Breaking the Chains: Slavery, Bondage, and Emancipation in Modern Africa and Asia

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Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1993 - History - 222 pages
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“Martin Klein has brought together recent work on the abolition of slavery, from Ottoman Turkey to Thailand and from South India to West Africa.  This anthology builds on the recent scholarship on both slavery in Asia and Africa and the end of slavery as a world-wide historical phenomenon.  Whereas other anthologies have tended to focus on either Africa or Asia, this project brings together in one volume case studies and methodological approaches concerning both regions.  Breaking the Chains will be an important part of the relatively sparse literature on emancipation in comparative and global context.”—Richard Roberts, Stanford University

Because the American history of slavery and emancipation tends to be foremost in Western minds, few realize that traditional forms of servitude still exist in a variety of places around the world: children are sold on the streets of Bangkok, bondage persists in India despite official efforts to abolish it, and until 1980 slavery was legal in Mauritania.
    Breaking the Chains  deals with emancipation in African and Asian societies which were either colonized or came under the domination of European powers in the nineteenth century.  In these societies, emancipation involved the imposition on non-European societies of an explicitly European discourse on slavery, and, in most cases, a free labor ideology.  Most of the slave masters described in these essays were not European and found European ideas on emancipation difficult to accept. 
    Against this backdrop, the essayists (many of whom contribute their own non-Western perspective) focus on the transition from slavery (or other forms of bondage) to emancipation.  They show that in each case the process involved pressure from European abolition movements, the extension of capitalist relations of production, the concerns and perceptions of the colonial state, and the efforts of non-Western elites to modernize their cultures.
    Martin A. Klein argues that the Asian and African experience has much in common with the American experience, particularly in efforts to control labor and family life.  The struggle to control the labor of former slaves has often been intense and, he suggests, has had a continuing impact on the social order in former slave societies.

 

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Contents

Modern European Expansion and Traditional
3
Maps
38
Ottoman Concepts of Slavery in the Period of Reform
39
The Decline of Slavery in NineteenthCentury Indonesia
64
The Demise of Corvee and Slavery in Thailand 17821913
83
Colonialism Bondage and Caste in British India
112
The Colonial Discourse on Slavery
131
Cocoa Plantations and Coerced Labor in the Gulf of Guinea
150
Slavery and Emancipation in French West Africa
171
Crisis or
197
Index
215
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About the author (1993)

Martin A. Klein is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. Klein has taught African history for 34 years. He has served as President of both the African Studies Association (ASA) and the Canadian Association of African Studies. He has written or edited several books, including Historical Dictionary of Slavery and Abolition (2002); Slavery and Colonial Rule in Africa (Cambridge University Press, 1998), edited with Suzanne Miers; Breaking the Chains: Slavery, Bondage, and Emancipation in Modern Africa and Asia (1993); and Women and Slavery in Africa (1983), edited with Claire C. Robertson. His book Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa earned an Honorable Mention from the Herskovits Award Committee. In 2001, Klein was awarded the ASA's Distinguished Africanist Award. He also edits Cambridge University Press's New Perspectives in African History series.

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