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The Janissaries and their bedfellows: Masculinity and male homosexuality in early modern Ottoman Istanbul 1500-1826

Delice, Serkan (2015) The Janissaries and their bedfellows: Masculinity and male homosexuality in early modern Ottoman Istanbul 1500-1826. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Delice, Serkan

This thesis investigates the relationships between male homosexuality, social transgression and the construction of masculinities in the early modem Ottoman Empire. To this end, it primarily focuses on Ottoman conduct and advice literature, court chronicles, sumptuary regulations and state rulings related to the Janissaries, the elite infantry troops of the Ottoman Empire, and Janissary-related male social groups in Istanbul between 1500 and 1826, when the Janissary Corps was abolished. By engaging with and taking stock of literature in the fields of the history of sexuality, queer historiography, and Ottoman Middle Eastern gender and sexuality studies, this thesis aims to map out the connections between same-sex sexual acts, gender presentations and identifications and modes of self-fashioning from an interpretive framework. My original contribution to knowledge is to consider these connections within a broader historical setting of social transgression, masculinity construction and gendered power relations between state and social actors. Instead of taking for granted the alteritist framing of the history of homosexuality in the Middle East, this thesis seeks to present a distinct angle, which interrogates the distinction made between the modem Western regime of gender and sexuality and pre-modem, non-Western sexual acts, bodies and pleasures.

This thesis further argues that the homosocial and homoerotic culture of which the Janissaries were a part, in urban settings such as coffee houses, bachelor rooms and public baths, cut across different layers of society and was one of the means by which Ottoman queer male subjects recognised themselves as subjects of an experience, and articulated multiple modes of masculinity. Based on this understanding, this thesis finally argues that the abolition of the Janissary Corps in 1826 and the ensuing period of reform and modernisation should not be seen a historical rupture or a radical dissolution where a specific era of gender and sexual multiplicity was erased and replaced by a militarised, modem and heteronormalised masculinity. Rather, the gendered cultural ascendancy achieved by the Ottoman state itself was contested and contradictory.

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: May 2015
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2023 11:02
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 08:11
Item ID: 19687
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/19687

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