Revisiting Afro-Ottomans in the Late Ottoman Society

In the last two decades, it has been observed that the approach and conceptualizations of the “Afro-Turkish diaspora” have begun to find a place in the literature. The aim of this study is to explore whether a more comprehensive conceptualization, such as “Afro-Ottomans,” is possible for individuals of African origin who have played roles in various aspects of Ottoman society for centuries. These roles include being slaves, serving in the military and administrative positions in major Ottoman provinces, as well as contributing to the intellectual and religious life of Ottoman society as sheikhs or dervishes.

This study also seeks to create a research agenda regarding the African-origin Ottomans who remained as free individuals, particularly after the abolition of slavery in the late Ottoman Empire and during the early Republic period, and their continuation as Afro-Turks. By incorporating this topic into the global historical context, the study suggests reconsidering this subject. Examining the trajectories in global African diaspora studies, it is noted that instead of more general terms like Afro-European, various alternative conceptualizations, such as Afropean and Eurafrique, enrich and deepen the discourse. Similar considerations are explored in relation to Afro-Turks and Afro-Ottomans, contemplating whether an expansion of the nomenclature, akin to AfroMecca, is feasible for these groups. The study evaluates relevant literature and approaches in this context.

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