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Hannah Barker

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Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 4302

Hannah Barker is an assistant professor of history at Arizona State University. She received bachelor's degrees in history and physics from the University of Chicago and master's and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University. Her research interests center around ideologies and practices of slavery in the medieval Mediterranean, especially the slave trade from the Black Sea to the markets of Cairo, Genoa, and Venice during the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries. She is particularly interested in the merchants who conducted this trade and in the processes of shipping, marketing, and purchasing slaves. Her book on this topic is That Most Precious Merchandise: The Mediterranean Trade in Black Sea Slaves, 1260-1500.

  • Ph.D. History, Columbia University 2014
  • M.A. History, Columbia University 2009
  • B.A. History and Physics, University of Chicago 2005
Book cover of That Most Precious Merchandise

Research Interests

Slavery and the slave trade; comparative history of slavery

Medieval ideas of race and ethnicity

Travel and cross-cultural encounters in the medieval Mediterranean

Social, economic, and legal history

History of Italy; Genoa; Venice

History of Egypt and Syria; Mamluks



  • That Most Precious Merchandise: The Mediterranean Trade in Black Sea Slaves, 1260-1500 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Christianities in Conflict: The Black Sea as a Genoese Slaving Zone in the Later Middle Ages," in Slaving Zones: Cultural Identities, Ideologies, and Institutions in the Evolution of Global Slavery, ed. Jeff Fynn-Paul and Damian Alan Pargas (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 50-69.
  • "Purchasing a Slave in Fourteenth-Century Cairo: Ibn al-Akfānī’s Book of Observation and Inspection in the Examination of Slaves," Mamluk Studies Review 19 (2016): 1-24.
  • "Reconnecting with the Homeland: Black Sea Slaves in Mamluk Biographical Dictionaries," Medieval Prosopography 30 (2015): 87-104.
  • "Egypt and the Black Sea Slave Trade During the Thirteenth Century," Bulletin of the American Research Center in Egypt 199 (2011): 33-35.
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
HST 349Early Middle Ages
HST 494Special Topics
HST 495Methods of Historical Inquiry
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
HST 100Global History to 1500
HST 350Later Middle Ages
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
HST 349Early Middle Ages
Honors / Awards

2016 Ezio Cappadocia Prize, Society for Italian Historical Studies

2013-2014 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

Professional Associations

American Historical Association

Medieval Academy of America

Middle East Studies Association

Society for Italian Historical Studies