Dror Wahrman (Hebrew U. Jerusalem)
"The Solomonic Moment: Thrones, Crowns, and the Material Traces of Early Modern Global Absolutism"
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This essay follows early-modern thrones and crowns in their cross-cultural perambulations as a prism to recover heretofore little acknowledged global dimensions of seventeenth-century absolutism. The essay suggests that the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were a distinctive period of exchange, imitation, and selective appropriation of embodiments and practices of rulership between rulers from polities across the globe. In diverse locations, ranging from African kingdoms in today’s Benin, Ghana, and Angola, through Safavid Persia, the Sri Lankan Kingdom of Kandy and the Mughal Empire in central and southern Asia, to the Tsardom of Russia and multiple states in central and western Europe, and even an occasional foray to Native American rulers encountered by European colonists, rulers observed each other, learned of each other’s modes of embodying and practicing power – especially the most potent enactments of rulership, thrones and crowns – and adapted some of those selectively while anchoring them in local conditions and traditions. This was a sporadic quasi-worldwide phenomenon, heretofore unnoticed, linked to European absolutism by virtue of simultaneity as well as through numerous identifiable historical threads, which might therefore aptly be called “global absolutism”.
Interested in Wahrman's work? He'll also be presenting at the University of California-Berkeley.