Introduction to 1993 Compilation

THIS BIBLIOGRAPHY has changed in scope and purpose as it has grown, from an initial working bibliography for a course taught at the University of Virginia, to a general comparative teaching bibliography of some 1645 entries published in 1977, and to what I then thought was a reasonably comprehensive research bibliography of 5117 works in 1983. The current compilation, 10,351 items, represents a fuller, though no doubt still incomplete, reference guide to twentieth-century writings on slavery and the slave trade in most parts of the world, through about 1991.

Its growth represents only in part my growing awareness of the pervasiveness of slavery and slaving throughout human history.1 Its current scale, approaching indigestibility in the larger regional categories of the listings and in some of the concepts indexed in the original print version,** is also a product of the enormous fascination that the subject has held for modern scholars in general, and particularly for the nearly 5900 of them who have focused their writing sufficiently on the subject to meet the definition of coverage employed here. Freedom, as highlighted in a masterly new interpretation by Orlando Patterson, has been fundamental "in the Making of Western Culture," and slavery may lie at the genesis of the profoundly influential notion that individuals have rights, autonomy, and dignity independent of their fellow or their gods.2 Enslavement seems to lie close to the heart of what has made us who we are. In recent years, historians and others have contributed several hundred publications on the subject each year, and the stream shows no signs of abating as scholars continue to reveal the unsuspected prominence of slaves in every part of the world. Medieval and early modern Europe and the remote interior of nineteenth-century southern Africa come to mind as current examples; a generation ago, some were surprised, and even distressed, to learn that Greek civilization had been based, at least in some respects, on slave labor.3

Scholars have also continued to probe new aspects of enslavement in areas where its presence has long been acknowledged, and where it has seemed familiar. As one example since the last compilation of this bibliography, the distinctive experience of female slaves has attracted the attention of scholars; the 1985 bibliography contained 38 references in the index listing for "Women," a significant portion of those from a single new collection of papers on enslaved females in Africa,4 but the current index identifies 153 works and a half dozen additional related categories. A new wave of work concerned to elicit the meanings of living under, or with, slavery has replaced the structural preoccupations, Marxist, neo-Marxist, economic, and anthropological, of scholars in the 1970s and early 1980s. These new interests have also led to a growing awareness of the essential historicity of slavery, of its inherent and even necessary tendency to change through time as populations of immigrant, raw captives built up and began to work out accommodations with those who held them in bondage and, in most cases, also to move out of slavery and into other forms of dependency. Ancient historians have moved courageously beyond the close technical studies long characteristic of their field to attempt broad-ranging, and carefully documented, interpretations;5 they have also produced useful historiographical interpretations.6 Archaeologists have turned their research tools to the examination of differences in the lives of masters and slaves on New World plantations.7 We have important syntheses, often the culmination of years of work as scholars have matured with the field to which they contribute, in other fields not previously visible other than in scattered details.8 Slavery remains fascinating and thus subject to the application of new techniques and to the ongoing evolution of intellectual concerns in many disciplines.

Definition Of Coverage

This bibliography includes the same range of works as all previous compilations: secondary scholarly works, written from the perspective of any academic discipline, reflecting directly on slavery or on the slave trade anywhere in the world and published in Western European languages. Given the rarity, and increasingly so, of slavery in the modern world, most of the works are historical, though ranging within that discipline from legal history through formal demographic analysis to political and intellectual history. Economics, political economy, sociology, and -- another recent development -- anthropology are well represented. The humanities, philosophy, linguistics, and literary criticism are less common, though the new concerns with meaning have made them more prominent of late.

"Direct reflection on slavery or the slave trade" has been judged according to arbitrary, but reasonably consistent, criteria: sufficient prominence in the work to merit reference in its title. This definition deliberately excludes such closely related subjects as freedmen (except in relation to the slave society in which they lived), general histories of sugar in the New World, the sociology of inequality in general, the history of most African states before the modern era, debt bondage, race relations, British politics of abolition, the history of Brazilian colonial cities, the U. S. Civil War, and so on. The ubiquity of slavery in world history means that a less restrictive definition would expand the coverage uncontrollably.

The bibliography covers all scholarly publication formats except for short reviews of books on the subject and the portions of larger works by single authors focused on the subject. Thus, a chapter on slave labor in a book devoted to agricultural history in the American South would not appear here. But substantial reviews and review-essays, unpublished conference papers, encyclopedia articles of more than routine significance, articles in scholarly periodicals, popular historical magazines, and serious journalism, chapters in multi-authored edited collections, and books and monographs all are included. Translations and reprints9 are included, in indented format10 under the entries for the original publications. Primary sources are not listed, except for slave testimonies, memoirs, and narratives (and a few others11) printed with substantial modern introductions and scholarly apparatus. This exclusion is an intended effect of the bibliography's starting date of 1900; the era of slavery had ended, at least nominally, by the beginning of the twentieth century in most parts of the world, and so the first-hand recollections of people who observed it date from that earlier time when enslavement figured so widely in human experience.

Works in Arabic and other Asian and African languages, and a large body of important scholarship in Slavic tongues (Russian, Polish, Hungarian, etc.) do not appear, and the listed works in Western European languages on the parts of the world where these languages are spoken seldom give more than introductory coverage to these sometimes important literatures.

It is hoped that, in spite of these limits, the bibliography will offer access, seldom at more than one remove, to the full range of related works and primary sources relevant to investigation of slavery in most parts of the world through the footnotes and bibliographies of the studies listed.

The format of the entries is historical (or, according to the standards of the Modern Language Association) and roughly in conformity with U.S. Library of Congress cataloguing rules. It includes substantial detail (issue numbers within volumes of serials, frequently the names of monograph series, dates and places of conferences for published proceedings, and the like), so that users accustomed to other systems elsewhere in the world will be likely to encounter some element of the citation that gives access to available holdings of it through local conventions, or even directly from publishers. My assumption is that non-specialists will be making use of the bibliography, and I have therefore not employed abbreviations often common within the fields in which scholars work (e.g. HAHR for the Hispanic American Historical Review, JAH, for the Journal of American History or the Journal of African History, RIDA for the Revue internationale des droits de l'antiquité, or RFHOM for the Revue française d'histoire d-outre-mer). Entries appear in the language of publication, except in a few cases of titles in Russian, Polish, or other non-western-European languages published with summaries titled in French, German, or English, etc. These are indicated explicitly as such. There are a few transliterations from Arabic, Greek, or Cyrillic or other non-Roman alphabets; these may vary from conventions preferred by some specialists. In a very few instances, they have simply been replaced by ellipses.


  1. For a recent and comprehensive survey, see Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1982).
  2. New York: Basic Books, 1991.
  3. Moses I. Finley, Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology (New York: Viking Press, 1980).
  4. Claire C. Robertson and Martin A. Klein, eds., Women and Slavery in Africa (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983).
  5. E.g. Yvon Garlan, Les esclaves en Grèce ancienne (Paris, 1982) (translated as Slavery in Ancient Greece [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988]); Ellen Meiksins Wood, Peasant-Citizen and Slave: The Foundations of Athenian Democracy (London: Verso, 1988); Keith R. Bradley, Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire: An Exercise in Social Control (Brussels: Latomus, 1984); Moses I. Finley, ed., Classical Slavery, special issue of Slavery and Abolition, 8, 1 (1987), and also London: Frank Cass, 1988.
  6. Thomas E. J. Wiedemann, Slavery (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987).
  7. Theresa A. Singleton, ed., The Archaeology of Slavery and Plantation Life (New York: Academic Press, 1985); Charles E. Orser, ed., "Bibliography Of Slave And Plantation Archaeology," Slavery and Abolition, forthcoming.
  8. William D. Phillips, Jr., Slavery from Roman Times to the Early Transatlantic Trade (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985); Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848 (London: Verso, 1988); David Eltis, Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Ruth Mazo Karras, Slavery and Society in Medieval Scandinavia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988); Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Murray Gordon, Slavery in the Arab World (New York: New Amsterdam, 1989); John B. Boles, Black Southerners 1619-1689 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1983); Herbert S. Klein, African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); for Africa, see Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983) and Patrick Manning, Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental, and African Slave Trades (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990). For the United States there is also a historiographical study: Peter J. Parish, Slavery: History and Historians (New York: Harper and Row, 1989).
  9. Particularly for the United States, the massive collection edited by Paul Finkelman, Articles on American Slavery (New York: Garland, 1989); listed under individual volume titles. See also Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in American History from Colonial Times through the Nineteenth Century (4 vols.) (Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing Co., 1990).
  10. In the database as "notes".
  11. E.g. John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (originally published 1796), new ed. by Richard Price and Sally Price (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988).