An International Symposium:
Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa: A Comparative Study
A Report


This workshop was planned according to a suggestion by Professor SATO Tsugitaka and was the first workshop of the Islamic Area Studies Program. The planning and management of the workshop were carried out by MIURA Toru of the Project Management Unit and John Phillips, Assistant Professor at Hirosaki University and researcher in cooperation with the Project Management Unit.


A. Object

Many similarities in the system of slave elites, officials and masters can be seen from Andalucia to Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The object of this workshop is to gather together specialists in Central Asian and African Studies to consider the points listed below concerning the slave elites and while considering the similarities and differences between each geographical area, clarify the aspects of Islam and slave elites which are universal and common to all areas.

1. Soldier Slaves: Ethnic origin of officials and reason for the introduction of the system of soldier slaves

2. Role of the legal standing of slave elites

3. Linguistic and cultural identity of slave elites: Relationship with society of origin and/or ruling society

4. Economic activities of the slave elite

5. Relationship between the slave elite system and Islamic civilization


B. Plan for the workshop

We distributed the above objectives in our first circular to those on our project's mailing list as of April, 1999. The day after we distributed this circular, we had 3 replies from researchers based in the U.S.A. and by May 15, we had over 10 responses from foreign researchers. This was because we distributed the circular to foreign researchers via e-mail. We were delighted by this unexpected response.

Although the project was able to cover the lodging expenses of foreign participants, we did not have the budget to cover air fares, so in principle, we were forced to ask the participants to bear these expenses on their own. We were often able to invite foreign researchers who were scheduled to take part in international conferences in the social sciences in Japan and have the sponsors of these conferences bear both air fare and lodging expenses. While this was very convenient and economical, it limited those who were able to participate to a very small group. Because we hope to have many self-sponsored participants in the international conference that our project will sponsor in 1999, we intend to conduct a public call for papers. We experimented with this method for this workshop.

As a result, the Project Management Unit invited 8 participants (5 of whom covered their own air fare and 1 of whom covered their own lodging expenses) and Unit 2 invited 1 participant for a total of 9 foreign participants and we were able to have even more participants than expected.


C. Lectures and Discussion

There were 12 presenters (2 of whom were Japanese) and 3 chairpersons for a total of 15 panelists. Because we requested papers from the presenters before the workshop, we were able to distribute copies of the full papers to all of the participants at the conference. The presentations ranged in period from the 'Abbasids to the Sokoto Caliphate in the 19th century and geographically covered areas from Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey to Andalucia, Morroco and West Africa. Issues from fields such as military science, politics, economics and culture were discussed. Between 30 and 40 participants spent 2 hours on questions and discussion and the session was so active that the time alloted seemed too short.

We would like to thank NAKAMACHI Nobutaka (The Univ. of Tokyo Graduate School) and other graduate students for their assistance in managing the workshop.


D. Schedule



Keynote Speech: SATO Tsugitaka (The Univ. of Tokyo, Japan),
Slave Elites in Islamic History


Part 1: Origins
Chair: GOTO Akira (The Univ. of Tokyo, Japan)

Matthew GORDON (Miami Univ., USA)
The Turkish Military Elite of Samarra and the Third Century Land Tenure System

SATO Kentaro (The Univ. of Tokyo, Japan)
Slave Elites and the Saqaliba in al-Andalus in the Umayyad Period

Jan HOGENDORN (Colby College, USA)
Economic Aspects of the 'Manufacture' and Sale of Eunuchs



Part II: Power
Chair: John PHILIPS (Hirosaki Univ., Japan)

The Evolution of the Concept of Mamluk after the Founding of the Mamluk State in Egypt

Sean STILWELL (York Univ., Canada)
The Power of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Power: Kinship: Community and Royal Slavery in Kano, 1807-1903





Part III: Networks
Chair: Jan HOGENDORN (Colby College, USA)

Dror ZEEVI (Ben Gurion Univ., Israel)
My Slave, My Son, My Lord: Slavery, Family and State in the Islamic Middle East

Carl PETRY (Northwestern Univ., USA)
Waqf as an Instrument of Investment in the Mamluk Sultanate: Security vs. Profit?

John PHlIPS (Hirosaki Univ., Japan)
The Persistence of Slave Officials in the Sokoto Caliphate



Part IV: Transition
Chair: KURITA Yoshiko (Chiba Univ. , Japan)

Fatima HARRAK (Univ. of Mohamed V, Morocco)
Slaves, Haratin or Free Men?, Controversy about the Legal Status of Mawaly Ismail's Jaysh al-Abid

Ehud TOLEDANO (Tel-Aviv Univ., Israel)
The Concept of Slavery in Ottoman and Other Muslim Societies: Dichotomy or Continuum?

Ahmad SIKAINGA (Ohio State Univ., USA)
Comrades in Arms or Captives in Bondage? Sudanese Slaves in the Turco-Egyptian Army, 1821-1865


Concluding Remarks: MIURA Toru (Ochanomizu Univ., Japan)



D. Publishing of proceedings

Upon receiving the final papers from the presenters based on the discussion during the workshop, the proceedings are scheduled to be published in December of 1999 as Part 1 of the Islamic Area Studies Series and entitled "Slave Elites in the Middle East and Africa" (edited by MIURA & John Philips)


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