Definition of Slavery

Topics: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, History of slavery Pages: 4 (1439 words) Published: November 4, 2008
The Working Definition of Slavery

The issue of slavery has been debated since its early inception. In recent times, there has been considerable debate as to the definition of slavery. Western scholars have attempted to justify slavery of the New World by comparing it to the slavery that existed in Biblical times as well as Greco-Roman and African slavery. Some argue that there can be no international definition of slavery. Others try to define by a few words that apply to every instance of slavery. The only true way to define slavery is according to each society in which it was based. Webster’s dictionary defines slavery submission to a dominating influence or the state of a person who is a chattel of another. Though Webster’s gives this very general definition, there are many other meanings that may come to a person’s mind depending on the region of the world that one is speaking of. Africa was a principle area for slavery; it was the basis for the slave trade for numerous countries and had its own slave system within. As in most of the world, slavery, or involuntary human servitude, was practiced across parts of Africa from prehistoric times to the modern era. When people think of slavery today, many envision the basis in which it existed in the United States before the American Civil War, one racially identifiable group owning and exploiting another. Masters abusing and misusing slaves,

taking away their dignity without any remorse and stripping away the little amounts of confidence left within. “Slavery was one form of exploitation. Its special characteristics included the idea that slaves were property; that they were outsiders who were alien by origin or who had been denied their heritage through judicial or other sanctions.” (Lovejoy) Because of this belief, slaves were barely given respect and were treated on the same level of dirt. In western society the vision of a slave was depicted as only a negative individual with no rights. However,...

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4. Kopytoff, Igor. Miers, Suzanne. African Slavery as Institution of Marginality 28 sep. 2008
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7. Mintz, Stephen . "African American Voices." Digital history. 13 Sep. 2006. 27 Sep. 2008. .
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9. Walvin, James. Atlas of Slavery. UK: Pearson Education Limited. 2006
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