What Time is It There?
January 2011, Polity
In this remarkable book, Serge Gruzinski takes us back to the early modern period and examines two testimonies that require us to navigate between America and the Islamic world long before the images of 9/11 had entered our heads. One is a chronicle of the New World compiled in Istanbul in 1580, the other is a Repertory of the Times written in Mexico in 1606, which dwells at length on the Empire of the Turks. Why and how did the Turks come to know so much about America, and what made readers in Mexico ask questions about the Ottomans?
Gruzinski conducts a dialogue between these two texts that emphasizes the singularities of the two visions, that of Islam and that of America, each already keeping a watchful eye on the other and yet irreducibly different, with this question always in the background: what did it mean to 'think the world' at the dawn of modern times?
1 Istanbul/Mexico City: The Eye of the Sages 5
2 ‘What Time is it There?’ 19
3 The International of the Cosmographers 39
4 Antwerp, Daughter of Alexandria 55
5 Histories of the World and of the New World 73
6 The History of the World is Written in the Stars 91
7 Islam at the Heart of the Monarchy 111
8 Islam in the New World 129
9 Thinking the World 145
Conclusion What Time is it There? 158
- A unique historical contribution to the origins of what we now think of as ‘globalization’.
- Gruzinski shows us that the opening up of cultures to other worlds is not new and occurred at the dawn of the modern age.
- The author takes us back to the late 16th and early 17th centuries and, by juxtaposing texts from Istanbul and Mexico, shows that people in the Ottoman empire and in the Americas were keeping a watchful eye on one another. Through a careful analysis of these texts he sheds fresh light on what it meant to ‘think the world’ at the end of the Renaissance.
- This book is written in a very lively and accessible way and makes use of contemporary films like Tsai Ming-liang’s ‘What time is there?’
- Gruzinski is one of the leading historians of the early modern period.
Peter Burke, University of Cambridge
"Gruzinski's provocative argument explores the linkages of Christian Europe, Islam and the Americas that created a Renaissance global vision, not only through political or economic ties and parallels ,but through the millenarian and apocalyptic hopes and fears of the time. Learned and innovative, this essay explores the process of globalization at the very origins of the modern world."
Stuart B. Schwartz, Yale University
"Serge Gruzinski offers a brilliant multi-sited comparative study for an alternative history of modernity and globalization. Goa, Istambul, and Mexico City displace Amsterdam, London, and Paris."
Jose Rabasa, Harvard University