Postscript: Slavery, Abolition, Modernity, and the Past

Ahuvia Kahane

in Ancient Slavery and Abolition

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199574674
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728723 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Postscript: Slavery, Abolition, Modernity, and the Past

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This chapter highlights some conceptual problems important to the study of the reception of ancient slavery in the modern era, perhaps especially so in the context of abolition. It focuses on two basic ‘modalities’ of modernity, whose terms of engagement are notionally discontinuity (disjunction) and continuity (progression). Each of these modalities contains, and requires the recognition of a dialectic between, disjunction and progression. Kahane illustrates his argument by means of two examples: first, some comments by Henry David Thoreau on the abolitionist John Brown, and second, statements by Engels and Marx on the role of ancient slavery in the evolution of the modern world. The limitations and prospects of these modalities are explored..

Keywords: slavery; modernity; modality; Thoreau; John Brown; Engels; Marx

Chapter.  5556 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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