relations" deconstructed the singularity and autogenesis of European diplomacy and replaced the older image of Europe shaping the world with a polycentric and dynamic world in which Europe was but one actor. He also noted the frequency with which problems of periodization were raised and asked whether a global perspective might help clarify the periodic boundary between pre-modern and modern. For THOMAS MAISSEN (Paris/Heidelberg), the real challenge for early modernists is provided by the geographical expansion which requires knowledge of non-European languages and is accompanied by new problems of sources since, at present, historians frequently rely (and sometimes have to rely) on records in European languages produced by Europeans. MAISSEN emphasized the need for real collaborative work with specialists in a variety of fields to overcome these linguistic and cultural obstacles. All in all, however, he considered the field of early modern history well-equipped for these challenges, especially since the geographic expansion of the research matter meets with a field which has recently undergone a significant expansion of the range of subjects and questions and the abandonment of nation-state-centric perspectives. All three commentators considered the internationalization of the forum provided by this biennial conference a laudable and sensible step, particularly so in light of the extended geographic scope of research into early modern history in German universities. In such a context, as VON THIESSEN emphatically remarked, it no longer makes sense to hold future conferences of the Working Group as purely "German" meetings.



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OPENING CEREMONY with welcome addresses by Eckart Würzner (lord mayor of Heidelberg), Gerrit Kloss (Heidelberg, dean of the Faculty of Philosophy), Arndt Brendecke (Munich, chair of the Working Group for Early Modern History), Susan Richter (Heidelberg, host)

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PANEL Ia: Provincial Europe and Global History in the Early Modern Period: Toward New Perspectives

Fredrik Albritton Jonsson (Chicago), Pehr Kalm's Atlantic: Climate Change and History in Swedish Cameralism

Renaux Morieux (Cambridge), (Pen)insular Perspectives on 17th and 18th Century Europe

Mark Somos (Harvard), The States of Nature, 1651–1816

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PANEL Ib: Globale Güter – verflochtene Konsumkulturen: Europas materielle Kultur im Wandel

Kim Siebenhühner (Berne), Introduction

Christine Fertig (Münster), Globale Waren, lokales Wissen – Gewürze und Drogen in der europäischen Körperkultur

John Jordan (Berne), Baumwolle, Kaffee, Tee und Tabak: Ein Boom der globalen Güter im frühneuzeitlichen Bern?

Kim Siebenhühner (Berne), Bedrucktes Zeug: Wissenstransfer zwischen Indien und Europa und

Produktinnovation in der Alten Schweiz

Bruno Blondé (Antwerpen), Comment

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PANEL IIa: Performing Indigenized Christianity: Adaptations of Catholic Sacraments between Tridentine Reform and Global Expansion

Christian Windler (Berne), Introduction

Nadine Amsler (Berne), Contested Contacts: The Jesuits' Administration of Baptism to

Chinese Women between Confucian Gender Norms and Catholic Sacramental Debates

Cesare Santus (Pisa/Paris), The Practice of Communication in Sacris among the Eastern Christians of the Ottoman Empire

Cecilia Cristellon (Frankfurt am Main, in absence), Roman Congregations and Adaptations of Sacraments in the European Missions: The Case of Mixed Marriages

Ines Zupanov (Paris), Comment

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PANEL IIb: Der Krieg als Motor der Verflechtung? Globale Konflikte der Frühen Neuzeit

Marian Füssel (Göttingen), Die Gewalt der Verflechtung: Zur Emergenz globaler Konflikte im langen 18. Jahrhundert

Sven Externbrink (Heidelberg): Ein "Erster Weltkrieg"? Versuch über den globalen Charakter des Siebenjährigen Krieges

Tim Neu (Göttingen), Raum und Zeit verklammern. Globalisierungseffekte europäischer Kriegsfinanzierung im langen 18. Jahrhundert

Christoph Kampmann (Marburg), Comment

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PANEL IIIa: Wissen und europäische Expansion. Das epistemische Setting global agierender Institutionen in der Frühen Neuzeit

Susanne Friedrich (München), Introduction

Benjamin Steiner (Erfurt), Der unwissende Kontinent: Afrika in der Geschichte der Staatsbildung im Frankreich Ludwigs XIV.

Jorun Poettering (München), Vom Paradies zum Rohstoffproduzenten: Wissen über Naturressourcen im portugiesischen Amerika

Arndt Brendecke (München), Comment

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PANEL IIIb: Entdecker, Eroberer, Diplomaten und Sklaven: Hegemoniale und fragile Männlichkeiten an den Grenzen des frühneuzeitlichen Europa

Claudia Opitz-Belakhal (Basel), Introduction

Susanna Burghartz (Basel), Überlegene Männlichkeit? Koloniale Positionierungskämpfe von Engländern und Niederländern um 1600

Claudia Opitz-Belakhal (Basel), Carsten Niebuhrs Reise nach Arabian und die Männlichkeit des Orient-Forschers

Anna di Caprio (Basel), Gefangenschaft als Entmannung? Die Berichte christlicher Gefangener aus dem Osmanischen Reich (17. und 18. Jahrhundert)

Anna Becker (Basel), Der spanische Inka Garcilaso de la Vega und seine "Geschichte des Inkareichs" zwischen europäischer Wissenstradition und kolumbianischer Selbstbehauptung (Anfang 17. Jahrhundert)

Claudia Ulbrich (Berlin), Comment

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PANEL IVa: Entangled Objects and Hybrid Practices? The Material Culture of Transcultural Diplomacy (1500–1900)

Harriet Rudolph (Regensburg), Lost in Translation? Material Culture Studies and the History of Diplomacy

Gregor Metzig (Regensburg), In the Kingdom of the Leopard: Commodities in Transcultural Interactions between Edo and Portuguese in Benin

Sonal Singh (Delhi), When is Gift? Circulation of Objects in Political Negotiations between the English East India Company and the Indian Rulers in the Late Eighteenth Century

Michael Talbot (Greenwich), Gift-Giving in British-Ottoman Diplomacy in the Long 18th Century

Volker Depkat (Regensburg), The Use of Artifacts in Indian–White Diplomacy in Nineteenth-Century North America

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PANEL IVb: Blick von außen? Europäische Peripherie und europäisches Zentrum in neuer Perspektive

Christoph Kampmann (Marburg) and Arina Lasarewa (Moscow), Introduction

Inken Schmidt-Voges (Osnabrück), "Et nos homines": Die kulturelle Geographie Europas in der schwedischen Reichsgeschichte (Schwerpunkt 16. Jahrhundert)

Arina Lasarewa (Moscow), Ein Reich in der Peripherie? Europäischer Wahrnehmungskontext in russischen Quellen des 17. Jahrhunderts

Markus Koller (Bochum), Die christliche Staatenwelt in den Berichten osmanischer Gesandter (Schwerpunkt 18. Jahrhundert)

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PANEL Va: Entangled in Global Networks: Practices, Actors, and Objects in Natural History

Renate Dürr (Tübingen), Introduction

Andres Prieto (Boulder), Local and Global Knowledge: Studying the 1664 Comet in Colonial Spanish South America

Anne Mariss (Tübingen), Seamen as Actors of Natural History: Collaborative Knowledge Production on board the Resolution and Early Modern Networks of Exchange

Alix Cooper (Stony Brooks), Family Networks in a Global Era: Women and Gender in Early Modern Natural History

Sarah Easterby-Smith (St. Andrews), Knowledge Networks and the Structure of Early Modern Science

Ulrike Strasser (San Diego), Comment

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PANEL Vb: Zonen der Barbarei in einem aufgeklärten Europa? Mapping Europe in der Aufklärungszeit

Andreas Pečar (Halle), Introduction: Mapping Europe

Karsten Holste (Halle), Das Wechselspiel von Fremd- und Selbstexotisierung polnisch-litauischer Eliten im letzten Drittel des 18. Jahrhunderts

Klemens Kaps (Sevilla), Mikro-Orientalisierung oder: Von der Erfindung des Binnenkolonialismus: Reformdiskurse der josefinischen Bürokratie im habsburgischen Galizien im ausgehenden 18. Jahrhundert

Damien Tricoire (Halle), Die "Selbstkolonisierung Frankreichs" – die Angst vor der französischen Barbarei bei Aufklärern

Moritz Baumstark (Halle), "Barbarians on the banks of the Thames" – Die Perspektive schottischer Aufklärer auf "English barbarism" in der Revolutionszeit

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PANEL VIa: Provincializing European Diplomacy: Die globale Entstehung der Diplomatie

Florian Kühnel (Berlin), Introduction: Provincializing European Diplomacy

Jan Hennings (Istanbul), Die Augen des Zaren. Russisch-Europäische Diplomatie und ihre Praktiken


Antje Flüchter (Bielefeld), Alterität oder vertraute Spielregeln? "Europäische Diplomatie" am indischen Mogulhof

André Krischer (Münster, in absence), Britische Konsuln in Marokko am Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts

Christian Windler (Bern), Comment

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PANEL VIb: "U Kraina" – "am Rande": Zu Kontinuitäten und Brüchen an der östlichen Peripherie Europas in der Frühen Neuzeit und was wir "aus der Geschichte lernen" können

Jan Kusber (Mainz), Introduction: Kontinuität und Bruch: Von der Relevanz der "U kraina" für Europa

Kerstin Jobst (Wien), "Sammlung der Länder der Rus" und Russländischer Imperialismus – warum Kiev, warum die Krim?

Christine Roll (Aachen), Was wussten die Europäer von der Ukraine? Reiseberichte, Karten und gelehrte Diskurse der Frühen Neuzeit

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PANEL VIIa: Globalisierung des Wissens? Außereuropäisches Wissen und europäische "Innovationskultur" im 17./18. Jahrhundert

Lothar Schilling (Augsburg), Introduction: Globalisierung des Wissens? Außereuropäisches Wissen und europäische "Innovationskultur" im 17./18. Jahrhundert

Marcus Popplow (Berlin), Ingenieurtechnisches Wissen im globalen Kontext – kein Thema innerhalb frühneuzeitlicher "Innovationskulturen"?

Jakob Vogel (Paris), Eine fremde Welt? Lateinamerika im Blick europäischer Bergbauexperten des späten 18. Jahrhunderts

Regina Dauser (Augsburg), Zwischen globalem Informationsaustausch und lokalem Wissen: Tabakanbau in der Kurpfalz

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PANEL VIIb: Orient-Okzident-Diskurse in der Frühen Neuzeit: Probleme und Chancen eines transkulturellen historischen Vergleichs

Charlotte Colding Smith (Melbourne/Mannheim), Turcica in nord- und mitteleuropäischen Bibliotheken und Kunstkammern

Hiram Kümper (Mannheim), "Ein Wucherer als ein Osman": Okzidentale Blicke auf osmanisches Wirtschaften

Erich Pelzer (Mannheim), Das "Türkenbild" in französischen Reise- und Gesandtschaftsberichten im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert

Martin Wrede (Grenoble), Furcht, Triumph und Ungewissheit: Das Reich und die Osmanen nach 1683

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PANEL VIIc: Außereuropäische Menschen, Tiere, Pflanzen und Objekte im frühneuzeitlichen Europa: Transfers, Aneignungen und Adaptionen

Michaela Schmolz-Häberlein (Bamberg), Introduction

Mark Häberlein (Bamberg), Außereuropäische Gesandtschaften im frühneuzetilichen Europa

Alan Ross (Paris/Berlin), Affen und Menschen im Europa der Renaissance

Michaela Schmolz-Häberlein (Bamberg), Mittel- und südamerikanische Zierpflanzen in europäischen Gärten

Eva Ströber (Leeuwarden), Für Sultane, Großherzöge und deutsche Fürsten: Chinesisches Porzellan im diplomatischen Geschenkverkehr

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EVENING EVENT: Chronologics: Why China did not have a "Renaissance" and why that matters. An interdisciplinary dialogue

Nikolas Jaspert, Introduction

Thomas Maissen (Paris/Heidelberg) and Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg), Debate

Henry Keazor (Heidelberg), Comment

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PANEL VIIIa: Languages of Communication: Southeast and East Asian Rulers in Treatises and Epistolary Communications (c. 1500-1750)

Antonio Vasconcelos de Saldanha (Macau), Caprices de Cérémonial: Forms of Addressing as Political Ranking in Early Modern Asian Diplomacy

Peter Borschberg (Singapur), Lost in Translation? Property, Republican Liberty and Sovereignty in the Languages of Early Modern European Diplomacy with Southeast Asia (16th and 17th Centuries)

Alexander Drost (Greifswald), Fencing the "Raja": Bordering beyond Territoriality in Southeast Asia in the 17th Century

Manuel Lobato (Lissabon), Retrieving Diplomacy and Political Plotting in Letters from the Moluccan Rulers Kept in Portuguese and Spanish Collections (Early 16th–Early 17th Centuries)

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PANEL VIIIb: Ordnung und Diversität: Umgang mit Rechtsvielfalt in europäischen und außereuropäischen Kontaktzonen der Frühen Neuzeit

Chair: Isabelle Deflers (Freiburg)

Antje Flüchter (Bielefeld) and Christina Brauner (Bielefeld), Introduction

Ulrike Ludwig (Dresden), Rechtstransfer und Umdeutung: Das Duell der Neu-Etikettierung alter Ordnungsmuster

Wolfgang Kaiser (Paris), Kommerzielle Gerichtsverfahren, cross-cultural Handelsbeziehungen und legal pluralism im Mittelmeerraum (15.–19. Jahrhundert)

Thomas Duve (Frankfurt am Main), Multinormativität und frühneuzeitliche Rechtsgeschichte Hispanoamerikas

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PANEL IXa: Europe in the Perspective of a Global Microhistory

Dagmar Freist (Oldenburg), Introduction

Lucas Haasis (Oldenburg) and Annika Raapke (Oldenburg), All the World(s) in a Postbag: Reflections on a Global Microhistory


Margaret Hunt (Uppsala), The English East India Company and the 1689 Mughal Siege of Bombay: Microhistory and Macro-narratives

Francesca Trivellato (Yale, in absence), Global Microhistories: Promises, Perils, Paradoxes

Hans Medick (Göttingen), Comment: Going Global? Microhistory in Extension

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PANEL IXb: Europäisches Amerika – Außereuropäisches Russland? Die völkerrechtliche Anerkennung der USA und Russlands Status als europäische Großmacht im Europa des 18. Jahrhunders

Simon Karstens (Trier), Introduction

Michael Hochgeschwender (München), Legitimierung des Transfers von Souveränitätsrechten: Die völkerrechtliche Anerkennung der USA

Henner Kropp (Regensburg), Russland: Eine Großmacht auf drei Kontinenten und ihre Anerkennung als politischer Akteur in Europa

Helga Schnabel-Schüle (Trier), Comment

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CONCLUDING COMMENTS by Renate Dürr (Tübingen), Hillard von Thiessen (Rostock), and Thomas Maissen (Paris/Heidelberg)

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Literature cited

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Appadurai, Arjun ed. (1986). The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ginzburg, Carlo (1992). Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath, trans. by Raymond Rosenthal. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Subrahmanyam, Sanjay (2011). Three Ways to Be Alien: Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press.

Trivellato, Francesca (2009). The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

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