Abolitions as a Global Experience

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Edited by Hideaki Suzuki
Contributions by Hideaki Suzuki, Sue Peabody, Kumie Inose, Isabel Tanaka-Van Daalen, Behnaz A. Mirzai, Ei Murakami, Amitava Chowdhury, Yuriko Yokoyama, Martin A. Klein and Alessandro Stanziani

The abolition of slavery and similar institutions of servitude was an important global experience of the nineteenth century. Considering how tightly bonded into each local society and economy were these institutions, why and how did people decide to abolish them? This collection of essays examines the ways this globally shared experience appeared and developed. Chapters cover a variety of different settings, from West Africa to East Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, with close consideration of the British, French and Dutch colonial contexts, as well as internal developments in Russia and Japan. What part of the abolition decision was due to international pressure, and what part due to local factors? Furthermore, this collection does not solely focus on the moment of formal abolition, but looks hard at the aftermath of abolition, and also at the ways abolition was commemorated and remembered in later years.

This book complicates the conventional story that global abolition was essentially a British moralizing effort, “among the three or four perfectly virtuous pages comprised in the history of nations”. Using comparison and connection, this book tells a story of dynamic encounters between local and global contexts, of which the local efforts of British abolition campaigns were a part.

Looking at abolitions as a globally shared experience provides an important perspective, not only to the field of slavery and abolition studies, but also the field of global or world history.


Hideaki Suzuki is associate professor at the School of Global Humanities and Social Sciences, Nagasaki University and works on Indian Ocean and global world history.



Publication Year: 2015
312 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-860-7, Paperback

NUS Press