Orlando Patterson, property, and ancient slavery: the definitional question revisited

Lewis, David (2016) Orlando Patterson, property, and ancient slavery: the definitional question revisited. In: On human bondage: after slavery and social death. The ancient world: comparative histories . Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 31-54. ISBN 9781119162483

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This essay provides a critique of Orlando Patterson's analysis of property and slavery. Traditionally, the notion that the slave was the property of his or her owner was seen as the distinguishing characteristic of slavery. Patterson criticised this approach on several counts, replacing the traditional formulation of slavery as the ownership of human beings with his own sociological definition, which holds that the condition should be defined as 'the permanent, violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonoured persons.' First, it is shown that the concept of property attacked by Patterson has little in common with the concept of property as understood in jurisprudence and comparative law, meaning that none of Patterson's objections carry any weight. Two ancient case studies - classical Athens and Achaemenid Babylonia - show that the approach of modern comparative law maps accurately on to the legal contours of slave ownership in these two very different societies. Finally, the paper highlights several shortcomings of Patterson's reformulated definition.

Item Type: Book Section
RIS ID: https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/832394
Keywords: Orlando Patterson; Slavery; Property; Ancient Greece; Babylonia
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities > Department of Classics
Depositing User: Lewis, David
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2017 14:11
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:24
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/45524

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