Parution : Bondage. Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth Through the Early Twentieth Century

de Alessandro Stanziani, New York- Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2014,  268 p.

For the first time, this book provides the global history of labor in Central Eurasia, Russia, Europe and the Indian Ocean between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries. It contests common views on free and unfree labor and shows that Russian peasants were much less bound and “unfree” than usually held.  On the other hand,  in most “Western” countries labor was similar to service, and wage conditions resembled those of domestic servants. This gave rise to extreme forms of dependency in the colonies, not only under slavery, but also afterwards in forms of indenture labor in the Indian Ocean and obligatory labor in Africa. The author shows that unfree labor and forms of economic coercion were perfectly compatible with market development and capitalism, proven by the consistent economic growth took place all over Eurasia between the seventeenth and the nineteenth century.

This growth was labor intensive: proto-industrial and commercial expansion, agriculture transformation and the first industrial revolution required more labor not less.  This world did not collapse after the French revolution or the British industrial revolution, but instead between 1870 and 1914, with the second industrial revolution and the rise of the welfare state.


Alessandro Stanziani – Bondage. Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth Through the Early Twentieth Century. New York – Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2014,  268 p. Prix : 95$

Table of contents

Introduction. 3

The Scope and Main Argument of this Book. 3

The Legal Status and Rights of Labor in Russia and Europe. 5

Serfdom in a Comparative Perspective. 12

Global, Local, Imperial: Scales of Analysis. 19

Part I Bondage Imagined. 22

Chapter 1 Second Serfdom and Wage-Earners in European and Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to the Mid-Nineteenth Century. 22

The Eighteenth Century: Forced Labor between Reform and Revolution. 22

The Enlightenment and Serfdom in Russia. 27

The Proletarians are the Real Serfs: Utopian Socialism, Christian Socialism, and Radical Thought 33

Conclusion. 38

Chapter 2 Poor Laws, Management, and Labor Control in Russia and Britain, or the History of the Bentham Brothers in Russia. 40

A Global History of Labor Control: The Case of the Bentham Brothers in Russia. 40

Estate Organization in Russia: Instruktsiia, or How to Supervise the Supervisor 43

Controlling Labor: Paupers and Servants in Britain. 48

The Fate of Bentham’s Panopticon: Labor Organization in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Russia. 52

Conclusion. 57

Part II: The Architecture of Bondage. Slaves and Serfs in Central Asia and Russia. 59

Chapter 3. Slavery and Bondage in Central Asia and Russia from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century. 59

Introduction. 59

Kholopy: Slaves, Serfs, or Indentured Servants?. 65

War Captives at a Crossroads of Empires. 75

a) Central Asian Slaves for the Mediterranean, from the Thirteenth through the Fifteenth Century. 75

b) The Indian Network, from the Fourteenth to the Seventeenth Century. 78

c) Khanates, Nomads, and Russia, from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century. 82

Slavery in Central Eurasia: its Estimation and Overall Interpretation. 92

Chapter 4. The Institutions of Serfdom.. 97

Property Rules and the Legal Status of Russian Peasantry. 98

Changing Legal Status: Administrative Procedure or Court Proceedings. 107

Peasants in Town. 113

Conclusion: Legal Status and Economic Dynamism in Imperial Russia. 120

Chapter 5 Labor and Dependence on Russian Estates. 122

Introduction. 122

ProtoIindustry, Trade, and Growth in the Eighteenth Century. 124

From Peasant-Masters to Peasant-Workers? (1800-1861) 129

Toward a Reassessment of Second Serfdom in Eastern Europe. 135

Part III. Old Bondage, New Practices. A Comparative View. Russia, Europe, and the Indian Ocean Worlds. 140

Chapter 6. The Persistent Servant: Labor, Rules, and Social Hierarchies in France and Britain from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century. 140

Labor Constraints in England. 142

A French Exception?. 156

Conclusion. 163

Chapter 7. Bondage across the Ocean. Indentured Labor in the Indian Ocean. 169

The Main Argument 169

Forms of Bondage in the Indian Ocean. 171

Forced Migration Across the Oceans: Convicts. 175

The Invention of Engagisme. 178

Engagés from Asia and Africa in the Indian Ocean in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. 180

Engagisme after Slavery. 184

From Servants to Indentured Immigrants: The Case of Mauritius. 191

Toward a New World?. 196

General Conclusion: The Collapse and Resurgence of Bondage. 199

Collective Bargaining and the “New” Labor Contract in Western Countries. 203

Population, Migration, and Labor, 1870-1914. 207

Russian Growth: From Serfdom to Bondage?. 211





Citer ce billet
Hélène Frouard (2014, 26 septembre). Parution : Bondage. Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth Through the Early Twentieth Century. carnet de recherche de l'équipe ESOPP. Consulté le 22 mai 2024, à l’adresse

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

Ce site utilise Akismet pour réduire les indésirables. En savoir plus sur comment les données de vos commentaires sont utilisées.