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How much is a man worth. Slavery and market of individual identities in early modern Naples and Valencia

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Men of Value (How much is a man worth. Slavery and market of individual identities in early modern Naples andValencia)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-09-30

This project aimed at studying the formation process of personal identities of men forced to work at the oar in Naples and Valencia during the 16th and 17th centuries. At that time, Naples and Valencia were two of the most important slave markets as well as trading cities of the Spanish Empire. The research took into account three types of sources that have remained largely unexplored by historiography to date, and especially a book dating back to 1585 detailing the biographies of 657 slaves. This made it possible to focus in depth on slaves identities and in particular on the estimation process regarding their price. Who were the slaves? How was their price calculated? Which was the difference between male and female slavery? What was the relationship between their price and personal 'identity'? What was the difference between their use-value and trading value? In general, what were the negotiation processes underpinning the markets of men and what was the role played by the slaves themselves? These are the main questions the project aimed to answer. The idea was that aspects involved in negotiation processes were at the same time economic, social and psychological, insofar as they significantly affected self-perception. Hence, an in-depth analysis of a large number of biographies of the individuals sentenced to forced labour such as the one outlined can help clarify these aspects.
This research study led to reconstructing a genuine marketing relationnel of personal identity in the ancien régime, also in relation with the gender aspect, through the analysis of a mass autobiography. Starting from this analysis, different original aspects were taken into account. In fact, the project made it possible to enter into the real everyday life of slaves. This project allowed for the question of personal identity to be tackled in a new way, in other words from the viewpoint of the slave and the parties involved in sale of the slave. Who was a man (and who was a woman) in the ancien régime? The negotiation processes show the situational and modifiable nature of identities (religious, cultural, psychological). The interdisciplinary approach also made it possible to take into consideration the issues of human trafficking and other forms of slavery and forced labour that have persisted in Africa and Asia up to the present day. What are the differences between present-day slaves and those of modern times? How much is a man worth today and yesterday?
An interdisciplinary approach was used in order to achieve the research objectives, bringing together sociology, social history and economic anthropology. Dr. Filioli Uranio combined these with equally interdisciplinary training. First, methodology in general was qualitative: the intention was to go beyond a vision of the market and price formation purely based on economics and typical of econometric history, turning instead to investigating the estimation process. Secondly, a case study oriented method was adopted, aiming to reconstruct the biography of slaves by providing a profile for each of them so as to be able to produce a complete database.
During the Work Package 1 period, the Dr. Filioli Uranio carried out research and selection of documents relating to the slavery in Valencia at the Reino de Valencia Archive. The researcher made his investigations at the Libraries of the University of Valencia, in particular at the Humanidades Joan Reglà library. This research period was particularly useful for making contacts within the Department of Modern and Contemporary History of the University of Valencia and for integrating myself into the research group that deals with the area of Early Modern History.
In the period of Work Package 2 Dr. Filioli Uranio carefully analysed book 42 of the Secretaria de Estado of the Archivo General de Simancas. Furthermore, thanks to his secondment at the EHESS in Paris, Dr. Filioli Uranio was able to discuss Book 42 with Professor Bernard Vincent (EHESS), an expert in the history of slavery in the Iberian Peninsula. His stay at the EHESS was an opportunity to follow the seminars of the CRH (Centre de Recherches Historiques) and of the GEI (Groupe d'Études Ibériques), especially those organized by Antoine Roullet, Jean-Paul Zúñiga, Natalia Muchnik and Alessandro Stanziani. During the same period, on June 22, 2019 Dr. Filioli Uranio was invited by Antoine Roullet and Jean-Paul Zúñiga to hold a seminar at the GEI.
During his secondment, on May 3rd and 4th 2019, Dr. Filioli Uranio held a seminar at Brown University (Providence, USA) entitled: Identity, Value, Price, Mobility: The Market of Captives and Slaves in Early Modern Naples and Valencia, (Brown University - The Mediterranean Seminar Spring 2019 Workshop: “Captivity & Ransom”).
During the month of the Work Package 3 Dr. Filioli Uranio was able to start writing a first index of the monograph on slavery in Naples and Valencia in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The six months of the Work Package 4 were used to prepare a first draft of the first chapters of the monograph. In addition, his second year of Fellowship corresponded with the assignment of teaching the course of Historia de los Origenes de Europa, in the part of Early Modern History at the University of Valencia (1.5 credits, 15 hours in the first semester 2019 -2020).
In the two months of Work Package 5 Dr. Filioli Uranio continued to work on the sources, already in his possession, of the Reino de Valencia Archive.
The Covid-19 Pandemic prevented the organization of the final conference of his fellowship.
Focusing on the 'identity' of slaves in a more all-round way, as this research aimed to do, made it possible to examine the topic from a different and complementary viewpoint, concentrating on the role played by economic negotiations on the formation of personal identity. This was a 'negotiated identity' in the true sense of the word, the process of which needs to be reconstructed. Henceforth, this research aimed to look at the question more closely than historiography has done to date, analyzing a genuine market of personal identities. In our opinion, the main point of reference for such a study is the recent research focusing on micro-sociology of prices. The idea is that the economic value of a man contributes to define his social identity.
The MSCA impacted positively on the fellow's career from at least three standpoints: 1) training and formation; 2) writing a monograph on a very important topic, enhancing his potential at an academic level; 3) allowing the fellow to embrace a consolidated line of research through a specific and original viewpoint, which is permitting him to become the leading scientist in a scientific area we can call the 'everyday practices of slavery'. In Italy, Dr. Filioli Uranio is applying a second-level certification in the so-called "Abilitazioni", namely the selection procedure concerning the Academic sector of early modern history. Finally, in Germany the fellow is Heinz Heinen Fellow at Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Study (1st of October 2020 - 30th of September 2021, University of Bonn), a very prestigious post-doc fellowship that is permitting him to continue his investigations on Mediterranean slavery and related topics (my project title is: "Embodied dependencies: the Mediterranean slavery as a social and economic global institution (XVI-XVIII centuries)").
Slave market of Constantinople, XVII century