By Ehud R. Toledano
The ebook seems to be on the bonds of slavery from an unique point of view, relocating clear of the normal master/slave domination paradigm towards the perspective of the enslaved and their responses to their plight. With willing and unique insights, Toledano indicates new methods of brooding about enslavement.
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Additional info for As If Silent and Absent: Bonds of Enslavement in the Islamic Middle East
We have already noted the significance of naming, which was part of a process of recreating the enslaved person’s new identity, often with the intention of wiping out the older identity. Past identities of the enslaved were invariably considered uncivilized, seriously deficient 37. See, for example, the interesting case of Ottoman-Egyptian kuls of Georgian origin in the eighteenth century in Daniel Crecelius and Gotcha Djaparidze, “Relations of the Georgian Mamluks of Egypt with Their Homeland in the Last Decades of the Eighteenth Century,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 45/3 (2002): 320–341.
25. 1872. ” All this is in sharp contrast to the defensive rhetoric deployed against the criticism leveled at the Empire by the outside world. It was toward Europe that the mildness and good-treatment discourse was projected in order to deflect the moral arguments of abolitionism, which were seen as seeking to embarrass the Ottomans and, essentially, to deprecate Islamic culture as a whole. 27 A N E W A P P R O A C H T O E N S L AV E M E N T Without claiming to break new theoretical ground, let me put forward some new perspectives on the history of enslavement in the Ottoman Empire, which might have some implications for the study and understanding of enslavement in other societies—both Islamic and outside the world of Islam—with realities similar to or resembling those in the Ottoman case.
In all cases, enslaved persons’ ability to stand their ground in the relationship depended on the extent to which they could withhold their labor to achieve what they saw as minimal requirements. In other words, their agency depended on denial of services, whether in the fields, the mines, or the household—the last including sexual services and rearing and nurturing children, in addition to the rest of the domestic package. We might go somewhat further in defining the slaver-enslaved relationship as containing a component of an unwritten pact, which was personal, protective, remunerative, and emotional.