The Abolition of Slavery and the Status of Slaves in Late Imperial China

  • Claude Chevaleyre


Chevaleyre explores ‘slavery’ in late imperial China by focusing on two commonly overlooked elements. First, he explores the original abolition process that emerged from Sino-Western confrontations in the context of the Shanghai Settlement and its Mixed Court in the first decade of the twentieth century. Second, he attempts to shed light on the conceptualization of ‘slavery’ as it surfaces from early Ming legislative sources and to question its impact on the shaping of social practices. In so doing, Chevaleyre considers ‘China’ as a global normative space and approaches the issue of ‘slavery’ in this global space ‘from above’, that is, by focusing on the abstraction of ‘slavery’ rather than on the concrete situation of ‘slaves’.

Select Bibliography

  1. Chevaleyre, Claude. “Under Pressure and out of Respect for Human Dignity: The 1910 Chinese Abolition.” In Distant Ripples of the British Abolitionist Wave, edited by Myriam Cottias and Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, 147–198. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2017.Google Scholar
  2. Crossley, Pamela Kyle. “Slavery in Early Modern China.” In The Cambridge World History of Slavery, edited by David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman, 186–213. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dirlik, Arif. “Kuo Mo-jo and Slavery in Chinese History.” In Revolution and History: The Origins of Marxist Historiography in China, 1919–1937, 137–79. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  4. Hansson, Anders. Chinese Outcasts. Discrimination and Emancipation in Late Imperial China. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.Google Scholar
  5. Mazumdar, Sucheta. “Rights in People, Rights in Land: Concepts of Customary Property in late Imperial China.” Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 23 (2003): 89–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Pulleyblank, Edwin G. “The Origins and Nature of Chattel Slavery in China.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 1, no. 2 (1958): 185–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ransmeier, Joanna S. Sold People. Trafficker and Family Life in North China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Watson, James L. “Transactions in People: The Chinese Market in Slaves, Servants, and Heirs.” In Asian and African Systems of Slavery, edited by James L. Watson, 223–50. Berkeley, CA: Basil Blackwell, 1980.Google Scholar
  9. Williams, Edward T. “The Abolition of Slavery in the Chinese Empire.” American Journal of International Law 4 (1910): 359–73, 794–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Yates, Robin D.S. “The Changing Status of Slaves in the Qin-Han Transition,” in Birth of an Empire: The State of Qin Revisited, edited by Yuri Pines et al., 206–23. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claude Chevaleyre
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.CNRS-Lyons Institute for East Asian StudiesLyonFrance
  2. 2.Bonn Centre of Dependency and Slavery StudiesBonnGermany

Personalised recommendations