Definition of Slavery Essay

1436 Words Nov 18th, 2008 6 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
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It is unrealistic to believe that you can compare slavery that occurred in Africa itself to the slavery that occurred during the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The practice did not become "dehumanizing" until white Europeans came along and took slaves from Africa into the Americas. In other parts of the world, slavery has taken many different forms.
Slavery in Africa existed way before the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Slavery occurred in Africa for many reasons. Slavery occurred during wartime, after a nation or kingdom won a battle. The winning kingdom would take the opponents captive as slave. Other times, land owners needed more people to cultivate their land because of the desire to acquire additional land. Dept bondage was another way slaves were obtained; this was the use of people as collateral against debt. The person in dept would provide labor to escape from their depts. As described by Mintz,
“The gap in status between masters and slaves was not as wide as it would be in the New World. While most slaves were field

workers, some served in royal courts, where they served as officials, soldiers, servants, and artisans. Under a system known as "pawnship," youths (usually girls) served as collateral for their family's debts. If their parents or kin defaulted on these debts, then these young girls were forced to labor to repay these debts. In many instances, these young women eventually married into their owner's lineage, and their family's debt

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