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Arbitrary Rule: Slavery, Tyranny, and the Power of Life and Death

Arbitrary Rule: Slavery, Tyranny, and the Power of Life and Death (Hardback)

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Synopsis

Slavery appears as a figurative construct in countless cultural and historical contexts, especially during the English revolution of the mid-seventeenth century, and again in the American and French revolutions, when radical pamphleteers and theorists repeatedly represented their treatment as a form of political slavery. What, if anything, does this figurative, political slavery have to do with transatlantic slavery? In "Arbitrary Rule", Mary Nyquist explores connections between political and chattel slavery by excavating the tradition of Western political thought that justifies actively opposing tyranny. Political slavery, whether civil or national, Nyquist shows, is frequently paired with its antagonist, political tyranny. "Arbitrary Rule" is the first book to tackle political slavery's discursive complexity, engaging Eurocolonialism, political philosophy, and literary studies, areas of study too often kept apart. She argues that "antityranny discourse" provided members of a "free" community with a means of protesting a threatened reduction of privileges, or of consolidating a collective, political identity.

Its semantic complexity, however, also enabled it to legitimize racialized enslavement and imperial expansion. Throughout, Nyquist demonstrates how principles relating to political slavery and tyranny are bound up with a Roman jurisprudential doctrine that sanctions the power of life and death held by the slaveholder over slaves and, by extension, the state over its citizenry.

History & PoliticsHistory: specific events & topicsSlavery & abolition of slaveryHistory & PoliticsPolitics & governmentPolitical science & theoryPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesPhilosophy TheorySocial & political philosophy Publisher: The University of Chicago Press Publication Date: 04/06/2013 ISBN-13: 9780226015538  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Mary Nyquist is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Toronto.

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