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Graduate Student Kathryn Hain Wins World History Association Honors


Kathryn Hain, December 2016 graduate from the History Department, received an Honorable Mention, in the World History Association Dissertation Prize, an award that placed her work in the top ten percent of the competition. The committee head wrote, “Your ambitious decision to use Afroeurasia as your primary field of investigation, rather than the more traditional 'western civ.' model, caught our attention, and your narrative elegantly related your subject to larger scales and generalizations.” 

Kathryn’s research rests on the foundation of a ninth century Arabic geography text which described a transregional slave trade which extended from Spain to India and China. She asked two questions of this text, “How long had this been going on?” and “How did Chinese and Indian consumers use European slave women?”  By turning to Indian sources, she found Greek women in Indian harems before Alexander the Great.  These “Yavani (Ionic)” women were used in huge retinues, served as armed guards for royal harems, and worked as courtesans and flute girls.  The Chinese chronicles describe Seleucid and Roman circus style entertainers given to the Han court as tribute from Central Asian vassals.  Hain also covered slave trade of European concubines and eunuchs in the early Muslim period carried on by Persian Jewish and the Norse Rus traders. This trade was aided by political changes wrought by the convergence of the Carolingian, Abbasid, and Tang empires.

Kathryn Hain is currently splitting the research into two future books, Concubines as Commodity: Sex Trafficking in Antiquity and Middle Passage to a Harem; the Medieval Slave Trade of European Women to the Middle East and Asia.  She thanks her committee members, Dr. Adams, Dr. Davies, and Dr. Sluglett for their oversight, and especially Dr. Peter von Sivers who gave three layers of close editorial work and guidance to almost 400 pages.  Also, appreciation goes to Dr. Thatcher, who fact checked the Han and Tang chapters.  A world history dissertation truly takes a “village” to get it right.  Congratulations Kathryn!

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Last Updated: 5/24/17