Craig Perry


Craig Perry is assistant professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies and the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, where he is also on the faculty of the Islamic Civilizations Studies (ICIVS) graduate program. His research and teaching integrate the study of Jews and the medieval Middle East into a global perspective that emphasizes cross-cultural interactions and inter-regional connections.

His book manuscript, Slaves in Egypt: The Slave Trade, Domestic Slavery, and Jewish Households in an Islamic Society, 11th-13th Centuries, is a history of domestic slavery based on a cache of documents that come from the Cairo Geniza, a storeroom for disused manuscripts housed in a medieval Egyptian synagogue. The book illustrates how enslaved people were trafficked from regions including Europe, Africa, and India to Cairo, an imperial capital. Enslaved people shaped their everyday life by navigating household politics as well as Muslim and Jewish courts.  From their owners' perspectives, slaves were integrated into family life in ways that resembled kinship. Free men and women used slavery variously to construct gendered notions of honor and to increase their social capital. Perry is also co-editor and contributing author for volume 2 of the Cambridge World History of Slavery (2021) on the medieval period and the author of several articles and book chapters on the history of slavery in Jewish and Islamic contexts. Perry is currently researching histories of Nubian and Ethiopian diasporas in the medieval Middle East, the writings of Moses Maimonides as an archive for the study of medieval slavery, and the role of state formation in the history of transregional trade during the Middle Ages. This research is part of a larger project that uses Geniza sources for a history of medieval Africa.

Before he earned his PhD in History, he taught high school social studies in locations including Bethesda, MD, Los Angeles, CA, and Casablanca, Morocco. Reflective pedagogy and mentoring remain a central part of his professional life. His classroom promotes active and collaborative learning as well as a focus on the essential skills - such as close-reading, critical thinking, and effective communication - that all students need to master. His classes tackle "big questions" concerning the development of human societies, the study of intercultural relations, and the nature of historical knowledge itself.  But, as in his research, his courses pay careful attention to histories of everyday life and the experiences of the people who lived it.

Craig Perry, David Elits, Stanley L. Engerman, and David Richardson, The Cambridge World History of Slavery: Volume 2, 500-1420 AD (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). Google Books preview.