Contesting Enslavement: Voices of the Female Slaves from the Persian Gulf in the 1930s


In: Die Welt des Islams
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  • 1 Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences


The article is on slavery in the Persian Gulf, as documented in the official reports of British officials and the slaves’ statements made at the British Agencies in the Gulf. Between 1921 and 1946 around 950 slaves applied for manumission. There were almost 280 women among the applicants and data from their statements refer to the position of slave women in the local societies during the critical time of a socio-economic crisis in the 1930s. Who were female-applicants and why were they running away from their masters? In what terms were they describing their status as slaves and moreover, what was it that slavery meant for them?


  • 2

    See: M. Gordon, Slavery in the Arab World (New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1989): 186f.

  • 18

    P. Tuson, The Records of the British Residency and Agencies in the Persian Gulf: IOR R/15 (London: India Office Records, 1979): 44.

  • 42

    See: ‘No. 1473/9 of 1348, Office of the Adviser to the Government, Bahrain, 5th Shawwal 1348’, IOR: R/15/2/1367.

  • 55

    W.G. Clarence-Smith, Islam and the Abolition of Slavery (London: Hurst & Company, 2006): 5. See also: P.E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery. A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

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