The Global Life of Martin Marcara Avachintz

YEREVAN, Armenia – On July 22, 2015, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Armenian Digital Library hosted Sebouh David Aslanian for a public lecture entitled “A Life Lived Across Continents: A Global Microhistory of Marcara Avachintz, an Armenian Director of Compagnie des Indes Orientales, 1666-1688.”

The lecture explored the global life of Martin Marcara Avachintz, an Armenian gem merchant from New Julfa, Isfahan, who served as the first Director of Jean Baptist Colbert’s Compagnie des Indes Orientales in 1666. More specifically it examined the trial proceedings and lengthy legal briefs (factums or mémoires judiciares) produced in the course of Marcara’s sensational trial in Paris between 1676 and 1688, during which he sued the French East India Company for damages connected to his illegal arrest in India in 1670 followed by years of torture in the hold of a Company ship.

Through a microhistorical reading of Marcara’s trial papers and his global life lived across multiple cultures, empires, and continents, the lecture attempted to use his extraordinary life as an instance of what Edoardo Grendi and Carlo Ginsburg have called “l’eccezionale normale” (the exceptional normal) that can shed light on larger issues of global developments in the early modern period linking the histories of Europe and the Indian Ocean world together.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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