Volume 16, Number 21
March 16, 2010

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This Week

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Department of History Presents: Abduction, Violence and Status in Early Modern Ottoman Times

leslieBilkent University's Department of History hosted a lecture last week on March 11, 2010, where Prof. Leslie Peirce spoke about "Abduction, Violence and Status in Early Modern Ottoman Times."

Prof. Peirce spent two years in Gaziantep as a Peace Corps Volunteer before earning a Ph.D. from Princeton University. After working in various universities such as Cornell University and the University of California Berkeley, she is currently teaching in the

Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University.
Prof. Peirce began her one and a half hour lecture by giving a distinct definition of abduction during the late 16th and 17th centuries of the Ottoman Empire. She approached the concept from social, political and legal aspects by focusing on different case studies she had come across during her extensive research.

Pointing out that abduction existed in every level of society, even in the sultanate and military level, Prof. Peirce brought attention to the importance of abduction. Furthermore, she continued with the laws Süleyman the Great had implemented in order to prevent abduction.

"Can as you can imagine the punishments for abduction were castration or beating the abductor and cutting his beard, which was the same as punishments offered for adultery, one of the biggest crimes you could have committed," she said. She also emphasized how serious a problem this was in the empire.

Finally, Prof. Peirce spoke about her desire to further improve her research by focusing on the aims and particular interests of the abductors regarding their victims.
As the lecture drew to an end,

the guests had the opportunity to direct questions and comments to Prof. Pierce regarding different aspects of her research. Prof. Peirce made her concluding remarks by expressing her gratitude to both her audience and the Department of History.

Çiğdem Ataman (POLS/IV)
Bilkent News

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