Theses Doctoral

Accountants, Smugglers, Tricksters and Princes: Cultural and Network Brokerage in 1821 Balkans

Mariuma, Yarden

In this dissertation, I seek to analyze events in the 1821 Greek and Romanian revolutions against Ottoman rule in the Balkans using a relational sociology perspective. I am mainly looking at the network position of various figures who played a role in the development of nationalist arguments and ideology, and positing that these figures combined the role of network-broker – a figure who straddles holes among tight knit communities – and cultural brokers – a concept from anthropology involving the promotion of ideas from a “wider world” into a smaller community. I try to show how various configurations of network position and cultural knowledge can be an important determining factor in the success of various revolutionary actions, as well as the ideologies that develop from those actions. This factor which can provide an alternative explanation to that posed by modernization or institutional theories.

In Chapter 1, I focus on Lycurgus Logothetis, a cultural and network broker who liberated Samos from the Ottoman Empire, while provoking the massacre of Chios; following the thread of events to France, I show how this event intertwined with events in the French art world, to increase support for Greece. In Chapter 2, I focus on the Phanariots, a group of elite Greek Christians in the Ottoman Empire who used their contracts with abroad to gain a precarious position within the Empire, one that involved the rapid rise and fall of a number of brokerage figures from a small pool of candidates.

In Chapter 3, I show how the rebellion against that system, the rebellion of Tudor Vladimirescu, succeeded in creating a nationalist impulse in Romania owing to Vladimirescu’s creation of a quasi-group of mainly Romanian speaking notables, separated from the Greek world, and beholden to his success, and the limitation of this rebellion in the lack of important contacts from abroad. In Chapter 4, I examine the case of Ali Pasha, the rebellious, modernizing Pasha who developed an important base of operations by making local village contacts and reducing the Klepht-Armatoli, an Ottoman institution that depended on appointment the most important bandit in the region as an Imperial agent to keep the peace; and again, show that Ali Pasha’s bid for independence failed because of limited network connections with the Great Powers.

Chapter 5 deals with Alexander Mavrocordatos, the network and cultural broker who succeeded in creating a new Greek constitution at the cost of importing old patron-client relations into his new and modernizing state. Finally in Chapter 6, I show the test case of a “trickster”, Georgios Karaiskakis, who handles contradictions between various networks of meaning with sarcasm and deliberate taboo violation, thus “getting action” without needing to use network or cultural brokerage. At the end of these chapters, I hope to have developed a number of interrelated hypotheses about the interaction between network brokerage, cultural brokerage, and the way these operate among the edges of paradox and contradiction in social life.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2024-08-29.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Bearman, Peter
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 7, 2022