The Shaping of 'West Barbary': The Re/construction of Identity and West Country Barbary Captivity
Esra, Jo Ann
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
I wish to place an embargo on my thesis to be made universally accessible via ORE, the online institutional repository, for a standard period of 18 months. This thesis is available for Library use on the understanding that it is copyright material and that no quotation from the thesis may be used without proper acknowledgement. Photographs are not to be used/published without permission.
Reason for embargo
I wish to publish papers using material that is substantially drawn from my thesis.
Divided into three parts, this thesis maps a cultural history of Barbary captivity; concentrating on the early 17th century leading up to the Civil Wars; an aspect of British-Muslim contact within which the West Country is overrepresented in the archives. However, this wealth of material contrasts sharply with the paucity of popular and public-facing representations. Situating these accounts within wider contexts, this thesis investigates this contrast, exploring the social, cultural, emotional and economic impact of Barbary captivity upon understandings of place and identity. The first part examines representations of being taken captive, the terror and distress of West Country inhabitants, and the responses and concerns of the authorities. The on-going failure to protect the region and its seafarers exacerbated this distress, producing marginalised geographies of fear and anxiety. The second part explores the themes of memory and identity, arguing that how captives were remembered and forgotten had implications for localised and national identities. For those held in Barbary, families and communities petitioned and undertook ransom collections to redeem the captives, providing reminders to the authorities and appealing for wider remembrance as part of the processes of Christian compassion. Nevertheless, the majority of captives were ‘forgotten’, neither ransomed nor leaving their individual mark within the historical record. This part concludes with a discussion of the role of memory in managing and articulating the ‘trauma’ of captivity. The final part examines mobile and fluid identities, concentrating on returning captives and Islamic converts. Early modern theories of identity situated the humoral body of the captive as susceptible to ‘turning Turk’, contributing to wider negotiations of national, ethnic and religious identities. Cultural anxieties were preoccupied with the ill-defined borders of the geographically displaced material body, generating mutable, hidden and shameful identities. In conclusion, sites of cultural trauma are produced, indicated by the subsequent silence regarding this aspect of localised history.
Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
PhD in English