Archana Upadhyay

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20192020 Forum on Kinship

Archana Upadhyay


CAS, 2020

Archana is a senior from Illinois majoring in History. Her main academic interest is global imperial history, with special focuses on race, gender, and cultural representation. As part of the Penn and Slavery Project, she has also written on slavery and the development of medicine in the United States. Archana currently serves as chair of the History Undergraduate Advisory Board and is an undergraduate fellow at the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration. In addition to research, she is organizing an upcoming participatory art exhibition and enjoys volunteering with the Philly Food Trust and urban farms around the city.

That More Peculiar “Peculiar Institution”: British Perceptions of Slavery in the Ottoman Empire

My research explores the historic development of the “right to family life” in modern day international law. Some recent historians have begun to show that the idea of the family as an international right developed during the abolitionist movement of the nineteenth century. I will argue that while the right to family did develop during this time, British perceptions of slavery and the degrees of kinship ties it allowed for or broke were highly geographically determined, and those perceptions shaped British abolitionist policy regionally and ultimately debates in international law. Using British travel narratives, fiction, paintings, and diplomatic dispatches, I will compare British perceptions and portrayals of kinship (or lack thereof) in Ottoman slavery with British perceptions and portrayals of the same in Atlantic slavery.