American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western by Christine E. Sears (auth.) PDF

By Christine E. Sears (auth.)

ISBN-10: 1137295031

ISBN-13: 9781137295033

ISBN-10: 1349443530

ISBN-13: 9781349443536

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Additional resources for American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776–1820

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51 Slavery, then, is culturally specific, and what slavery is depends on where and when it was practiced. Because of this, it is virtually impossible to “distill” a “universal meaning” for the term. For Shaler and many of his contemporaries, the victims of North and West Africans occupied a blurry, amorphous state that some categorized as slavery while others insisted it was not. As scholars try to define precisely this experience that was fuzzy even for those who lived closest to it, the exercise, though intellectually interesting, becomes anachronistic.

If slaves lack self-determination, then what of the many free people who were, and are, prevented from charting their own destinies? If nonslaves must have complete freedom of choice, then late eighteenth-century US apprentices and indentured servants were not truly free. Their labor belonged to their master, whose orders they were to follow. Even in colonial US culture, slaves represented only one group of unfree people. 50 Indeed, terms such as “slavery” and “freedom” are inherently difficult to pin down particularly as their definitions change over time and place.

15 Most American victims served in the merchant marine, and they seldom served with family members if one judges by the men captured by Ottoman Algerians. Out of the 130 taken, only Captain William Furnace and his cabin boy, Thomas Furnace, may have been related. 16 Even if the Furnaces are a possible exception, it seems safe to say that most, if not all, lacked family members’ physical presence while in Algiers. Had enslaved Americans or Europeans wished to create families in Algiers, the Ottoman Algerian system allowed them no opportunity to do so.

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American Slaves and African Masters: Algiers and the Western Sahara, 1776–1820 by Christine E. Sears (auth.)


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