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Masters, Slaves, and Exchange
Power's Purchase in the Old South

$20.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies on the American South

  • Date Published: December 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107636644

$ 20.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • 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
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    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 Illinois

    "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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    Product details

    • 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

  • Author

    Kathleen M. Hilliard, Iowa State University
    Kathleen M. Hilliard is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Iowa State University. She received her BA from Wake Forest University and her PhD from the University of South Carolina, where she worked under the direction of Mark M. Smith and won the Wienefeld Award for the best dissertation in history. Since 2006 she has studied and taught about the Old South, slavery, and the social and cultural contradictions of antebellum America at the University of Idaho and Iowa State University. Portions of her work have been published in major essay collections and presented in scholarly meetings in the United States, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. She has served on the Editorial Board for Agricultural History and Gale/Cengage's 'Slavery and Anti-Slavery' digital history project.

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