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Personality, Persona, and the U.S. President
The turbulent and unpredictable presidency of Donald Trump has intensified public and scholarly attention to the personalities of presidents. Profiles in Power approaches the presidency as a personal affair that is shaped, in part, by the character of the occupants of the Oval Office and their attempts to craft public personas. In ten biographical essays that focus on individual presidents and on one First Lady, the authors in this volume build on a renewed interest in presidential studies that emphasizes individual agency. As such, the book seeks to bring the personal aspect of the presidency back into U.S. political history.
California Sojourns in Five Lessons
Site-Seeing Aesthetics: California Sojourns in Five Lessons takes the reader to Dodger Stadium, Fort Ross, Chinese Camp, the Winchester House, and letters from the Gold Country in a writing and reading of cultural time and site performance. These sojourns’ are informed by insights from among other literary and cultural studies, site-specific performance studies, human geography, archeology, and history into a kind of “literary chorography.” Along the road, the book considers how places come before us as dramatized, hybrid creations of layered and “haunted” scripts. In its interdisciplinary nature, Site-Seeing in California thus gestures to alternate paths into our time’s fascination with place, region, and memory, engaging also with questions of and dialogues between region and transnationalism in their aesthetic reflections.
Author: Benedetta Rossi

Abstract

This article investigates the causes of the resilience of slavery in the region of Tahoua in the Republic of Niger in the West African Sahel. It attributes slavery’s lingering vitality to the semi-autonomous evolution of slavery and abolitionism in this region. It illustrates the historical processes through which, following colonial legal abolition, slavery in Tahoua started being challenged, but not effectively eradicated. The article shows that slavery and abolitionism in the Nigerien Sahel are rooted in different historical processes and discursive genealogies than those that led to the development of colonial abolitionism and international law on slavery and trafficking. It advocates appropriate historical contextualization of slavery-related phenomena in regions where European abolitionism was initially tied to imperialism. In such regions different groups engaged critically with European attitudes toward local slavery. Following decolonization, the rise of Nigerien abolitionist movements was informed both by integration in international humanitarian networks and by engagement with the specific forms of slavery prevalent in local society.

In: Journal of Global Slavery

Abstract

This introduction highlights the contribution of the special issue to a radical contextualisation of the history of the enslaved. In particular, it suggests that the conditions and circumstances that foster or hamper practices of enslavement need to be studied as part of a broader set of labor relations. And it proposes that shifts in the practices of enslavement are closely related to broader transitions in power relations. This double expansion allows connecting the history of enslavement and the enslaved with broader themes in labor and social history.

In: Journal of Global Slavery
Author: Juliane Schiel

Abstract

This article discusses bonded labor relations and their changes through the example of Slavic migrant workers in late medieval Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Over roughly 150 years, Ragusa changed from a site of localized, endemic labor exploitation to a commodified labor market with transregional implications. Based on a close examination of notary deeds and legislative acts, the article presents an empirically grounded approach to category formation and a careful reconstruction of the Ragusan grammar of coericon. While labels and classification systems for unskilled Slavic migrants changed over time, they remained the “maids-of-all-work”—a nonspecialist labor force that could be taken into service for a variety of tasks wherever they were needed.

In: Journal of Global Slavery

Abstract

Over the past decades, “wage labor” has been a lingering issue in studies on the development patterns of late imperial China. The legal reconfiguration of the category of “hired laborers” (gugong 僱工) between 1588 and 1788, in particular, has been foregrounded as a salient manifestation of the “incipient capitalism” going hand in hand with the emergence of a “free” labor market and with the decline of bound labor. Questioning the preconception that the mere appearance of labor relations mediated by means of wages would suffice to prove the existence of “free labor,” this article proposes to revisit the issue of “hired labor” in late imperial China. It approaches this issue from a conceptual standpoint, as a first step toward an overdue reassessment of the significance of wages in labor relations and their impact on the status of workers. The first section endeavors to sketch out a general conceptualization of gugong from the Great Ming Code and from Ming and Qing legal exegesis. The second section focuses on the study of the legal redefinition of gugong between the late sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, and looks for the social and legal implications of being hired. By doing so, it also explores changes in the Chinese conception of the notion of “service” and its relationship with what we would name “servitude.”

In: Journal of Global Slavery
Authors: Karsten Voss and Klaus Weber

Abstract

From 1698, colonial officers and investors from France forged a conglomerate of companies for transforming Saint-Domingue into a sugar colony, thus augmenting incomes of tax farmers and of the crown. Capital was also captured from enemy colonies and generated through trade with Spanish possessions. The most important capital were slaves, both as laborers and mortgageable property—crucial during the War of Spanish Succession, which brought price volatility and speculation in land and sugar. In order to secure the colony’s development, authorities restricted rights of owners over their slaves, preventing their sale or abuse. Only around 1715 was such protection of slaves suppressed.

In: Journal of Global Slavery