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Dr. Yannis Spyropoulos, Researcher at the IMS, earned a highly competitive ERC Starting Grant.

Sep 04, 2019

ERC Starting Grants are awarded to early-career researchers of any nationality with two to sevenyears of experience since completion of the PhD (or equivalent degree) and a scientific track recordshowing great promise. This grant is a funding scheme that supports young talented research leaders to gain independence and build their own research team in Europe.

The research interests and expertise of Dr. Spyropoulos revolve around Ottoman and Mediterranean history. The project of Dr. Spyropoulos, entitled "JANET: Janissaries in Ottoman Port-Cities:Muslim Financial and Political Networks in the Early Modern Mediterranean," aspires to create an innovative entanglement of military, social, political, and economic history which has the potential to change our current perception of the early modern Mediterranean and the role of Islam in it. JANET will investigate the economic and sociopolitical role of the Janissaries in the 18th and early 19th centuries through their examination as a complex of interconnected networks in the ‘extended Mediterranean’ (including major Black Sea and Danubian ports). By studying the Janissary corps, the project brings forward a radically new historical analysis concerning, on the one hand, the role of Muslims in the Ottoman and wider Mediterranean commercial economy – a role largely ignored by the bibliography – and, on the other, the processes that led to the creation of diasporas and the dissemination of people and ideas among various Muslim communities in the area.

According to the project's thesis, in the period under examination, the Janissary corps became one of the main channels for the participation of various Muslim social strata of the Ottoman periphery in the Empire’s developing credit market and commercial life, as well as a gateway for their involvement in local and imperial politics. Moreover, it became a platform for the exchange of people, goods, and ideas between different localities covering a vast geographical area. When examined from a Mediterranean perspective, this view allows us to look beyond the information provided by Europe-centered sources and to drastically redefine the sociopolitical and financial role of Muslims in the area, an approach which historical analysis sorely lacks.

The project uses a comparative approach to examine a large number of port-cities in North Africa, Egypt, the Aegean, the Adriatic, the Danube, and the Black Sea. The research team – composed of Dr. Spyropoulos (Principal Investigator), three senior researchers, five post-doctoral fellows, and two PhD candidates – will study a variety of unpublished sources in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Russian, French, and English. The team will produce an open access digital portal containing databases of sources, abstracts of deliverables, multimedia material, bibliography and links to be used by the international academic community, it will organize and participate in a number of workshops and international conferences, it will produce various publications – including two books – in open access, as well as two Ph.D. dissertations.

Four hundred and eight early-career researchers have been awarded European Research Council grants in this year’s first completed ERC call for proposals. The highly-coveted funding will help individual scientists and scholars to build their own teams and conduct pioneering research across all disciplines. The grants, worth in total €603 million, are part of the EU Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020. It is worth noting that FORTH is at the top with the largest number of ERC funded projects in Greece, with an inflow of more than € 32 million.

The ERC official press release: https://erc.europa.eu/news/StG-recipients-2019

Biographical sketch

Dr. Yannis Spyropoulos, born in Athens in 1981, is a Greek historian who earned his Ph.D. in Ottoman history at the University of Crete in 2014. His research interests pertain to a variety of subjects, such as the institution of slavery in the early modern Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman-African diaspora, Ottoman Crete, the rise of big-farm ownership in the early modern Balkans, and environmental history, while he has also authored a number of articles examining different aspects of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830) in the Ottoman context. In his PhD he studied the social, administrative, financial, and political aspects of the Janissary institution through an examination of the case of Crete and has produced a number of articles on the same subject.

Dr. Spyropoulos has been the recipient of a great number of competitive grants and honors at both a national (Greek) and an international (Turkey and France) level, and has worked in various programs which aimed at reading, cataloging, and publishing Ottoman archival material preserved in Greece. After the completion of his PhD he worked as an individual researcher and a team member in scientific projects at FORTH, the University of Crete, and the Centre d’Études Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques [EHESS, CNRS, Collège de France].

Since April 2018, Spyropoulos has been an Assistant Researcher of Ottoman History at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies/FORTH. Besides his work as a researcher at the Institute, Dr. Spyropoulos teaches Ottoman paleography to the students of the “Inter-institutional Postgraduate Program in Ottoman History” of the Department of History and Archaeology ofthe University of Crete and IMS/FORTH.