To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Dickinson’s inability to tell the story of slavery is contrasted with M. NourbeSe Philip’s lifework Zong!, a book that attempts to listen to the missing, those who have been obliterated from the judicial archive or murdered in the Black Atlantic. Zong! is derived from a set of procedural constraints, using a legal summary of the Gregson vs. Gilbert decision – a case that determined whether slaves thrown overboard could be claimed as insured goods – to produce sequences of dispersed poems, associated texts and performances. Philip compares these procedural constraints to entering the hold, and her acts of linguistic selection and discarding to those of the slave masters. This radical attempt to restage the violences of history and recover the lost are complicated by her contention that the lyric poet must act as a bridge between the individual and the group. This chapter consider how Philip’s practice moves from page-based experiments with formal constraints, through an antagonistic relationship to the colonial lyric, into collective performance. It considers the significance of re-enactment and ritual in Philip’s work to channel the voices of the ancestors and disrupt the silences of the archive.
The prohibition of slavery is not only a customary rule of international law, it is also an international crime and a norm of jus cogens. Slavery has been famously described as ‘social death’, but this chapter considers whether, and in which circumstances, it may also constitute a violation of the right to life.
This chapter explores the influence of public opinion on official policy towards detention, by looking at the cases of two leaders removed in the 1880s from Egypt, which was neither a colony nor a protectorate, but was under de facto British control after the invasion of 1882. The first case involves Ahmed Urabi Pasha, the Egyptian nationalist leader whose removal from power was the aim of the invasion. Given that the invasion itself represented a political volte-face for Gladstone, and in view of the support Urabi had attracted from influential Britons, the British wanted to ensure that Urabi was seen to have a fair trial in an Egyptian court. They consequently used their influence to broker a settlement under which Urabi was expelled from Egypt, and lived in voluntary exile in Ceylon. By contrast, in the second case, that of the Sudanese leader and notorious slave trader Al-Zubayr Rahma Mansur, the Foreign Office and Colonial Office were content to hold him in detention under an ad hominem ordinance at Gibraltar, at the behest of the military. With no political supporters to defend his case in London, the British authorities had no qualms about detaining him without trial.
This chapter looks at the enslavement of children (below 16 years of age) from the 5th to the 15th centuries, focusing on the Mediterranean and the British Isles. It uses contemporary documents, such as personal narratives, laws, contracts, letters and ecclesiastical sources, to construct case studies illustrating the major ways that children could become slaves. These include capture in war or kidnapping and sale by pirates and unscrupulous slavers; abandonment as a newborn, rescue, and rearing as a slave; pledging into servitude by parents to pay a debt; and birth to an enslaved mother. Domestic slavery was the most usual fate for children, though a few boys were made into eunuchs destined for elite households in the Byzantine Empire and the Caliphate, and girls might become concubines or sex slaves. There was little official effort to prevent child enslavement, although the Byzantine emperor Justinian attempted to abolish the use of children as debt-pledges and the enslavement of abandoned newborns, and banned castration within the bounds of his Empire. In general, the enslavement of even very young children and their transport across long distances was common and uncontroversial.
Byzantium continued traditions of slaveholding it inherited from the Roman Empire, but these were transformed significantly from the fourth century onward as slavery came to play a diminished role in the generation of economic surplus. Laws governing slaveholding gradually diminished the power of slaveholders and improved the rights of slaves by restricting a master’s right to abuse, prostitute, expose, and murder slaves and their children. Legal norms also eliminated penal servitude, opened the door wider to manumission, and created new structures for freeing enslaved war captives through the agency of the Christian church. Simultaneously, new forms of semi-servility arose with the fourth-century invention of forms of bound tenancy, which largely replaced the need for slaves. Byzantine society commonly used slaves in household and industrial contexts but only sporadically for agriculture, although slave prices remained constant through the eleventh century and even increased beginning in the thirteenth century as Italian traders turned Constantinople and Crete into conduits for slave commerce from the Black Sea. From the fourth century onward, Christian discourse began questioning slavery as contrary to natural and divine law, a tradition that continued throughout Byzantine history without ever leading to a call for abolition.
While the Indian Ocean slave trade is at least 4,000 years old, there are three historical periods when this trade expanded significantly: at the turn of the common era (ca. 1st c. CE), the tenth to thirteenth centuries, and the nineteenth century. This chapter analyzes the ebb and flow of the slave trade in the western Indian Ocean and Red Sea region during the medieval millenium, beginning with an evaluation of how the expansion of Muslim societies impacted slavery. The regions discussed include the west coast of India, East Africa, Yemen and Arabia, Ethiopia, Nubia, and Egypt. The roles of urban markets and island entrepôt in the slave trade are discussed as well as the roles played by smaller polities along imperial frontiers. Large-scale wholesale slave trading was uncommon in the medieval Indian Ocean world. Instead, merchants generally trafficked in small numbers of enslaved people as part of larger mixed cargoes of luxury goods and other commodities. Finally, the chapter assesses recent genetics research that is relevant to tracing the movements of people through the regions of the medieval Indian Ocean.
Chapter One emphasizes the relationship between English property law and slavery. I follow colonists as they sought to classify slaves as property, and as they deployed their knowledge of English property law on a daily basis to manage slaves. Fitting slaves into an extant legal system that bifurcated property into real estate or chattels personal was an act with long-term practical consequences. American colonists – including those beyond plantation America – understood that each particular category unlocked different ways of proceeding at law that impacted their ability to buy and sell slaves and to shield them from creditors. Building upon customary practice in the transatlantic slave trade, South Carolina colonists treated enslaved people as chattel property, at first by custom and later via statute. Whereas most plantation colonies settled upon some mixture of chattel and real property when they determined how to classify their slaves, South Carolina colonists ultimately adopted pure chattel slavery in order to facilitate commercial transactions involving enslaved people and to expand their credit with British merchants. Treating slaves as a chattel property was economically beneficial for South Carolinians, but it had far-reaching cultural implications. Through close readings of legal forms, including marriage settlements, trusts, and wills, I also watch small acts of legal transformation, moments in which colonists analogized slaves to things. In these acts of legal transmutation, South Carolina colonists compared enslaved people to livestock and other valuable moveable objects, not because they believed them to be the same as those objects, but because they believed them to be the same at law.
Chapter Two examines the specific legal consequences of colonists’ decision to categorize slaves as chattels at law. Properly fit into an English law rubric, colonists in South Carolina and throughout plantation America transformed human beings into a dynamic form of capital that could be bought, sold, and financed with ease. As a practical matter, classifying slaves as chattel gave colonists access to a set a commercial forms and procedures that had coalesced to facilitate long-distance trading. Conditional bonds were among the most important of these, and I follow this legal form of debt as it became part of an expanding Atlantic commercial system. Originating in the Middle Ages, conditional bonds coalesced into a distinctive form that was easier to enforce in common law than other forms of debt. The enforceability of conditional bonds made them surprisingly portable as they travelled across the globe. Although this instrument had originated to suit the needs of an agrarian society, the conditional bond easily accommodated commercial ventures that assumed people could be property. The power of conditional bonds to hold debtors to account in colonial courts made them particularly useful in shoring up a trade that was built entirely upon credit. Ultimately, bonds became an unremarkable feature of commercial life in plantation societies like South Carolina and Jamaica, where creditors relied upon this much older instrument to secure a wide variety of commercial transactions.
The mission of the United States Navy expanded significantly because of the presence of the institution of racial slavery on American soil. Most important, both proslavery and antislavery forces favored, for very different reasons, a substantial naval buildup in the late 1850s. The navy had, however, long been engaged in securing the nation’s borders against slave smuggling, an activity that also seemed to have broad support at the time. Finally, somewhat more controversially, the navy had been associated with the American Colonization Society’s Liberian enterprise from its very inception, deciding to deploy vessels to Africa in an otherwise unimaginable time frame. The relationship between the presence of slavery and the pre–Civil War activities of the navy is a largely untold—or, at best, half-told—story of American state development.
Research conducted into the demography of the Kingdom of Kongo some forty years ago, employing baptismal statistics left by missionaries, has been in need of revision thanks to challenges by more recent scholarship. This article revises the estimated population of Kongo by addressing these challenges, drawing on newly discovered documentary sources. Using this new evidence, the estimate for the kingdom's population in the mid-seventeenth century has been elevated from 509,000 to around 790,000. The original article's claims about levels of fertility and mortality have been retained. The article also addresses questions concerning the validity of missionary statistics and the impact of the slave trade, which was small before 1700 but then increasingly large thereafter, reaching very high levels by the early nineteenth century. While a quantitative estimate of the later population is not possible given the limitations of sources for this period, it is likely that the population of the kingdom fell as slave exports peaked.
This article uses demographic data from nineteenth-century Angola to evaluate, within a West Central African setting, the widely accepted theory that sub-Saharan Africa's integration within the Atlantic world through slave and commodity trading caused significant transformations in slavery in the subcontinent. It specifically questions, first, whether slaveholding became more dominant in Angola during the last phase of the transatlantic slave trade; second, whether Angolan slave populations were predominantly female; and third, whether slavery in Angola expanded further during the cash crop revolution that accompanied the nineteenth-century suppression of the Atlantic slave trade. Besides making a significant contribution to understanding the demographic context of slavery in the era of abolition, the article aims to display ways in which historians can use the population surveys the Portuguese Empire carried out in Africa from the late eighteenth century.
This article mines archival sources and published accounts from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries to highlight the extent to which enslaved men, women, and children in the South Sea came into contact with British corsairs. It does so in ways that lend to three important observations: that people of African descent occupied a central role within the history of British corsair activity in the South Sea; that British corsair activity in the South Sea forms part of the history of the slave trade; and that there are important differences between British corsairs’ use of enslaved and free people of African descent in the South Sea as compared to the Atlantic World. The latter point, which rests on the recognition of the particular linguistic skills and geographic knowledge held by people of African descent in the South Sea and British corsairs' particular vulnerabilities, also provides a useful framework for future research on both the specificity of black life in the region and the meanings those skills and knowledge held for Africans and their descendants themselves.
This article argues that we need to move beyond the “Atlantic” and “formal” bias in our understanding of the history of slavery. It explores ways forward toward developing a better understanding of the long-term global transformations of slavery. Firstly, it claims we should revisit the historical and contemporary development of slavery by adopting a wider scope that accounts for the adaptable and persistent character of different forms of slavery. Secondly, it stresses the importance of substantially expanding the body of empirical observations on trajectories of slavery regimes, especially outside the Atlantic, and most notable in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago worlds, where different slavery regimes existed and developed in interaction. Thirdly, it proposes an integrated analytical framework that will overcome the current fragmentation of research perspectives and allow for a more comparative analysis of the trajectories of slavery regimes in their highly diverse formal and especially informal manifestations. Fourth, the article shows how an integrated framework will enable a collaborative research agenda that focuses not only on comparisons, but also on connections and interactions. It calls for a closer integration of the histories of informal slavery regimes into the wider body of existing scholarship on slavery and its transformations in the Atlantic and other more intensely studied formal slavery regimes. In this way, we can renew and extend our understandings of slavery's long-term, global transformations.
African economies were globally integrated yet regionally autonomous. This chapter addresses volume and direction of slave trade, continental and regional export value, and theories of economic growth and enslavement. Details address the varying regional peaks in slave trade as related to warfare, population, regional social orders, and gender relations. The overseas diaspora grew to 10% of the African total of some 140 million. African economies felt the effects of imperial rivalries and global trade, notably in textiles. (Large-scale colonial rule came only after 1870.) The eighteenth century brought expanding overseas slave trade and its steady incursions into domestic economies. The nineteenth century brought a mix of economic changes. Silver became key to African currencies; peasant agricultural exports rose, but only the post-1870 exports of South African diamonds and gold exports exceeded slave-trade earnings. In the ‘second slavery’, African enslavement reached a mid-century peak, in parallel to current maritime Asian and New World plantations. Analysis of African economies benefits from growing collections of empirical data; contending theories on enslavement, the domestic economy, and overseas trade – developed over half a century of analysis – can be strengthened in global context.
Despite the growth of studies on slavery and slave trade outside the Atlantic world in recent years, especially in the early modern Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago worlds, our knowledge of regional price levels and their development remains surprisingly underdeveloped. This article questions how the price of enslaved people developed in the multi-directional and multi-faceted Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago slave trade, how this compared to the Atlantic world and what this tells us about slave trade and slavery in different parts of the world. Drawing on evidence from a large variety of sources, mainly from the Dutch Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago world, this article expands the body of data significantly and provides for the first time a reconstruction of the level of slave trade prices and their development in several important supplying and demanding slave trade regions in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago world and compares these to the development of slave prices in the Atlantic slave trade.
Departing from the ‘culturalist’ orientation of most recent studies of the Indian diaspora, I choose a ‘labourist’ approach that privileges the labour market in India and globally as the main explanatory mechanism of human circulations both from and towards India. I cover the emigration of indentured labour to the sugar-producing colonies of the British Empire, as do most narratives of Indian migrations, but I give as much attention to other forms of circulation such as the slave trade, the export of convict labour, and kangani and maistry migrations to Ceylon, Burma and Malaya. I illustrate a trend of ‘globalisation’ of Indian labour migrations beyond the limits of the British Empire, and also pay attention to migrations into India of Europeans, Middle Easterners, Chinese and others. I cover often overlooked post-indenture labour migrations, as well as the circulation of commercial personnel through extended merchant networks. Finally, I look at the new mass migrations towards First World and Gulf countries. The migration of highly educated professionals is an entirely new phenomenon, with repercussions in India at the economic and political levels.
In 1850, most white Americans interpreted black resettlement as meaning one institution and one location: the American Colonization Society (ACS) and the African settlement that it had founded three decades earlier, Liberia. As politicians from North and South sparred over dividing the acquisitions of the Mexican-American War (1846–8) into territories where slavery would be prohibited and those where it would not, they turned to the compromise of Liberian colonization, which promised to remove the source of their antagonism by simply removing black people. State legislators, endowed with greater power than their federal counterparts to proscribe African Americans, also redoubled their support for the ACS and the “black laws” that excluded, even expelled their black compatriots. Yet as lawmakers found it easier to persecute African Americans than to offer them positive alternatives, and as the citizens of a now-independent Liberia protested Americans’ presumption in foisting manumitted slaves and “recaptives” from the Atlantic slave trade on a small, struggling settlement, commentators contended that black Americans might need to colonize other parts of the world instead.
Chapter 5 sets the stage for the rest of the story. While several infectious agents were exported from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean during the slave trade, this was not the case with HIV, which indirectly confirms its relatively recent emergence in central African populations. This chapter briefly tells the story of the European colonisation of central Africa by France and Belgium. It explains how the Franco-Belgian incursion in south-east Cameroon during World War I (1914–16) created much greater intermingling of populations and may have provided a route for HIV to reach the Stanley Pool.