Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2002

Abstract

In the most literal sense, the abolition of slavery marks the moment when one human being cannot be held as property by another human being, for it ends the juridical conceit of a "person with a price." At the same time, the aftermath of emancipation forcibly reminds us that property as a concept rests on relations among human beings, not just between people and things. The end of slavery finds former masters losing possession of persons, and former slaves acquiring it. But it also finds other resources being claimed and contested, including land, tools, and animals-resources that have shaped former slaves' working lives to date, and that now shape their prospects for the future. When former slaves make claims to such resources, they may draw on an idea of customary possession, or they may assert rights to respect and remuneration.T he resulting conflicts thrust into the open the links between freedom, property, and membership in the political community.


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