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Exploring African diaspora and Turkish and Ottoman narratives


'Siyah' is a descriptive term for 'black' in Turkish.

A little bit about me.....

I love to write and delve into what connects and distinguishes different Black communities, across politics, identity and culture....hence, the reason for Siyah. You can view my work portfolio below.

What is the deal with Turkey's Black history, if we could call it that? Click below to find out more in this introductory piece to the series

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A comparative analysis on both trans-Atlantic slavery and Ottoman slavery regarding Black people. Were Ottoman experiences anomalies or are they simply a reconfiguration of the same system?


This personal piece authored by Zeinab Suleiman focuses on the life of Bashir Agha, a prominent African eunuch during slavery in the Ottoman Empire, and what his life can tell us about the treatment of Black eunuchs in the imperial court.

To mark 230 years since the Haitian Revolution began and 200 years since the culmination of the Greek War of Independence, the following article will summate Haiti’s support for Greek independence against the Ottoman Empire.

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Courtesy of the Ottoman History Podcast, the following interview looks into Ottoman diplomacy in Africa against the backdrop of nineteenth century European colonial politics.

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Hassam Munir alludes to some of the cultural outcomes of the Ottoman Empire’s pursuit to gain greater influence in Africa through religious institutions. He tells the story of Muhammad Shitta, also known as ‘Shitta Bey’, known for having played an important role in the spread of Islam in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Ahmet Kavas explores how the Ottoman Empire was embroiled in a struggle against Portuguese expansion and domination on the northern and east African coasts.

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Ahmet Kavas focuses in greater detail on the Ottomans’ relationship with South African Muslims and other Southern African nations.

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Courtesy of the Ottoman History Podcast, the following interview explores debates on aesthetics, headwear and dress in Algeria and Turkey during the interwar years (1918-1939).

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Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegün were two Turkish teenagers who arrived in the United States in 1935. But they could not have possibly known the role they would play in both American popular culture and the fight against racial segregation. They established Atlantic Records, one of the most revolutionary record labels in the US. The company launched the careers of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. 

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Audiences will learn how they helped to desegregate music during the Jim Crow era in the United States. This is the eleventh instalment in ‘Siyah’, which explores the relationship between African Diaspora and Turkish social and cultural narratives.


 In 1973, the sociologist Peter T. Suzuki produced a comparative analysis of the cultural responses of African-American Government Issue (GI) servicemen and Turkish workers in what was then known as West Germany. Black GIs were a part of the cohort of soldiers in the Western/Allied Forces’ protectorate of West Germany, following the end of World War Two. The following is a summary of Suzuki’s analysis on Black Americans and Turks navigating racism in West Germany.

In the years since Malcolm X successfully internationalised his political cause, it has been readapted and reinterpreted by Turkish Islamist newspaper columnists to make the case for their own political causes in contemporary Turkey.


Esmeray Diriker, otherwise known as ‘Esmeray’ and the ‘Black angel’ in Turkey, was a preeminent feminine voice of Turkey’s music scene in the ’70s and 80's.


A look at celebrated African-American activist James Baldwin’s ten years spent living on and off in Istanbul at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

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A summary of  Derya Özkan’s analysis of the African origins of cool in her essay From the Black Atlantic to Istanbul’s ‘Cool’, and how it relates to Istanbul’s cultural identity and landscape.

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