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Does Slavery Have a History?

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The Consequences of a Global Approach

image of Journal of Global Slavery

In the last decade the landscape of slavery studies has changed radically. Novel developments raise major new challenges for the global study of slavery. This article is an attempt to take stock of these significant developments for rethinking the history of slavery from a global viewpoint. I will be arguing that we need to set aside the essentialist understanding of slavery and the ahistorical typology of slave societies and societies with slaves in favor of an understanding of slavery as a temporally—and spatially—changing outcome of the entanglement of various processes. If slavery has no essence, but an open-ended global history, we need a new framework for conceptualizing how such a history can be written. I hope to offer an outline of such a framework, as well as a discussion of the kinds of historical change that such a narrative should include.

Affiliations: 1: University of Crete


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