Abstract: The talk explores the entangled experience of Muslim and Christian captives and by extension the connected histories of the Spanish Empire, Morocco, and Ottoman Algiers in the 17th-century. It argues that piracy, captivity, and redemption shaped the Mediterranean as an integrated region—at the social, political, and economic levels. The history that emerges of the captivities of Christians and of Muslims is both local and Mediterranean. It offers a analysis of competing Spanish, Algerian, and Moroccan imperial projects intended to shape Mediterranean mobility structures. Simultaneously, the project reveals the tragic upending of the lives of individuals by these imperial maritime political agendas. Reconstructing the webs that linked captives, captors, masters, kin, and rulers, we can see both the political economy of ransom and the processes by which these actors sought to shape it. These multiple cross-maritime interactions do more than counter an image of a declining 17th-century Mediterranean dissolving into nation-states. They force us to rethink early modern Europe and its Others and to question how transnational maritime networks shaped seemingly European territorial identities.
Speaker Bio: Daniel Hershenzon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of The Captive Sea: Slavery, Communication, and Commerce in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean, (UPenn Press, 2018). Hershenzon’s new project, titled Captive-Objects: Religious Artifacts, Piracy, and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean, focuses on the circulation of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious artifacts across the early modern western Mediterranean. Captive Objects has been awarded a fellowship at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies for 2019-2020 and an ACLS Fellowship for 2020-2021.