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Medieval Studies Lecture
February 17 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
“Health Fraud in the Medieval Genoese Slave Market.”
Professor Hannah Barker
Arizona State University
Thursday, February 17th
Genoa during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was the site of an active market in enslaved people, mainly Tatar, Russian, and Circassian women exported from the Black Sea. Buyers who participated in this market worried that, in their ignorance of medical matters, they might be tricked into purchasing women with serious illnesses like leprosy or falling sickness. In the Islamicate world, physicians such as Ibn Buṭlān in eleventh-century Baghdad wrote handbooks to educate prospective buyers about the most common strategems used to make enslaved people who were sick seem healthy. No such genre existed in medieval Genoa. In my talk, I will discuss how Genoese buyers and sellers handled the risk of medical fraud, and how the decisions that they made affected the lives of enslaved people offered for sale.
Sponsored by The Program in Medieval Studies.