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Western Association of Women’s History Presentation

Apr
27

This presentation will focus on the historical insights from my current project, whereas, other presentations this spring will focus on the digital research methods used.

Panel Abstract: Historians of women and gender today still face many of the same challenges as our foremothers; women appear in our source materials only as fleeting shadows, often unnamed and leaving little trace. However, with increasingly accessible digital research methods and tools, scholars can now follow these faint tracks more easily. Together, these papers explore women’s positionality in social and political networks between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Sanders Garcia uses close and computational reading techniques to illuminate the lives and roles of Algerian women who cemented political alliances, advanced their family’s social status through strategic marriages, and attained political positions themselves. Likewise, Kane employs network visualization and analytic methods to demonstrate the crucial structural roles that Iroquois women held in and between social groups. These works counter the violence of indigenous women’s erasure from the colonial and historical record through visualizations that reveal their centrality to the communities they connected.

Presenter: Ashley Sanders Garcia, UCLA

Title: Silent No More: Algerian Women in the Ottoman Regency

Keywords: Gender, Women, Politics, Social Networks, Intercultural mediation

Abstract: The history of Ottoman Algeria remains understudied, but the history of women in Ottoman Algeria is practically unknown. The few extant fragments of knowledge about women during this 300-year period emerge in colonial literature and travel narratives. However, through close reading and text-mining these sources, as well as nineteenth century chronicles of Ottoman governors, problematic as they are, relational networks can be reconstructed that surface the lives and roles of both remarkable and ordinary Algerian women. The network of relations reveals the ways in which women were central to the creation and maintenance of the socio-political fabric that held together the tenuous bonds of Ottoman Algerian society and government in the eastern province of Constantine between 1567 and 1837. I argue not only that Algerian women were essential intercultural mediators and conduits to power, but also that contemporary Ottoman officials and autochthonous Algerian men clearly understood this fact in ways that have been lost in the historical record. This study, then, seeks to mirror the historical reality by centering women in the narrative, correcting the inaccurate representations of women in the colonial literature, and rectifying their glaring absence in both scholarship and the public record.

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