Frontiers of servitude

Slavery in narratives of the early French Atlantic

by Michael Harrigan, Anne Dunan-Page

Description
Frontiers of servitude explores the fundamental ideas behind early French thinking about Atlantic slavery in little-examined printed and archival sources, focusing on what 'made' a slave, what was unique about Caribbean labour, and what strategic approaches meant in interacting with slaves. From c. 1620 -1750, authoritative discourses were confronted with new social realities, and servitude was accompanied by continuing moral uncertainties. Slavery gave the ownership of labour and even time, but slaves were a troubling presence. Colonists were wary of what slaves knew, and were aware of how imperfect the strategies used to control them were. Commentators were conscious of the fragility of colonial society, with its social and ecological frontiers, its renegade slaves, and its population born to free fathers and slave mothers. This book will interest specialists and more general readers interested in the history and literature of the Atlantic and Caribbean.
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Endorsements

Based on original research into little-examined printed and archival sources, this book explores the fundamental ideas behind early French thinking about Atlantic slavery by asking three central questions. What, in theoretical and social terms, did the condition of a slave mean? What was unique about using the human body in Caribbean labour, and what were the limits to this use? What can the strategic approaches described in interactions with slaves tell us about early slave society? Arguing that the social and cultural context of the Caribbean colonies from c. 1620-1750 was marked by considerable instability, this book explores the transformations in the theorisation and practice of slavery. Authoritative discourses were confronted with new cultures and environments, and the servitude thought to bring Africans to salvation was accompanied by continuing moral uncertainties. Slavery gave the most fundamental forms of ownership from labour up to time itself, but slaves were a troubling presence. Colonists were wary of what slaves knew and even hid from them, and were aware that the strategies used to control slaves were imperfect, and could even determine the behaviour of their masters. Commentators were conscious of the fragility of colonial society, with its social and ecological frontiers, its renegade slaves, and its population born to free fathers and slave mothers. Slavery, this book argues, was fundamentally, anti-social. With wide use of eye-witness accounts of slavery, this book will be of interest to specialists, and more general readers, interested in the history and literature of the early Atlantic and Caribbean.

Reviews

Based on original research into little-examined printed and archival sources, this book explores the fundamental ideas behind early French thinking about Atlantic slavery by asking three central questions. What, in theoretical and social terms, did the condition of a slave mean? What was unique about using the human body in Caribbean labour, and what were the limits to this use? What can the strategic approaches described in interactions with slaves tell us about early slave society? Arguing that the social and cultural context of the Caribbean colonies from c. 1620-1750 was marked by considerable instability, this book explores the transformations in the theorisation and practice of slavery. Authoritative discourses were confronted with new cultures and environments, and the servitude thought to bring Africans to salvation was accompanied by continuing moral uncertainties. Slavery gave the most fundamental forms of ownership from labour up to time itself, but slaves were a troubling presence. Colonists were wary of what slaves knew and even hid from them, and were aware that the strategies used to control slaves were imperfect, and could even determine the behaviour of their masters. Commentators were conscious of the fragility of colonial society, with its social and ecological frontiers, its renegade slaves, and its population born to free fathers and slave mothers. Slavery, this book argues, was fundamentally, anti-social. With wide use of eye-witness accounts of slavery, this book will be of interest to specialists, and more general readers, interested in the history and literature of the early Atlantic and Caribbean.

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Bibliographic Information
  • Pub date: April 2018
  • 9781526122247 / 1526122243
  • United Kingdom
  • PDF
  • Manchester University Press
  • Readership: General/trade
  • Publish State: Published
  • Series: Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • Reference Code: 8908