Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2022
This chapter examines the commodification of people during the nineteenth century. The records available in the colonial archive expose the extent of people’s commodification. The brutality of property claims over human beings is unambiguous in inventories, registers, bills of sale, and waybills, paper documents created to deny humanity and protect the interest of owners. These documents continue to reproduce the violence and legal and extra-legal exclusion that enslaved individuals experienced in the past by limiting their historical existence to records that categorized them solely as commodities. The records were created to facilitate control of property, and their survival discloses the commitment to register people’s exclusion and dispossession.