Reviews

This short article, based on a combination of archive and narrative sources, reminds us of the significance of abduction and slave trade as key factors of interaction between the North Caucasus and neighbouring regions and polities, from the sixteenth century till a relatively late date in the 1860s. The author successively skims through sixteenth to eighteenth-century European travelogues dealing with the trade of Christian captives from Georgia, and the commercial links in this domain of activity between Dagestan, on the first side, and on the other side the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire, through Chechnya and Kabarda. She also evokes the Dagestani practice of conversion into slaves of needy debtors and kanlıs (Russian krovniks, men who killed a person and had to pay for his blood) ― which brought some of them, in the eighteenth century, to become Christians and ask for protection from the Russian commandant of Kizilyar. The last paragraphs are devoted to the contrasted effects of the struggle of the Russian administration of the Caucasus against slave trading, notably through the payment of indemnities ― which incited some slave traders, when they did not succeed to sell their captives, to resort to various tricks to get ransom from the Russian authorities themselves. Conversely in some cases Muslim captives who had managed to run away to Kizilyar claimed to be Christians kidnapped in Georgia. The author also insists on the fact that the Edirne Treaty of 1828 did not bring an end to this business, which continued well into the 1860s through smuggling. Although the article ignores every kind of vernacular or Oriental source ― Crimean, Ottoman, or other ―, and does not provide figures on conversions to Christianity linked with slave trade, the author shows a great sensitivity to the many contradictory effects of multi-ethnicity and of the local instrumentation of Russian presence and regulations. It is perhaps regrettable that the illustrations have nothing to do with the subject of the article. Moreover, as this is quite usually the case in Iran and the Caucasus, more attention could have been given to the edition of the English text.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-3.3.A-205