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Introduction to Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds

Introduction to Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds

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Introduction to Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds, number 22 in the series Financial History, published by Pickering & Chatto
Introduction to Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds, number 22 in the series Financial History, published by Pickering & Chatto

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Published by: Pickering and Chatto on Mar 14, 2013
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INTRODUCTION: DEBT AND SLAVERY INTHE MEDITERRANEAN AND THE ATLANTIC WORLDS
Alessnro Stnzini n Gwyn CmpellComprtive versus Glol History o Det Slvery
Bonge in nient Rome n Northern Ameri hs oen een presente sorms o httel or ‘rel’ slvery s oppose to the ‘mil’ or hyri orms o slv-ery, servitue n oerion oun in so mny ierent ontexts in Ari, Asin meievl Europe.
1
Suh  istintion is prolemti. Anthropologists, soi-ologists n historins ier onsierly in their ssessments o wht preiselyonstitutes slvery, highlighting vriously issues o soil sttus (memership o or exlusion rom the ln, mily n lol ommunity), religion, legl sttus(orms o epenene, reeom o movement, hereitry nture o onstrints),eonomi onitions n politil, legl n proeurl rights.
2
Reserhershve pinpointe severl vriles in their ttempts to fn  efnition o on-ge, ut without rehing  onsensus.Te ete hs shrpene even more over the lst two ees s
cultural 
n
 subaltern studies
sholrs hve highlighte the reltivity o notions o reeomn oerion. As  result, the ritil question urrently ske is whether theierent orms o servitue oun in vrious soieties in Ari, Asi, the IninOen worl or the Ameris n ll e onsiere to onstitute ‘slvery’. I thenswer is yes, then y implition slvery existe eore n inepenently o olonilism. Conversely, i the nswer is no, it mens tht these were orms o ‘imperilist’ epenene n onge speif to  prtiulr ple.Te ete over slvery hs spre eyon the onfnes o emi, n inso oing hs eome more virulent. One ovious exmple is the puli lleg-tions levelle y ertin interntionl orgniztions ginst ountries n frmsthey use o prtising n legitimizing hien ‘slvery’.
3
It is symptomtin sometimes proxil to see ulturl reltivism espouse oth y em-is ritil o ‘imperilism’ n ‘olonilism’ n now gloliztion n y lol
 
2
 Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds
mngers n multintionl ompnies tht exploit hil lour. All these torsstress the ierent menings o slvery in ierent soieties to ssert either theierene etween Western olonil slvery n lol orms o epenene (s isthe se o those who ritiize imperilism n gloliztion) or, t the opposite,to prove (multintionl frm spekers) tht inorml n hil lour in multin-tionl frms nnot e efne s ‘slvery’.
4
Te im o this ook is not to vourny prtiulr efnition o humn onge ut rther to ientiy the ontourso et slvery in speif historil n institutionl ontexts n explin why,in  given spe n time, this rther thn nother orm o onge ws oneiven put into prtie.
5
By this, we re not seeking to reltivize n eonstruttegories in orer to ssert, or exmple, tht this or tht orm o slvery wsn ‘intelletul invention’ o Western or Arin sholrs. Quite the ontrry, y viewing these elements in their proper historil ontexts, we hope to provie noriginl explntion o the ynmis o orms o slvery. Inste o ttempting toestlish the moment when ‘ree lour’ (n thus ‘iviliztion’) emerge, or on- versely, stigmtizing the ontinution o ltent orms o slvery, we here ttemptto grsp the ynmis t work in ertin historil orms o onge strting romthe historilly situte tension etween reeom n oerion. We o not inten to isuss ll etures o slvery, inluing issues o lour,re, gener, mrkets, ieology n institutions. Rther, we will ous on the linketween et n slvery. Tis ous hs multiple vntges. It enles us toexmine systems o servitue, suh s tht o nient Rome, in whih re i not ply  mjor role, n ompre them to moern slvery. Also, our pproh, unlikeonventionl Euroentri nlyses tht ientiy slvery n notions o ‘reeom’exlusively with orml rules n strutures o jurispruene, permits us to exm-ine in more nune wys non-Western notions o servitue, lierty n rights.At the sme time, unlike onventionl eonomi histories o slvery thtmesure lour reltionships n their evolution in terms o e ieny,
6
thereltionship etween et n slvery t the ore o this ook les to n investi-gtion o the interply etween eonomy, soiety n institutions o slvery. Terise n eline o slvery respone not only to eonomi rtionle ut lsoto politil n morl pressures. For exmple, nthropologists suh s MrelMuss linke et slvery to potlth n reiproity. For them, the oligtionto reiprote, inste o the serh or proft or power, oul le to onge– whih represente  orm o inlusion in, rther thn exlusion rom, soi-ety.
7
Critis o Muss, suh s Clue Levi-Struss n ertin struturlist nMrxist nthropologists, ssert tht epeneny n power rther thn reipro-ity lie t the root o most orms o et onge.
8
Alin estrt,  leing fgurein struturl nthropology – the pproh originlly evelope y Levi-Struss– istinguishes et slvery rom oth pwnship n et onge. For estrt,et slvery is  orm o servitue resulting rom  sitution o etor insolveny.
 
 
 Introduction
3
It mkes the etor n outst n this sitution is institutionlly preserve (y kinn villge uthorities), whih is not the se or pwns n et-one people.Te min hrteristi o pwnship is tht the pwn is  orm o ollterl, not theetor, while et onge is in priniple temporl, or the etor retins her/hissttus s  ree person n n in priniple reimurse her/his et through work.
9
Te prolem with these txonomies is tht slvery hs not een the only ormo onge use to el with insolvents n et is not the only sitution le-ing to suh orms o onge. emporry et onge n e esily onverteinto permnent slvery n, t  mro level,  soiety tht epts et slveryis  soiety tht genertes multiple orms o epenene inste o the simpleopposition etween ree n unree. Given suh  sply o orms o ongen personl epeneny, it is i ult to lerly istinguish, s Orlno Pt-terson oes, et slvery linke to poverty n inequlities rom et ongeresulting rom hrvest ilure.
10
Does this men, s Ptterson seems to rgue, thtet slvery s  result o risk is more wiespre in less ommerilly evelopesoieties while et s  iret use o slvery ws more ommon mong theommerilly more vne people?Tis rgument might pper intuitively soun ut oes not stn up to properhistoril nlysis. Krl Polnyi, one o the mjor nthropologists o the twentiethentury, is not only mous or his ook
Great ransormation
(1944), ut lsoor hving stresse the multiple menings o mrket n eonomi rtionlitiesin ierent historil n regionl ontexts. Polnyi woul hve ritiize suh ler-ut opposition etween mrket n non-mrket eonomies, in prtiulrs regrs Arin slvery n soieties. Mrkets present ierent logis n reemee in ierent historil ontexts so tht there is no one single liner his-toril evolution rom one to nother. Tus, the Dhomey port tre tht Polnyistuie reets the enounter etween pitlism n mrket eonomy, two i-erent systems tht oth express  orm o mrket.
11
 While some Arinists hve rom n empiril perspetive justifly riti-ize Polnyi n his nlysis o Dhomey n slve tre,
12
the issues Polnyirise re worthy o onsiertion, notly the questions: whih orms o mrketorrespon to whih orms o slvery? Is et slvery use y mrket iluremore or less wiespre thn tht ue to hrvest ilure? An to wht extent in pre-mrket eonomies is it possile to mintin  ler istintion etween etonge n lour reltions, n how oes this hnge in mrket systems?Polnyi provie possile nswers y suggesting tht ierent orms o mr-kets n mrket rtionlity oexiste in ierent historil ontexts. However,he i not explin the pssge rom one to the other. Amrtiy Sen hs oeren lterntive solution se on his ssertion tht, even in pre-moern Ini nAri, hrvest ilures were rre n the environment n mrket lwys inter-te. In other wors,  mine is lwys oth  mrket n n environmentl

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