What is chapter 8 of The Slave Ship about?

Chapter 8 of The Slave Ship describes everyday life onboard the vessels that transported slaves to the New World. Rediker describes how the crews of these ships were themselves exploited. Instead of creating any sense of solidarity with the captives, this only increased their sadism.

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Chapter 8 of The Slave Ship is titled "The Sailor's Vast Machine," and itdescribes everyday life for both captives and crew aboard a ship transporting slaves to the New World. Rediker points out that the crew as well as the captives were being exploited by the captain and officers on...

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Chapter 8 of The Slave Ship is titled "The Sailor's Vast Machine," and itdescribes everyday life for both captives and crew aboard a ship transporting slaves to the New World. Rediker points out that the crew as well as the captives were being exploited by the captain and officers on the ship and that the most exploitative parties, the sponsors who financed the voyage, were not on board at all. This, however, did nothing to create fellow-feeling between captives and crew. The slaves had more suffering to endure during the Middle Passage than they did when working as slaves.

The fact that the crew were nearly, but not quite, at the bottom of the hierarchy onboard seems to have increased their sadism. The punishments for disobeying officers were severe, but no one cared much what happened to the captives as long as they remained alive, and even a certain number of deaths was expected and tolerated. The result was a nightmare voyage, in which concubinage, rape, and torture were commonplace events. Violence was endemic, as the crew kept the captives in a state of constant terror and routinely used fear as their principal instrument of discipline. Rediker's description of life on a slave ship makes the common term "floating dungeon" appear inadequate.

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