Recent research has demonstrated that early modern slavery was much more widespread than the traditional concentration on plantation slavery in the context of European colonial expansion would suggest. Slavery and slave trading, though little researched, were common across wide stretches of Eurasia, and a slave economy played a vital part in the political and cultural contacts between Russia and its Eurasian neighbours. This volume concentrates on captivity, slavery, ransom and abolition in the vicinity of the Eurasian steppe from the early modern period to recent developments and explores their legacy and relevance down to the modern times. The contributions centre on the Russian Empire, while bringing together scholars from various historical traditions of the leading states in this region, including Poland–Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire, and their various successor states. At the centre of attention are transfers, transnational fertilizations and the institutions, rituals and representations facilitating enslavement, exchanges and ransoming.
The essays in this collection define and quantify slavery, covering various regions in the steppe and its vicinity and looking at trans-cultural issues and the implications of slavery and ransom for social, economic and political connections across the steppe. In so doing the volume provides both a broad overview of the subject, and a snapshot of the latest research from leading scholars working in this area.