Alejandro de la Fuente, fuente2@pitt.edu, office hours Wednesdays 10-12, WWPH 3K57, 648-7468
Bruce Venarde, bvenarde@pitt.edu, office hours Wednesdays 10-12, WWPH 3M26, 624-8437

In 1492, when the Europeans reached the Americas, slavery was in decline in most of Europe. During the following three hundred years, the Europeans developed the Atlantic Slave System, a complex web of relationships that linked Europe, Africa, and the Americas and resulted in the forced migration of millions of African slaves to the New World. Was New World slavery qualitatively new, or rather another instance of a long history of slavery and coerced labor in the West? Was the Atlantic slave system the logical offspring of previous European experiences with slavery and other forms of unfree labor? These central questions inform a survey of recent scholarship on slavery from classical times to the seventeenth century -- in the ancient Mediterranean, medieval Europe, and the early modern Atlantic world, especially Latin America. Readings include classics of slave historiography as well as the latest scholarship, with approaches ranging from traditional intellectual history to statistical analysis.

Our objectives, then, are to learn something about early Western slavery and to pay attention to the variety of approaches and debates among its historians. We will compare observations weekly in discussions the quality of which will depend in large part on the care with which we have all read and pondered each week's assignment. Three short papers and one of medium length will give you the opportunity to elaborate and refine your thoughts about the readings.

  • Mastery of weekly readings and readiness to discuss and engage one another about them.
  • Three papers of no more than five (5) typed, double-spaced pages, due in class on September 10th, October 1st, and October 29th. The topic for the first paper is defined below; ideas for the other two will be distributed well in advance of due dates.
  • One final paper of no more than ten (10) typed, double-spaced pages, due on Monday, December 8th, at noon. Again, there will be more detailed instructions later in the semester.
Final grades will be calculated as follows: oral participation will count for 40 percent, papers for 60 percent.
August 27th: Introduction

September 10th: The problem: slavery and unfree labor

American Historical Review Forum "Crossing Slavery's Boundaries" (April 2000), 451-84, which includes:
  • David Brion Davis, "Looking at Slavery from Broader Perspectives"
  • Peter Kolchin, "The Big Picture: A Comment on David Brion Davis's..."
  • Rebecca Scott, "Small-Scale Dynamics of Large-Scale Processes"
  • Stanley Engerman, "Slavery at Different Times and Places"

Robin Blackburn, "Slave Exploitation and the Elementary Structures of Enslavement," in M.L. Bush, ed., Serfdom and Slavery, 158-180

David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 29-61

**First paper due in class today. Each of the historians we read this week identify and discuss several key questions in the history of Western slavery. What are the central theoretical and methodological questions raised in these six pieces? Please do not analyze the articles one by one; instead, organize your paper thematically. Your paper should be no more than five (5) typed, double-spaced pages; anything longer will be returned unread for revision.**

September 17th: Rome

Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at Rome

September 24th: Roman and other legacies

Davis, The Problem of Slavery, 62-90

Peter Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

October 1st: Slavery and unfree labor in the medieval West

Marc Bloch, Slavery and Serfdom in the Middle Ages, 1-91

Pierre Bonnassie, From Slavery to Feudalism in South-Western Europe, 1-60, 288-313, 314-40

William D. Phillips, Jr., Slavery From Roman Times to the Early Transatlantic Trade, 43-87

***Paper due in class today***

October 8th: The Mediterranean

Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery, 31-93

Steven A. Epstein, Speaking of Slavery: Color, Ethnicity and Human Bondage in Italy

October 15th: From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic I: Portugal and Spain

Debra Blumenthal, "Demendas de libertat: Slave claims-making in late medieval Spain" (typescript)

Ruth Pike, Aristocrats and Traders: Sevillian Society in the Sixteenth Century, 170-192

A.C. de C.M. Saunders, A social history of black slaves and freedmen in Portugal, 1441-1555

October 22nd: From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic II: The Atlantic Islands

Blackburn, Making, 95-126

Lobo Cabrera, "Slavery and Sugar in the Canary Islands," in Vieira, ed., Slaves With or Without Sugar, 109-24

Philip D. Curtin, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex, 3-28

William B. Phillips, Jr. "The Old World Background of Slavery in the Americas," in Barbara Solow, ed., Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System, 43-61

Charles Verlinden, "The Transfer of Colonial Techniques from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic," in The Beginnings of Modern Colonization, 3-32

Alberto Vieira, "Sugar Islands: The Sugar Economy of Madeira and the Canaries, 1450-1650," forthcoming in Stuart B. Schwartz, ed., Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World before the 'Sugar Revolution'

October 29th: Race and racism: Europeans' perceptions of Africans

Robert Bartlett, "Medieval and Modern Concepts of Race and Ethnicity" in Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31 (2001), 39-56

Benjamin Braude, "The Sons of Noah and the Construction of Ethnic and Geographical Identities in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 54 (1997), 103-42

David Eltis, "Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery in the Americas: An Interpretation," American Historical Review 98 (1993), 1399-1423

James H. Sweet, "The Iberian Roots of American Racist Thought," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 54 (1997), 143-66

Alden T. Vaughan, "The Origins Debate: Slavery and Racism in Seventeenth-Century Virginia," in Palmer, ed. The Worlds of Unfree Labor, 25-68

Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan, "Before Othello: Elizabethan Representations of Sub-Saharan Africans," William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 54 (1997), 19-44

***Paper due in class today***

November 5th: The early Atlantic: Africa and the New World

John Thornton, Africa and the Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World

November 12th: The early Atlantic: Africa and the New World II

James H. Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441-1770
Note: Professor Sweet will join our discussion this week.

November 19th: The early Atlantic: the Caribbean and Spanish America

Blackburn, Making, 127-60

Alejandro de la Fuente, "Slave Law and Claims-Making in Cuba: The Tannenbaum Debate Revisited," forthcoming in Law and History Review, May 2004 (http://www.pressuillinois.edu/journals/lhr.html: go to "forthcoming articles" and scroll down until you find the title)

Genaro Rodrâguez Morel, "The Sugar Economy of Hispaniola in the Sixteenth Century." forthcoming in Stuart B. Schwartz, ed., Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World before the 'Sugar Revolution'

Phillips, Slavery, 195-217

Charles Verlinden, "Medieval Slavery in Europe and Colonial Slavery in America," in The Beginnings of Modern Colonization, 33-51

Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System I, 86-102

December 3rd: The early Atlantic: Brazil

Stuart B. Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society

**Final paper due Monday, December 8th at noon**