Journal of Islamic Archaeology, Vol 4, No 1 (2017)

Global Peasant, Local Elite: Mobility and Interaction in Ottoman Cyprus

Michael Given
Issued Date: 17 Jul 2017

Abstract


This article challenges the polarization, still common in accounts of Ottoman Cyprus and elsewhere, of an oppressed, isolated peasantry and the power and connectedness of the elite. By integrating archaeological, historical and ethnographic evidence, it examines the specific mechanisms of production, exchange and movement across the Cypriot landscape. The patterns of activities of the peasantry show not just a deep rooting in their community landscape but also a striking mobility and agency: they had a significant ability to negotiate, participate and protest in the distributed power system of the Ottoman empire, and show intense movement and widespread connections across the island and beyond. The elite participated in a series of regional and Mediterranean-wide networks, and had many opportunities to increase their wealth, political power and social position. But they were also deeply embedded in agricultural production and in the land. The landscape of Ottoman Cyprus, then, is characterized by intense interaction at all levels, by a highly connected peasantry as much as by a localized elite.

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DOI: 10.1558/jia.32963

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