Leslie Peirce

Professor of History, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies; Silver Professor

Princeton University, PhD 1988

Office Address: 

King Juan Carlos Center, Room 604



Field of Study: 

Early Modern Europe

Areas of Research/Interest: 

early modern Ottoman history; gender, law & society; biography; slavery; Ottoman empire in the world

Curriculum Vitae


Leslie Peirce’s writing and teaching focus on the Ottoman empire, with an emphasis on the early modern period (15-17th centuries). One thread that runs through her work is the ways in which women and men participate and interact in various contexts. Her first book explored the shifting nature of imperial politics by placing the palace harem at the center of inquiry. Likewise her second book, which examines aspects of law and society in a provincial court by exploring women’s utilization of the court (or avoidance of and inability to approach it) and what that can tell us about community as well as imperial dynamics. Other topics Peirce has written about include honor and sexuality, provincial politics, abduction and captivity, and slavery and household formation. She is currently writing a biography of Hurrem (“Roxelana” to Europeans), concubine and then wife to Suleyman I, “the magnificent”.


Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations Fellowship 2009/10; Guggenheim Fellowship 2009/10; Professeur Invité, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales 2005; Senior Fellow, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley 2004/5; Institute for Advanced Studies NEH Fellowship 2002/3; Research Fellow, Harvard Divinity School 1995/6; SSRC Fellowship 1992/3; Fulbright Fellowship 1992/3, 1984/5; NEH Translation Grant 1991; American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship 1990; American Philosophical Society Fellowship 1990.

Selected Works:


Peirce1.jpgMorality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab. University of California Press, 2003.
    *Albert Hourani Prize of the Middle East Studies Association for best book, 2003; Koprulu Prize of the Turkish Studies Association for best book, 2002-2003. Turkish edition: Ahlak Oyunları ( Istanbul,  2005).





ahlak.jpg  Ahlak Oyunları: 1540-1541 Osmanlı'da Ayntab Mahkemesi Ve Toplumsal Cinsiyet. Turkish Historical Foundation, 2005

turkish.jpg  Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Hukümranlık ve Kadınlar. Turkish Historical Foundation, 1996. (Turkish Translation of Imperial Harem)

Peirce2.gifThe Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire. Oxford University Press, 1993.
    *Koprulu Prize of the Turkish Studies Association for best book, 1993-1994.  Turkish edition: Osmanlı İmparatorluğunda Hukümranlık ve Kadınlar (Istanbul, 1996); Arabic edition in preparation.



“Passages Interdits: Structures du désir dans le monde Ottoman au XVIe siècle”, in J. Dakhlia, et.al, eds., Histoires de l’amour: Fragilités et interdits, du Kamasutra à nos jours (Bayard, 2011)

“Abduction with (dis)honor: Sovereigns, bandits, and heroes in the Ottoman world”, Journal of Early Modern History 15 (2011) Special issue on honor and the state

“Domesticating sexuality: Harem culture in Ottoman imperial law”, in Marilyn. Booth, ed., Harem Histories: Lived Spaces and Imagined Places (Duke Univ. Press, 2010)

“Polyglottism in the Ottoman Empire: A Reconsideration”, in G. Piterberg, T. Ruiz, & G. Symcox, eds., Braudel Revisited: The Mediterranean World, 1600-1800 (University of Toronto Press, 2010)

American Historical Review, Forum on Historiographies of Sexuality, “Writing Histories of Sexuality in the Middle East”, 114 (December 2009)

“An Imperial Caste: Inverted Racialization in the Architecture of Ottoman Sovereignty”, in M. R. Greer et.al, eds., Rereading the Black Legend: The Discourses of Racism in the Renaissance Empires (Univ. Chicago Press, 2007).

“The Material World: Ideologies and Ordinary Things”, in V. Aksan & D. Goffman, ed., The Early Modern Ottoman Empire: a Reinterpretation (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007)

Journal of Women’s History, Book Forum (the Journal’s first Book Forum featured Morality Tales: three commentaries on the book & author’s response), 18/1 (Spring 2006):

"Twentieth-century Historians and Historiography of the Ottoman Empire: The Early Centuries," Mediterranean Historical Review, 2004

"Le dilemme de Fatma: crime sexuel et culture juridique dans une cour ottomane au début des temps modernes," Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales, Vol. 53, No. 2 (March - April 1998)

"Seniority, Sexuality, and Social Order: The Vocabulary of Gender in Early Modern Ottoman Anatolia," in Women in the Ototoman Empire: Middle Eastern Women in the Early Modern Era, ed., M. Zilfi, Leiden, 1997

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Updated on 09/10/2015