This set of essays seeks to broaden our conceptual understanding of slavery beyond the binary household/chattel slavery established by scholars taking their cue from transatlantic slavery to include militaryadministrative slavery as a third type, thus allowing us to think of slavery as not only domestic (household) and market-driven (chattel) but also polity-driven (military-administrative). We further seek to soften another binary, freedom and slavery, to underline the fact that the domain of unfreedom included a range of dependent relations. Because slave soldiers and administrators became a way for the monarchy to ensure loyalty in the thick of fierce competition, they became integral to the process of formation of particular states. In these contexts, masters looked to slave soldiers and slave administrators not as so many sources of profit but as sources of loyalty and guarantors of order. A failure to understand this historical specificity has underpinned a larger literature on Africa, particularly on state formation, seeing it as the result of external processes, whether Hemetic or Semitic.

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