Representing the Margins: ‘Gypsy’ in Early Modern Ottoman Discourse

  • Abstract:

    Drawing upon Ottoman narrative and visual sources such as dream manuals, literary texts, travelogues and miniatures, this paper will first examine how Gypsies were imagined and represented in early modern Ottoman-Turkish discourse. Secondly, through looking at archival sources, especially the court records, it will attempt to analyze extent to which Gypsies resisted, negotiated and accommodated the prevalent discourses. By looking at various discourses, we will not only offer glimpses into the lives, experiences and survival strategies of Gypsies in an Islamic society but also provide a better understanding of socio-economic realities as well as moral values of the society that they lived in. More importantly, through the examination of professions exercised by the Gypsies, we will attempt to contribute to discourse on social marginality and means of social exclusion in the Ottoman Empire.