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By Gad J Heuman; Trevor G Burnard

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He is editor of the journal Slavery & Abolition. Timothy James Lockley is Associate Professor of History and Director of the School of Comparative American Studies at the University of Warwick. His research concentrates on slavery and white society in the colonial and antebellum American South. His publications include Welfare and Charity in the Antebellum South (2007) and Lines in the Sand: Race and Class in Lowcountry Georgia, 1750–1860 (2001). Paul E. Lovejoy FRSC is Distinguished Research Professor, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History, York University (Toronto) and Director of The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples.

As John Garrigus notes, it was no accident that the majority of slaves who were manumitted tended to be the female companions of male slave owners. Slavery in the Americas is especially interesting as being both a highly destructive and also a highly creative force. The Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the Americas devoured people. 2 Most Africans who were sent to the Americas, especially those who went to the heartlands of slavery in the Caribbean and north-east Brazil, lived Hobbesian lives of quiet desperation – nasty, brutish and short, as Thomas Hobbes memorably described life in a state of nature – that resulted in an early death with few, if any, descendants to remember their travails.

As Gwyn Campbell notes in his chapter on slavery in the Indian Ocean World, outside the Americas most enslaved people became slaves through debt. Generally, getting enslaved through debt was reversible, which may have been a reason why people often entered slavery willingly as a credit-securing strategy. Of course, this strategy did not always work, and what started off as a temporary condition often became an inheritable condition. Campbell’s useful caution that Atlantic slavery should not be seen as always normative is an important reminder that slavery varied considerably over space.

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