Slaves have never been mere passive victims of slavery. Typically, they have responded with ingenuity to their violent separation from their native societies, using a variety of strategies to create new social networks and cultures. Religion has been a major arena for such slave cultural strategies. Through participation in religious and ritual activities, slaves have generated important elements of identity, shared humanity, and even resistance, within their lives. This volume presents selected papers from a conference organised by the University of Nottingham's Institute for the Study of Slavery - the only UK research centre to cover the comparative study of slavery from antiquity to the present. The volume breaks new ground by bringing into juxtaposition slave religious activities in Graeco-Roman antiquity and in modern Brazil: societies where slaves performed a similar range of economic functions but under very different religious systems. After a wide-ranging historiographical introduction, eleven international experts discuss diverse aspects of slaves' engagement in religion. The volume sheds new light on slaves' religious behaviour - especially on the neglected subject of Graeco-Roman slave religiosity. In both societies slave participation, alongside free persons, in religious institutions beyond their masters' households involved certain constraints but provided distinctive opportunities for personal agency.
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