Slavery and Servitude in the United States (Proseminar in United States History)

History 103D.001

Fall 2016
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
W 12-2P

This course will explore various systems of involuntary servitude that have been developed and practiced in British North America and the United States. We will read about and discuss indigenous systems of bondage, indigenous enslavement at the hands of European settlers, the transport and indentured servitude of European migrants, the British inter-colonial slave trade, and the coerced servitude of Chinese migrants and indigenous women in the 19th century. The overwhelming majority of our readings will explore the captivity and enslavement of African descended people in the New World. In this vein, a number of weeks examine the experiences of African descended people before leaving the West Coast of Africa, their passage to the New World, and their bondage, resistance and freedom after settlement. The class concludes with readings that examine the development of the penal state, and the criminalization and mass incarceration of African-Americans from Reconstruction to the present. Many of the required readings will be attentive to the role that the law (and later federal and state policy) played in constructing and maintaining systems of American bondage.  Many of them will also examine the ways that gender and sexuality shaped the experiences of bound people as well.