Lev Weitz


This article examines the interaction of Coptic Christians with Islamic legal institutions in provincial Egypt on the basis of a corpus of 193 Arabic legal documents, as well as relevant Coptic ones, dating to the 2nd-5th/8th-11th centuries. I argue that around the 3rd/9th century Islamic Egypt’s Christian subjects began to make routine use of Islamic legal institutions to organize their economic affairs, including especially inheritance and related matters internal to Christian families. They did so in preference to the Christian authorities and Coptic deeds that had been their standard resource in the first two centuries of Muslim rule. The changing character of the Egyptian judiciary encouraged this shift in practice, as qāḍīs who adhered to fiqh procedural rules increasingly filled judicial roles formerly held by administrative officials. By eschewing and nudging into disuse a previously vital Coptic legal tradition, Christian provincials participated in the Islamization of ʿAbbāsid and Fāṭimid Egypt.

Marcus Braun and “White Slavery”

Shifting Perceptions of People Smuggling and Human Trafficking in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Kristofer Allerfeldt


When the history of American abolitionist legislation is assessed—if it gets any consideration at all—the 1910 White Slave Act is often regarded as a flawed overreaction to a largely imagined, or at least exaggerated, problem. However, the law, usually known as the Mann Act, has arguably influenced US trafficking policy more than any other single law since the 13th Amendment. This article examines the career, ambitions and misfortunes of one of the leading figures behind the Act, the immigration investigator Marcus Braun, to show how the concept of slavery was manipulated. It also shows how the problem of trafficking evolved over the opening years of the twentieth century and how the legacy of the Mann Act has continued to affect American attitudes toward sex and morality and their ties to slavery ever since.

Thomas Mareite


Chile’s abolition of slavery (1823) has commonly been framed within a self-congratulatory narrative that emphasizes the philanthropic role of republican elites and the peaceful nature of slave emancipation. The traditional narrative not only views abolition as an ideologically inspired gift from the elites, but also underscores Chile’s exceptionalism vis-à-vis other South American emancipation processes—in Chile, unlike in the rest of the continent, the eradication of slavery was supposedly both politically and socially insignificant. This article challenges two of this narrative’s assumptions: first, that consensus characterized the abolition of slavery in Chile, and second, that abolition was simply a philanthropic concession from the new nation’s republican elites. Instead, this study highlights how officials, slaveholders and enslaved people transformed slavery and its dismantlement into a contested issue. It also explores the proactive role that enslaved people played in undermining the institution of slavery throughout Chile, ultimately leading to its abolition.

Walking Capital

The Economic Function and Social Location of Babylonian Servitude

Seth Richardson


This contribution looks at Babylonian slaves and servants as they appear in 322 Old Babylonian letters. This corpus has not been used for this purpose before, and now reveals that the primary economic functions of slaves had to do with information and credit in an economic environment of mercantilism, rather than with labor in the agricultural sector. Cuneiform letters, rarely mentioning work, instead emphasized the independent movement of slaves, their delegation as proxies to their masters to conduct business, and their capacity to serve as collateral for loans. The analysis of this evidence permits a deeper look at the ethics of care and control that conditioned the relations of masters and slaves, and what we can now say about the personhood of slaves and servants.

Thomas J. Coleman III, Kenan Sevinç, Ralph W. Hood Jr. and Jonathan Jong


In accordance with Terror Management Theory research, secular beliefs can serve an important role for mitigating existential concerns by providing atheists with a method to attain personal meaning and bolster self-esteem. Although much research has suggested that religious beliefs are powerful defense mechanisms, these effects are limited or reveal more nuanced effects when attempting to explain atheists’ (non)belief structures. The possibility of nonbelief that provides meaning in the “here and now” is reinforced by the importance placed on scientific discovery, education, and social activism by many atheists. Thus, these values and ideologies can, and do, allow for empirically testable claims within a Terror Management framework. Although religious individuals can and largely do use religion as a defense strategy against existential concerns, purely secular ideologies are more effective for atheists providing evidence for a hierarchical approach and individual differences within worldview defenses. Evidence for and implications of these arguments are discussed.

Antonia Bosanquet


This essay analyzes Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s (d. 751/1350) teaching about the legal options open to a woman who converts to Islam while married to a Jewish or Christian husband. I argue that Ibn al-Qayyim’s preferred position is unusual for the eighth/fourteenth century in which he wrote, although it may derive from Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 728/ 1328) teaching on the subject. In order to contextualize Ibn al-Qayyim’s view, I summarize the variety of approaches to single-spouse conversion that dominated in the first century AH, and the broad consensus on the topic that developed after this. Although female conversion to Islam has received some attention in historical studies, there has been less focus on the legal discourse surrounding this question. The essay seeks to contribute to this discussion.

Martin Ratcovich

This article considers the limits of extraterritorial criminalisation under international law in the context of a recent legislative proposal by the government of Sweden to impose criminal measures against the purchase of sexual services abroad. The article first presents the proposal and then a specific legal objection raised against it, namely that allowing Swedish courts to try purchases committed abroad irrespective of local law is inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention under international law. The substance of this objection is discussed against the background of general descriptions of the concepts of jurisdiction and non-intervention under international law. It is concluded that the meaning of the principle of non-intervention may have been overstated.