Tell This in My Memory
Stories of Enslavement from Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Empire
Eve M. Troutt Powell
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"In her evocative and well-crafted monograph, Eve M. Troutt Powell recreates the geographic, spiritual, and personal journeys of enslaved peoples . . . Her book makes a significant contribution to the study of slavery in the Middle East and the Sudan as it does to the global study of forced migrations and enslavement . . . Perhaps the strongest aspect of the book is its accessibility. It is highly readable and assignable to undergraduate students in a wide range of history classes. The author presents her arguments without much jargon and reads her memoirs with great sensitivity to historical context, literary genre, and audience."—Dina Rizk Khoury, American Historical Review
"Powell performs an excellent service with this book by carefully examining the narratives she has chosen and showing us the choices her subjects made, the lives they were forced to lead, and the ways in which they came to accept their fate."—Terence Walz, Middle East Journal
"Tell This in My Memory: Stories of Enslavement from Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Empire is a study of slavery, liberation, and remembrance between the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries. Eve M. Troutt Powell examines the mechanisms of enslavement and the experiences of emancipation through the lives and narratives of captives and their descendants, slave owners, and European missionaries . . . [B]y integrating the histories of the Atlantic and Europe with African, Egyptian, Circassian, and Ottoman history, Troutt Powell opens the door to a global approach to the history of slavery in the region. Her work encompasses sub-Saharan, Middle Eastern and North African, European, and Atlantic studies because the story of slavery cannot be properly told within the geographical limits imposed by academic fields of specialization."—Soha El Achi, Arab Studies Journal
"Looking at slavery in modern Egypt from the perspective of both elite slave-owning families and slaves themselves, Tell This in My Memory offers a richly textured picture of how slavery was lived in one corner of the world. A marvelous book."—Martin Klein University of Toronto
"A beautifully written account of the experience of Sudanese enslavement in the Central Islamic Lands in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drawing upon multiple languages and variegated sources, Troutt Powell weaves a moving and evocative tapestry, employing multiple perspectives of the enslaved as well as slaveholders. Her analysis of the conditions of enslavement as well as the challenging processes through which those conditions become known is nothing short of brilliant. This is an extraordinary contribution to the intertwined studies of slavery, the Muslim world, and Africa's complex diaspora."—Michael Gomez, New York University
"This eagerly awaited book exceeds expectations. Troutt Powell asks probing questions about the lives of enslaved and freed women and men, creatively providing answers through perceptive readings of chronicles, memoirs, photographs, and other sources. She skillfully narrates the stories of slaves, restoring dignity and meaning to their lives while simultaneously adding texture to our understanding of the experiences of owners. With its elegant prose and poignant tales, Tell This in My Memory is a literary masterpiece."—Beth Baron, CUNY Graduate Center, author of Egypt as a Woman: Nationalism, Gender, and Politics
"Restoring the voices of long-silenced people, Troutt Powell's book leads the way in identifying and exploring some of the most important narratives of enslaved people-black and white, male and female-as they navigated the harsh conditions of slavery and claimed their freedom and dignity. Troutt Powell weaves a compelling set of stories into a unified interpretation and a grand narrative. This is an impressive work."—Chouki El Hamel, Arizona State University
In the late nineteenth century, an active slave trade sustained social and economic networks across the Ottoman Empire and throughout Egypt, Sudan, the Caucasus, and Western Europe. Unlike the Atlantic trade, slavery in this region crossed and mixed racial and ethnic lines. Fair-skinned Circassian men and women were as vulnerable to enslavement in the Nile Valley as were teenagers from Sudan or Ethiopia.
Tell This in My Memory opens up a new window in the study of slavery in the modern Middle East, taking up personal narratives of slaves and slave owners to shed light on the anxieties and intimacies of personal experience. The framework of racial identity constructed through these stories proves instrumental in explaining how countries later confronted—or not—the legacy of the slave trade. Today, these vocabularies of slavery live on for contemporary refugees whose forced migrations often replicate the journeys and stigmas faced by slaves in the nineteenth century.
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