Samuel Huckleberry

PhD Researcher

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Andrew Peacock (University of St. Andrews, UK), Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann

Samuel Huckleberry.jpeg
© Samuel Huckleberry

Academic Profile

The Sacral Realm: Religion, Rulership, and Slavery in Premodern Islam

 Why did the Ottoman and Safavid realms rely on the institution of military slavery while the Mughals did not? Rather than in military history, I argue that the answers to this question are embedded in comparative notions of rulership. By bringing concepts of kingship and slavery into dialogue, my proposed study aims to conceptualize how and why certain Islamic realms developed institutions of military slavery – or not. Due to the comparative dearth of studies about military slavery in the Ottoman Empire focusing on the Janissaries versus the ghulam in the Safavid realm, my study aims to bring the three Islamic realms into a dialogue that centres the phenomenon of military slavery.

While kingship has been at the centre of scholarly debates on political and religious change in early modern Islamicate empires, the importance of slavery has not been sufficiently considered when it comes to the evolution of religious politics in this period. My research suggests that rather than focusing only on particular confessional labels like 'Sunni' or 'Twelver Shiʿi' that gained new importance in this era, we must continue to theorize social dynamics informing the continued "confessional ambiguity," and seek to understand how these labels were further complicated by the dynamics of military slavery, clientage, and tribal loyalties. Although the sovereigns of the Ottoman and Safavid realms certainly advocated for the confessional unification of their realms, we also know from the study of empires that sovereigns we also know from the study of empires that sovereigns negotiated between groups. In other words, they had to wear multiple 'crowns' for different audiences, depending on the nature of their bond to the ruler. This 'sacral realm,' as I call it, delineates a sacred political topography which explores the relationships with metapersons, be they sultans or shahs, and the ruled in various Islamicate realms.

since 2021
Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies (cotutelle), St Leonard’s Postgraduate College, School of History, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom & Department of Middle East Studies (Institut für Orient- und Asienwissenschaften), University of Bonn, Germany

M.A. in Comparative History, Central European University, Hungary

Erasmus+ Mobility Grantee, Sabancı University, Turkey

B.A. in History and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin, Texas, United States

A.A. in History, San Antonio College, Alamo Community Colleges District, Texas, United States

Organizer, Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies' 2019–2020 Lecture Series, "Mystical and State Authorities in Early Modernity"

Participant, "Summer School in Languages (Persian and Turkish) and Connected Histories," 15 July–15 August, Mejlis Institute, Yerevan, Armenia

Junior Member, Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Central European University

Editor of Humanities for the Undergraduate Research Journal, University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)

Assistant and Associate Editor of History, Undergraduate Research Journal, UT Austin

Scholarly Articles

  • Forthcoming. "A 'Great' Sufi King? Reinterpreting Shah Abbas I (r.1587–1629) as a Spiritual Guide." In Global Lives, Global Bodies: An Online Publication of the Transnational and Global History Seminar at the University of Oxford



  • Forthcoming. Çeşmī Efendī. "An Ottoman Interrogation of Safavid Disciples in Constantinople, 1028/1619." In The Ottoconfession Sourcebook


Reviews of Scholarly Books

  • 2020. "Review of The Crisis of Kingship in Late Medieval Islam: Persian Emigres and the Making of Ottoman Sovereignty by Christopher Markiewicz, Cambridge University Press, 2019." In DIYÂR 1(2): 340–342. 
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