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“Captives or crooks? Pirates, impostors, and Jewish communities in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire” by Gürer Karagedikli and Yaron Ben-Naeh

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Abstract

“In the present article, based on Ottoman and Hebrew documents, we focus on people who made up fictitious stories of captivity in order to gain a living, as well as on authorities or local Jewish communities that detected and coped with those frauds in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire. In detecting acts of fraud, a novel method adopted by Jewish communities during the period under study was printed letters that were not available to all segments of society. Considering the vigilance of Jewish communities to root out the ploys used by their co-religionists to acquire money through deceitful means, we suggest that those communities formulated some regulations in order to validate authenticity and differentiate between the true and the fake. We argue that an efficient web of networks among early modern Jewish communities in the Mediterranean and the use of the printing press played a crucial role in certifying the truthfulness of a document or a person.”

Gürer Karagedikli lectures in the History Department of Middle East Technical University, Ankara, where he received his PhD in 2017. His research interests in Ottoman socio-economic history in the early modern and modern period include religious foundations, Jewish communities, inter-communal relations, urban identities, women, orphans, housing, land use, peasant indebtedness, and legal practices. His works appear in the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient and The Economic History Review.

Yaron Ben-Naeh is a full professor in the Hebrew University at Jerusalem. He teaches in the Jewish History department since 2005. His main interests are social and cultural history of Ottoman Jews. Currently, he is interested in material culture, ego-documents, libraries and book collections. Among his publications: Jews in the Realm of the Sultans, Osmanlı Devleti ve İstanbul, Yosef Perets (Heb), Sefer Korot Mishpaha (Heb). A book on Ottoman Jewish wills is in press.

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