Luxury, Fashion and Social Status in Early Modern South-Eastern Europe (LuxFaSS)
Luxury, Fashion and Social Status in Early Modern South-Eastern Europe (LuxFaSS)

Research Project by Constanța Vintilă-Ghițulescu



Host Institution: New Europe College - Institute for Advanced Study, Bucharest

It is hard to give a broadly acceptable definition of the concept of luxury, which as a field of study has also been largely neglected by historians and sociologists. From a moral or philosophical point of view, luxury is seen as a form of decadence, although from the economic perspective it is seen as a force that drives the development of the consumerist economy. Every society knows it in some form, regardless of the degree of economic development, reserving luxury to elite groups, who show their power and pomp through the display of luxury goods. The history of luxury is, therefore, from this perspective, a history of power, reflecting the syncretism of cultural and political thought. Luxury and fashion as components of material culture can also be analyzed through the lens of cultural history since they play an important role in the creation of visual culture. This project proposes to analyze the Christian elites of Ottoman dominated Europe in the Early Modern period from these perspectives, and to look at how they defined their social status and identity at the intersection of East and West. In such an analysis, the Westernization of South-Eastern Europe proceeds not just through the spread of Enlightenment ideas and the influence of the French Revolution, but also through changes in visual culture brought about by Western influence on notions of luxury and fashion. This approach allows a closer appreciation of the synchronicities and time lags between traditional culture, developments in political thought, and social change in the context of the modernization or “Europeanization” of this part of Europe.

Further Reading

Vintilă-Ghițulescu, Constanța. Viața lui Dimitrie Foti Merișescu de la Colentina scrisă de el însuși la 1817 [A braggart's boyhood: the life of Dimitrie Foti Merișescu of Colentina, written by himself]. Bucharest: Humanitas, 2019. 

Vintilă-Ghițulescu, Constanța, ed. Women, Consumption, and the Circulation of Ideas in South-Eastern Europe, 17th-19th centuries. Leiden: Brill, 2017.

Special issues

-Cromohs, vol. 21 (2017–2018). From Comparative to Global History

-Revista Istorică, t. XXIX, nr. 1–2, January–April 2018.

-Journal of Early Modern History. Contacts, Comparisons, Contrasts. Early Modernity viewed from a World-Historical Perspective, vol. 24, no. 4-5, 2020. Circulation of People.

Book chapters & journal articles

Wasiucionek, Michał. "Entangled Histories, Entangled Chancelleries? Moldavia and the Crimean Khanate between Pax Mongolica and Pax Ottomanica." In From Pax Mongolica to Pax Ottomanica. War, Religion and Trade in the Northwestern Black Sea Region (14th–16th Centuries), edited by Liviu Pilat and Ovidiu Cristea, 249–269. Leiden, Brill, 2020.

Vintilă-Ghițulescu, Constanța. "Shawls and Sable Furs: How to Be a Boyar under the Phanariot Regime (1710-1821)." In European History Yearbook, vol. 20. Dress and Cultural Difference in Early Modern Europe, edited by Cornelia Aust, Denise Klein, and Thomas Weller, 137–158. Berling: De Gruyter, 2019. 

Calvi, Giulia. "Imperial Fashions: Cashmere Shawls between Istanbul, Paris, and Milan (Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries)." In European History Yearbook, vol. 20. Dress and Cultural Difference in Early Modern Europe, edited by Cornelia Aust, Denise Klein, and Thomas Weller, 159–176. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019.

Pakucs-Willcocks, Mária. "Transit Trade and Intercontinental Trade during the Late Middle Ages: Textiles and Spices in the Customs Accounts of Brașov and Sibiu." In The Medieval Networks in East Central Europe. Commerce, Contacts, Communication, edited by Balázs Nagy, Felicitas Schmieder, András Vadas, 263–276. New York: Routledge, 2018.

Wasiucionek, Michał. "Danube-hopping: Conversion, Jurisdiction and Spatiality between the Ottoman Empire and the Danubian Principalities in the Seventeenth Century." In Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other, edited by Claire Norton, 77–100. New York: Routledge, 2017.

Pakucs, Mária. "Between 'Faithful Subjects' and 'Pernicious Nation': Greek Merchants in the Principality of Transylvania in the Seventeenth Century." Hungarian Historical Review 6, no. 1 (2017): 111–137.