Extract

Slaves to Fantasy

An 1830s eyewitness on trial

Slavery continued as an institution in Ottoman Istanbul throughout the 19th century, fuelling the imaginations of artists, writers and liberals in Europe, especially in the 1830s when Europe was about to abolish slavery in its own colonies. But was slavery in Turkey as iniquitous as it was then made out? The historian Christopher Ferrard puts a painting in Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery on trial – and finds the claims of one ‘eye-witness’ lacking

Although Europeans living in the East in the 19th century took pains to enlighten their compatriots about foreign cultures, the West seems to have been more interested in the fantasies of the Orient than in the realities. The conflict between fact and fiction is expemplified by two illustrations of the slave market in Istanbul, both dating from the 1830s…

This article was published at the time of the Edinburgh exhibition Visions of the Ottoman Empire

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Issue 7, 1994/95 The Great Walls of Istanbul
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Buy the issue
Issue 7, 1994/95 The Great Walls of Istanbul
£500.00 / $642.08 / 3,423.60 TL
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