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X-Posted from : H-NET List for the History of Slavery <H-SLAVERY@H-NET.MSU.EDU> From: Steven Mintz <smintz@UH.EDU> ------------- H-World, which is moderated, currently, by David Fahey <faheydm@MUOHIO.EDU>, has an ongoing thread on Islam and slavery. Excerpts from the discussion follow. From: Wigmoore Francis University of the West Indies email@example.com It is not accurate to say that moral objections emanating from Christianity was responsible for the abolition of legal slavery. In one place in particular, Haiti, slavery was abolished by the enslaved themselves; enslaved africans who were by no means Christians. Of course, like most mainstream Western historians, we continue to maintain the silence surrounding the Haitian Revolution and what this revolution meant in regards to the entire Western ontological and epistemological project where blacks are concerned. But no thorough discussion of the abolition can transpire without taking into account the centrality of the Haitian Revolution. Much scholarly work has been done in exploring the political and ideological repercussions of the Revolution throughout the colonized Caribbean and Latin America. The enslaved themselves had always raised moral objections to slavery, and not only in Haiti. These objections were enacted in numerous and unceasing slave uprisings and marronage. These include the critical uprisings in Barbados, British Guyana, and Jamaica, between 1816 and 1832 which significantly accelerated the pace of slave reform in the direction of complete abolition. Why then do we presume that only Christians had the moral capacity to raise objections to slavery, and that abolition had to await the good graces of a religion which, after centuries of benefiting from and providing ideological justification for slavery, all of a sudden saw it fit to demur? To be certain, there were always relatively isolated instances of Christian objections to slavery (e.g. George Fox and the Quakers in the 17th C.). But enough scholarship exists to demonstrate a much longer tradition of resistance and objection among those most affected: the ones enslaved. Eric Williams' work ('Capitalism and Slavery') has also popularized the much older (19th C.) idea that economic factors (rather than moral/religious ones) were primarily responsible for the demise of slavery. Slavery, following Adam Smith, was simply not as profitable in the wake of an ongoing industrial revolution, an emerging industrial capitalism, and the greater desirability and efficacy within that context, of free wage labour. Slavery, according to Smith was just no longer an economically efficient system. This new notion of slavery was taken up by an emerging industrial middle class in England who, by the 1830s had come to political power within the British parliament, and whose influence was instrumental in terminating slavery as a legal institution. Neither is it true that Christianity was unique among religions for offering moral objections to slavery. Sultana Afroz's work highlights the Islamic roots of many slave uprisings and slave groupings in the Caribbean, by tracing a genealogy of Islamic precepts and principles encoded in the resistive activities of the enslaved. The role of traditional African religious forms among the enslaved, in relation to resistance to the slave system, has also been the subject of work by specialists in Caribbean religious history like Monica Schuler, Patrick Hylton, et al. Within the cosmological framework of culturally retained traditional African religions there were notions of human freedom and dignity that caused the African enslaved to chafe against and actively resist European chattel slavery. This was not the preserve of Christianity. The argument that white European Christian morality, particularly as articulated in the discourses of the so-called 'saints' in England, has not stood the test of rigorous scholarship. Monocausal explanations and assertions of Christian exceptionalism re: something as complex as the ending of legal slavery in the West, let alone the rest of the world, is just not going to get us far enough. ------------------------------ From: Peter Gran Prof. of History, Temple U. firstname.lastname@example.org Greetings, For periods of Egyptian history I studied, when a leader wanted a religious opinion as for example about Jihad, he solicited one of the sort he wanted. While there would be some range of opinions among `ulama' presumably what gets heard is the one remembered in the court chronicle. To repeat what I wrote earlier, subjects,` such as Jihad and slavery in a Middle eastern context have not been approached in a very reliable way yet by scholars. Reading what a theologian says without reference to the context is not a very clear way of getting at what people thought or what they did. This is however by and large where we are at the moment. The main writer (one of a handful) who has worked in the Egyptian archives on the subject of the end of slavery in Egypt-`Imad Hilal-is postulating an indigenous manumission movement in the middle decades of the nineteenth century slightly predating the external pressure brought by the UK. ------------------------------ From: Michael Jerryson UC- Santa Barbara Dept. Religious Studies email@example.com Diana Muir's assertion that "Christianity was unique in developing a moral objection to slavery," is veiled in the Western attire that has given us such politically detrimental perspectives as Eurocentricism. Christianity is no more unique to developing moral objections to slavery than it is from propagating and promoting slavery, (see the Portuguese colonizers or Roman Catholic Monks in Africa during the trans-atlantic slave trade for significant examples of blatant and staggering support for the enslavement of peoples). If we use Amartya Sen's article, "Human Rights, Asian Values," as a heuristic, we can see how the traditional view that the West's inventions and its Judeo-Christian values have helped evolve humanity is a canard and that, in fact, these unique advances are rather simulations or imitations of other religious and geographic regions that pre-existed Europe's Scientific Revolution and Age of 'Enlightenment'. Long before the slavery debates between Bartolome de las Casa and Sepulveda in the 16th century, there existed moral 'objections' to slavery within nearly every religion. One of the earliest examples of objections to slavery can be found in the Indian subcontinent. If we look at one of the main factors for the emergence of Jainism and Buddhism in India during the 6th/5th B.C.E, its desire to break from the Vedic varna system was an objection to the social hierarchies and 'slaves' (in this historical and cultural context, the servant caste, the Sudras). During Europe's infamous 'Dark' Ages it was not Christianity, but rather Islam which advocated and outlined legal protection for women to divorce men, in effect, promoting a form of freedom from enslavement--gender enslavement. I find it highly abstract and extremely subjective to suggest that one religion has uniquely advanced or evolved in respects to 'morality.' Although this point was not made, it could be drawn out from Muir's assertion. ------------------------------ From: R.J. Barendse Independent scholar r.barendse@WORLDONLINE.NL The topic of Islam and slavery more or less skirts my specialist topic - the Arabian seas in the early modern period - which is why I have collected vast masses of unpublished material on it, down to wills of individual (Islamic Indian Bohra) slave-traders, and intend to spend considerable attention to it in the sequel to my Arabian Seas which I'm presently writing. Lest giving the list an entire sub-chapter I will limit myself to saying two things about it. First, in common with the common set-up of much of the 'established' scholarship I think slavery has too often been studied diachronically within a single 'civilization', 'culture' or 'area', whereas too little attention has been spent to the topic synchronically across 'civilizations', 'areas' and 'cultures'. In fact, IMHO this is precisely what 'world history' (with small 'w') should do: that is to establish in Gunder Frank's term linkages rather than 'comparisons'. Rather than speaking about 'Islamic slavery' and then contrasting it to 'Christian slavery' - I think one ought to argue far more from the global context to which both belong. For, as I argued in the last issue of last year's Journal of World History Islam and Christianity have both long been part of the common 'ethno-sphere' and the evolution of slavery in both Christianity and Islam has long been part of the common and social evolution of the 'ethno-sphere'. For example, Patricia Crone ("Slaves on Horses; the Evolution of the Islamic Polity" Cambridge, 1980) argues that 'slave soldiers' are a specifically Islamic phenomenon, ranging from the Buyyids (tenth century) down to the Janizars of the Ottomans in the seventeenth century - and shaped the evolution of Islamic polities ever since the Buyyids, since the rule by slave-soldiers created a gap between the rulers and the ruled unlike in Europe etc. etc. I'm not so sure: I don't think that a detailed study of the military situation under the Buyyids then allows one to draw conclusions on the whole subsequent history of 'Islam', say, to say that the Egyptian Mamluks ten centuries later are still an illustration of the 'incomplete polities' of Islam which always forced rulers to rely on slave-soldiers. I think that rather than link the Turkish slave-troops of the Buyyids to the Janizars of seven centuries later, or the Mamluks nine centuries later, and then declare they typify 'Islam' I would be far more tempted to link them to other foreign mercenary troops used by states in the tenth/eleventh century such as the Varangian (Viking) mercenaries used by the Byzantine Empire. In either case I think that these empires needed highly skilled professional troops who - because they were foreigners - would not constitute a direct thread to the established aristocracy. The Byzantines hired them, the Buyyids bought them - I don't think it made much difference to their status. Furthermore, excepting Egypt, slave-soldiers became far less important later on. And then they re-emerged under the Ottomans again but in a very different context. Again, I would see Ottoman slavery rather as part of Mediterranean slavery rather than as something specifically Islamic or better I would see it as a response to similar tensions. We have had this discussion on this list before and it was then pointed out that the Ottomans used tens-of-thousands of slaves on their galleys - true. But what did the European states use? Slaves, partly, prisoners, mostly - even in the Napoleonic period the standard punishment for 'dissidents' was to send them to the 'bagno': that is the galleys in the Mediterranean. I have seen descriptions of life in the 'bagno' which I can assure you would make your flesh creep. It was a response to similar tensions: the Ottomans resorted to slaves while the European states resorted to prisoners - it is in my view more or less a continuum particularly if you recall that a standard punishment for a misdeed in the Ottoman Empire was to sell somebody as a slave. Ottoman galley-slaves were undoubtedly often brutally treated, so were the prisoners on European galleys. Early modern fleets were extremely brutal environments in whatever culture. Now, regarding my specialist topic, the Indian Ocean slave trade from c. 1500 to c. 1780, I think that in the Arabian seas similarly we have a continuum rather than a sharp distinction between 'Islamic' slavery on the one hand 'African', 'Hindu' and 'Christian' slavery on the other; all four basically treated their slaves equally good or bad and in all four cases the slave-holders and traders basically responded to similar tension caused by frictions in the labor-market. This could be a matter of demand or it could be a matter of supply. What seems to be typically a supply case for example (but it's also my specific problem which has worried me for a long time) is this: in the 1740 to 1760 period there is a sudden and massive increase in the supply of slaves from Mozambique. In the pre-1740 period I never find more than a few hundred slaves fetched from Mozambique but Jorge Capela (O trafico de escravos nos portos de Mocambique. Lisbon, 2002) and me too - independently from Capela - found a massive increase afterwards: the numbers rising into the thousands and then the tens of thousands by the early nineteenth century. Capela has no explanation - and neither did I until I encountered a document in the Portuguese national archives which stated that some 30,000 slaves were traded internally in Mozambique but were not sold abroad - there was a reason for that, namely that the Karonga chiefs and Mweni Mutapa kings would not permit them being sold abroad and because the Portuguese were formally vassals of the Mutapa they had to respect his will lest they had a revolt on their hands. But in the 1750's Mutapa collapsed and the Karonga chiefs were much weakened and with that the old legal barrier to selling slaves abroad also broke down; slaves who so far had only been sold in Mozambique could now legally be sold outside of Mozambique. The point for the 'Islamic slavery' discussion is that you had three groups of entrepreneurs who simultaneously jumped into this new market: the slave traders from Brazil, the French merchants of Mauritius and Arab traders from Oman and Hadramawt. And there is yet a fourth group more in the background, namely the ubiquitous Indian Bania-merchants from the Kathiawar peninsula; they were of course culturally very different but were not opposed groups - rather they closely collaborated. Because they all sought to exploit the new market. Thus, in the northernmost outlets of the slave-trade, such as Kilwa and Angoche, you had groups of Arab/Swahili merchants who tried to obtain a monopoly on slaves to then sell them-off to the French - while in Ibo on the Querimba islands you had Christian merchants (and above all the Dominican missionaries) who tried to obtain a monopoly on the supply of slaves to sell them to the Arabs. Who was 'better' here - who was worse? I don't know: the Christians (including, for that matter, the Catholic church itself because both the Jesuits and the Dominicans were among the main slave-traders from Mozambique) and the Muslims were, as you like it, equally criminal. On Mozambique-Island there was no purchasing of slaves - most of them going to Mauritius - if you had not first filled the hands of the Jesuits and the Dominicans; on the other hand more to the south in THE supply base for the Brazilian slave trade, Quelimane, the evidence suggests that almost the whole trade was monopolized by Muslim traders. It is very unlikely these Muslims were unaware they were supplying the Atlantic slave trade and selling them to Christians to wit - though the Portuguese were very concerned that the Muslims tried to teach the slaves some rudiments of Islam, selling them to the Christians later on anyway. These were simply tough, unscrupulous, dealers who just happened to be Muslim. They were trying to be pious Muslims perhaps but trying to make money first and foremost. Yet more to the south you came to Sofala - that was not slave- but rather ivory- and gold-land but since these products were all monopolized by the Portuguese crown the sailors of the ships were permitted some 'moonlighting' by taking slaves along - now, these sailors were all Hindu Indians (mostly from the Konkan-region) and these were all-Indian ships financed by the Mozambique banias. In brief: everybody was doing it: I know slave-trading was a major income for the Jesuit seminary in Mozambique (and in Goa) but although I have no hard and fast evidence for it I would not be amazed if it was the main income for the Koran-schools on the Comoros too. Everybody was doing it, Muslims and Christians were responding to economic opportunities in a similar way: both because transoceanic transport were falling and because the region became more settled - with the disappearance of the buccaneers - the French put-up plantations on Mauritius in the 1740's, SO simultaneously did the Omanis in Zanzibar. I have not investigated this topic in detail but I think slaves were equally badly treated in Zanzibar as they were in Mauritius. And for the same reason: plantation owners in Zanzibar were similar entrepreneurs as the French in Mauritius who tried to force down labor-costs by having their slaves work harder. Sherman is probably right that the British abolition drive forced the Arabs to become more like-drug runners, forcing them to rely more on hiding evidence by throwing slaves overboard and force marching them. However, Sayyid bin Sultan's of Zanzibar was again not the only government with which the British government had severe difficulties in cajoling it to abolish the slave trade: they had equal trouble with the Empire of Brazil and - above all - with Portugal and very much in particular with its authorities in Mozambique who also continued to wink at the slave-trade right into the 1840's and 50's. Same story there: the trade became very risky; hence, slave-prices were up, thus you got unscrupulous entrepreneurs, Muslims, Catholics and I suspect Hindus too - I do know the house of Mhamai carried on slave-trade into the 1820's - who tried to run the gauntlet of the British blockade. To follow-up Sherman's comparison: drugs nowadays come from very Muslim Afghanistan, very Catholic Columbia and the very Buddhist golden triangle - and let's not forget very Protestant Jamaica too - would anybody particularly care of what religion the drug-dealers are? Of course not - in all cases they are unscrupulous dealers who see a gap in the market and try to exploit it. I think it's often far more useful to look at the specific context in its time rather than construct an 'idea' of Islamic slavery, then compare this with the 'idea' of 'Christian slavery' and then to ascertain which of the two was best. Of course - this whole procedure is pretty much part of 'modern Orientalism'. For take Madam Crone's study: suppose I wrote a study on Anglo-Saxon military organization and I called it: 'Huskarls: the nature of Christian Polity' I think I would be declared nuts - see my point? Much of the writing on 'Islamic slavery' has the same problem. Slavery in Zanzibar in 1840 was not the same as in Basra in 940; it took place in a completely different context and diachronically 'comparing it' with the 'idea' of Islamic slavery is simply comparing apples and oranges. Second, there is a more general and, I feel, very major problem with World history (but comparative history has the same problem - only worse) in that the use of a single set of modern terms by researchers may suggest 'links' and 'comparisons' where the only links are that modern researchers use the same terminology to refer to completely different things who have no 'links' whatsoever. For example; the United Kingdom, Ashanti, the Maya kingdom of Tikal and Hawai are all called 'kingdoms' but do they really have anything more in common? Now, one case of that (and a prime case) is 'slavery'. For 'slavery' pace Diana Muir is NOT a universal institution or rather it is as 'universal' as 'kingdoms' are universal; we use the same word but the actual practice is completely different - I do not think HRH Elisabeth II would find much recognizable in the 'kingly' practice of her colleague in Tikal in 900. The problem is that in the modern context there is an absolute dichotomy between 'free' labor (that is labor in which the laborer freely enters into some form of contract - including for this purpose marriage - to do work) and 'unfree labor' (that is labor where the labor is done under some form of compulsion or where the laborer does not enter into a labor-relationship out of his/her own will). In the modern context all forms of un-free labor are easily called slavery because the only legitimate form of labor in the modern context is labor by contract and perhaps forced labor in the army qua citizen or in prison as citizen non grata. The pre-modern situation was entirely different. Thus, for example, the modern term 'sex-slavery' would in a pre-modern court not be considered as 'slavery' because it is non-hereditary - as far as I know it is not the case that the children of Thai girls sold to brothels are henceforth forced to work in the brothel too after their mother has died - rather in an English court in 1700 this would have been considered 'indentured labor' because even if the obligation to work in a brothel for the girls would be life-long it is not so that their children are legally forced to carry on the same work. In a pre-modern and non-western context you have a vast gradation of forms of non-free labor - which - and there's the problem - researchers have only so many words to describe. Researchers thus often tend to describe as slavery what are in fact forms of forced labor or labor-dues - and often any modern term very inadequately covers what is a complex legal system of obligations and dues. For pre-modern relationships of dependency were often of bewildering complexity, which are very inadequately grasped in any modern term. For example, in Kerala you had a whole category of serves who belonged to a manor, had no property of their own and were slaves in that they were property of the lords of the manor - albeit they were not slaves in that they were not transferable; they were property of one lord alone and could not be sold to anybody else. But they could be transferred with the inheritance. These are not quite slaves but they are not quite villains or serves or forced laborers either - the problem that in the pre-modern situation you have often such a plethora of forms in which people are slaves in some respects and not in others. Furthermore rather than that there was on the one hand freedom and on the other slavery, there was a vast gradations of ways in which people could be both 'free' and 'un-free'. The problem is that often modern researchers, particularly in a non-western context, tend to jumble together a myriad gradations of 'un-freedom' under the single category 'slavery'. Amongst the Betsileo in Madagascar for example people may be free in the context that they own their land and are not up for sale but un-free in that they are not permitted to build ancestral tombs and do not have a lineage. They are perhaps not quite slaves anymore but they are certainly by inheritance inferior and are titled as 'sons of slaves'; they are still slaves in that they are ritual non-persons; are socially dead - which Orlando Patterson sees as the distinguishing characteristic of slavery - yet they are obviously not sold - so what are they ? The risk is that scholars of slavery in the non-West then often tend to compare this amalgam of forms of freedom and non-freedom to an 'absolute standard' of slavery, which is derived from the US-south and then almost always come to the conclusion that 'slavery in ... (India, Java, the Gulf, Iran, Macassar, Mozambique, Bali, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Central Asia, what have you) was comparatively mild' - obviously, since many of this jumble of forms of un-freedom were not really forms of slavery at all. In particular many people under various forms of forced labor in the Non-West are often classed as slaves, whereas these 'villains' were not really slaves but were under various forms of lordly protection in return for obligatory labor - dues and - mind you - the protection could be sold and the villagers were then sold with it - you find this kind of yes ... what is it ? ... in eighteenth/nineteenth century Urganj in Central Asia for example. If you write a world-history of slavery what is the state of these peasants ? Slaves - no - but they are not free either. In the modern context you are either free or a slave - in the pre-modern context it is a vastly more complicated matter. Furthermore, there is yet an other problem: the persons who in many non-western societies are closest to the status of absolute slaves (that is; they are direct, personal, property and are hereditary property, have no personal possessions, are fed by and have to work for their masters alone) are typically also the most elite non-free group. The problem is of course well-known from the Roman Empire too: the most 'un-free' were also often the most qualified craft-men, soldiers or foremen. Often you will find crude exploitation with groups who are far more 'free' since their masters have not directly to care for them as they would have their own fields to feed themselves and no special skills - 'villains' are far more dispensable than slaves. The problem is that often comparative statements on 'slavery was comparatively mild in ...' tend to take these elite household slaves as the measure rather than other un-free-groups. This is a particular problem for Mozambique since I find that most statements on Mozambique tend to focus precisely on household slaves, since they most closely approach 'pure slavery' - these household-slaves are then held up against the norm for slavery - namely the US-South - and then indeed you can say that 'slavery was mild'. I hope it's clear by now that this might be a very serious problem with Islamic slavery (in West-Africa and on the Swahili Coast) too. And that people are more un-free does not mean necessarily mean they're therefore also the most depressed - the problem is: you tend to think from the modern situation where the most un-free are also the poorest of the poor. Now - mind you, lest I'll be wrongly understood here (for in the US this is a very political topic) I'm making a general observation here on what I think is a problem in the historiography of slavery (namely that a dichotomy between freedom and un-freedom and between free and forced labor might not be the best way to approach slavery in a World-historic context and that we should rid ourselves of the norm of holding-up the US-south as the absolute standard of slavery). I am NOT making an apology here for US-slavery by saying that 'elsewhere it was equally bad'; elsewhere it was perhaps equally bad but it was simply on a much smaller scale; to get anything on the scale of the European New World plantations - that is the US south and the Brazilian North-East combined - in the Middle East the entire Ottoman Empire should have been converted to slave-run plantations. Slavery was essential to the economy of the US, Brazil or even the 'first' British Empire; to that of the Ottoman Empire it was marginal. The Middle East was not a slave-run plantation region; it was a peasant/nomad region where the slaves fulfilled some very elite functions and some very basic functions - digging canals, diving for pearls, some menial work etc. They far from dominated the entire economy. The only three regions to which it was important were also the most marginal regions of the Middle East: Oman, the Hijaz and the Hadramawt and even there slaves were still of rather marginal importance - may I humbly suggest that the reason why the Ottomans were not so terribly concerned about slavery was because slavery was not so important for them as it was for, say, the US? Christianity may have been more agonizing about slavery than Islam but, then, it also had created a much bigger problem to start with. ------------------------------ From: Leo Lovelace Chapman University Department of History <LeoLovelace@msn.com> Michael Jerryson's observations are interesting. However, researching for my course Race and Change in South Africa and United States I found, and later corroborated with George Fredrickson, that British and Dutch colonial enterprises allowed the spread of Islam among the slaves in their colonial territories in order to maintain the fiction of non-Christian as not deserving equal treatment, and encouraging a significant measure of consent for such purpose among the Islam converted slaves. In earlier studies on cultural epistemology and political anthropology I had found that all historically evolved civilizations -including European, Middle Eastern, Asian and African- established and developed at some point the institution of slavery; that slavery did not emerge as a function of race or religion in the first place but of forcible conquest and economic advantage, and later on justified on the basis of race and religion; and that non-historically evolved civilizations, largely nomadic and hunting communities, were the least likely to include slaves, a especially remarkable case being the German tribes, as reported by Tacitus' Germania, in the second half of the first century A.D.: though he seems to have been deliberately enhancing the Germanic tribes to attack the corruption prevailing in the Roman empire, late historical records seem to confirm that slavery was alien to the tribes' life and customs. Native North American tribal nations do not seem to have accepted either the institution of slavery or the maintenance of slaves. In the history of international law, however, the earliest writings actually repudiating slavery as an institution which was incompatible with the general principles of civilization are those of the early sixteenth century iuspublicists from Spain, Vitoria and Suarez. Augustine of Hippo's writings at the turn of the fourth century, A.D., and Anselm of Canterbury's in late eleventh century, A.D., may be considered the earliest doctrinary statements rejecting slavery, if somewhat indirectly, as contrary to an equalitarian concept of human dignity. I cannot find any similar positions on the issue in the context of any other of the historically evolved civilizations, but I'll be happy to consider any specific evidence to the contrary.