This deceptively slim volume aims to reconceptualize scholarly approaches to slavery and captivity across the globe. It succeeds admirably, making a convincing case that captives influence their host societies in ways that leave only subtle traces in the historical and archaeological record, but which were nonetheless quite powerful.

Cameron’s method is broadly comparative, drawing from secondary sources in archaeology, anthropology, and history. She acknowledges the pitfalls of such an approach, especially the problem that researchers looking for commonalities across cultures invariably find them, but at the price of obscuring important local contexts. Nonetheless, Cameron makes a persuasive case that it is worthwhile to open this new space for inquiry despite the distortions that her method is likely to produce.

She builds her case methodically. The first chapter presents a survey of the small-scale societies from which the book’s evidence is drawn. All...

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