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Thread: New Book on Eunuchs

  1. #1
    agent provocateur Jesus's Avatar
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    New Book on Eunuchs

    A new, and fascinating, book on eunuchs has just been published. My pre-publication order was just delivered yesterday. The book is
    Celibate and Childless Men in Power: Ruling Eunuchs and Bishops in the Pre-modern World. Edited by Almut Höfert, Matthew M. Mesley and Serena Tolino and published by Routledge (360 pp).

    Unfortunately, the book is designed for academic use and has been published in a small quantity at a high price. I got mine at a significant discount for only $127, though I think that it will be well worth the price. You may be able to convince your local library to order a copy.

    The book is the first major publication out of a much larger research project at the University of Zurich titled “Hermaphrodites, Eunuchs and Priests: Gender Ambiguities and Masculinities in the Arab and Latin Middle Ages.” We can expect to see more publications from the project over the next few years.

    Included in the book are case studies on eunuchs or bishops in the Middle East, Europe, India, China and Byzantium divided into sections titled (1) Bishops and eunuchs as parts of the ruling elites, (2) Networks and kinships, (3) Religious authority and sacredness, and (4) Gender and masculinities.

    The writing is dense and scholarly and I only managed to get through the introduction and one chapter yesterday. I will be reporting on some of what is included in the book as I continue to read, though some points from the introduction (pointing to later chapters) are worth commenting on here.

    1. During the Tang Dynasty in China the number of eunuchs expanded greatly. They were allowed to marry and to adopt. They mostly adopted young eunuchs, but some adopted intact boys who went on to rise in the hierarchy. Some families sought to marry their young women to court eunuchs in order to obtain benefits for the family from the court connections, including having young intact males of the family adopted by the eunuchs.

    2. During the 16th and 17th centuries, there were three main recruiting paths for Ottoman eunuchs. Black eunuchs originated as slaves from sub-Saharan Africa and passed through castration centers in the Sudan, Abyssinia and Nubia. White eunuchs who were prisoners of war from the many border conflicts and who were castrated within the empire. White eunuchs who were obtained as part of an Ottoman system of taking young children from among the Christian peoples of the empire. The boys taken through this system ended up either in the Ottoman military or as eunuchs in the court. They were also castrated within the empire, primarily in the palace itself. Some of these internally sourced eunuchs maintained relations with their families. For example, Ismā’īl Ağa (chief eunuch from 1621 to 1623) managed to bring his intact brother to the capital, have him promoted to Grand Vizier, and married to the sultan’s daughter.

    3. ‘Abd al-Jabbār (d. 1024) wrote that when Byzantines captured Muslims during the border warfare of the period, they castrated the boys.

    4. The political power of both bishops and eunuchs has disappeared in modern nations as a result of the same set of factors that have changed – political system, family networks, and understandings of sacredness and gender.

    I will post more as I read the book.
    Nature loves variety. Unfortunately, society hates it.

  2. #2
    Fully Qualified Member Eunuchorn's Avatar
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    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    I suppose I should ask, will there be an ebook version?

  3. #3
    Fully Qualified Member T van Keel's Avatar
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    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    I've seen a Kindle version on Amazon for an affordable price.

  4. #4

    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    Very interesting and thanks.

  5. #5

    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    I'd love to check this out but that's pretty pricey. I've been wanting to find more literature on the subject of castration. The only other book I know of is Castration: The Advantages and Disadvantages by Victor Cheney. I'd like something with testimonials from actual eunuchs about their experiences. With all the questionnaires and research on this forum, someone could easily put together a very informative book. Think of the profit that could go to keeping this site running. Even more if pictures were included, tho I know that's a taboo here. I'm sure there are more than a few who would like to show off the work they've had done in a classy publication. We could have our very own eunuch Hugh Hefner someday

  6. #6

    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    Cheney's books should be read with a critical mind. Most of his work is considered to be misleading. --FLO--
    Condensing fact from the vapor of nuance.

  7. #7
    Administrative Weirdo Paolo's Avatar
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    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    We do have a bibliography by Jesus A. in this section.
    Stories (the file) can be emailed to eafictionarchive at gmail dot com

  8. #8

    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    There is a free e-book called "Meet Tommy" which has several chapters about and by eunuchs which might be of interest. Link here:

    http://www.zentastic.com/pdf/meet-tommy-ebook.pdf

    It's free so see what you think.

  9. #9

    Re: New Book on Eunuchs

    Some Eunuch Archive members are featured in the book "Meet Tommy". --FLO--
    Condensing fact from the vapor of nuance.

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