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Kara, Ayse (2021) Familiarity and Alterity: Ottoman Istanbul through the Eyes of Three Moroccan Travellers from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis analyses and compares the travelogues of three Moroccan travellers to Ottoman Istanbul spanning the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, a key period strategically both in the Mediterranean and in Ottoman-Moroccan relations. Early modern Morocco was an independent but threatened frontier state, negotiating and building relations with competing powers across the Mediterranean and northern Atlantic. A region spatially closer to the countries of Europe than to the East Islamic world, it was not under Ottoman rule, and its relations with the Ottomans oscillated between camaraderie against the common Christian threat, admiration for Ottoman state institutions, and competition for who was the most ‘righteous ruler’. It is through the lenses/perspectives of ‘alterity and familiarity’, ‘righteous rule’, and in its examination of the texts’ ‘strategies of compilation’ that this study explores three Moroccan travel accounts of Ottoman Istanbul: al-Nafḥa al Miskiyya fī Sifāra al-Turkiyya (The Book of the Musky Breeze of the Embassy to Turkey, 1589-1590) by ʻAlī b. Muḥammad al-Tamagrūtī, Iḥrāz al-muʻallā wa-l-raqīb fī ḥajj bayt Allāh al- ḥarām wa ziyārat al-Quds al-Sharīf wa-l-Khalīl wa-l-tabarruk bi-qabr al-Habīb (The Attainment of High Dignities from Hajj to the Sacred House of God and Visiting the Noble Jerusalem and Hebron and Seeking the Blessing of the Tomb of Dearly Beloved [Prophet Muḥammad]) by Ibn ʿUthmān al-Miknāsī (1785-1788), and al-Tarjumāna al-kubrā fī akhbār al-ma’mūr barran wa baḥran (The Great Guidebook on the News of the [Inhabited] World by Land and Sea) by Abū al-Qāsim al-Zayyānī (1785-1786). These Moroccan travellers were official emissaries, and although they do not offer precise details about their missions in the travelogues, they nevertheless provide elaborate descriptions of Ottoman ceremonies and draw comparisons between Moroccan and Ottoman rule. Maghribi Muslim emissaries’ self-differentiation from Ottoman and Mashriqi Muslims is manifested in the travelogues that al-Tamagrūtī, al- Miknāsī and al-Zayyānī produce. They also convey an interplay of alterity and familiarity by positioning their orthodox (more religious) selves in the face of the profane, ʿajamī (non-Arab, foreign) Ottomans. Despite the shifting historical context of Moroccan dynasties from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, from the Sa‘dīs to the ‘Alawīs, the travelogues retain some clear continuities, both intertextual but also ideological, such as the need to depict and define a “righteous ruler” who remained stable, as is reflected in the three travelogues.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Francesca Orsini
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2021 16:57

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