Recent research has demonstrated that early modern slavery was much more widespread than the traditional concentration on plantation slavery in the context of European colonial expansion would suggest. Slavery and slave trading, though little researched, were common across wide stretches of Eurasia, and a slave ecomy played a vital part in the political and cultural contacts between Russia and its Eurasian neighbours. This volume concentrates on captivity, slavery, ransom and abolition in the vicinity of the Eurasian steppe from the early modern period to recent developments and explores their legacy and relevance down to the modern times. The contributions centre on the Russian Empire, while bringing together scholars from various historical traditions of the leading states in this region, including Poland-Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire, and their various successor states. At the centre of attention are transfers, transnational fertilizations and the institutions, rituals and representations facilitating enslavement, exchanges and ransoming. The essays in this collection define and quantify slavery, covering various regions in the steppe and its vicinity and looking at trans-cultural issues and the implications of slavery and ransom for social, ecomic and political connections across the steppe. In so doing the volume provides both a broad overview of the subject, and a snapshot of the latest research from leading scholars working in this area.
Christoph Witzenrath, PhD (Lon) is principal investigator of his project on slavery, liberation and political culture in Muscovy and Ruthenia at the University of Greifswald, funded by the German Research Community. He has held fellowships at Harvard, Yale, the German Historical Institute in Moscow, Toronto and a Leverhulme Trust early career fellowship at the University of Aberdeen, UK.