Balkan Transitions to Modernity and Nation-States

Through the Eyes of Three Generations of Merchants (1780s-1890s)


In contrast to research on elites or “history from below,” this study offers an approach that can be called “mesohistory” – a collective social biography of the Balkan merchants. In foregrounding the voices of traders, this study sheds fresh light on multiethnic networks of social actors navigating multiple social, political, and economic systems – supporting and opposing various aspects of nationalist ideologies. Personal accounts humanize features of these “faceless” socially mediating groups. Merchants’ generation-specific perspectives on the economy, society, and state, both in times of war and peace, are analyzed against the backdrop of Balkan, Ottoman, and European history. The study captures a dialogue between primary and secondary sources and the major debates regarding nationalism, modernity, and the Ottoman legacy.

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Evguenia Davidova, Ph.D (1998) in History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, is Associate Professor of International Studies at Portland State University. She has published extensively on the nineteenth-century socio-economic history of the Ottoman Balkans.
Note on Transliteration, Names, and Translations
Chapter One: The Fathers, 1780s-1820s
Chapter Two: The Sons, 1820s-1860s
Chapter Three: The Grandsons, 1860s-1890s
Chapter Four: Gendered Business: Merchants’ Ladies as Entrepreneurs
Chapter Five: Parallel Networks: Trade as Appropriation of Space and Multiple Uses of Time
Chapter Six: Tropes of Nationalism: Visible Markets, Invisible Ideologies
Chapter Seven: Everyday Practices, Sociability, and Public Imagery

Those interested in social and economic history of the late Ottoman Empire, Balkan history, urban history, nationalism, gender, and everyday life.
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