This exceptionally ambitious work presents in a form accessible to a wide audience an unpublished history of slavery from prehistory to the present. It appears twenty years after the vote of the Taubira law, while the awareness of the slavery past is every day more acute within the French society. The history of slavery, too long held as a form of subaltern past, is here placed at the heart of world history. The book renews a comparative approach to the study of the phenomenon of slavery, which takes the reader from ancient India to the eighteenth-century West Indies, from Han China to colonial Brazil, from medieval Egypt to contemporary Uganda. Far from trivializing the monstrous singularity of colonial slavery resulting from the transatlantic slave trade, the comparison helps to shed light on it.
This book thus makes the bet of knowledge and reflection, convinced that historical knowledge offers critical resources that have the power to emancipate. The bias of the world and the comparative perspective that is his wish to enrich the scenes and figures from which to reread our history, but also, hopefully, to draw paths towards other possible futures.