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Indentured Servitude
Unfree Labour and Citizenship in the British Colonies
By (author): Anna Suranyi
Anna Suranyi

Imprint:

McGill-Queen's University Press

ISBN:

9780228006688

Product Form:

Paperback

Form detail:

Trade
Paperback , Trade
English
Jul 01, 2021
$37.95 CAD
Active

Dimensions:

229 x 152 mm | 440 gr

Page Count:

288 pages

Illustrations:

7 photos
McGill-Queen's University Press
HISTORY / Social History
Social and cultural history|Migration, immigration and emigration|Colonialism and imperialism
  • Short Description
Anna Suranyi provides new insight into the lives of hundreds of thousands of British and Irish men, women, and children crossed the Atlantic during the seventeenth century as indentured servants.
How indentured servitude shaped colonial societies’ ideas about race and citizenship.

Hundreds of thousands of British and Irish men, women, and children crossed the Atlantic during the seventeenth century as indentured servants. Many had agreed to serve for four years, but large numbers had been trafficked or “spirited away” or were sent forcibly by government agencies as criminals, political rebels, or destitute vagrants.

In Indentured Servitude Anna Suranyi provides new insight into the lives of these people. The British government, Suranyi argues, profited by supplying labour for the colonies, removing unwanted populations, and reducing incarceration costs within Britain. In addition, it was believed that indigents, especially destitute children, benefited morally from being placed in indenture. Capitalist entrepreneurs who were influential at the highest levels of government made their fortunes from Atlantic trade in goods, indentured servants, and slaves, and their participation in the servant trade contributed to the commercialization of criminal justice. Suranyi breaks new ground in showing how indentured servitude was challenged: once in the colonies, indentured servants adapted resourcefully to their circumstances and rebelled against unfair conditions and abuse by suing their masters, by running away, or through outright revolt.

Emerging ideas about race and citizenship led to vehement public debate about the conditions of indentured servants and the ethics of indenture itself, prompting legislation that aimed to curb the worst excesses while slavery continued to expand unchecked.

Anna Suranyi is professor of history at Endicott College.

"Indentured Servitude is an important contribution to the social, legal, and labour history of the British colonies. Suranyi walks her readers through the many points of the indenture process, the experience of a variety of servants, masters' treatment of different groups of servants in the colonies, servants' means of recourse against abusive masters, and life after servitude, while also directing them to the important connections between servitude and the evolving understanding of citizenship." Patrick O'Brien, Kennesaw State University

“Suranyi’s work provides us with a picture of an era of horrific cruelty preceding and overlapping with the barbarity of slavery. She does not fail to impress upon the reader the difference between servants and the enslaved. Indentured Servitude will be useful to those teaching the seventeenth century, for in depicting the lives of people the same age as our students, the history will resonate and help move them toward empathy with those who suffer exploitation, then and now.” Agricultural History

Indentured Servitude encourages readers to grapple with important yet difficult questions on inequality and unfreedom to help illuminate changing conceptions of rights, oppression, and exclusion in a society that would later—and contradictorily—champion democratic ideals.” William and Mary Quarterly

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