Jun 072013
 

If I’ve been posting less, it’s that I want to devote more energy to finally getting at least a first draft of this book finished.

It’s a week later than I hoped, but I finished a draft of Chapter 4, on Orientalism, weighing in at a little over 7,000 words. It covers the centuries-long influence of Europeans being held prisoner in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire, and the lasting influence on pornography and sexual fantasy. I also touch on American captivity narratives, which are largely about white settlers abducted by Native Americans.

There are a few points I would like to cover, like Burton’s quasi-translation of the Kama Sutra and the vogue for exotic sexuality among certain Orientalist elites, but that may have to go in a later chapter. One of the things I’ve realized in this process is that I can’t include everything I’ve researched. I have to pick and choose, both for length and to keep the narrative pacing going. Just accumulating information and references will bore the reader.

Next is Chapter 5, “The Peculiar Institution.” This should be relatively easy, as I already wrote an earlier draft that covered Atlantic slavery but proved to be too long. I particularly went overboard describing the Munby-Cullwick relationship. Chop that down to 6-8,000 words and that should be good, at least for a first draft. The goal is to get it done by the end of June.

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Dec 052012
 

Davis, Robert C. Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800. Palgrave MacMillan, 2003 Amazon

What you might call “Mediterranean slavery”, of Christian Europeans captured through piracy or raids and enslaved in North Africa or the Near East, coexisted with Atlantic slavery, roughly paralleling the dates. While the numbers about Atlantic slavery are pretty solid, the numbers on Mediterranean slavery are far less so, and Davis is forced to piece together rough estimates from a variety of different sources.

Trying to pin down numbers of Barbary slavery is beyond the scope of this blog, and I don’t want to get into any kind of “oppression Olympics” about different slave economies. (Discussions of white slavery tend to bring out people with an axe to grind. One discussion of Barbary coast slavery on Fetlife included a post with a link to a white pride site. This included lengthy incoherent rants about the place of white people in history. One passage included an array of pictures of tribal people with facial tattoos or body modifications, followed by another array of white people with facial tattoos or piercings. The caption said that these white people took no pride in their heritage and were trying to imitate other races.)

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Sep 182012
 

Clissold, Stephen. The Barbary Slaves. Elek Books, 1977 Gbooks

Up until now, I had focused most of my attention on Atlantic slavery as an source for BDSM fantasies, but there are other influences that go back centuries. The older some historical event is, the more it has decayed into myth. It underlies more recent events. Abolitionists used Orientalist and Gothic ideas to talk about American slavery and in doing so harkened back centuries to Barbary Coast slavery, when Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East. It was a roughly two-century period marked by Christian Europe’s relative rise as a world power and Muslim Northern Africa’s relative decline.

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Aug 282012
 

iHarem is a blog with a vast collection of images and especially video clips of harem/slave girl/odalisque Orientalist fantasies, some going back to the early Silent Film era. Apparently, as long as there has been moving images, they have been used to deliver Orientalist fantasies of beautiful, available women, often in quantity.

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Aug 272012
 

While trying to learn more about the Orientalist slave paintings I’ve been posting on Tumblr and Pinterest, I found there are a lot of these kinds of paintings. There’s the slave market set on Flickr, the entire Orientalism tag at Onok-Art, and a collection of slave market paintings on Tanos.org.uk.

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Aug 212012
 

A Fetlife post directed me to an entire page of Victorian paintings about slavery, or rather the Romanticized European view of slavery in “the Orient” or in ancient Rome, which was also a vehicle for female nudity. (Contrary to popular belief, Victorians had no problem with nudity if it was within the proper context.)

The page is in Turkish, but there’s little text anyway.

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Jul 082012
 

The model in contemporary art nude photography: Postcard Orientalism has a short photo essay on Orientalism in early photography.

More interesting are the cards taken in North Africa. These tried to evoke the image of the harem, a fantasy of erotic mystery and subjugation. It is again believed that most of the models would have been prostitutes. Given the strictures of Arab society it is hard to imagine ordinary women posing nude; nor would photographers, who were European, have had ready access to real harems….

Of course, this very exclusion could become a source of fetishism.

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Jul 012011
 

“Historicizing The Sheik: Comparisons of the British Novel and the American Film,” by Hsu-Ming Teo

Cecilia Tan pointed me at the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, which feature a fascinating article by Hsu-Ming Teo on the historical context of EM Hull’s novel The Sheik, which was turned into a famous hit film of the same name, starring Rudolph Valentino. If not the basis of the “woman ravished by noble savage” trope, The Sheik is certainly one of the better known examples of it.

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Jun 012011
 

Blassingame, John W. The Slave Community Oxford University Press 1979

Blassingame’s psychological study of Atlantic society has a tangential relationship to the evolution of BDSM. What it does give is insight into slavery as it was seen by whites, and particularly the distortions whites lived with in order to make the peculiar institution work.

The three archetypes, derived from white literature and folklore, are Jack, Nat and Sambo.

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