Definition of Slavery

1439 Words6 Pages
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
…show more content…
The idea of a slave was more lenient; many lived as their masters did. Some acquired substantial amounts of money and became rich and were able to purchase their own slaves. Sometimes the conditions were decent enough that some slaves turned down freedom. “Thus the two realms are very often intertwined in a way that modern westerners may find striking: African slaves may often look to westerners as relatives of the masters, and relatives may sometimes look like slaves. In fact, a person sometimes is both” (Kopytoff) The idea that slaves were treated somewhat as family raises the idea that there must have been some type of respect given to them that masters can see slaves as somewhat one of their own. When a woman is acquired into slavery, they are bought for a special reason, to be a producer of human resources also known as children. They didn’t necessarily have to be used for the master’s purposes but they were sometimes married off to close lineages or other close relatives. “it (the union between slave and husband) was usually considered a kind of concubinage rather than a marriage…Alternatively the patrilineal

kin group might wish to simply marry the acquired girl off in the normal way and receive bridewealth for her” (Kpoyoff) A woman slave can somewhat be compared to the practice that was followed in early history when women were given off to be married. They hold most of the same principles and rules, and most of the times
Open Document