Marilyn Booth, editor. Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2010.
The editor's introduction mentions the 1909 publication of Demetra Vaka Brown's Haremlik: Some Pages from the Life of Turkish Women. "If Vaka Brown exploited the drawing power of the harem as an image of exoticism and mystery for her North American friends and readers, she also sought to complicate that image for her readers, contrasting it with the 'hatred and scorn' she had heard Americans express toward Turkey, as they assured her that Turkish 'women [were] miserable creatures.'" And so this 2010 book, Harem Histories, asks how the harem and other "understandings of gendered space in the societies where the harem structured women's and men's lives" was represented in those societies. Not in outside societies that may have misunderstood or criticized it, but in the society of which the harem was a part, while acknowledging "perpetual cultural motion."
One of the essays is "Panoptic Bodies: Black Eunuchs as Guardians of the Topkapi Harem" by Jateen Lad.
"In the enormous corpus of European harem literature and paintings, sharp-eyed eunuchs became a mandatory topos, their presence at the margins bringing to light the perversity of the scenario which they helped frame: the perfect, fair-skinned, and beautiful being entrusted to the incomplete, dark, and mutilated." (p. 137)
The Topkapi harem was "precisely configured" and it was "all held together by a network of spaces guarded by the black eunuchs." (p. 150)
"Thus, despite the black eunuchs' position at the margins, the architecture suggests that they were central to all comunication within the harem." (p. 165)