A history of the continent-spanning Armenian print tradition in the early modern period
Early Modernity and Mobility explores the disparate yet connected histories of Armenian printing establishments in early modern Europe and Asia. From 1512, when the first Armenian printed codex appeared in Venice, to the end of the early modern period in 1800, Armenian presses operated in nineteen locations across the Armenian diaspora. Linking far-flung locations in Amsterdam, Livorno, Marseille, Saint Petersburg, and Astrakhan to New Julfa, Madras, and Calcutta, Armenian presses published a thousand editions with more than half a million printed volumes in Armenian script.
Drawing on extensive archival research, Sebouh David Aslanian explores why certain books were published at certain times, how books were sold across the diaspora, who read them, and how the printed word helped fashion a new collective identity for early modern Armenians. In examining the Armenian print tradition Aslanian tells a larger story about the making of the diaspora itself. Arguing that “confessionalism” and the hardening of boundaries between the Armenian and Roman churches was the “driving engine” of Armenian book history, Aslanian makes a revisionist contribution to the early modern origins of Armenian nationalism.
Sebouh David Aslanian is professor and Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa. He lives in West Hollywood, CA.
“This beautifully written, extraordinarily original work is a major contribution, not only to Armenian history, but to the history of the book and to understanding the origins of both early modern commercial capitalism and the confessional identities that previsioned the modern nation.”—Ronald Grigor Suny, author of “They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide
“This book is a probing and erudite inquiry into the nexus between cultural and economic change in Eurasia. It cements Aslanian’s reputation as the scholar of the Armenian diaspora whom all historians of early modernity should read.”—Francesca Trivellato, Institute for Advanced Study
“A tour de force of transregional history, bringing together intimately and seamlessly book history and the everyday of diasporic mobility to present a coherent picture of early modern community-making.”—E. Natalie Rothman, author of The Dragoman Renaissance: Diplomatic Interpreters and the Routes of Orientalism
“Aslanian’s book hugely enhances our knowledge of the archive related to the global mobility of the Armenian merchant diaspora and its book trade. Its exceptionally rich analytical narrative transforms our understanding of the entanglement of Armenian and world history from 1512 to 1800.”—Khachig Tölölyan, emeritus professor, Wesleyan University
“A pioneering excavation of early modern Armenian print culture that draws on a rich archive to meticulously trace the collaborative role of merchants and churchmen in establishing printing presses in port cities across Eurasia and publish the confessional project of the Armenian diaspora.”—Kathryn Babayan, author of The City as Anthology: Eroticism and Urbanity in Early Modern Isfahan
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