[Books] Announcing “Bondage” by A. Stanziani

Alessandro Stanziani just published Bondage. Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries. New York, Oxford : Berghahn, (International Studies in Social History Volume 24), 2014, 258 p.

“For the first time, this book provides the global history of labor in Central Eurasia, Russia, Europe, and the Indian Ocean between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries. It contests common views on free and unfree labor, and compares the latter to many Western countries where wage conditions resembled those of domestic servants. This gave rise to extreme forms of dependency in the colonies, not only under slavery, but also afterwards in form of indentured labor in the Indian Ocean and obligatory labor in Africa. The author shows that unfree labor and forms of economic coercion were perfectly compatible with market development and capitalism, proven by the consistent economic growth that took place all over Eurasia between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries. This growth was labor intensive: commercial expansion, transformations in agriculture, and the first industrial revolution required more labor, not less. Finally, Stanziani demonstrates that this world did not collapse after the French Revolution or the British industrial revolution, as is commonly assumed, but instead between 1870 and 1914, with the second industrial revolution and the rise of the welfare state.”

Preview on Google Books / Full pdf cover

Table of contents



The Scope and Main Argument of this Book
The Legal Status and Rights of Labor in Russia and Europe
Serfdom in a Comparative Perspective
Global, Local, Imperial: Scales of Analysis

Part I. Bondage Imagined

Chapter 1. Second Serfdom and Wage Earners in European and Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to the Mid-nineteenth Century
The Eighteenth Century: Forced Labor between Reform and Revolution
Enlightenment and Serfdom in Russia
The Proletarians Are the Real Serfs: Utopian Socialism, Christian Socialism, and Radical Thought
Chapter 2. Poor Laws, Management, and Labor Control in Russia and Britain, or the History of the Bentham Brothers in Russia
A Global History of Labor Control: The Case of the Bentham Brothers in Russia
Estate Organization in Russia: Instruktsiia, or How to Supervise the Supervisor
Controlling Labor: Paupers and Servants in Britain
The Fate of Bentham’s Panopticon: Labor Organization in Nineteenth-century Britain and Russia

Part II. The Architecture of Bondage: Slaves and Serfs in Central Asia and Russia

Chapter 3. Slavery and Bondage in Central Asia and Russia from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century
Kholopy: Slaves, Serfs, or Indentured Servants?
War Captives at a Crossroads of Empires
Slavery in Central Eurasia: Its Estimation and Overall Interpretation
Chapter 4. The Institutions of Serfdom
Property Rules and the Legal Status of Russian Peasantry
Changing Legal Status: Administrative Procedure or Court Proceedings
Peasants in Town
Conclusion: Legal Status and Economic Dynamism in Imperial Russia
Chapter 5. Labor and Dependence on Russian Estates
Proto-Industry, Trade, and Growth in the Eighteenth Century
From Peasant-masters to Peasant-workers? (1800–1861)
Toward a Reassessment of Second Serfdom in Eastern Europe

Part III. Old Bondage, New Practices: A Comparative View of the Russian, European, and Indian Ocean Worlds

Chapter 6. The Persistent Servant: Labor, Rules, and Social Hierarchies in France and Britain from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century
Labor Constraints in England
A French Exception?
Chapter 7. Bondage across the Ocean. Indentured Labor in the Indian Ocean
The Main Argument
Forms of Bondage in the Indian Ocean
Forced Migration Across the Oceans: Convicts
The Invention of Engagisme
Engagés from Asia and Africa in the Indian Ocean in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Engagisme after Slavery
From Servants to Indentured Immigrants: The Case of Mauritius
Toward a New World?
Conclusion. The Collapse and Resurgence of Bondage
Collective Bargaining and the “New” Labor Contract in Western Countries
Population, Migration, and Labor, 1870–1914
Russian Growth: From Serfdom to Bondage?

Printed Documents
Selected Bibliography

Announcing 4 Lectures by Prof. Ulbe Bosma

1. Free and unfree labour in colonial Southeast Asia

Challenging Hegel’s famous dictum that only the ruler is free in oriental societies, historians and anthropologists have catalogued a bewildering variety of conceptions of freedom and bondedness throughout Asia. The existing levels of social differentiation and the concomitant constraints on labour were rather inconvenient for colonial administrations who aimed at simplifying this diversity for revenue purposes and ‘freeing up’ labour for global commodity production. Both civil servants and European plantation owners spoke of free labour, an objective that they expected to accomplish by curbing the claims on labour by local patrimonial structures. It has often been observed that this was just replacing one system of unfreedom by another: tributary labour was quite often just replaced by regimes of colonial coerced labour on construction sites or plantations. Or to mention another example, the same colonial powers who combated different types of slavery including debt-slavery legalized migratory labour under coerced circumstances by establishing the institution of so-called indentured migrations. Cases from the Netherlands Indies, the Malay states, and the Philippines will be discussed within the wider framework of debates on what free and unfree labour might mean in different historical contexts.

2. Global sugar and local taste in India

Before oil became the world’s prime commodity, sugar was the most valuable bulk. In the nineteenth century, the emergence of industrial beet sugar complexes in Europe and the industrialisation of cane sugar production in its colonies brought refined sugar within reach, first of European and later of American and Asian masses. From the 1860s onwards, Asian producers and consumers increasingly began to play a role in the world market for industrial sugar. Java, Mauritius, the Philippines and Taiwan became important sites of production, whereas Japan, India and China were opened up as markets for industrially manufactured white crystalline sugar. Urban middle classes throughout the world became consumers of massive quantities of these sugars, but local sugars did not entirely disappear. As this lecture will detail, this was particularly not the case in India, which has been the largest producer of sugar for most of human history. In this country raw sugar, so-called gur, continues to be extremely popular until today not just for its price but even more so for its taste. This item has even become part of a global discourse against refined industrial sugar as unhealthy and devoid of any nutrients beyond sucrose.

3. Commodity production and transforming village production: comparing Madras and Java

In the early years of the nineteenth century, colonial administrators of British India and the Netherlands Indies were mulling over the question how to raise agricultural productivity in their newly acquired territorial possessions to strengthen the economic basis for their emerging colonial apparatuses. The combination of securing property rights (giving the peasants a legal and registered title on their land) and raising a moderate land rent were considered as the most appropriate means to enhance agricultural output both for local and global markets. These principles were put in practice through the so-called ryotwari land rent system, which Thomas Munro introduced in Madras, a model that was also followed by Thomas Stamford Raffles in Java. Things turned out less favourably for local rural societies in the two areas, however. Whereas large groups of peasants did become increasingly reliant on cash crops, it was not thanks to the attractions of the global market, but as a result of indebtedness and pressure from wealthier and more powerful farmers. This lecture aims to discuss different social configurations at the village levels that emerged in the course of colonial commodity production.

4. From colonial to global knowledge: circuits of botanists

In the era of colonial monopolies of precious items like spices, plant knowledge was usually acquired through espionage and species were obtained through smuggling. This began to change by around 1800, when knowledge was spread through the increasing mobility of planters across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean spaces. Planters from the Caribbean started indigo and sugar plantations in South and Southeast Asia for example. But even more than these individuals the scientific rules of knowledge dissemination and publication began to cut through colonial boundaries in the course of the nineteenth century. While ‘classical colonial history’ would point out the importance of the imperial experimental stations in Pasuruan, Bogor, Coimbatore, Barbados and so on, backed up by their metropolitan institutions like Kew Gardens and Wageningen Agricultural University, colonial boundaries hardly existed for botanical knowledge. On the basis of concrete examples of circulations of plant species and botanical knowledge, planters’ mobility and the dissemination of knowledge by experimental stations, this lecture aims at exploring how we should define these circuits vis-à-vis existing literature on colonial structures of knowledge production.

Dates and places:

1 Free and unfree labour in colonial Southeast Asia , séminaire de Maurice Aymard, Jean-Yves Grenier, Gilles Postel-Vinay, Alessandro Stanziani, le lundi 10 mars, salle 1, 105 bd Raspail, 17-20 heures

2 Global sugar and local taste in India dans le cadre du séminaire de Françoise Sabban,
Caroline Bodolec, Frédéric Obringer jeudi 13 mars, salle 681, 190 avenue de France, 11-13 heures.

3 Commodity production and transforming village production: comparing Madras and Java , séminaire de Laurent Berger le lundi 17 mars, salle 1, 105 bd Raspail, 11-13 heures

4 From colonial to global knowledge: circuits of botanists, Séminaire central du Case, le 27 mars : 10-12 heures, Maison de l’Asie, 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris
M° Iéna ou Trocadéro

Announcing 3 conferences by Prof. Tanimoto

1. Peasant Society in Industrializing Economy : Labour Allocation, Migration and Occupational Structure

It is now becoming clear that the agrarian household did not simply react passively to the impact of industrialization, but strategically allocated its family labour to industrial and agricultural work executed within the household, as well as releasing members to the outer labour market. This lecture discusses the factors that determined the pattern and volume of labour mobility, in the light of the household economy and the nature of industrial occupations.

6 mars 2014 (salle 2, 105 bd Raspail 75006 Paris)

Séminaire de Histoire du Japon moderne et contemporain : permanences et ruptures.
• Patrick Beillevaire, directeur de recherche au CNRS (TH)
• Guillaume Carré, maître de conférences à l’EHESS
• Arnaud Nanta, chargé de recherche au CNRS

 [Date du séminaire modifiée – consulter les plannings sur le site de l’EHESS]

2. The Role of Labour-intensive Industrialization in the Economic Development

This lecture explores how the notion of labour-intensive industrialization, based as it originally on agrarian setting, could be extended to the non-agrarian sphere by analyzing the foundation of small scale industries in 19th and 20th century Japan, with special reference to a dispersed production system developed and operated in the metropolis.

Discipline au travail : histoire du marché du travail et protection sociale
• Mathieu Arnoux, directeur d’études à l’EHESS, professeur à l’Université Paris-Diderot (Paris-VII) (TH)
• Jérôme Bourdieu, directeur d’études à l’EHESS, directeur de recherche à l’INRA (TH)
• Alain Dewerpe, directeur d’études à l’EHESS (TH)
• Jean-Yves Grenier, directeur d’études à l’EHESS (TH)
• Gilles Postel-Vinay, directeur d’études à l’EHESS (TH)

13 mars 2014. 16,30-19 :30, ENS, Campus Paris-Jourdan, salle E 101, 48 bd Jourdan 75014 Paris

3. The Provision of Public Goods in Transitional Economy: The Role of Regional Society in 19th Century Japan

The sustainability and reproduction of economic lives of ordinary people has been based not only on goods and services obtained from market activities but also those provided as public goods in a broad sense. Though national state can be nominated as a main provider, other actors might have played significant roles specifically before 20th century. The lecture shows to what extent the regional society played a role in providing public goods, and discusses the autonomy of regional economy in transitional Japan.

Maurice Aymard, Jean-Yves Grenier, Gilles Postel-Vinay, Alessandro Stanziani, Critique de l’économie historique

24 mars 2014, salle 1, 105 Bd Raspail, 17-20 heures


Starvation and the State

2014-02-06_StevenSerels_poster_webNew Book in the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies : Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956, by Steven Serels

For much of its recent history, Sudan has been beset by devastating famines that have killed countless people and powerfully reshaped its society. However, as this historical study of food insecurity in the region shows, there was no necessary correlation between natural disasters, decreased crop yields, and famine in Sudan. Rather, repeated food crises since the late nineteenth century were the result of inter-generational, exploitative processes that transferred the resources of victim communities to the state and to a small group of non-state elites. This dynamic fundamentally transformed the social, political, and economic structures underpinning Sudanese society and prevented many communities from securing necessary subsistence. On one hand, food crises facilitated the British-led conquest of Sudan and subsequently allowed British imperial agents, acting through the Anglo-Egyptian government, to seize control of many of Sudan’s natural resources. At the same time, however, a number of indigenous elites were also able to position themselves so as to further augment their prestige and economic wealth. At independence, these elites were handed control of the state and, in the years that followed, they continued many of the policies that had impoverished their countrymen.

Steven Serels is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard University, USA. He is also a Research Associate at the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University, Canada.