Ehud R. Toledano
Ehud R. Toledano is professor of Middle East history at Tel Aviv University and the current director of the Program in Ottoman & Turkish Studies.
As If Silent and Absent (2007)
Toledano, Ehud R. As If Silent and Absent: Bonds of Enslavement in the Islamic Middle East. United Kingdom, Yale University Press, 2007.
- Human bondage in it's various forms existed in almost all known historical societies and cultures. Since biblical times all monotheist religions have sanctioned slavery, although they did try to mitigate its harsh realities; other belief systems were not free from various forms of enslavement either.
- An initial obstacle to an open and honest treatment of enslavement in Ottoman and other Islamic societies is the "attitude hurdle". Writers about Islamic societies in general have been sensitive ...to any shred of criticism be it hedged , balanced or even implied. The orientalist tradition.. in Middle eastern studies has been seen...deprecating towards Arabs and Muslims.
- Too often the debate over history of enslavement has been suppressed by reluctance of Arab and Muslim writers to engage in an open discussion...about human bondage. Excepting modern Turkish scholarship and a few contributions from scholars in Arab countries the work produced by Arabs and Muslims has been apologetic and polemical.
- By leveling the moral playing field, we in know way wish to suspend judgement with regard to enslavement, nor do we advocate an abdication of responsibility...enslavement was wide spread and universally acceptable in historic societies , we do not shy from condemning it as reprehensible regardless of where and by whom it was practiced.
- In the early 1980s when my first work on Ottoman slave trade in 19th century was published I was keenly aware of the sensitivity of the subject and actively sought not to offend any of my readers...even in domestic slavery situations, especially when women were concerned, it would be quite inappropriate to describe their experience of enslavement as mild....Simply put the powerful (here Ottomans and Arabs) stand accused of bestowing on the unwilling powerless (here enslaved Africans) the questionable benefits..