Race, Slavery, and Islamic Law in the Early Modern Atlantic

This episode is part of our series on Islamic law

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Notions of racial difference played an important role in the Atlantic slave trade and have left a long legacy well after the slave trade was abolished during the nineteenth century. Yet centuries earlier, an Islamic scholar from Timbuktu had formulated an argument against the enslavement of individuals based on race or skin color. In this episode, Chris Gratien discusses the life and writings of Ahmad Baba in Timbuktu and Marrakesh as a captive scholar of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansour. (cross-listed with tajine)

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Chris Gratien is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University studying the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. (see academia.edu)
Graham Cornwell is a doctoral student at Georgetown University studying the history of taste and imperialism in North Africa.

Episode No. 141
Release date: 18 January 2014
Location: Georgetown University
Editing and production by Chris Gratien


A page of Mi`raj al-Su`ud (Source: LOC)
Gratien, Chris. "Race, Slavery, and Islamic Law in the Early Modern Atlantic." The Journal of North African Studies, Vol. 18, No. 3 (May 2013).

Baba, Ahmad ibn Ahmad, John O. Hunwick, and Fatima Harrak. Mi`raj al-Su`ud : Ajwibat Ahmad Baba Hawla Al-Istirqaq. [al-Rabat]: al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyah, Jami`at Muhammad al-Khamis, Ma`had al-Dirasat al-Afriqiyah bi-al-Rabat, 2000.

Hunwick, John O. "A New Source for the Biography of Ahmad Baba Al-Tinbukti (1556-1627)." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 27, no. 3 (1964).

Lovejoy, Paul. "The Context of Enslavement in West Africa." In Slaves, Subjects, and Subversives : Blacks in Colonial Latin America, edited by Jane Landers and Barry Robinson, 9-38. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

Mouline, Nabil. Le Califat Imaginaire D'ahmad Al-Mansur: Pouvoir Et Diplomatie Au Maroc Au Xvie Siècle. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2009.
Zouber, Mahmoud A. Ahmad Baba De Tombouctou (1556-1627) : Sa Vie Et Son Oeuvre. Paris: G.-P. Maisonneuve et Larose, 1977.


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