LECTURE: Ain't I a Migrant? Race, Slavery, and Gradated Liberties in the Late Ottoman Empire

03 April 2019 19:00 to 21:00 | Ankara

The British Institute at Ankara, Wolfson Foundation Conference Room, Atatürk Bulvarı 154, first floor, 06690

A BIAA lecture by Dr Ceyda Karamursel (Lecturer in History at SOAS, University of London).

Discussant: Owen Miller (assistant professor of History,  Bilkent University).

Following up on her London BIAA talk, Dr Ceyda Karamursel will present her work in Ankara as part of the BIAA lecture series on Late Ottoman, Early Republican and Contemporary Turkish History.

Summary of Event: In 1874, the customs officers at the Istanbul port seized a young black woman named Katerina, as she was disembarking the ship that brought her from Alexandria. She was held on the assumption that being a young, black woman on a ship destined for the biggest ‘human entrepôt’ in the region, she could not have been anything but a victim of slave traffickers. As they continued with her interrogation however, they found out that Katerina was not a “smuggled slave” as they thought she was, but a member and employee of the Greek Church, who came to Istanbul with the purpose of taking up employment. Puzzled by the young woman’s answers, the police shifted the focus of the interrogation from Katerina’s blackness to her Christian-ness, the core of the problem swiftly becoming apostasy than illegal trade in slaves. Taking Katerina’s multilayered case as its point of departure, this talk explores the gradated nature of liberties in the reform era Ottoman Empire.      

This event is part of the BIAA lecture series on Late Ottoman, Early Republican and Contemporary Turkish History. This year's series explores the theme 'Gender, Culture and Politics'.

Dr Ceyda Karamursel is a Lecturer in the Department of History at SOAS, University of London. She received her PhD in History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Middle East Center. Her work explores the practice of slavery and elusive meanings of freedom in the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic, and has been supported by the Social Science Research Council and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, among others. She is currently working on her book manuscript, which continues to explore Ottoman slaves’ and slaveholders’ perceptions of freedom, justice, equality, and in an indirect way, of citizenship.

Dr. Owen Miller is an assistant professor of History at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.  He received his doctorate in International and Global History from Columbia University in 2015.  His work dwells on histories of migration, violence, and conversion.    His manuscript is entitled, Religion and Violence at the Ends of Empire: The Ottoman Conquest of the Mountains.

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