Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History

Matthew S. Gordon

Gordon bookConcubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History brings together sixteen essays on enslaved and freed women across medieval and pre-modern Islamic history.  The essays raise new questions regarding slavery, gender, social networking, cultural production, sexuality, Islamic family law, and religion in the shaping of Near Eastern and Islamic society.  They range over nearly a millennium, from the origins of Islamic history in the seventh century to the later Ottoman and Mughal periods.  The essays also explore regions as diverse as Islamic Spain, North Africa, Abbasid Iraq, and Timurid Central Asia.

This collection seeks to account for the lives, careers, and representations of enslaved and freed women as participants in, and contributors to, elite urban society across Islamic and Middle Eastern history.  Interest in a gendered approach to Islamic history, society, and religion has by now deep roots in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies.  The shared aim of the essays collected here is to explore the wealth of these topics and underscore their centrality to a firm grasp on Islamic and Middle Eastern history.