The slave trade in Central Asia was a crucial factor in the European power discourse in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The debates regarding the enslavement of Russians and the slave trade in Bukhara and Khiva were instrumentalized to establish “the secure border” and to legitimize Russian expansion in Central Asia in the nineteenth century. This paper is a contribution to the research on slavery in Bukhara. The State Archive in Orenburg contains memoirs and reports of ransomed Russian slaves, some published in the Russian press in the nineteenth century and others unpublished, which allow analysis of slavery at the micro level for the first time. The spatial and social mobility of slaves is analysed using social-scientific concepts of mobility. By examining the mobility of slaves and, at a meta-level, the concurrent mobility, i.e. transfer, of knowledge, the paper provides not only a deeper understanding of the civil status of slaves in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Bukhara, but also of mobility processes in Central Asia and their impact on the actors involved.
Central Asia, slaves, spatial mobility, social mobility, mobility of knowledge, Buchara, Russia