By Adam Kuper
A severe and ancient account of British social anthropology from the mid-nineteenth century to the current day, perfect for the scholar.
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Extra resources for Anthropology and anthropologists: the modern British school
52 In addition, in 1799 it was decided that such 'indentured' workers could only receive wages if they were specified in the original indenture. 53 The result was that, in the last two decades Slaves in England 43 of the eighteenth century, imported slaves were held in a legally approved subjection to their masters which was almost as complete as it had been in the West Indies. By using the technique of indenture, masters were even able to avoid the regulations forbidding the trade in slaves after abolition in 1807, for the slaves they shipped out of the islands were, technically, not slaves but indentured workers.
Because of their fidelity such people were undistinguished by role and behaviour from their white workmates. While they appeared to be simply black domestics, many were, legally, slaves. If they or their masters failed to break the master-slave relationship it would effectively remain in abeyance. Thus there are deceptive instances of black 'servants' who were slaves, a fact which only came to light when the master died or wished to sell the 'servant'. Apparently many of these slaves imagined their bondage to have lapsed; to have been transmuted into free domestic work.
Those who mastered the mechanics of literacy- Sancho and Equiano are among the best examples - lifted themselves from the general level of their poor fellow blacks, though literacy may have been a function rather than a cause of this improved status. On the other hand, the West Indian field slave and even the West Indian domestic slave, adopted the local patois which, as visitors to the islands were horrified to discover, was used even by West Indian whites. While English slaves undoubtedly maintained African intonations and accents (as evidenced in the 'bubbles' inserted in contemporary cartoons and caricatures) 44 they spoke the language of the host society.