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History, Societies, Environments and Cultures
A peer-reviewed series of “state-of-the-field” handbooks to provide up-to-date surveys of themes, places, persons, movements, events, and more in the history of the Americas from the earliest times to the present and of the societal, environmental, and cultural forces that shaped them. Written by teams of foremost specialists in their respective fields, these companions aim to offer new approaches to area studies and to open up critical questions to discussion, but also to provide full and balanced accounts and syntheses of debate and the state of scholarship in the field. Each volume is constructed in a similar manner: a small number of introductory chapters to present the current narratives and update recent historiography followed by a larger number of thematic chapters.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals and/or full manuscripts by email to the publisher Dr Kate Hammond. Please direct all other correspondence to Associate Editor Alessandra Giliberto.
In: Journal of Global Slavery
In: Journal of Global Slavery
In: Journal of Global Slavery
Author: Johan Heinsen

Abstract

In Scandinavia, a penal institution known as “slavery” existed from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Penal slaves laboured in the creation and maintenance of military infrastructure. They were chained and often stigmatized, sometimes by branding. Their punishment was likened and, on a few occasions, linked to Atlantic slavery. Still, in reality, it was a wholly distinct form of enslavement that produced different experiences of coercion than those of the Atlantic. Such forms of penal slavery sit uneasily in historiographies of punishment but also offers a challenge for the dominant models of global labour history and its attempts to create comparative frameworks for coerced labour. This article argues for the need for contextual approaches to what such coercion meant to both coercers and coerced. Therefore, it offers an analysis of the meaning of early modern penal slavery based on an exceptional set of sources from 1723. In these sources, the status of the punished was negotiated and practiced by guards and slaves themselves. Court appearances by slaves were usually brief—typically revolving around escapes as authorities attempted to identify security breaches. The documents explored in this article are different: They present multiple voices speaking at length, negotiating their very status as voices. From that negotiation and its failures emerge a set of practiced meanings of penal “slavery” in eighteenth-century Copenhagen tied to competing yet intertwined notions of dishonour.

In: Journal of Global Slavery
Author: Clélia Coret

Abstract

Along the East African coast, marronage increased in the 19th century as a consequence of the intensification of the slave trade and the development of a plantation economy based on slave labor. Research on the fugitive slaves on the Swahili coast has been conducted since the 1980s and has mainly highlighted the ambivalent relationship (between rejection and belonging) of maroons with the dominant coastal culture—that of the slave owners, shaped in particular by Islam and urbanity. This article goes beyond the existing interpretations by showing that the aftermath of slavery often consisted of a range of options, less static than those described so far and less focused on opting either into or out of coastal culture. Relying on a case study in present-day Kenya and drawing from European written sources and interviews, I examine what happened to escaped slaves in the Witu region, where a Swahili city-state was founded in 1862. Their history is examined through a spatial analysis and the modalities of their economic and social participation in regional dynamics, showing that no single cultural influence was hegemonic in this region.

In: Journal of Global Slavery

Abstract

The Middle Assyrian period (1500–1000 BCE) is used to describe the Northern Mesopotamian state, centered around the capital city Aššur (mod. Qalʿat Aš-Širqāṭ, Iraq). In the early years, Aššur was a small urban center of little political importance. However, as the neighboring state of Mitanni/Hanigalbat weakened, the local rulers were able to politically and militarily dominate Northern Mesopotamia. Due to the expanse of this, originally, small state, a strong administration was required to make the governance of the newly conquered regions possible. Over 3,000 cuneiform texts from the Assyrian administration were uncovered, of which 2,000 were from the two capital cities Aššur and Kār-Tukultī-Ninurta. Just as in any ancient state, slaves were a part of society. However, attestations of slaves are relatively uncommon, and most scholarly attention has gone to the related class of deportees and prisoners of war. Nonetheless, administrative documents such as loans provide us with sufficient information on debt and chattel slavery to make a number of observations on (semi) privately owned slaves.

In: Journal of Global Slavery