[P4897] Slave Women in Muslim Society: Their Portrayal as Singers and Poets, Criminals and Concubines

Created by Kathryn Hain
Monday, 11/20/17 1:00pm


The lives of slave women in Muslim society must be filtered through a variety of texts authored by men. An analysis of a fourteenth century treatise on musicians reveals how qiyan courtesans chose topics and played with poetry which gave them the appearance of liberty even while enslaved. Their proficiency in performance and composition could be used to manipulate their owners. The study of the qiyan phenomena is expanded further by examining medieval literary and historical narratives where depictions of these entertainers are used as rhetorical strategies, revealing broader agendas. Historians of the Mamluk Egypt describe crimes committed by slave women. They attributed motives to these slave women who transgressed the laws to challenge or evade the persons who held power over their lives. Ibn Battuta, the long-distance traveler, wrote about his many concubine co-travelers that he valued for several reasons. These women substituted for legal wives who were abandoned or divorced on his long voyages, they provided emotional value and they gave him children born on the road. The last paper gives a long view of female slavery by interrogating the end of the institution in elite houses and courts. This panel explores the lives of slave women from the most elite, educated courtesans to lowly concubines and criminals whose memory is preserved because they came to the notice of their audience, their owners, or the law courts.







Carl F. Petry

(Northwestern University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Marina Tolmacheva

(Washington State University)
Marina Tolmacheva is Professor of History at Washington State University, specializing in the Middle East and Islamic Civilization. She came to the United States from Russia after training as an Arabist and historian with the leading specialists in St.Petersburg...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Dwight F. Reynolds

(UC Santa Barbara)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Kathryn Hain

(Northwest Christian University)
Dr. Kathryn Hain comes to academia after seventeen years in Jerusalem and Amman where she served local Arab churches in teacher training and literature distribution. She earned her PhD in History of the Middle East at the University of Utah. Her MA in...
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Lisa Nielson

(Case Western Reserve University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Simone Prince-Eichner

(University of Michigan)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;