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Unformatted text preview: d as legitimate or
binding, have often made a social world out of death itself. The funeral was an act of accounting, of
reckoning, and therefore one among the multitude of acts that made up the political history of Atlantic
slavery. This was politics conceived not as a conventional battle between partisans, but as a struggle to define a
social being that connected the past and present. It could even be said that the event exemplified a politics of
history, which connects the politics of the enslaved to the politics of their descendants. Although the deaths of slaves
could inspire such active and dynamic practices of social reconnection, scholars in recent years have made
too little of events like the funeral aboard the Hudibras and have too often followed Orlando Patterson’s
monumental Slavery and Social Death (1982) in positing a metaphorical “social death” as the basic
condition of slavery. In a comparative study of sixty-six slaveholding societies ranging from ancient Greece and
Rome to medieval Europe, precolonial Africa, and Asia, Patterso...
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- Spring '14