Kostas Vlassopoulos, Historicising Ancient Slavery, Edinburgh University Press, 272 pp. (2021).
A new framework for studying slaves and slavery in ancient societies
- Offers a new theoretical framework for the study of ancient slavery
- Employs a global historical perspective
- Focuses on the agency of ancient slaves
- Explores the link between slavery and historical change in antiquity
- Examines the multiple contradictions within slave systems
- Examines slavery from an economic, social, political and cultural perspective
Informed by the global history of slavery, Kostas Vlassopoulos avoids traditional approaches to slavery as a static institution and instead explores the diverse strategies and various contexts in which it was employed. In doing so he offers a new historicist approach to the study of slave identity and the various networks and communities that slaves created or participated in.
Instead of seeing slaves merely as passive objects of exploitation and domination, his focus is on slave agency and the various ways in which they played an active role in the history of ancient societies. Vlassopoulos examines slavery not only as an economic and social phenomenon, but also in its political, religious and cultural ramifications. A comparative framework emerges as he examines Greek and Roman slaveries alongside other slaving systems in the Near East, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.