Magic, Theft, and Arson

Terence Walz and Kenneth M. Cuno

in Race and Slavery in the Middle East

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9789774163982
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970221 | DOI:
Magic, Theft, and Arson

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Studies on Ottoman-Middle Eastern slavery are still in a toddling stage and accounts written from the perspective of slaves are few and far between. Even petitions bearing the names of individual slaves were written by professional scribes or persons who were knowledgeable enough about the chancery styles of governments. In other words, most were “mediated” documents. There is no alternative but to inhabit the discipline, delve into archives, and push at the limits of historical knowledge to turn its contradictions, ambivalences, and gaps into grounds for its rewriting. Historians, unlike other social scientists, need to be trained in dead languages and difficult calligraphies, and may simply or inadvertently err in their task of interpretation regardless of the methods they employ, especially when they attempt to voice the voiceless.

Keywords: petitions; mediated; ambivalences; calligraphies; historians

Chapter.  10205 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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