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Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study
by Orlando Patterson
Harvard University Press, 1985
eISBN: 978-0-674-74408-0 | Paper: 978-0-674-81083-9

This is the first full-scale comparative study of the nature of slavery. In a work of prodigious scholarship and enormous breadth, which draws on the tribal, ancient, premodern, and modern worlds, Orlando Patterson discusses the internal dynamics of slavery in sixty-six societies over time. These include Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, China, Korea, the Islamic kingdoms, Africa, the Caribbean islands, and the American South. Slavery is shown to he a parasitic relationship between master and slave, invariably entailing the violent domination of a natally alienated, or socially dead, person. The phenomenon of slavery as an institution, the author argues. is a single process of recruitment, incorporation on the margin of society, and eventual manumission or death.

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