Essay Preview: Slavery Case
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When scholars study the history of slavery they often address either the institution of slavery from an economic, social, or political position or they study the experiences of enslavement, which often involved the study of a slave culture. The following paper examines the two different types of study and scholarly research and what the perspectives of both sides offer to the student.
The student asks, “To what extent does historical scholarship distinguish between slavery as an institution, on one hand, and the experience of enslavement on the other?” Clearly they are both very different topics and in examining one author the paper first addresses slavery experiences in a new light. In Michael Angelo Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South the author illustrates that the cultural and traditional and religious connections that the slaves possessed may well have existed far longer than most have realized. His work focuses on how many slaves were actually seen for coming from different tribes or cultures and were sometimes displaced accordingly, thus encouraging their cultures in a new land while enslaved.
Gomez notes that many of the Africans who came to the United States as slaves were Muslim and that much of their traditions were somehow seemingly continued in the new land. One group is illustrated wherein Gomez states that, “the way the Gullahs employed the use of high-low degrees was unique and reflected their ability to adapt a past tradition to the organization of their slave community Gomez then goes on to present the words of one man, a former slave, who noted that he believed in spirits, that he was part of a group but that it was “a sacred thing” he could not talk about because it was against his religion.
Such information suggests, as does the majority of Gomezs book, that the slave culture that is so often associated with Christianity was far deeper and far more spiritually connected to the past cultures of the African slaves. Their experiences seemed to essentially urge them to simply utilize their faith and the perspective of their faith in a new way. In relationship to Christianity it has often been noted that the slaves generally associated themselves with Jesus more than they relied on the religion. They could see their suffering as the same as Jesus and as such felt an affinity with him as a human being. White over Black by Winthrop D. Jordan is another work that addresses the cultural aspects of slavery, the experiences of slavery. In this work the author does not address the complexities of the slave cultures that were inherently part of the African history, but addresses the slave culture and the society in America that controlled slaves. The author notes that, “There were inherent conflicts and tensions long before the abolition movement, the Civil War, and more recent crises” indicating that the institution of slavery was the experience of slavery for many, and that people were not content with the conditions from either perspective. In another work, one that addresses slavery as an institution, David Eltis The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas, the author speaks of how slavery grew strong, helping to support the nation and creating an institution that was necessary for the success of the South in relationship to their. Agricultural endeavors. Eltis notes, in relationship to this sort of free labor, which evolved into slavery in many ways: “The advantages of slave labor over free were not confined to the relative physical productivity in the plantation Americas. Potentially, at least, slave labor was cheap to obtain in the Old World and cheap to transport relative to free. Societies in all parts of the world have always had criminals and prisoners of war, the conversion of who into full chattel slaves could have occurred with few costs beyond those normally involved in keeping order and waging war. Clearly this sort of focus illustrates the social foundations of the institution of slavery as necessary and inevitable in the minds of many during the time. Another author, in discussing the same theme, concerning the institution of slavery as it involves free labor and slave labor, indicates that, “Until the late eighteenth century, slavery was deemed acceptable wherever Europeans dominated in the world beyond Europe. In this one sees that free labor, which was often associated with indentured servitude, was not nearly as profitable from the perspective of the institution as was slave labor. And, as noted, slave labor was a part of history in every culture, including the African cultures.
This same author, and another, write a book about the history of slavery, again presenting the reader with an understanding of the institution of slavery, stating, for example, “Just as slavery in Africa was multifaceted, so was the freeing of the slaves under colonial rule during the nineteenth and early twentieth centurys. All of this information clearly suggests how slavery was incredibly complex as an institution. It served an incredibly powerful purpose, as an institution, and was slowly, and aggressively, dismantled as an institution. It was a crucial part of European dominance in many parts of the world and especially in America for without slavery the United States would likely never have achieved the
In truly studying slavery, as it involves the white and black centric state, one cannot look or study powerful status it possessed. In