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Chapter 1 examines the imagined racial geographies that informed architectural structures and urban spaces in the nineteenth century. Opening with the story of Khyzran, a Zanzibari woman who was kidnapped and trafficked into Iran, this chapter examines the different mechanisms that endangered her life, justified her enslavement, and jeopardized her freedom. After enslaved East Africans survived Middle Passages via land and sea, their arrival in Iran was marked by a forced visibility vis-à-vis their enslavement. The racialization of East Africans as exclusively siyah, or “Black,” as opposed to more nuanced geographic labels, relied on a specific salience of racial visibility. This chapter also calls into question Qajar and British abolitionist efforts of the nineteenth century and their political motivations. This chapter examines the undulating contours of enslavement and abolition, and how increased abolition movements came to ultimately converge with the racialization of Blacks as enslaved.

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