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On Human Bondage: After Slavery and Social Death

John Bodel (Editor), Walter Scheidel (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-119-16248-3
328 pages
December 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
On Human Bondage: After Slavery and Social Death (1119162483) cover image


On Human Bondage—a critical reexamination of Orlando Patterson’s groundbreaking Slavery and Social Death—assesses how his theories have stood the test of time and applies them to new case studies.

  • Discusses the novel ideas of social death and natal alienation, as Patterson first presented them 35 years ago and as they are understood today
  • Brings together exciting new work by a group of esteemed historians of slavery, as well as a final chapter by Patterson himself that responds to and expands upon the other contributions
  • Provides insights into slave societies around the world and across time, from classical Greece and Rome to modern Brazil and the Caribbean, and from Han China and pre-colonial South Asia to early modern Europe and the New World
  • Delves into a wide range of topics, including the reformation of social identity after slavery, the new historicist approach to slavery, rituals of enslavement and servitude, questions of honor and dishonor, and symbolic imagery of slavery
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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables vii

Notes on Contributors viii

Preface xii

Introduction 1
John Bodel and Walter Scheidel

1 Slavery and Personhood in the Neo -Assyrian Empire 15
Heather D. Baker

2 Orlando Patterson, Property, and Ancient Slavery: The Definitional Problem Revisited 31
David M. Lewis

3 Slaves or Serfs?: Patterson on the Thetes and Helots of Ancient Greece 55
Peter Hunt

4 Death and Social Death in Ancient Rome 81
John Bodel

5 Freedom, Slavery, and Female Sexual Honor in Antiquity 109
Kyle Harper

6 Becoming Almost Somebody: Manumission and its Complications in the Early Han Empire 122
Anthony Barbieri -Low

7 Ottoman Elite Enslavement and “Social Death” 136
Ehud R. Toledano

8 The Locked Box in Slavery and Social Death 151
Indrani Chatterjee

9 Honor and Dishonor in the Slavery of Colonial Brazil 167
Junia Ferreira Furtado

10 (Child) Slavery in Africa as Social Death?: Reponses Past and Present 193
Sandra E. Greene

11 Slavery and Freedom in Small -Scale Societies 210
Catherine M. Cameron

12 Rituals of Enslavement and Markers of Servitude: Orlando Patterson in the American Tropics 226
Fernando Santos -Granero

13 Slavery from Rome to Medieval Europe and Beyond: Words, Things, and Genomes 249
Michael McCormick

14 Revisiting Slavery, Property, and Social Death 265
Orlando Patterson

Index 297

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Author Information

John Bodel is W. Duncan MacMillan II Professor of Classics and Professor of History at Brown University, USA. He studies ancient Roman history and Latin literature and has special interests in epigraphy, slavery in antiquity, Roman religion, funerals and burial customs, writing systems, and the ancient novel. His books include two other co‐edited volumes in Wiley’s Comparative History series: Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (with S. Olyan, 2008) and Highways, Byways, and Road Systems in the Pre‐Modern World (with S. E. Alcock and R. J. Talbert, 2012). Since 1995, he has directed the US Epigraphy Project, which gathers and shares information about ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions in the United States (http://usepigraphy.brown.edu).

Walter Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and a Kennedy‐Grossman Fellow in Human Biology at Stanford University, USA. He has published widely on ancient social and economic history, premodern demography, and the comparative history of labor and state formation.

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