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Sodomy and human difference: Anglophone conceptualisations of Ottoman male same-sex activity, c.1590–1700.



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Shamgunova, Nailya 


This dissertation focuses on the ideas of sodomy and human difference in early modern Anglophone discourses. The purpose of my thesis is to historicise and to complicate our understandings of Anglophone conceptions of sodomy in relation to the Ottoman Empire. This thesis argues that, far from being blanket accusations of sexual transgression, anxieties about sodomy in Anglophone accounts mirrored and overlapped with Ottoman concerns about transgressive sexualities in specific contexts, such as coffeehouses, bathhouses, social gatherings and some Sufi orders. This thesis re-examines various avenues which were used to conceptualise and discuss human difference in early modern Anglophone thought, including climate, customs, and religious doctrine, in order to determine the extent to which transgressive sexuality was seen as a meaningful category for marking human difference. The conclusion of this thesis is that most of these factors were not uniformly and universally seen as detrimental to the formation of ‘foreign’ sexualities. There was no single discourse on the topic and many debates on it, but on the whole, by the end of the seventeenth century, sodomy was seen as a result of customs developed over time, rather than an innate part of racialised foreign bodies or a transgression sanctioned by an ungodly religion of Islam.





Foyster, Elizabeth
Pfeifer, Helen
O'Reilly, William


early modern, sexuality, travel, encounter, queer history, Ottoman Empire


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Gulbenkian Yuval Studentship at Churchill College, Cambridge