G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires

Minorities in Eurasian empires: Their functions for the survival of empires

Event Details

  • Date

    Friday, 26 June - 14:00 – 16:00

    Saturday, 27 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires
Convenor
  • Tomoko Morikawa (University of Tokyo)
  • Ryuto Shimada (University of Tokyo)
Chair
  • Ryuto Shimada (University of Tokyo)
Commentator
  • Robert Fletcher (University of Warwick)
Panelists
  • Birgitt Hoffmann (Otto Friedrich University Bamberg)
  • Tomoko Morikawa (University of Tokyo)
  • Ryuto Shimada (University of Tokyo)
  • Kristine Kostikyan (Mesrop Mashtots Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts)
  • Khohchahar E. Chuluu (University of Tokyo)
  • Masato Tanaka (University of Tokyo)

Papers

  • Birgitt Hoffmann
    Minorities in the Ilkhanid Empire

    Minorities in the Ilkhanid Empire

    Religious and ethnic minorities played a major role under Mongol rule in Iran. For instance before the Ilkhanids’ conversion to Islam important administrative positions like the vizierate recurrently were given to non-Muslims - presumably as a counterbalance to the indigenous Muslim majority. Christian clerics enjoyed the favor of several rulers and/or members of the ruling family. As a result the building of churches and cloisters was booming. From the viewpoint of the Muslim majority this was an undue preference. The forced cooperation between “outsiders” and the majority society sometimes resulted in aggressive actions such as pogroms. Even the relation between the minorities could be precarious. The contemporary historiographic sources rather rarely – if ever - comment on phenomena of social coexistence and conflict. Indeed in many instances they ignore the existence of the other. This paper tries to put together the scattered evidence from Persian and other sources to get a better understanding of the social interaction between the ruling elite, the minorities and the majority of population.
  • Khohchahar E. Chuluu
    Minorities in the Qing Empire

    Minorities in the Qing Empire

    The Qing Empire (1635-1911) was a multiethnic empire, including the Manchu, Mongols, Muslims, Tibetans, Chinese, and so forth. It is also famous for its minority-ruled nature, that is, the state was governed chiefly by the Manchu people, who were underpopulated in comparison with the Chinese. As minorities, the Manchu elites carried out practical but complex policies towards other minorities in within their empire. This study discusses the Manchu inclusion and exclusion of minorities, at different levels of administration, military apparatus, as well as legal practices.
  • Tomoko Morikawa
    Non-Muslim minorities and a Shi’ite Empire: Case studies of Armenians and Jews in Safavid Persia

    Non-Muslim minorities and a Shi’ite Empire: Case studies of Armenians and Jews in Safavid Persia

    The Safavid Empire (1501-1736) had adapted the Shi’i Islam as a state religion in 1501. It accelerated the penetration of the Shi’ism firstly to Sunni Muslims in Persia against their eminent rival, the Ottoman Empire, throughout the sixteenth century, and then to their minority residents such as Armenians, Jews and Zoroastrians in the latter half of the seventeenth century after concluding the peace treaty of 1639 with the Ottomans. At the same time Safavid Persia keenly encouraged international trade activities, forging alliances with European countries. Non-Muslims, especially Armenians were the major actors who could freely travel to European or Christian countries and handle goods without any religious taboos in foreign trades, tracing their world-wide network. In the Safavid capital city of Isfahan, Armenians and Jews had their own quarters: Armenians were living concentratedly in a new colonial quarter of New Julfa located on the opposite side of the river, while Jews were mostly settling in the oldest quarter of Jubare near to the Friday Mosque as original inhabitants in Isfahan. How did these religious minorities keep their identities in the more intolerant and radicalized empire? This paper will focus on Non-Muslim inhabitants and their religious conflicts in the empire’s capital city in the early modern period.
  • Masato Tanaka
    Minorities in the Ottoman Empire: Perspectives from Mount Lebanon

    Minorities in the Ottoman Empire: Perspectives from Mount Lebanon

    As a mountainous region difficult to exert effective political control, Mount Lebanon has historically served as a refuge for various ethno-religious minorities. The Ottoman conquest of the region in the 16th century had not raised serious contestation toward the general structure of its society, where Maronite Christians and Muslim Druzes (a branch of Shia Islam), the two most prevalent groups in the Mountain, have enjoyed autonomy under their common local leaders. However, the eruption of the internal disputes in the mountain in the mid-19th century triggered mostly by the rise of sectarian identity among its residents, especially the Maronite Christians, attracted the European intervention. At this stage, the Ottoman Empire finally embarked on integrating this autonomous periphery into their system. The aim of this study is to investigate the characteristics of the power-sharing system among different religious groups in the mountain known as the special autonomous district of Mount Lebanon (Cebel-i Lübnan Mutaṣarrıflığı), which was introduced by the Ottomans in 1861 under the pressure from European powers. While this system managed to produce relative tranquility in the region, this study will highlight how this system contributed to further deepening the sectarian division of the society, using multiple historical sources, including not only Ottoman and European sources but also locally preserved private papers.
  • Kristine Kostikyan
    The Armenian minorities of Russian empire in the second half of 18th century

    The Armenian minorities of Russian empire in the second half of 18th century

    The establishment and development of the Armenian colonies in Russian empire is strongly connected with its expansionist policy in 18th century and commercial relations with Iran and India, where Armenian merchants played an important role. A factor stimulating the increase of the number of Armenians in Russian empire was the indulgent attitude of its leading circles towards them trying to profit from their commercial activities and ties with their kinsmen living in Transcaucasia to achieve their assistance for imperialist plans as regards the region. In the second half of 18th century the tsarist government widely used the freedom loving aspirations of Armenian merchants giving them the hope of restoration of Armenian state under Russian rule.
  • Ryuto Shimada
    Slavery in the Dutch East India Company: A Case study of the slavery at the Dutch trading post in Nagasaki in the late eighteenth century

    Slavery in the Dutch East India Company: A Case study of the slavery at the Dutch trading post in Nagasaki in the late eighteenth century

    The Dutch East India Company (VOC) had a slavery system to maintain its business activities in maritime Asia. In the territory of the VOC in Asia, slaves are possessed by the VOC as well as by the employees and European and Asian private individuals. My paper firstly gives a survey of the slavery system under the VOC, then it provides a case study of Asian slaves and their lives at the VOC’s trading post in Nagasaki, Japan. This case study makes clear the following points: number, gender, age, owner and birth place of the slaves, and it also analyzes their daily life in the trading posts. Finally, the paper offers a general argument of the slavery under the VOC.

Abstract

Minority is a key concept for historiography of empires. In general, Eurasian empires inevitably absorbed several ethnological groups in the time of the territorial expansion. Establishment of managing system of minorities was crucial for survival of empire. With sophisticatedly-made managing system, empires could exist in extremely large territories. This panel discussion session aims to offer a platform to elaborate on the concept of minority in empire by taking examples from the history of Eurasian empires. This panel session focuses on the following three points in particular: The first point for argument is concerned with the ruling class. It was often a minority group in terms of total population of empire. Clear examples are the cases of the Mongolian Empire and the Qing Empire. Mongolians in Ilkhanate Persia were absolutely a minority in the total population, and had to intricate a system to rule non-Mongolian people. In the case of Qing Empire, Manchurians were highly small group in number, but the Qing empire establish the system to manage to rule the majority group of Chinese while it collaborated other minority groups such as Mongolians. Second, the panel highlights non-ruling class of minorities group. In management, the empires took measures not only of discrimination and hostility, but also those of adaptation and courtesy. In this panel, two case studies are offered: One is on the Armenians and Jews in the capital city of Safavid Persia in the early modern period, and the other is about the case of Christians and Arabs in the highland of Lebanon in the modern period. The third point for discussion in this panel is on European empires in Asia. Since the early modern period, European empires expanded to Asia and they had to manage to establish systems to manage several Asian groups. The questions are as to how similar to or different from those of traditional indigenous Asian empires. These points are discussed by taking examples from Armenians in the Russian Empire and slavery in the Dutch empire in maritime Asia.