Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital, and World Economy (World Social Change)

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9780742529397: Through the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital, and World Economy (World Social Change)
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In this thoughtful book, Dale W. Tomich explores the contested relationship between slavery and capitalism. Tracing slavery's integral role in the formation of a capitalist world economy, he reinterprets the development of the world economy through the 'prism of slavery.' Through a sustained critique of Marxism, world-systems theory, and new economic history, Tomich develops an original conceptual framework for answering theoretical and historical questions about the nexus between slavery and the world economy. The author explores how particular slave systems were affected by their integration into the world market, the international division of labor, and the interstate system. He further examines the ways that the particular 'local' histories of such slave regimes illuminate processes of world economic change. His deft use of specific New World examples of slave production as local sites of global transformation highlights the influence of specific geographies and local agency in shaping different slave zones. Tomich's cogent analysis of the struggles over the organization of work and labor discipline in the French West Indian colony of Martinique vividly illustrates the ways that day-to-day resistance altered the relationship between master and slave, precipitated crises in sugar cultivation, and created the local conditions for the transition to a post-slavery economy and society.

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Review:

The thoughtful essays in this volume address the large-scale relationships of slavery and early modern capitalism.--David Northrup, Boston College "American Historical Review "

A provocatively illuminating book. This work opens new windows into the wider frameworks within which New World Slavery might be placed and better understood.--David Barry Gaspar, Duke University

Recommended.--CHOICE

Tomich's approach proves very fruitful. . . . Historical and comparative sociologists of all specializations will do well to come to terms with the many methodological and theoretical insights that Tomich offers throughout the book. . . . [Makes] outstanding contributions to historical sociology.--American Journal of Sociology

I commend the author for a well written and clearly organized text. . . . Tomich makes the reader rethink the totality of the relations of capital as presented by Marx.--Contemporary Sociology

Not only a stimulating and rich use of the Atlantic history framework, but a muscular defense of the validity, even the necessity, of world history as a serious methodological project that can begin to breach [the] theoretical void. . . . Tomich brings a rigourous and exacting focus to the capitalism and slavery debate with particular attention to the role of the Caribbean as a test case for the uneven historical trajectory of modernity. . . . The essays . . . make a compelling case for using a world history framework that should be read not only by Atlanticists, but by any modern historian. . . . For students of international economy, Tomich's work provides a historical context for current inequalities and development trajectories, and actively challenges any two-dimensional view of the world.--Itinerario

About the Author:

Dale W. Tomich is professor of sociology and history at Binghamton University.

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