Organized Panel Session
This first part of a two-part panel emphasizes questions about attachments, relatedness, and returns.
Recent research suggests that the scale of slavery in Asia's past rivals that of the Atlantic world. Yet slavery, bondage, and forced relocation in Asia were more complex: multidirectional, diversely motivated, and frequently obscured by terms of kinship, friendship, and alliance. A reinvigorated and expanding field, fresh research on capture, slavery, bondage, and forced relocation clarifies basic questions about numbers, routes, and forms of asymmetrical dependency. It also addresses more complex questions about historical causality that involve competing, overlapping, and cross-cutting structures of interest, whether for economic gain, heightened social status, religious merit, subsistence security, or political advantage.
What needs and desires motivated specific captures in time and place? Why were people removed from settings familiar to them and relocated? Why did some enter bondage or servitude voluntarily? And what ramifications resulted from these various relocations? Did formulations of friendship and real or fictive kinship euphemize and perhaps ameliorate a sense of suffering, or of causing, social offense? How did actual kin relations formed through captures perpetuate conflict or transform war into peace, as in the story of the early Roman abductions of Sabine women?
While labor remains a vital part of the questions we hope to elucidate, other aspects of social relations call for analysis as well, whether in colonial contexts, non-colonial settings, or situations simultaneously structured by both.