By expanding the geographical scope of the history of violence and war, this
volume challenges both Western and state-centric narratives of the decline of
violence and its relationship to modernity. It highlights instead similarities
across early modernity in terms of representations, legitimations, applications
of, and motivations for violence. It seeks to integrate methodologies of the
study of violence into the history of war, thereby extending the historical
significance of both fields of research. Thirteen case studies outline the
myriad ways in which large-scale violence was understood and used by states and
non-state actors throughout the early modern period across Africa, Asia, the
Americas, the Atlantic, and Europe, demonstrating that it was far more complex
than would be suggested by simple narratives of conquest and resistance.
Moreover, key features of imperial violence apply equally to large-scale
violence within societies. As the authors argue, violence was a continuum,
ranging from small-scale, local actions to full-blown war. The latter was
privileged legally and increasingly associated with states during early
modernity, but its legitimacy was frequently contested and many of its violent
forms, such as raiding and destruction of buildings and crops, could be found in
activities not officially classed as war.
4 See D. B. Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New
York, 2006) and P. D. Curtin, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in AtlanticHistory (New York, 1990).
5 J. F. Stanfield, Observations on a Guinea Voyage, in a Series of Letters Addressed to the Rev.
Thomas Clarkson (London, 1788).
6 D. Tomich, Slavery and Historical Capitalism during the Nineteenth Century (Lanham,
MD, 2018), p. ix.
7 For the wider context, see D. Eltis and S. L. Engerman (eds), The Cambridge World
History of Slavery, vol. 3, AD 1420
What does race have to do with the Yugoslav region?
This usage is worth distinguishing from David Armitage's reference to ‘the white Atlantic’ as the conventional, Eurocentric mode of Atlantichistory, then being challenged by studies of the ‘black Atlantic’ and a ‘red Atlantic’ that for Armitage denoted radical labour not indigenous resistance (Armitage 2001 : 479).
contemporary civilisational analysis manifested themselves coextensively in greater
Each oceanic zone has distinctive histories. Much of the recent scholarship of Atlantichistory has established how the Atlantic seaboard states had no
competitors in oceanic space in the Western hemisphere. The situation diverged
completely from the seas ringing the Indian Ocean and the states that patrolled
them. In their land invasion of the Americas, by contrast, they confronted
Amerindian peoples and civilisations. In time, they competed