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American Studies Encounters the Middle East$
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Alex Lubin and Marwan M. Kraidy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469628844

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469628844.001.0001

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Salim the Algerine

Salim the Algerine

The Muslim Who Strayed into Colonial Virginia

(p.60) Salim the Algerine
American Studies Encounters the Middle East

Judith E. Tucker

University of North Carolina Press

Salim the Algerine (as he came to be known), son of an Ottoman official from Algiers, was captured by Spanish pirates in the western Mediterranean in the mid-eighteenth century, sold into slavery, and transported to Louisiana, from where he escaped and ultimately found shelter in English settler society in Williamsburg, Virginia. I explore the limits of his integration, the facilitators of and obstacles to his sea-change, in light of differences in play, including those of race, religion, culture, and rank, all markers of identity that proved to be more or less negotiable after he arrived in colonial Virginia, both at the time of his adventures and subsequently when his story achieved quasi-mythic standing in local culture. I rely primarily on accounts of Salim preserved in memoirs and letters from the period, as well as a number of local tales and legends collected in Tidewater and Appalachian lore. As a historian of the Middle East, I place this material very much in the context of the Ottoman/Algerian educational, religious, and broader cultural practices of the time that shaped Salim.

Keywords:   Islam, Moor, Algiers, colonial Virginia

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