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In Captives: How Stolen People Changed the World archaeologist Catherine M. Cameron provides an eye-opening comparative study of the profound impact that captives of warfare and raiding have had on small- scale societies through time. Cameron provides a new point of orientation for archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and other scholars by illuminating the impact that captive-taking and enslavement have had on cultural change, with important implications for understanding the past.
Focusing primarily on indigenous societies in the Americas while extending the comparative reach to include Europe, Africa, and Island Southeast Asia, Cameron draws on ethnographic, ethnohistoric, historic, and archaeological data to examine the roles that captives played in small-scale societies. In such societies, captives represented an almost universal social category consisting predominantly of women and children and constituting 10 to 50 percent of the population in a given society. Cameron demonstrates how captives brought with them new technologies, design styles, foodways, religious practices, and more, all of which changed the captor culture.
This book provides a framework that will enable archaeologists to understand the scale and nature of cultural transmission by captives and it will also interest anthropologists, historians, and other scholars who study captive-taking and slavery. Cameron’s exploration of the peculiar amnesia that surrounds memories of captive-taking and enslavement around the world also establishes a connection with unmistakable contemporary relevance.