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Title: Divinely Guided Ambassadors: Ottoman and Moroccan Roots of Modern Diplomacy in the Eighteenth Century Mediterranean
Authors: Kitlas, Peter Francis
Advisors: Oualdi, M'hamed
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Keywords: 18th Century
Intellectual History
Islamic Diplomacy
Ottoman Empire
Subjects: Middle Eastern history
North African studies
Islamic studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: During the eighteenth century the Sultanate of Morocco and the Ottoman Empire had active diplomatic agendas throughout the Mediterranean. Both frequently dispatched ambassadors to negotiate the terms of peace and trade treaties. Yet, previous scholarly assessments of these diplomatic systems have focused almost exclusively on the ways in which Moroccan and Ottoman ambassadors brought back knowledge from Europe and, as a result, began implementing modernizing reforms in their home states. This dissertation offers a revisionist history by analyzing the Ottoman and Moroccan roots of modern Mediterranean diplomacy. Placing into conversation Arabic and Ottoman Turkish correspondence, travelogues, biographical dictionaries, and letter writing manuals this dissertation reconstructs the intellectual genealogies and practices of eighteenth-century Moroccan and Ottoman diplomacy. In doing so, this dissertation demonstrates how these non-European state actors crafted a diplomatic system based on the Islamic ideals of friendship and objectivity – notions commonly understood as pillars of a modern, secular diplomatic sphere Part one asks: was Ibn ʿUthmān al-Miknāsī (d. 1799) an extraordinary Moroccan diplomat? Arguing against exceptionalism, this section demonstrates how al-Miknāsī was part of a growing cadre of Moroccan diplomatic actors. Combining quantitative network analysis with an in-depth examination of travelogues and correspondence, this section highlights the interactions and conversations between these diplomatic actors as they sought to justify their increasingly prominent court position. Through engagement with legal and cultural frameworks, this sections demonstrates how al-Miknāsī and his peers crafted an Islamic interpretation of mutual friendship and just witnessing as the main pillars of Moroccan diplomacy. Part two interrogates the impetus for diplomatic reforms in the Ottoman Empire. Beginning with Ahmed Resmī Efendi’s (d. 1783) biographical dictionary of the reisülküttāb (chief scribe), this section argues for a distinctly Ottoman teleology of diplomatic developments with the reisülküttāb positioned as the ideal modern international mediator. Moving to practice, this section then highlights how Europeans engaged with Ottoman concepts of friendship in their discourse and how Ottoman diplomats emulated characteristics of objectivity in their travelogues. As the first study to interrogate Islamic conceptions of diplomacy in the eighteenth-century, this dissertation argues for a more plural understanding of modern diplomatic thought and practice.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Near Eastern Studies

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