This essay examines how administrative documents categorized the mamluks who served Ottoman governors of Tunis from the early 18th to the mid-19th century. The categorization of these state slaves-cum-servants illuminates three issues, namely, the relationships between Islamic states and societies, interactions between the Ottoman Empire and its provinces, and forms of military slavery around the globe. Seeing registers, letters, and historical chronicles as spaces of interaction allows us to break free from an a priori definition of mamluks. By exploring how slaves and servants contributed to defining themselves in administrative documents, I not only argue for a new understanding of the mamluk category, but also show that mamluks did not separate state and society. On the contrary, in the Tunisian case, mamluks connected the state to various imperial and provincial social forces.