Suraiya Faroqhi, Bonn’daki “Osmanlı’da kölelik” konferansına dâvetli konuşmacı olarak katıldı

Bonn Üniversitesi’nin Bağımlılık Çalışmaları Enstitüsü’nün (Centre for Dependency Studies) düzenlediği “Osmanlı’da kölelik” konferansı 28-30 Haziran arasında yapıldı. Gül Şen ve Stefan Konermann’ın organize ettiği konferans, kapsamlı bir araştırma projesinin başlangıç ayağını, ilk beyin fırtınasını oluşturdu.

İHÜ Tarih Bölümü öğretim üyesi Prof. Suraiya Faroqhi, konferansa (İsrail’in ünlü kölelik tarihi uzmanı Prof. Ehud Toledano’yla birlikte) iki dâvetli konuşmacıdan biri olarak katıldı. Prof Faroqhi’nin Osmanlı ve Mughal kölelik düzenlerini karşılaştıran sunuşunun İngilizce özetini aşağıda sunuyoruz.

Confronting Ottoman and Indian slaveries

Slavery being a worldwide phenomenon, and given the emergence of world history as a separate discipline in recent years, the time surely has come for Ottomanists to look at Ottoman slavery in a broader context than has been customary to date. Admittedly, the present paper cannot claim to cover “the world” in its entirety. However, when focusing on the Ottoman Empire and India, the sketch presented here of necessity touches upon sections of South Asia, Western Asia, the Balkans, and Eastern Africa. Given variants of Ottoman slavery on the one hand, and a large variety of early modern slaveries practiced in South Asia on the other, confronting the two sets of practices will help us understand what slavery might mean (or not mean) in two early modern empires, both extensive in size and non-capitalist in character.

Slavery and slave-like service to the sultan played a central role in Ottoman government organization, although its role in the working world was mostly limited to household service. As slavery was not of great significance in agriculture, trade and manufacturing, the issue seems to have attracted attention only with the recent rise of the tertiary sector in Turkey and the gradually increasing interest in women’s history. In addition, the current discussion has benefited from a growing interest in palace culture, where certain recent studies include the Ottoman Empire as a major field of study. After all, while not all royal courts relied on the services of slaves, the phenomenon was frequent enough for historians dealing with “court studies” to develop an interest in the topic.

In the South Asian context, the connection between court life and slavery is less obvious, and relatively few researchers have done much work on the topic. Even so, it is worth remembering that many serving women in Akbar’s harem were slaves, and the same observation applied to his successor Jahangir — at least until the empress Nur Jahan decided to manumit these women. Certain sub-Mughal and post-Mughal principalities having left significant archives, we may hope that 18th-century slavery in the near future will interest more historians of South Asia. After all, we need to view the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires as social formations that had significant features in common, including the role of slavery in the “luxury service sector” but not in commerce, agriculture or craft production.