Putting Slavery Back on the Map: A Spatial History of the Ottoman Imperial Slave Market

Azimli, Musa, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
White, Joshua, AS-History (HIST), University of Virginia
Gratien, Christopher, AS-History (HIST), University of Virginia

The Ottoman Imperial Slave Market (Esir Han) in Istanbul, which operated from the 17th century until the mid-19th century, was the biggest slave market in the Middle East. In 1847 the market was closed after the prohibition of the slave trade by order of Sultan Abdülmecid. The history of Ottoman slavery was gradually erased from the cityscape, and before long, the location of the official slave market was lost to time. By drawing on spatial history methodologies, this article locates the slave market on the many-layered map of Istanbul’s past and present. While interrogating the possible reasons for the effacement of the market, I argue that finding the market’s precise location is vital in terms of restoring the collective memory of slavery in Turkey and the former Ottoman Empire and questioning the economic and social impact of the slave trade on the Ottoman Imperial Capital.

MA (Master of Arts)
Spatial History, Digital Humanities, Ottoman Empire, Slavery, Market, Historiography
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