Transplanted Slavery, Contested Freedom, and Vernacularization of Rights in the Reform Era Ottoman Empire

Ceyda Karamursel
2017 Comparative Studies in Society and History  
This article focuses on the jurisdictional conflicts that emerged at the juncture of the transplanted legalities that followed the Caucasian expulsion in the 1850s and 1860s, the proclamation of the proto-constitution known as the Ottoman Reform Edict of 1856, and the internationally enforced ban on trading in African slaves in 1857. Starting with the Caucasian expulsion, it traces how legal practices were carried over with Caucasian refugees to the Ottoman domains and how the judicial
more » ... e judicial management of slavery-related conflicts determined not only the limits of slavery, but also how such liberal "fictions" as freedom or equality before the law were vernacularized by local agents in the Ottoman Empire. Navigating within a set of what were labeled as freedom suits (hürriyet davaları), I examine how enslaved refugees built their claims in relation to different legal terrains, problems, and concepts. I argue that while Caucasian-Ottoman slavery was economically marginal, it nonetheless posed serious challenges to the new political order the Ottomans aspired to establish, and the abolition that never came continued to bend categories of ethnicity, race, and gender in the decades after expulsion.
doi:10.1017/s0010417517000226 fatcat:hgl2pifenrfojddfqih3y5cjl4