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Abolition And Identity In The Very Long Run

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Chapter Summary

The shifts in the historiography of abolition have been as dramatic as the disappearance of the phenomenon itself. This chapter provides the new evidence in support of this interpretation and link it with other latent elements of anti-slavery that have a history as long and as complicated as slavery itself. The identity element is rooted in the fact that every group of enslavers has had a set of criteria that have separated out those eligible for enslavement from those that are not. A second element stems from the fact that most slaves by definition have wanted to escape from slavery, and thus resistance to the institution is as old as the institution itself. The third antislavery element derives from the rules of conflict-and the attendant attitudes to violence-that evolved in the centuries prior to abolition.

Keywords: anti-slavery elements; early abolitionists; identity element; slave resistance; slave ships; violence



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