Crucial Difference: Slavery

Topics: Racism, Slavery, Western culture Pages: 14 (4158 words) Published: August 22, 2013
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* ESSAY QUESTION:
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* What role did civilisation, the enlightenment period and the pursuit of science play in the creation of Slavery and Race Degeneration? *
* With reference to at least two text discuss how and why race slavery was utilised and whether it must be interconnected with civilisation itself to exist.

Difference and creation of othering to exemplify freedom has existed long before the enlightenment period utilised it as a weapon for economic, political and social power. Socio-economic benefits outweighed the degeneration and consequence to minority groups through scientific justification silencing their free voice. This essay will analyze how scientific, social, political and economic spheres contributed to race degeneration and race slavery throughout the enlightenment period and industrial revolution. It will, through an emphasis on the dialectic nature of the enlightenment period, argue that this period contrastingly promoted freedom and equality for those deemed socially fit , but also facilitated the paradoxical process of deliberately creating subjugation and ‘othering’ through scientific pursuits. These scientific pursuits were used as justification mechanisms of ensuring the existence of slave labor for the continuous progression of civilization. The second part of the essay will highlight the codependency between social constructs of free-civilization and the creation of slavery and racism; portraying how both must co-exist and feed off one another to be maintained

Through an analysis of theoretical works such as; Jan Pieterse’s ‘’Slavery and abolitionism. In white on Black, Images of Africa and Blacks in western Popular culture”, Orlando Patterson’s (2004) “Freedom in the Making of Western Culture” and other scholars, by the end of this essay it will become clear that the enlightenment period and the introduction of scientific pursuits such as race science created racist cultures which were then embedded within social constructs. It has been argued by many that without race slavery civilization could not have occurred as effectively or efficiently as it did. The freedom the enlightenment period promised for those deemed socially fit came at a cost; the discrimination and exploitation of the other. (Pieterse, 1992: 53-63)

Freedom for the socially fit at the expense of those considered outsiders is not a concept unique to the enlightenment period and can be traced back to ancient civilisations such as the Greeks and Romans, where although including people from a global scale, both classified outsiders as ‘barbarians’ and incurred a predisposition of prejudice against foreigners. This highlights the prior existence of the ‘insider outsider’ classification, and the internal tension created by the ‘unknown’ and contrastingly allows for the creation and unity of the ‘US’ (Cooper, 2005). However, in ancient societies there is lacking evidence to prove social divisions, integration and inferiority were based purely on physical, biological characteristics (Snowden, 1983: 73-76). It is the view of most scholars that both Romans and Greeks distinguished ‘ the others’ through customs, religion and in Greek antiquity through language rather than biological racism (Leerssen, 2006: 207-214 and Snowden, 1983: 63) .

Pieterse (1992) argues that although slavery has existed before the Middle Ages, what is unique to the enlightenment period in the 16th and 17th century slavery acquired a colour (pp.52). Although many scholars confer with Pieterse, Dante Puzzo (1964) argues that race consciousness was manifested in this period, and states there is no debate that ‘racism . . . is a modern conception, prior to the sixteenth century there was virtually nothing in the life and thought of the West that can be described as racist" (p.579). Montagu (1942) harmonizes with this argument stating: “a study of the...

Bibliography: (1989). ‘Modernity, Racism and Extermination, in: Modernity and the Holocaust’. (pp. 61-83)

Cooper, J.L. (2005). ‘The Psychology behind Race Segregation and Othering: A day in the life of an African American’, (pp. 43-89). Sydney: University Scholars press

(1992). ‘Slavery and abolitionism. In White on black. Images of Africa and blacks in Western popular culture’ (pp. 52-63). New Haven/London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05020-8.
Patterson, O. (1991). “”Freedom in the Making of Western Culture”. (Vol. 1, pp. 1-19). London: I.B.Tauris & CoLtd.
Puzzo. Dante. (1964). "Racism and the Western Tradition."Journal of the History of Ideas, 25, no. 4, 579-586.

Snowden, Frank M., Jr.( 1983) Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks
Vu. M.A. (2009, February 2). ‘African-Americans Most Religiously Devout Group’. London: Christian Post
Williams, David R., Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, and Rueben C
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