Unfree Labor by Peter Kolchin
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Unfree Labor
By Peter Kolchin

Unfree Labor

American Slavery and Russian Serfdom

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Format: Paperback

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Unfree Labor by Peter Kolchin

Book Description

Two massive systems of unfree labor arose, a world apart from each other, in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The American enslavement of blacks and the Russian subjection of serfs flourished in different ways and varying degrees until they were legally abolished in the mid-nineteenth century. Historian Peter Kolchin compares and contrasts the two systems over time in this magisterial book, which clarifies the organization, structure, and dynamics of both social entities, highlighting their basic similarities while pointing out important differences discernible only in comparative perspective.These differences involved both the masters and the bondsmen. The independence and resident mentality of American slaveholders facilitated the emergence of a vigorous crusade to defend slavery from outside attack, whereas an absentee orientation and dependence on the central government rendered serfholders unable successfully to defend serfdom. Russian serfs, who generally lived on larger holdings than American slaves and faced less immediate interference in their everyday lives, found it easier to assert their communal autonomy but showed relatively little solidarity with peasants outside their own villages; American slaves, by contrast, were both more individualistic and more able to identify with all other blacks, both slave and free.Kolchin has discovered apparently universal features in master-bondsman relations, a central focus of his study, but he also shows their basic differences as he compares slave and serf life and chronicles patterns of resistance. If the masters had the upper hand, the slaves and serfs played major roles in shaping, and setting limits to, their own bondage.This truly unprecedented comparative work will fascinate historians, sociologists, and all social scientists, particularly those with an interest in comparative history and studies in slavery.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674920989
ISBN-10: 0674920988
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 162mm x 27mm)
Pages: 534
Imprint: The Belknap Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1990
Country of Publication: United States

Books By Author Peter Kolchin

Up from Serfdom by Peter Kolchin Up from Serfdom, Paperback (October 2002)

Aleksandr Nikitenko, born into Russian serfdom in 1804, almost miraculously gained his freedom as a young man, 37 years before serfdom was abolished in the Russian Empire. His autobiography - here translated into English - is one of the very few ever written by a former serf.

American Slavery by Peter Kolchin American Slavery, Paperback (February 1995)

Beginning with the Colonial period, progressing through the Revolution and the Antebellum period, this book chronologically documents the historical evolution of slavery in the USA.

» View all books by Peter Kolchin


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Author Biography - Peter Kolchin

Peter Kolchin is Professor of History, University of Delaware, and the author of First Freedom: The Response of Alabama's Blacks to Emancipation and Reconstruction.

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Up from Serfdom by Peter Kolchin
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