Giancarlo Casale

The Ottoman Empire, the Indian Ocean, and the Dialectic of Universal Sovereignty

The sixteenth century marks a critical moment in world history, a time during which intellectuals first began to reconceptualize political space in global terms, and states began to promote new ideologies of rulership that formed the basis for the world’s first truly global empires. But was this a development, from the perspective of intellectual history, that was specifically limited to Europe? Or is it one that can be understood as involving other states, and other intellectual milieux, in a dialectic process?
This paper, by switching its vantage point from the Atlantic world—the traditional focus of most narratives of early European expansion—to the Indian Ocean, explores the ways in which the Ottoman Empire’s encounter with both the Portuguese Estado da India and the Muslim polities of maritime Asia constituted a central element in the emergence of history’s first “global age,” providing a catalyst for the consolidation of various ideologies of universal sovereignty in both the West and the Islamic world.

Giancarlo Casale is associate professor of history and 2009-2011 McKnight Land Grant Professor at the University of Minnesota, where he has taught since 2005. As of this fall, he is also executive editor of the Journal of Early Modern History. His first scholarly monograph, The Ottoman Age of Exploration, was published earlier this year by Oxford University Press.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Global Studies Center.