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Slavery in Early China: A Socio-Cultural Approach

Slavery in Early China: A Socio-Cultural Approach © Brill, Leiden 2002 JEAA 3, 1–2 SLAVERY IN EARLY CHINA: A SOCIO-CULTURAL APPROACH BY ROBIN D. S. YATES (McGill University) Abstract This essay analyzes the nature of slavery in early China from a comparative socio- cultural perspective, using the sociological approach of Orlando Patterson ( Slavery and Social Death , 1982). Marxist and other theoretical positions are rejected in favor of viewing slaves not as the object of property, but rather seeing that slaves could not be the subject of property. In other words, slaves are “dominated non-persons.” The focus of the inquiry is on interpreting the diverse materials relating to slaves in the Qin legal documents discovered at Shuihudi, Hunan Province, in 1975. Brief consideration is given to other statuses, such as the convict status of lichen and liqie (male and female bondservants), and whether they should be considered slaves or not. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of analyzing early Chinese slavery within its culturally rich context of ritual and cosmological conceptions and practices. Introduction 1 Over the last two decades, slavery has become the topic of numerous studies to such an extent that one might say that slavery has become 1 An earlier draft of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of East Asian Archaeology Brill

Slavery in Early China: A Socio-Cultural Approach

Journal of East Asian Archaeology , Volume 3 (1): 283 – Jan 1, 2001

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2002 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1387-6813
eISSN
1568-5233
DOI
10.1163/156852301100402723
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Brill, Leiden 2002 JEAA 3, 1–2 SLAVERY IN EARLY CHINA: A SOCIO-CULTURAL APPROACH BY ROBIN D. S. YATES (McGill University) Abstract This essay analyzes the nature of slavery in early China from a comparative socio- cultural perspective, using the sociological approach of Orlando Patterson ( Slavery and Social Death , 1982). Marxist and other theoretical positions are rejected in favor of viewing slaves not as the object of property, but rather seeing that slaves could not be the subject of property. In other words, slaves are “dominated non-persons.” The focus of the inquiry is on interpreting the diverse materials relating to slaves in the Qin legal documents discovered at Shuihudi, Hunan Province, in 1975. Brief consideration is given to other statuses, such as the convict status of lichen and liqie (male and female bondservants), and whether they should be considered slaves or not. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of analyzing early Chinese slavery within its culturally rich context of ritual and cosmological conceptions and practices. Introduction 1 Over the last two decades, slavery has become the topic of numerous studies to such an extent that one might say that slavery has become 1 An earlier draft of

Journal

Journal of East Asian ArchaeologyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2001

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