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This book examines the political economy of the master-slave relationship viewed through the lens of consumption and market exchange. What did it mean when human chattel bought commodities, “stole” property, or gave and received gifts? Forgotten exchanges, this study argues, measured the deepest questions of worth and value, shaping an enduring struggle for power between slaves and masters. The slaves' internal economy focused intense paternalist negotiation on a ground where categories of exchange – provision, gift, contraband, and commodity – were in constant flux. At once binding and alienating, these ties endured constant moral stresses and material manipulation by masters and slaves alike, galvanizing conflict and engendering complex new social relations on and off the plantation.Read more
- Examines a range of cultural and economic activity from gift-giving to theft to market exchange, linking economic history to political and social history
- Explores the exciting field of the slaves' internal economy, drawing out the complex ties of informal, illicit, and underground exchange which has attracted much attention from leading economists, sociologists, historians, and political scientists
- Invites readers to revisit the much-debated 'paternalist thesis' advanced by Eugene Genovese thirty-five years ago
Reviews & endorsements
"Kathleen Hilliard has written an extraordinary book. In it, she breaks new ground in her investigation of black and white relationships in the antebellum South, and on the internal slave economy, illicit trade, and consumerism. The book is grounded in the careful exploration of excellent sources, especially archival primary materials. There is no question that this book is going to shake up slavery studies drastically. Although the internal economy of slavery has been studied for nearly thirty years now, we've never had a study like this."
Orville Vernon Burton, Creativity Professor of Humanities, Clemson University, and Emeritus University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, University of IllinoisSee more reviews
"Masters, Slaves, and Exchange is a terrific book in every way, one of the best I've read in a long while. It is by far the broadest, most sophisticated, and most truly empathetic account we have of the complicated and ultimately tragic relationship among masters, slaves, and the market in the antebellum South. Unlike most other writers on this subject, Hilliard treats it in a comprehensive way and, more notably still, from a variety of perspectives. In so doing, she is able to provide a truly convincing interpretation (or rather set of interpretations) regarding the strategies, tactics, and sensibilities of all parties involved."
Peter A. Coclanis, Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"… [Includes] fascinating portions that deal with the lives of 'upwardly mobile' slaves … All in all, a very good book … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."
I. Cohen, Choice
"Following the pioneer work of Ulrich B. Phillips and Eugene D. Genovese on the reciprocal rights, privileges, and responsibilities that masters and slaves shared, Kathleen M. Hilliard examines the slaves' exchange economy along the Atlantic seaboard … an original and significant contribution to slave historiography."
John David Smith, North Carolina Historical Review
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- Date Published: December 2013
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107636644
- length: 226 pages
- dimensions: 228 x 151 x 13 mm
- weight: 0.32kg
- contains: 6 b/w illus. 12 tables
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Money and moralism
2. Slaves and spending
3. Servants served
4. Black markets
5. Gilt chains
6. The choice
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