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Slavery and Empire in Central Asia
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Book description

The Central Asian slave trade swept hundreds of thousands of Iranians, Russians, and others into slavery during the eighteenth–nineteenth centuries. Drawing on eyewitness accounts, autobiographies, and newly-uncovered interviews with slaves, this book offers an unprecedented window into slaves' lives and a penetrating examination of human trafficking. Slavery strained Central Asia's relations with Russia, England, and Iran, and would serve as a major justification for the Russian conquest of this region in the 1860s–70s. Challenging the consensus that the Russian Empire abolished slavery with these conquests, Eden uses these documents to reveal that it was the slaves themselves who brought about their own emancipation by fomenting the largest slave uprising in the region's history.


'Eden provides readers with a fascinating study of the slave trade in Central Asia, challenging the view that imperial Russia brought that pre-Islamic tradition to an end … Readers will be especially interested in the material drawn from such rare sources as transcripts of interviews with former slaves compiled by Russian border officials, legal documents, and eyewitness travel reports. One such source is the firsthand account of the Iranian Mīrzā Maḥmūd Taqī Āshtiyānī, who spent ten years as a slave among Turkmen tribes. This account provides a rare treat for readers - a slave's own perspective. The book ends by describing a little-known slave rebellion in Central Asia in 1873 that nicely underscores Eden's arguments about local slave agency … This book fills a large gap in the history of Central Asia and global slavery. Highly Recommended.'

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