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Part I - Empire, Race and Ethnicity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Robert Antony
Guangzhou University
Stuart Carroll
University of York
Caroline Dodds Pennock
University of Sheffield
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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Bibliographic Essay

Slavery and the transatlantic slave trade have attracted a large literature. A first-rate short history is Morgan, Kenneth, A Short History of Transatlantic Slavery (London: I. B. Tauris, 2016). Another good overview is Klein, Herbert S., The Atlantic Slave Trade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). For a selective bibliography, see David Northrup, ‘The Atlantic Slave Trade’, www.oxfordbibliographiesonline. For slavery in its wider context, see Eltis, David and Engerman, Stanley L. (eds.), The Cambridge World History of Slavery, vol. iii, ad 1420 – ad 1804 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Heuman, Gad and Burnard, Trevor (eds.), The Routledge History of Slavery (London: Routledge, 2011); and Paquette, Robert L. and Smith, Mark M. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). Two important older works are Miller, Joseph C., Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade 1730–1830 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988) and Louis Stein, Robert, The French Slave Trade in the Eighteenth Century; An Old Regime Business (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979).

The publication of a large-scale database providing detailed empirical information about the Atlantic slave trade has fuelled a series of books that concentrate on the lived experience of captive Africans on board ship: the website is It builds on the pioneering work of Curtin, Philip D., The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969). The slave trade database deals with transatlantic voyages. For intercolonial voyages, see O’Malley, Gregory D., Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619–1807 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014) and Warren, Wendy, New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America (New York: Liveright, 2016). For excellent maps on the slave trade, see Eltis, David and Richardson, David, Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010). For historical images, see Jerome S. Handler and Michael L. Tuite Jr’s website Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora,

The best account of a single journey is Harms, Robert, The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade (New York: Basic Books, 2002). Works that deal with the slave ship and the experience of captives and sailors are Rediker, Marcus, The Slave Ship: A Human History (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2007); Smallwood, Stephanie, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007); Christopher, Emma, Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730–1807 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); and Byrd, Alexander X., Captives and Voyagers: Black Migrants across the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008).

An excellent work on a very notorious case is Walvin, James, The Zong: A Massacre, the Law and the End of Slavery (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011), but see also Baucom, Ian, Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005) for an ambitious attempt to link the Zong with the language of mercantile finance. For detailed social histories of African slave ports see Law, Robin, Ouidah: The Social History of a West African Slaving ‘Port’ 1727–1892 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2004); Sparks, Randy, Where the Negroes are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Trade (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014); and Behrendt, Stephen D. (ed.), The Diary of Antera Duke: An Eighteenth Century African Slave Trader (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). For slave resistance in the middle passage, see Richardson, David, ‘Shipboard Revolts, African Authority, and the Atlantic Slave Trade’, William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series 58. 1 (2001), 6892.

The Atlantic slave trade was essential to the development of plantation agriculture in the Americas. For an overview of the development of the plantation system, see Newman, Simon, A New World of Labor: The Development of Plantation Slavery in the British Atlantic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) and Burnard, Trevor, Planters, Merchants, and Slaves: Plantation Societies in British America, 1650–1820 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). For work in the plantation system, see Roberts, Justin, Slavery and the Enlightenment in the British Atlantic, 1750–1807 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Walsh, Lorena S., Motives of Honour, Pleasure and Profit: Plantation Management in the Chesapeake, 1607–1763 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010). For how the violence of the slave trade was continued into plantation life, see Burnard, Trevor, Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Brown, Vincent, The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). For how slavery worked in different plantation regimes, see Dunn, Richard S., A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014); Ferrer, Ada, Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014); and Burnard, Trevor and Garrigus, John, The Plantation Machine: Atlantic Capitalism in British Jamaica and French Saint-Domingue (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

Bibliographic Essay

Among the few books that focus specifically on violence in early American societies, one collective volume includes several chapters dealing with violence in slave societies: Smolenski, John and Humphrey, Thomas J. (eds.), New World Orders: Violence, Sanction, and Authority in the Colonial Americas (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2005).

The topic of corporal punishment on plantations appears in many books on slavery in early English and French America, but none concentrates specifically on the subject. Particularly insightful are Burnard, Trevor, Planters, Merchants, and Slaves: Plantation Societies in British America, 1650–1820 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015); Debien, Gabriel, Les esclaves aux Antilles Françaises (XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles) (Basse Terre and Fort-de-France: Société d’histoire de la Guadeloupe and Société d’histoire de la Martinique, 1974); and Morgan, Philip D., Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998). The role of violence in the production and reproduction of slave societies is a central theme of another book by Trevor Burnard, which is based on the diary of a Jamaican overseer: Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004). For the use of Thistlewood’s diary to study violence among other phenomena, see also Morgan, Philip D., ‘Slaves and Livestock in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica, Vineyard Pen, 1750–1751’, William and Mary Quarterly 52.1 (1995), 4776. In a brilliant article, Brown, Vincent argues that masters and drivers not only relied on brutal force, but also needed to resort to spiritual violence to impose their authority: ‘Spiritual Terror and Sacred Authority in Jamaican Slave Society’, Slavery & Abolition 24.1 (2010), 2453.

Historians of slave societies are increasingly taking into account the gendered dimension of racial slavery. Trevor Burnard has demonstrated that sexual violence constituted an arm of social control on Caribbean plantations: The Sexual Life of an Eighteenth-Century Jamaican Slave Overseer’, in Smith, Merril (ed.), Sex in Early America (New York: New York University Press, 1998), pp. 163–89. On the specific experience of violence by enslaved and freed women in a Caribbean urban slave society, see Fuentes, Marisa J., Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

The interplay between law, justice and violence is another major topic. Works dealing with judicial violence against slaves are Lazarus-Black, Mindie, ‘Slaves, Masters, and Magistrates: Law and the Politics of Resistance in the British Caribbean, 1736–1834’, in Lazarus-Black, Mindie and Hirsch, Susan F. (eds.), Contested States: Law, Hegemony, and Resistance (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 252–81; Paton, Diana, ‘Punishment, Crime, and the Bodies of Slaves in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica’, Journal of Social History 34.4 (2001), 923–54; and Wood, Betty, ‘“Until He Should Be Dead, Dead, Dead”: The Judicial Treatment of Slaves in Eighteenth-Century Georgia’, Georgia Historical Quarterly 71.3 (1987), 377–98. On the use of slaves and freedmen as public executioners, see Ogle, Gene E., ‘Slaves of Justice: Saint-Domingue’s Executioners and the Production of Shame’, Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques 29.2 (2003), 275–93. On slave patrols, see Hadden, Sally, Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).

The historiography on slave resistance is huge. Among many works, see Craton, Michael, Testing the Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982); Rodriguez, Junius P. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006). Snyder, Terri L. has written a path-breaking book on slaves’ suicide: The Power to Die: Slavery and Suicide in British North America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). On violence among the enslaved, there is no specific book for the early modern period, but one can rely on a recent monograph on the US antebellum South: Forret, Jeff, Slave against Slave: Plantation Violence in the Old South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2015).

For books analysing the representations of violence inflicted on slaves in artistic and literary works, slave narratives and abolitionist writings, see Carey, Brycchan, British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: Writing, Sentiment, and Slavery, 1760–1807 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Mallipeddi, Ramesh, Spectacular Suffering: Witnessing Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016); Wood, Marcus, Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America, 1780–1865 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988); and Wood, Marcus, Slavery, Empathy, and Pornography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Bibliographic Essay

English-language readers suffer from a paucity of translations of Portuguese and Brazilian scholarship. Most works on indigenous and African slavery in Portuguese America consider violent episodes. Far fewer make this violence the primary object of analysis. Studies that place colonial Brazilian history in the context of Portugal’s medieval Reconquista, the kingdom’s global imperial ventures and its pre-Columbian experience with slavery include Boxer, C. R., Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1415–1825 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963); Russell-Wood, A. J. R., The Portuguese Empire, 1415–1808: A World on the Move (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998); Disney, A. R, A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009); De C. M. Saunders, A. C., A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal, 1441–1555 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); Phillips, William D., Slavery in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). Increasing sophistication characterises studies of Portuguese America’s foundational ties to Africa, such as Miller, Joseph C., Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988); Hawthorne, Walter, From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and an Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600–1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Ferreira, Roquinaldo, Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World: Angola and Brazil during the Era of the Slave Trade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); and Candido, Mariana, An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and its Hinterland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

With few exceptions, only over the last generation have historians of Portuguese America taken up the challenge of studying indigenous peoples, a pursuit formerly consigned to anthropologists. Recent production has done much to fill this lacuna. For English-language overviews, see Hemming, John, Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians, 1500–1760 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977); Salomon, Frank and Schwartz, Stuart B. (eds.), The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, vol. iii, South America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); and Langfur, Hal (ed.), Native Brazil: Beyond the Convert and the Cannibal, 1500–1889 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014).

For studies focused more narrowly on specific regions or ethnic groups, notable for their examination of violence, yet sometimes situating it within a wider frame of relations cast as generally collaborative, see Marchant, Alexander, From Barter to Slavery: The Economic Relations of Portuguese and Indians in the Settlement of Brazil, 1500–1580 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1942); Metcalf, Alida C, Go-Betweens and the Colonization of Brazil, 1500–1600 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006); Monteiro, John M., Blacks of the Land: Indian Slavery, Settler Society, and the Portuguese Colonial Enterprise in South America, trans. James P. Woodard and Barbara Weinstein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018); Langfur, Hal, The Forbidden Lands: Colonial Identity, Frontier Violence, and the Persistence of Brazil’s Eastern Indians, 1750–1830 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006); and Karasch, Mary C., Before Brasília: Frontier Life in Central Brazil (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2016).

For an English-language entry point to the rich historiography of Afro-Brazilian slavery, see Klein, Herbert S. and Vidal Luna, Francisco, Slavery in Brazil (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). As with indigenous history, scholarship on Afro-Brazilian slavery comes into its own when it is regionally and locally focused. Notable contributions that examine the relations of violence, race and colour include, Schwartz, Stuart B., Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550–1835 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Sweet, James H., Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441–1770 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); Sweet, James H., Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Karasch, Mary C., Slave Life in Rio de Janeiro, 1808–1850 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); de Carvalho Soares, Mariza, People of Faith: Slavery and African Catholics in Eighteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro, trans. Jerry D. Metz (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011); Higgins, Kathleen J., ‘Licentious Liberty’ in a Brazilian Gold-Mining Region: Slavery, Gender, and Social Control in Eighteenth-Century Sabará, Minas Gerais (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999); and Ferreira Furtado, Júnia, Chica da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Bibliographic Essay

Traditional historiography of the Ottoman Empire assumed that the Ottomans simply inherited the Islamic tradition of earlier centuries. It is only in the last several years that Ottoman historians, basing themselves on meticulous research in both the documentary record and in manuscripts, have made the case that the Ottomans had their own programme of ‘Sunnitisation’. Krstić, Tijana’s Contested Conversions to Islam: Narratives of Religious Change in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011) and Terzioğlu, Derin’s several articles – ‘How to Conceptualize Ottoman Sunnitization: A Historiographical Discussion’, Turcica 44 (2012/13): 301–38, and Where ‘Ilm-I Hāl Meets Catechism: Islamic Manuals of Religious Instruction in the Ottoman Empire in the Age of Confessionalization’, Past & Present 220. 1 (2013), 79114 – are the most important contributions to this new narrative. Although it is not their primary concern, both authors discuss the relationship between religious indoctrination and violence. Kristić also takes on the much debated concept of Ottoman tolerance, and emphasises an ongoing process of negotiation rather than a sturdy status quo stretching across the centuries.

Barkey, Karen’s widely read Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) is the most recent attempt to provide an overall narrative of the Ottoman Empire, with religious diversity as a major theme. Barkey, too, offers a more nuanced conceptualisation of Ottoman toleration, although in other ways her approach is quite traditional. She argues for an empire that was latitudinarian in its earlier centuries, only to become more orthodox and rigid later on, with a consequent deterioration in intercommunal relations. Baer, M.’s Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), by contrast, is a study of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of just one sultan – Mehmet IV – and is interesting to read alongside Barkey’s more general narrative. Under Mehmet IV the Ottomans demonstrated an unusual level of religious zeal.

Zachariadou, Elizabeth’s article, ‘The Neo-Martyr’s Message’, Δελτιο Κεντρου Μικρασιατικον Σπουδων (Bulletin of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies) 8 (1990–1), 5163 provides an excellent sense of the ideological stakes at play in the phenomenon of the neo-martyrs.

Debates over sectarianism loom very large among historians of the modern Arab world. Most of the interest falls on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries but several studies do consider earlier periods and how Ottoman governance did or did not contribute to the sectarian struggles that developed later on. Masters’s, Bruce Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab World: The Roots of Sectarianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) and Makdisi, Ussama’s The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Lebanon (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) are both valuable in this regard. See Grehan, James’s Twilight of the Saints: Everyday Religion in Ottoman Syria and Palestine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) for a rather different approach to the religious culture of Ottoman Arab provinces, and to intercommunal relations. Among other things, Grehan develops the concept of ‘agrarian religion’.

Bibliographic Essay

Although numerous case studies relevant to the topic of human sacrifice and ritual violence in the Americas exist, very few works provide overviews or comparisons. Therefore, two lengthy articles, though somewhat dated, remain essential. See, for Amerindian North America, Knowles, Nathaniel, ‘The Torture of Captives by the Indians of Eastern North America’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 82.2 (1940), 151225; and, for South America, Métraux, Alfred, ‘Warfare, Cannibalism, and Human Trophies’, in Steward, J. H. (ed.), Handbook of South American Indians (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1949), vol. v, pp. 383409. Three edited volumes have recently begun to fill the void by providing a selection of archaeological and ethnohistorical case studies: Chacon, Richard and Mendoza, Rúben (eds.), North American Indigenous Warfare and Ritual Violence (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2007); Chacon, Richard and Mendoza, Rubén (eds.), Latin American Indigenous Warfare and Ritual Violence (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2007); and Chacon, Richard and Dye, David H. (eds.), The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians (New York: Springer, 2007). Evidence for human sacrifice, headhunting and cannibalism among native North Americans is presented in a dozen case studies (largely based on published material) in Feldman, George F., Cannibalism, Headhunting and Human Sacrifice in North America: A History Forgotten (Chambersburg, PA: Alan C. Hood, 2008).

Thwaites, Reuben Gold (ed.), The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610–1791, 73 vols. (Cleveland, OH: Burrow Bros., 1896–1901) is an indispensable collection of source material on Amerindian cultures and Indian–European relations which includes a wealth of information on ritual violence in eastern North America. A careful discussion of these topics including a quantitative analysis of 137 torture cases can be found in Adam Stueck’s PhD thesis, ‘A Place under Heaven: Amerindian Torture and Cultural Violence in Colonial New France, 1609–1729’, Marquette University, 2012 ( The active role of native North American women in ritual violence is highlighted by Donohoe, Felicity, ‘“Hand Him over to Me and I Shall Know Very Well What to Do with Him”: The Gender Map and Ritual Native Female Violence in Early America’, in Donohoe, F. and Jones, R. (eds.), Debating the Difference: Gender, Representation and Self-Representation (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, 2010),

Pagden, Anthony provides a thorough discussion of European perspectives on the American Indian from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries in The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) and The Burdens of Empire: 1539 to the Present (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015). See also Cañizares-Esguerra, Jorge, Puritan Conquistadors (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006). Chuchiak’s, John PhD thesis, ‘The Indian Inquisition and the Extirpation of Idolatry: The Process of Punishment in the Provisorato de Indios of the Diocese of Yucatan, 1563–1812’, Tulane University, 2000, offers a painstaking discussion of the repression of Amerindian ritual practices in the south-east of colonial Mexico. A concise long-term assessment of colonial violence in Latin America from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries can be found in Gabbert, Wolfgang, ‘The Longue Durée of Colonial Violence in Latin America’, Historical Social Research 37.3 (2012), 254–75. The contributions of Trigger, Bruce and Swagerty, William, ‘Entertaining Strangers: North America in the Sixteenth Century’, and Salisbury, Neal, ‘Native People and European Settlers in Eastern North America, 1600–1783’, both in Trigger, Bruce and Washburn, Wilcomb (eds.), The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, vol. i, North America, part 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 325–98 and 399460 respectively, allow us to put Amerindian and European ritual violence in its historical context.

For the debate on anthropophagy see Arens, W., The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology & Anthropophagy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980) and Rethinking Anthropophagy’, in Barker, F., Hulme, P. and Iversen, M. (eds.), Cannibalism and the Colonial World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 3962, as well as Lindenbaum, Shirley, ‘Thinking about Cannibalism’, Annual Review of Anthropology 33 (2004), 475–98 and Goldman, Laurence R. (ed.), The Anthropology of Cannibalism (Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 1999). The latter includes Michael Pickering’s succinct discussion of the difficulties in interpreting evidence for cannibalism (‘Consuming Doubts: What Some People Ate? Or What Some People Swallowed?’, pp. 55–67). For overviews and case studies of human sacrifice see the classic study of Davies, Nigel, Human Sacrifice (New York: William Morrow, 1981) and Bremmer, Jan N. (ed.), The Strange World of Human Sacrifice (Leuven: Peeters, 2007). Abler, Thomas S., ‘Iroquois Cannibalism: Fact not Fiction’, Ethnohistory 27.4 (1980), 309–16 makes a strong argument for the existence of ritual cannibalism among the Iroquois. Sugg, Richard, Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires. The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2016) provides a comprehensive history of corpse medicine in Europe up to the eighteenth century.

Further references concerning ritual violence, particularly in the stratified indigenous societies of Latin America, are to be found in the Bibliographic Essay accompanying Chapter 19 of Volume ii of this series.

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