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This chapter traces debates and arguments around black freedom that animated discussions on amelioration and emancipation in both British metropole and colony. Much of this was predicated on fear, where the ever present Hydra of slave rebellion and disorder threatened, even as enslaved people’s revolutionary acts helped stimulate a metropolitan abolitionist movement. The chapter argues that this preeminent association of black freedom with disorder shaped the boundaries of emancipation and thus the parameters of the experiment.
This chapter provides an understanding of how an Anglo-Atlantic antislavery movement and the prospect of emancipation in the British West Indies unleashed a growing debate on its impact on the United States. This followed from a history of fears of foreign “moral contagion” on the issue of slavery, and similar domestic anxieties — including slave rebellion in Virginia and an emergent abolitionist movement. Highlighting anti-abolitionist riots in New York in 1833 and 1834, it situates these events within trepidations of national and racial boundary crossings that grew out of anxieties over British Emancipation in its Caribbean colonies and its influence on America.
The Introduction provides an overview of the book. It charts the origin of the antislavery concept of Jubilee and the concept of British Emancipation as a "mighty experiment." It discusses the major themes of the book as well as its influences, including historiographies of British slavery and empire, the post-emancipation Anglo-West Indies, as well as American slavery and abolitionism. It also lays out the methodologies utilized in the study and concludes with a summation of each chapter.
This chapter examines how free labor was adapted as a compelling argument in the antislavery Anglo-Atlantic. For English antislavery these strategies developed out of a need to show emancipation’s imperial commercial advantages, as parliamentary debates questioned whether former slaves would work upon emancipation. In the United States, free labor antislavery emerged from a burgeoning ideology that imbued labor with moral characteristics. Through the industriousness of black West Indians, abolitionists on either side of the Atlantic hoped to prove the moral rightness of emancipation, the capability of former slaves within democratic capitalism, and the benefits of free labor.
We have explored some of the ways in which parasites can tell us about past human migrations. Sometimes an expansion to the endemic area of a parasite shows that migration had found an environment receptive to that species’ life cycle. Examples date across evolutionary time, from lice in our hominin ancestors to transatlantic slavery in the last few hundred years. In contrast, in many more examples the parasite failed to become endemic in the new region due to the lack of key elements required for its life cycle. The role of human ectoparasites in the spread of epidemic and pandemic disease has been vitally important throughout human history. As humans move they take their ectoparasites with them, their bodies acting as an incubator for bacterial infectious diseases. While bubonic plague is certainly the best recorded and researched of these epidemics, many others such as epidemic typhus and trench fever would have caused disease and death in past societies. Although human fleas and lice in themselves have only limited impact upon health, it seems likely that far more of our ancestors have died from diseases spread by their ectoparasites than ever died from intestinal parasites.
Chapter 1 introduces the topic of historical abuses of states and churches. The chapter outlines the existing and related conceptions of justice that may inform a response to historical abuses and positions transitional justice as the dominant but flawed approach to addressing the violent aspects of the past. The third section considers the application of these justice approaches to the context of historical abuses of Western states and Christian churches. The final section previews the remaining chapters of the book.
Chapter 2 addresses early Christian justifications for organised violence and demonstrates the inherent risk of links between religion, politics, and violence. It then examines early justifications for colonisation, where conceptions of non-Christian inferiority justified expansion and transatlantic slavery. In that context, the chapter assesses the emergence of closed institutions run by church and state actors as a key development in how social orders responded to those individuals and groups that were deemed a problem, based on religious and secular motivations. The chapter concludes by documenting the available evidence and estimates of historical abuses available for harms that can today be recognised, if controversially, as gross violations of human rights.
Dexter J. Gabriel's Jubilee's Experiment is a thorough examination of how the emancipated British Caribbean colonies entered into the debates over abolition and African American citizenship in the US from the 1830s through the 1860s. It analyzes this public discourse, created by black and white abolitionists, and African Americans more generally in antebellum America, as both propaganda and rhetoric. Simultaneously, Gabriel interweaves the lived experiences of former slaves in the West Indies – their daily acts of resistance and struggles for greater freedoms – to further augment but complicate this debate. An important and timely intervention, Jubilee's Experiment argues that the measured success of former slaves in the West Indies became a crucial focal point in the struggle against slavery in antebellum North America.
This chapter challenges received wisdom that focuses solely on politics to understand the revolutionary nature of independence in Latin America. It revisits Latin America’s independence processes by investigating the multiple forms of coerced labor regimes and forced migrations that emerged throughout the continent after the breakdown of colonialism. The region is a crucial site for exploring how in the nineteenth century liberal legal discourses aimed at erasing categories of social difference continued to reproduce inequality based on multiple iterations of unfree labor. In addition to placing Brazil, Cuba, and the Spanish American mainland in the same frame, the chapter connects African, Chinese, and indigenous peoples’ histories. Seeking to shed new light on how independence impacted labor regimes, we engage with scholarship that argues for the employment of a transregional lens in the study of global labor regimes during the nineteenth century. A transregional approach to labor regimes reveals new dimensions to mechanisms of inequality and oppression that have long gripped the continent, while also connecting it to trends reshaping labor regimes on a global scale.
Global domination – including imperial oppression and commercial exploitation across borders and, especially, across continents – was a key concern for many modern thinkers, and among its roots and its remedies were often thought to be the various forms of antagonism and resistance that fundamentally characterize humans’ social practices and interactions. Unsocially sociable individuals, in this view, are characterized by a seemingly contradictory array of impulses that both draw them together in a spirit of humane association and yet pull them apart, as they seek to resist others either to forestall being dominated themselves or to indulge their prideful and hierarchical sense of superiority. Among the many treatments of what one could call "cosmopolitan unsocial sociability" are the incisive – and complementary – theoretical writings of the 1780s and 1790s respectively by the Afro-British political thinker Quobna Ottobah Cugoano and the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant and Cugoano together exemplify an intriguing and complex strand of Enlightenment thought that viewed global connections as both corrosive to our shared humanity and yet essential for resisting the domination that afflicted both European and non-European peoples.
Central to this article is an Arabic letter written on papyrus in an Egyptian prison in the late ninth or early tenth century ce. The author complains that he and his companions are being kept in terrible conditions and that they have received insufficient support from outside prison. Interestingly, he indicates that there is a strong inclination among the group to offer themselves as slaves in order to find relief from their crushing living conditions. By doing so, they would have transgressed Islamic law of that time, which forbade the enslavement of free inhabitants of the Realm of Islam. The letter is a unique source for the social history of slavery, especially self-enslavement, in Abbasid society. This article presents, translates, and annotates this letter and offers a detailed study of its contents.
This article analyses the abolition of slavery and the transition to free labour in late nineteenth-century Puerto Rico, seeking to understand the terms and timing of Puerto Rican abolition and the nature of society in its wake. Especially important in Puerto Rico, it argues, was the intertwined nature of slavery and other forms of forced labour as well as the predominance of foreign merchants and planters in the island's economy, which created multi-class alliances between working-class Puerto Ricans and creole elites. These class dynamics interacted with events in the metropole to influence the terms of labour on the island.
Paul's reference to his adaptability to different groups in 1 Cor 9.19–23 is central to recent discussions about Paul's Jewishness. This paper argues that the crucial context for Paul's metaphor of self-enslavement (1 Cor 9.19) is not to be found in anthropological passages such as Rom 6 or Gal 5, but rather in the conditions of a slave's life in antiquity. This leads to an interpretation that combines essential concerns of a Paul within Judaism perspective with those of more traditional exegesis.
Chapter 5 locates Montesquieu in an intellectual context he fashioned through his own choice of interlocutors in The Spirit of the Laws – his world of ancient political writers and lawgivers. Montesquieu turns to the classical world in search not of models for imitation but knowledge of the science of politics. This chapter considers the relationship between Montesquieu’s critique of the substantive ideals of classical politics and his significant debts to the Aristotelian mode of regime analysis.
Black resistance movements are among the most surveilled social movements in American history. From slave insurrections to Jim Crow and Black Lives Matter mobilizations, the government and its accomplices have long worked to monitor and control these movements. This chapter explores the history of Black surveillance and control, elaborating on the impact new technologies and shifting demographics have had on Black resistance movements and their strategies to counter this surveillance and control.
This chapter clarifies the philosophic dimension of Montesquieu’s essay on Rome, which comes to sight when, in chapter 18, Montesquieu makes explicit that he is presenting here a preeminent case study vindicating the contention that “it is not Fortune that dominates the World”; there are “general causes, some moral, some physical, which operate,” and “all the accidents are subject to these causes.” This foreshadows the claim with which Montesquieu opens his Spirit of the Laws: “I have posed the principles, and I have seen the particular cases unfold therefrom as if by themselves; the histories of all the nations are nothing but the consequences.” These statements signal the emergence of the modern philosophy of history, as a major component of Enlightenment rationalism’s most ambitious project and hope: to show that human reason can provide a system of universal causal explanation that will leave no room for plausible evidence of governance by supra- and contra-rational providential and legislative divinity (which is profoundly opposed not only to revealed religion but to ancient political rationalism.)
How did Montesquieu, born into a noble family in rural Bourdeaux, become a world-historical figure? In what particulars was he a man of his own times? That he lived when he did and where he did is obvious. How he managed to escape the limitations imposed upon him by time and place is not. The volume opens with a chapter introducing the reader to the development of Montesquieu’s thought throughout his literary and philosophical career. The essay will situate this account within the relevant biographical and historical context. It will consider the relationship between the major works and pursue insights into Montesquieu’s intellectual development derived from the study of minor works such as his Reflections on Universal Monarchy in Europe and Pensées.
The Spirit of the Laws (1748) is often considered one of the founding works of political liberalism. Yet more recently, a series of interpreters have thrown doubt on this dominant reading. In order to revisit and assess this debate, this contribution delineates Montesquieu’s definition of political liberty as distinct from so-called “philosophical” liberty. It considers his “solution” to the threat despotism poses to all forms of government, namely, the distribution of state powers and the division of social forces, while evaluating the status of the “English model.” Finally, it probes the original distinction between political and civil liberty, while showing that Montesquieu’s political theory cannot be integrated into the tradition of republicanism conceived as a theory of participatory self-rule. In The Spirit of the Laws, the understanding of liberty fits neither a standard liberal view nor a civic republican one; it includes elements that reach beyond both, such as a political culture grounded on honor as much as on the love of liberty.
Chapter 10 picks up with an exploration of sovereignty. This chapter will offer an analysis of the meaning and practices of political sovereignty with a focus on Montesquieu’s seminal treatment of the English constitution, where sovereignty is ambiguous and divided in ways that are constitutively connected to liberty. The chapter considers Montesquieu’s treatment of sovereignty in the context of other major modern theories of sovereignty and its relevance for contemporary liberal democratic states.
This chapter explores the particularity of Montesquieu’s political vision that includes a commitment to traditional social orders alongside a defence of liberty. It demonstrates how later theorists associated with the liberal tradition develop at least one of three features largely derived from Montesquieu’s work that we now associate with modern liberalism once combined with a commitment to social and political equality. These features are: institutional and constitutional organization to guarantee political accountability and the rule of law; social pluralism and representative government as a structure for the aggregation, education and voicing of broad social interests; and an ethos of moderation and avoidance of cruelty in social and political life. They characterize broad aspects of the liberal tradition at the level of institutional design, the structure of civil society and the broad social ethos needed to sustain it. The chapter concludes with reflections on perceived threats to liberalism today.