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Historicising Ancient Slavery$
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Kostas Vlassopoulos

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781474487214

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474487214.001.0001

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What is Slavery?

What is Slavery?

(p.39) 3 What is Slavery?
Historicising Ancient Slavery

Kostas Vlassopoulos

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the concept of slavery. The first part of the chapter uses early medieval slavery as an illuminating test-case: the complexity and diversity of early medieval slavery makes it possible to challenge some implicit assumptions that have long dominated the study of ancient slavery; it also allows us to test the conceptual coherence of various key concepts in the study of slavery. The second part of the chapter builds on these insights to propose a new conceptualisation of slavery as an agglomerate of three conceptual systems: slavery as property, slave status, and the various modalities of slavery. By breaking up the unitary understanding of slavery as a single essence, it explores the varying content of each conceptual system and the diverse ways in which they fitted in together across space and time.

Keywords:   Medieval slavery, Property, social death, ancient slavery, social death

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