SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Dr Ceyda Karamursel

BA (Bogazici University); MA, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania); FHEA
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Ceyda Karamursel
Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Lecturer in the Department of History

London Middle East Institute (LMEI)


Dr Ceyda Karamursel
Email address:
+44 (0)20 7898 4602
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
By e-mail appointment


I am a historian of the modern Middle East, with research and teaching interests focusing on the social, political, and legal history of the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic. I hold a B.A. in Economics from Bogazici University (Istanbul, Turkey) and received my M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, USA), where I was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Middle East Center.

My work explores the practice of slavery and elusive meanings of freedom in the late Ottoman Empire. In their broadest historical sense, I am interested to understand how such notions as freedom and equality before the law, which we so readily take for granted today, came into being and were understood, used, and abused by the Ottoman slaves, slaveholders, and the state. I am writing a book entitled The Sack and the Bowstring: A Global History of Ottoman Slavery and Freedom, which places and probes these questions in their wider global political and legal contexts.

In addition to my book, I work on a number of smaller projects, first of which traces the sewing machines’ arrival and reception in the Ottoman Middle East, with the specific goal of understanding how relations of production in particular, and capitalism in general, transported and transformed themselves to attain new lives in different social and political contexts. My second project takes an international legal dispute between the Ottoman Empire and Greece on stolen personal property as its point of departure to explore how different, presumably conflicting, legal systems worked with each other in defining what international property rights came to mean. The third and the final one, which also launches my second book project on how Ottoman concepts of slavery circulated in the Atlantic world in the nineteenth century, I follow the news of an American opera singer who was allegedly murdered in the imperial harem in Istanbul.

Supported by the Social Science Research Council and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, among others, my work appeared in New Perspectives on Turkey, Journal of Women's History, Comparative Studies in Society and History and most recently in the International Journal of Middle East Studies.


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Eyad Hamid, The Idea of the Refugee in the Discourse and Practices of NGOs in the Ottoman Empire (1915-1926): The Near East Relief
  • Julio Moreno Cirujano, Looking like a state: Materiality and Aesthetics in British Mandate Palestine
  • Senem Gökel, Leprosy, Empire and Exclusion: the case of Cyprus under Ottoman and British rules, late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries


Modern Middle East, Ottoman Empire, slavery and abolition, legal history, gender, race, citizenship, borderlands studies, material culture.



Jump to: Articles | Book Reviews |

Karamursel, Ceyda (2019) 'Shiny Things and Sovereign Legalities: Expropriation of Dynastic Property in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic'. International Journal of Middle East Studies, (51) 3, pp 445-463.

Karamursel, Ceyda (2017) 'Transplanted slavery, contested freedom and vernacularization of rights in the reform era Ottoman Empire'. Comparative Studies in Society and History, (59) 3, pp 690-714.

Karamursel, Ceyda (2016) 'The uncertainties of freedom : The second constitutional era and the end of slavery in the late Ottoman Empire'. Journal of Women's History, (28) 3, pp 138-161.

Karamursel, Ceyda (2014) 'Ottoman slavery as a tool for historical analysis: a review of recent literature'. New Perspectives on Turkey, (50), pp 193-203.

Book Reviews

Jump to: Articles | Book Reviews |

Karamursel, Ceyda (2022) 'Book review: Life After the Harem: Female Palace Slaves, Patronage, and the Imperial Ottoman Court. Betül İpşirli Argıt (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2020).'. International Journal of Middle East Studies, (54) 1, pp 180-182.


This list was last generated on Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 23:49 Europe/London.