The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
Contact Us

HIST4600MM Topic Studies in Comparative History:
Slavery and Freedom in World History

Semester 2 (2019-2020)

Lecture TimeTuesday 4:30pm-6:15pm

VenueLSK 308


Lecturer Stuart MCMANUS
James MORTON ((852) 39431531 / (852) 3943 7858 /

Teaching Assistant Diki Sherpa (

Course Description

Freedom and Slavery in World History

This course focuses on the history of ideas of ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery’ in a global context from antiquity to the present day. Moving broadly from antiquity to the present day, it looks at the emergence of the major intellectual traditions on the subject in Greece and Rome, ancient China, the Islamic and Middle Eastern world, medieval Europe, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. It culminates by focusing on the twentieth and twenty-first century, addressing the conflict between individualist and collectivist ideologies such as capitalism, fascism, and communism and thinking about human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The course will not only educate students in the history of freedom and slavery, but will help them understand important policy issues facing Hong Kong and China in the future.


Lecture 01: Introduction (Morton & McManus)
Reading: Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty [scan from Liberty: A Philosophical Reader]; Suzanne Miers, “Slavery: A Question of Definition”


Lecture 02: Confucius & Liberty in Traditional China (McManus)
Confucius on good government
Dong Zhongshu on rulership
Mencius on reproving the ruler
Slave deed from Tang China


Lecture 03: Ancient Greece (Morton)
Pericles, Funeral Oration at
Aristotle, Politics 1.2-7, 12-13.
Manumission Inscriptions of Female Slaves at Delphi:


Lecture 04: Roman Republic (McManus)
Livy, Bk 1.preface & 17, Bk 2 1-15
Sources on Roman slavery 


Lecture 05: Roman Empire & Christianity (McManus)
Tacitus, Annals 1.1.15*.html
St Augustine, De civitate Dei, XIX, 1, 14-18


Lecture 06: Middle Ages (Morton)
Jean Froissart, Chronicle, 2.73-78 (pp. 662-668) [pdf]
J.H. Robinson (trans.), Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history (Philadelphia, 1897), 3.5 (‘English Manorial Documents’) [pdf]
Medieval Sourcebook, documents on ‘The Slave Trade’ and ‘The Church and Slavery’


Lecture 07: Middle East & Islam  (Morton)
Sahih al-Bukhari 49 (on the manumission of slaves)
Richard Hakluyt, ‘The Worthy Enterprise of John Fox, in Delivering 266 Christians out of the Hands of the Turks,’ in Daniel J. Vitkus (ed.), Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (New York, 2001), 55-70 [pdf]


Lecture 08: Renaissance Republicanism, Imperialism & the Transatlantic Slave Trade (McManus)
Machiavelli, Discourses (extracts)
John Bardot on Slavery
Equiano on the Middle Passage
Look at:


Lecture 09: The Enlightenment, Liberalism & Abolitionism (McManus)
Mill, On Liberty (Chs 1-2)
Douglass, What to A Slave is the Fourth of July?


Lecture 10: Slavery’s Long Shadow (Morton)
Plessy v Ferguson (1896) [pdf]
Ney dos Santos Oliveira, ‘Favelas and Ghettos: Race and Class in Rio de Janeiro and New York City,’ Latin American Perspectives (1996) 23.4: 71-89 [pdf]
Mui-Tsai in Hong Kong: Report of the Committee Appointed by His Excellency the Governor Sir William Peel, K.C.M.G., K.B.E. [pdf]


Lecture 11: Individualism vs. Collectivism in the 20th Century (McManus)
Lenin, Our Programme (1899)
Lenin, State and Revolution (1918)
1936 Constitution of the USSR, Ch 1
Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, part 1 (extracts) TBC
Milton Friedmann, “The Relationship between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom” 


Lecture 12: Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking (Morton)
Global Slavery Index 2018 Executive Summary
Brian O’Keefe, ‘Bitter Sweets,’ Fortune (March 2016)
Tobias Jones and Ayo Awokoya, ‘Are Your Tinned Tomatoes Picked by Slave Labour?’ The Guardian (June 2019)


Lecture 13: Modern China & Hong Kong (Morton)
Yik Yi Cindy Chu, ‘Human Trafficking and Smuggling in China,’ Journal of Contemporary China 20 (2011): 39-52 [pdf]
Geping Qiu, Sheldon X. Zhang, and Weidi Liu, ‘Trafficking of Myanmar women for forced marriage in China,’ Crime, Law, and Social Change (2019): 1-18 [pdf]
A.C.W. Lee and K.T. So, ‘Child Slavery in Hong Kong: Case Report and Historical Review,’ Hong Kong Medical Journal 12.6 (2006): 463-466

Assessment & Assignments

Tutorial 20%
Active and enthusiastic participation in the tutorial on the basis of the reading (7.5% per tutorial).


Response papers (6*1 – page response papers, 5% each) 30%
For 4 of the 13 weeks of readings, please produce a 1-page argument-driven mini essay (no more than 400 words), answering the question:
1. “What is the most important take-away from the reading, and why?” 
Send to relevant Professor by email before Friday 5pm after the related lecture. Veriguide Receipts must also be submitted but these can be sent at the end of the term. 


Attendance and participation in lecture 20%
Each student is required to attend the weekly lecture and the tutorials, as well as participate in class exercises, etc. (10%).  Students must also ask at least two questions over the course of the semester (you must announce your name before you ask the question) (10%) with half the grade given for asking the questions (5%), then the other half given for the quality/relevance of the questions (5%).  From time to time, we will also cold-call students on students.


Quiz 10%
A quiz in class (key terms)


Final Project 20%
1. Write an argument-focused essay on a topic of your choice related to the course (15%).  You may also choose a creative assessment, e.g. write their own law code, commentary on law, etc. (2500 words minimum, 3000 words maximum, plus references).

2. 1-page proposal by week 8 and compulsory visit to office hours (5%).

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

Back to top