History of Slavery in the Middle East


This course examines slavery and its abolition in the Middle East and North Africa from 600 C.E. to the 20th Century. It addresses slavery as a discourse and a question of political economy. We begin with an overview of slavery in late antiquity to contextualize the evolution of this practice after the rise of Islam in the region. We then examine how it was practiced, imagined, and studied under major empires, such as the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Mamluks, the Ottomans, and the Safavids. In addition to examining the Qur'anic discourse and early Islamic practices of slavery, to monitor change over time we address various forms of household, field, and military slavery as well as the remarkable phenomenon of "slave dynasties" following a chronological order. We discuss, through primary sources, theoretical, religious, and moral debates and positions on slavery, including religious scriptures, prophetic traditions, religious law, and a plethora of narratives from a range of genres. We highlight a distinct theme each week to focus on until we conclude our discussion with the abolition of slavery in the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics of discussion include various forms of male and female slavery, Qur'anic and prophetic discourse on slavery, legal and moral views on slavery, slavery as represented in religious literature, political, military, and economic structures of slavery, issues of race and gender as well as slave writings to reflect on the experiences of slavery from within. The goal is to enable students to understand the histories of slavery in the Middle East and eventually compare it to that of other regions and cultures, such as European and Atlantic slavery. No second language required.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU BA; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SC

Section 01

History of Slavery in the Middle East
View Course Listing - FL2022
View Course Listing - FL2024