The Arming of Slaves in Comparative Perspective

TitleThe Arming of Slaves in Comparative Perspective
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsBrown, Christopher Leslie
EditorMorgan, Philip D., and Christopher Leslie Brown
Book TitleArming Slaves: From Classical Times to the Modern Age
Pagination330 - 353
PublisherYale University Press
CityNew Haven, CT

Arming slaves as soldiers is a counterintuitive idea. Yet throughout history, in many varied societies, slaveholders have entrusted slaves with the use of deadly force. This book is the first to survey the practice broadly across space and time, encompassing the cultures of classical Greece, the early Islamic kingdoms of the Near East, West and East Africa, the British and French Caribbean, the United States, and Latin America.To facilitate cross-cultural comparisons, each chapter addresses four crucial issues: the social and cultural facts regarding the arming of slaves, the experience of slave soldiers, the ideological origins and consequences of equipping enslaved peoples for battle, and the impact of the practice on the status of slaves and slavery itself. What emerges from the book is a new historical understanding: the arming of slaves is neither uncommon nor paradoxical but is instead both predictable and explicable. The chapter, The Arming of Slaves in Comparative Perspective written by Christopher Leslie Brown is contained in the book, Arming Slaves: From Classical Times to the Modern Age which Brown also edited. A comparative analysis of the arming of slaves may shed light on the problems regarding the dynamics of power within slave societies, the nature of domination and resistance, and the paradoxes of mastery and enslavement. This book provides case studies on the arming of slaves throughout thousands of years of history, focusing on the use of slave soldiers in regions from classical Greece to western Africa and the Middle East. It examines how the arming of slaves expressed itself in either military slavery or the less sophisticated schemes commonly used in the Americas. It has also discusses slave recruitment and deployment and the reasons behind the arming of slaves, including blacks. In addition, the book explores the consequences of the arming of slaves both for the enslaved and the institution of slavery itself.

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