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Christoph Cluse (2010)

Genealogische Entfremdung: Zur Sklaverei in städtischen Gesellschaften Italiens (13.-15. Jh.)

In: Unfreiheit und Sexualität von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, ed. by Josef Fischer and Melanie Ulz, pp. 123-140, Olms, Hildesheim. Sklaverei - Knechtschaft - Zwangsarbeit; 6.

Genealogical alienation: Slavery in Italian urban societies (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries)

The author argues that studying human sexuality in historical contexts offers a perspective which allows to identify constituent elements in human slavery. Medieval documents from the maritime trading cities of Northern and Central Italy show that slaves, overwhelmingly female, employed in the urban households were highly vulnerable to sexual exploitation, harassment, or seduction. Their vulnerability is, however, not adequately explained by the concept of ownership, or by the classic legal distinction between freedom and unfreedom. Taking the lead from Orlando Patterson’s definition of slavery as „the permanent, violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons“ and Claude Meillassoux’ anthropological model, it is argued that documents from medieval Italy do indeed reveal constituent elements of slavery which lie deeper than the legal idiom of ownership. Natal alienation appeared in the disruption of genealogical ties, whereas lack of honour resulted from the fact that a slave’s sexuality lay outside the mechanisms of relevant matrimonial and familial relationships. Both elements combine to result in the „social death“ of the slave.

The paper includes an edition of a notarial document by the Pisan notary, Giuliano di Collino Scarsi, concerning one Christina from Caffa (Pisa, 23 January 1400).

Social Death; Sexuality; Genealogy;
by Christoph Cluse last modified 2010-09-06 18:43

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