Oral Histories

Interviews. Transcripts. Photographs. The Afro-Turk experience.

The Afro-Turks represent a cross-cultural encounter and an emergent history. The modern-day descendants of enslaved peoples in the 19th century, the Afro-Turks hail from the global expanse of the Ottoman Empire in Africa – Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tanzania.  When slavery was outlawed with the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the enslaved and their descendants relocated to southwestern Turkey to small villages outside of Izmir and Muğla.  They worked as farmers and small shopkeepers.

Contemporary Afro-Turks base their national heritage and identity in the founding of modern Turkey, but only in the last 20 years have scholars chronicled the Afro-Turks: their heritage and ancestry, their ongoing fight for recognition, and their social and economic future.

Many of these interviews were conducted in Spring 2019. As the project grows, interviews will be added at later dates. The interviewers were graduate students at Ege University. The initial interviews were supported with a generous grant from the United States Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. The project manager is Nikki Brown. For more information about the history of the Afro-Turks and Mustafa Olpak, please consult the bibliography page. For information about the oral history project and archive, please contact Nikki Brown at the University of Kentucky, Program in African American & Africana Studies.

Featured Oral Histories

  • Ahmet (English text: Ahmet)
    Interviewed on May 18, 2019 Interviewer: Ayla Yackley Ahmet was born in the early 1960s.  He gives an in-depth interview here on his…
  • Esat Sezen (English text: Esat Sezan)
    Born in the village of Naime in 1960, Esat Sezen’s life spans many national shifts in the nature of work and education in…
  • Ferah Öztürk (English text: Ferah Ozturk)
    Recorded in April, 2019 Interviewer: Uğur Yılnaz Ferah Öztürk’s personal history serves as an important example of cross-cultural connections and legacies.  She was…

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