Hannah Barker | Assistant Professor
Office: 205 Buckman Hall | Phone: (901) 843-3411



As a historian of the Middle Ages, I enjoy sharing with students the paradox of strangeness and familiarity that characterizes the distant past. My courses cover social, political, religious, and economic history from the beginning of the Middle Ages into the early modern period, with an emphasis on interaction across cultural boundaries within and beyond Europe. Students in my courses work closely with medieval sources and learn how historians have used them to construct various historical narratives.


My research focuses on the slave trade and practices of slavery during the Middle Ages. I am particularly interested in the trade in slaves from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean during the late medieval period, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Examining the traffic in slaves between the ports of Genoa and Venice in Italy, Alexandria and Cairo in Mamluk Egypt, and Caffa and Tana in the Black Sea reveals that late medieval Christians and Muslims shared a common culture of slavery during this period. It also shows that the religious and political authorities of the time were just as involved in shaping and regulating the slave trade as the merchants who conducted it. I am currently preparing my dissertation, “Egyptian and Italian Merchants in the Black Sea Slave Trade, 1260-1500,” for publication and exploring the history of slavery within the Black Sea region.


Ph.D., Columbia University, 2014
M.A., Columbia University, 2009
B.A., University of Chicago, 2005


History 105 – The Crusades
History 212 – Medieval Europe
History 400-level – Slavery in the Premodern World

Selected Publications

“Reconnecting with the Homeland: Black Sea Slaves in Mamluk Biographical
Dictionaries,” Medieval Prosopography (forthcoming)

“Egypt and the Black Sea Slave Trade During the Thirteenth Century,” Bulletin of the
American Research Center in Egypt
199 (2011), 33-35.