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 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 082009

Schick, Irvin C. The Erotic Margin: sexuality and spatiality in alteritist discourse 1999. Link

Schick makes one point very clear at the outset: don’t simplify Orientalism into “West=male/Orient=female”. There are too many alternate ways of characterizing the two civilizations. Some saw the West as a vulnerable female sexually threatened by the masculine Orient. Female Western visitors to Turkey or Persia sometimes saw the lives of Oriental women as having more agency and autonomy. Writers from all over the political spectrum have used the (fantastic, largely imaginary) harem as an allegory of society. TE Lawrence say Oriental men as masculine role models. These portrayals were driven by everything from anxieties and fears to confusion to “outright self-loathing.”

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Sep 092008

Gossett, Thomas F. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and American Culture Southern Methodist University Press, 1985

Roberts, Diane. The Myth of Aunt Jemima: Representations of Race and Region Routledge, 1994

Schick, Irvin C. The Erotic Margin: Sexuality and Spatiality in Alteritist Discourse Verso, 1999

First, I want to reiterate my position that consensual Master-slave roleplaying relationships as practiced by Munby and Cullwick and afterwards have only a tenuous connection to the actual institution of Atlantic slavery. It’s more about the fictionalized version of slavery as seen by people who had no direct experience with it.

Second, getting off on a scenario does not necessarily mean the fantasizer agrees with the politics or ideas behind it. In fact, a masochist might get a stronger charge off a scenario if the suffering is not just.

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Jan 172007

One thing I’d always hoped to witness, since I started to study sexuality seriously, was the birth of a new fetish. To me, that would like seeing a new species evolve right before your eyes.

I have yet to be the first to discover a fetish, but I’m always on the lookout for new ones. The closest I’ve come is coming across the web site, Tales of the Veils. This site is devoted to stories and images of veiled women. This is not about the cute little diaphanous veils worn by women in harem fantasies. This is about heavy, full-body covering garments worn by Muslim women living in strict purdah. I believe, though this is the kind of thing which can’t be proven, that veil fetishism has grown in the past few years. The site quotes from a Wikipedia article which seems to have disappeared:

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