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9780807067147

The Price for Their Pound of Flesh

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780807067147

  • ISBN10:

    0807067148

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2017-12-26
  • Publisher: Beacon Press

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Summary

Groundbreaking look at slaves as commodities through every phase of life, from birth to death and beyond, in early America

In life and in death, slaves were commodities, their monetary value assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The Price for Their Pound of Flesh is the first book to explore the economic value of enslaved people through every phase of their lives—including preconception, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, the senior years, and death—in the early American domestic slave trade. Covering the full “life cycle,” historian Daina Ramey Berry shows the lengths to which enslavers would go to maximize profits and protect their investments. Illuminating “ghost values” or the prices placed on dead enslaved people, Berry explores the little-known domestic cadaver trade and traces the illicit sales of dead bodies to medical schools.

This book is the culmination of more than ten years of Berry’s exhaustive research on enslaved values, drawing on data unearthed from sources such as slave-trading records, insurance policies, cemetery records, and life insurance policies. Writing with sensitivity and depth, she resurrects the voices of the enslaved and provides a rare window into enslaved peoples’ experiences and thoughts, revealing how enslaved people recalled and responded to being appraised, bartered, and sold throughout the course of their lives. Reaching out from these pages, they compel the reader to bear witness to their stories, to see them as human beings, not merely commodities.

A profoundly humane look at an inhumane institution, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh will have a major impact how we think about slavery, reparations, capitalism, nineteenth-century medical education, and the value of life and death.

Winner of the 2018 Hamilton Book Award – from the University Coop (Austin, TX)

Winner of the 2018 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Book Prize (SHEAR)

Winner of the 2018 Phillis Wheatley Literary Award, from the Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage

Finalist for the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize from Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition

Author Biography

Daina Ramey Berry is an associate professor of history and African and African diaspora studies, and the Oliver H. Radkey Regents Fellow in History, at the University of Texas at Austin. An award-winning historian, she is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Table of Contents

Author’s Note

Preface

List of Images

INTRODUCTION
The Value of Life and Death

CHAPTER 1
Preconception: Women and Future Increase

CHAPTER 2
Infancy and Childhood

CHAPTER 3
Adolescence, Young Adulthood, and Soul Values

CHAPTER 4
Midlife and Older Adulthood

CHAPTER 5
Elderly and Superannuated

CHAPTER 6
Postmortem: Death and Ghost Values

EPILOGUE
The Afterlives of Slavery

Acknowledgments

Appendix: A Timeline of Slavery, Medical History, and Black Bodies

Note on Sources: A History of People and Corpses

Notes

Index

About the Author

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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