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Ceyda Karamursel

Ph.D. Candidate (ABD)

Ceyda Karamursel


B.A., Economics, Bogazici University


Modern Middle Eastern History, Gender, History of the Caucasus and Borderland Studies

Research Interest

My dissertation project concerns itself with the practice and distinctive features of slavery in the Ottoman Empire throughout the long nineteenth century. It asks, first and foremost, why Ottoman slavery involved mostly women and in what ways female slaves' circulation, reception and assimilation into Ottoman society differed from that of male slaves. Second, it looks at how and when such categories as age, race, ethnicity or class mattered and how their meanings and experience changed over time. Finally, it examines how the Ottoman institution of slavery, distinct from other slavery systems most notably by its lack of abolition, faced new ideologies, such as nationalism and its racial-ethnic constructions, in which Ottoman state’s involvement in (re)defining women became stronger as slavery itself came to a silent end. A fellow of Social Science Research Council’s IDRF program for the 2011-12 academic year, I am currently conducting archival research in Istanbul, Turkey.

Besides my dissertation, I work on two smaller projects, the first of which examines the arrival and reception of sewing machines in the Ottoman Empire in late nineteenth century. The second project looks at almanacs and calendars in the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic, juxtaposing the discursive worldviews of the almanac makers and the reading-writing experience of their readers. Each project has the aim of following its respective material object in social and physical space, and understanding how discourses on and experiences of these items shaped their use and significance. Having been exposed, while working on almanacs, to the history of early Turkish Republic, I am also interested in the experiences and self-fashioning of the newly conceived citizens in the first two decades after the republic’s inception.


Conference Papers

  • "Singer Sewing Machines in the Late Nineteenth Century Ottoman Middle East," On the Move: The Middle East and the “First Modern Globalization,” International Workshop at the Institute of Advanced Studies,
    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 16-19 January, 2011. Jerusalem, Israel.
  • "Pocket Monuments of Historical Consciousness: Calendars and Almanacs in the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic, 1875-1945," 45th MESA Annual Meeting, December 1-4, 2011. Washington, DC.
  • "The Lay of the City: Singer Sewing Machines in the Late Nineteenth Century Istanbul, Cairo and Alexandria," paper presented at 25th Annual Middle East History and Theory Conference at University of Chicago, May 14-15, 2010. Chicago, IL, USA.
  • "'Hürriyet' in the Name of the Machine: Singer Sewing Machines in the Late Nineteenth Century Ottoman Empire and the Changing Nature of the Ottoman Household," paper presented at 43rd MESA Annual Meeting, November 21-24, 2009. Boston, MA, USA.