Jere L. Bacharach, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, taught at the UW from 1967 through 2007. His area of specialization was medieval Middle East history. As a result of the black protest movement in the late 1960s at the UW and other institutions, he and his colleague Professor Carol Thomas, created a course entitled “A Comparative History of Slavery.” Professor Bacharach taught the course every few years and it was the last lecture course he offered at the UW. The course began with a discussion on whether the World War II German concentration camps based on the descriptions in Elia Weisel’s Night were a form of slavery. The readings then jumped to the Ancient Near East and moved forward in time and space to ancient Greece, Roman, the medieval Mediterranean and Islamic world, African, Latin America and, finally, the United States. Bacharach concluded that the U.S. was unique in that it was the only slave holding society in which the slave population increased through natural childbirth and it was the only society in which there were a significant number of historical sources produced by the slaves themselves.
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