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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay explores the historiography of Indian slavery in various borderlands of the hemisphere and argues that even though the Spanish Crown prohibited Indian slavery after 1542, several coercive labor arrangements akin to enslavement allowed owners to retain mastery over indigenous workers while formally complying with the law. These labor arrangements, including encomiendas in certain circumstances, repartimientos, convict leasing, debt peonage, and other forms of coercion, continued to function until the end of the colonial period and beyond. This chapter employs comparative methods and a wide range of empirical data to make a preliminary attempt to quantify the number of Indians held in bondage in different regions of the New World from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries.

Keywords: New Laws of 1542, Indian slavery, encomienda, repartimiento, mita, convict leasing, debt peonage, “new slavery”

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