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Paulin Ismard: “Comparatism and Slavery: Methods, Definitions, Issues”

Apr 18, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


About the Lecture

I would like first to question the benefit that specialists of Greco-Roman slavery can gain from dialogue with the historians of slavery from other periods. Considering the question of the relationship between debt, servitude and slavery in archaic Greece, I will first show how recent approaches in the field of the global history of labour and slavery are successful in renewing our understanding of the alleged birth of chattel-slavery in Greece. But such a research perspective cannot grasp in all its complexity the functioning of societies of classical antiquity, which placed the institution of slavery at the center of their functioning and collective imaginary. A “morphological” comparative approach, redefined both in its scales of observation and in its methods and goals, is then necessary. I will try to show this in the main part of the presentation, by focusing on the methodological questions raised in a recent collective publication I have edited, Les mondes de l’esclavage. Une histoire comparée (Paris, Seuil, 2021).


About the Speaker

Paulin Ismard (born in 1978), is Professor in Ancient History at the Aix Marseille University. His work focuses mainly on the history of slavery in ancient Greece of classical and hellenistic periods, in its political dimension (Democracy’s slaves. A Political history of ancient Greece, Harvard, 2017, on public slavery) and its legal aspects (La cité et ses esclaves. Institution, fictions, experiences, Paris, Seuil, 2019). He has recently edited a collective publication on the comparative history of slavery : Les mondes de l’esclavage. Une histoire comparée (Paris, Seuil, 2021). He also works on politics in ancient Greece (La cité des réseaux. Athènes et ses associations, VIe-Ier s. avt. J.-C, Paris, Publ. de la Sorbonne, 2010 ; L’événement Socrate, Paris, Flammarion, 2013). He has been member of the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton (2015-2016) and the Center for Hellenic Studies of Washington.


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