August 30, 2021

Journal Article: Securing the emperor, securitising the guns

Postdoctoral researcher on the Aftermath project, Dr Barend Noordam, has published an article “Securing the emperor, securitising the guns: the strangely delayed dissemination of Ottoman military technology in the late Ming empire” Journal of the British Academy 27 Aug 2021, pp. 112-136. The article is available via open access and may be viewed online.

Abstract: This article analyses the reasons behind the delayed appropriation and adoption of Ottoman
harquebuses by the Ming army. Although these weapons had reached the empire by the mid-16th cen-
tury, their existence was only acknowledged at the end of the century. Through the lens of securitisa-
tion, I will argue that this delay was a result of the context of Luso-Ottoman geopolitical rivalries in
which these weapons were possibly leveraged as an incentive to form a Sino-Ottoman alliance against the
Portuguese. I will argue that a civil bureaucracy averse to assertive activist rulership could have prevented
the emperor from participating in the resulting military diplomacy. By comparing this event with a later
Dutch East India Company embassy with similar geopolitical intentions, I will argue that the Ming civil
officials achieved their goal by controlling the emperor’s perception of Ottoman intentions. In terms of
securitisation, this meant that the emperor himself was the main audience and his officials the securitis-
ing agents in matters of foreign relations.

Keywords: cross-cultural negotiation, military technology transfer, diplomacy, Ottoman empire,
Portugal, Dutch East India Company, Ming and Qing China, gift giving, Imjin War (1592–8), muskets,