Theorizing Contemporary Practices of Slavery: A Portrait of the Old in the New* Jane Anna Gordon Spreading Democracy, Spreading

Enslavement The present is marked by ubiquitous invocations of ideals and values associated with democratic practices and forms of governance, evident in the widespread use, even within regimes that are not remotely democratic, of its legitimating language. In the academic field of political theory in the U.S. and Western Europe, work called “democratic theory” is burgeoning: it is the focus of extensive scholarly research and debate and it is a priority for hiring. At the same time, although outlawed in almost every nation in the world, what has been called “contemporary slavery” or “forced labor” is growing exponentially.1 Conservative estimates suggest that between 12.3 and twenty-seven million people labor unpaid in debt bondage, chattel, and contract slavery,2 some for short spells, others for lifetimes, under threats and uses of violence against them and their families. What is the meaning of the simultaneous growth of a prevailing place for talk of democratic norms (and of expanded opportunities for citizens to engage in collective decision-making) and of practices of enslavement (that aim to make matters of consent entirely irrelevant)? Should delineating this relationship not be considered indispensable to a rigorous understanding of the present and future of projects of self-governance at home and abroad? Put differently, how is it that societies that would never proudly claim to produce vulnerability, in fact, through their relations with one another are doing precisely that? Contemporary Forced Labor Slavery has been a consistent feature of most of human history,3 but several factors combine to make present conditions ripe for its expansion: the tripling of the world
* Recipient of the American Political Science Association (APSA) Foundations of Political Theory Best Paper Prize of 2012. A slightly revised version is currently under review. 1 This rapid rise coincides with two key events: the rise of neo-conservatism (and then neo-liberalism) in the 1980s and the breaking up of the USSR in 1991. 2 The discrepancy between the International Labour Organization (ILO) figure of 12.3 and Bales’s one of 27 million reflect disagreements over how to count the number engaged in forced labor in India. Beyond this is much other debate over how rigorously to count people enslaved today. The writing of the crime of trafficking into national law immediately generates numbers (of the arrested, prosecuted, etc.), however much of the talk of the need for rigorous data collection cloaks larger, ongoing conceptual differences over how best to understand the nature of forced labor today. I envisage this paper as contributing to this larger task. To estimate the actual scope of contemporary slavery, twenty-seven million is greater than the population of Canada and nearly five times greater than that of Israel. It is more difficult to estimate the contribution of profits from slavery to the global economy. Kevin Bales suggests a total direct income of thirteen billion dollars with an indirect value of considerably more. For explanation of these figures, see (see Belser and de Cock, “Improving Forced Labor Statistics” in Forced Labor: Coercion and Exploitation in the Private Economy, ed. Beate Andrees and Patrick Belser. (Boulder, CO: Lynne Riener, 2009), 186-188 and Bales, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), chapter 1. 3 See, for instance, Milton Melzer, Slavery: A World History. (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1993) and Ronald Segal, Islam’s Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora. (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001). Both books illustrate the dangers of conceiving of the history of slavery as one of two moments:


population since 1945; modernized agriculture that dispossessed many from family farms turned into plantations for cash crops; surplus people in a market searching for the most inexpensive labor; the absence of a unified state monopoly on violence or its use by government and police against their own citizenries in protracted civil wars; and rampant corruption in the midst of rapid and dramatic economic changes that have disrupted social rules outlining more traditional relations of responsibility.4 These together are the means through which people whose lives are treated as surplus and cheap, who make up the core of the potentially enslaved, are produced. These are, of course, key features and indices of a larger neoliberal context or one marked by the concurrent privatizing and deregulating of markets previously run by the state and the rapid integration of countries in global markets prior to their development, in many instances, of safety nets and regulatory institutions. In such circumstances, underdeveloped companies have little chance of competing with global corporations. Poverty’s history is long, but even in view of this larger legacy, current unemployment, destitution, and inequalities are soaring.5 This brand of globalization, in other words, continues a longer pattern of the most extractive earlier forms of colonialism,6 benefiting the north at the expense of poorer countries as the latter are forced to comply with policies of deregulation and elimination of trade barriers that the former themselves ignore. In such circumstances, the most quickly growing contract slavery emerges in almost every instance when people desperate for better life conditions for themselves or their children enter into misleading agreements. In some instances, these take children from rural areas into cities with promises of schooling that culminate in domestic servitude. In others, people promised legitimate entry and visas to major U.S. and Western European cities find themselves forced to work unremunerated in fields, sweatshops, and brothels. In a context in which the flow of labor is far more restricted than that of technology, goods, and capital, the policing of borders greatly outweighs the creation and enforcement of labor standards. Migration continues in spite of legal deterrents, nurturing and nurtured by a two-tiered economy, one legal and tolerated and the other underground and unregulated in which much slave and exploited labor prevails. Those engaged in slave trading today work as networks of intermediaries profiting enormously by connecting supply and demand by circumventing the range of specific, varied national restrictions.7 Although more heavily concentrated in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and some Arab countries, there are enslaved people on every continent but Antarctica, with State Department estimates suggesting that there are 40,000 people in slavery at any one time in the U.S. Most people assume that the institution of slavery was obliterated when it was outlawed in the nineteenth century. In the U.S., early efforts to respond to practices of enslavement were dominated (though certainly not exhausted) by the work of Christian abolitionist groups that framed it as symptomatic of a widespread moral crisis rooted in
the trans-Atlantic and what followed. Indeed, it is in looking at pre-Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific models that we might find better guides for what is transpiring now. 4 See Bales, Disposable People, chapter 1. 5 See Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002), 97. 6 See David Harvey, The New Imperialism (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2003), especially chapters 3 and 4. 7 On these points, see Moisés Naím, Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy (New York: Anchor Books, 2005).


the breakdown of family values.8 For them, concern with sex slavery eclipses all of the other necessarily related forms of forced labor.9 In their diagnoses, the demand for slaves is made primarily by men seeking adulterous extramarital sex and enabled by girls and women easily preyed upon due to their low self-esteem linked to an absence of spiritual sustenance. These groups’ efforts are therefore focused on education linked to prayer, on raising money to purchase girls out of slavery, and to bringing them into nurturing Christian environments.10 The other dominating framework, particularly in the U.K., is of human rights, that more correctly attributes enslavement to severe economic inequality, dysfunctional governance, and racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination. The implications are that counteracting enslavement would require nothing short of a global (rather than simply international) response tied indispensably to labor movement and protection and transnational institutions that do more than monitor and punish. The blueprints for such ideas and practices, however, do not yet exist. Moisés Naím has quite rightly suggested that their guiding aim would be to generate policies through which slave trading could be made unprofitable.11 To date, journalists and abolitionist organizations have been at the forefront of writing concerning contemporary slavery. Some have drawn their conceptual and definitional scheme almost entirely from the socio-historical work of Kevin Bales (1999, 2000). While the contributions of Bales have been tremendous, almost single-handedly putting the issue of contemporary slavery on the global table, an issue of this scale cannot rely on one uncontested theoretical framework alone. There are, at the very least, several large questions that it does not broach to which we must attend. Defining Today’s Enslavement Although there is widespread and internally variegated reluctance to use the language of slavery to describe conditions of forced labor growing exponentially today,
In addition to and usually directly challenging these accounts of the causes and meaning of exponential rise in contemporary slavery and forced labor are a spate of other Washington- and locally-based groups in the U.S. (and throughout the globe). These address a range of different dimensions of the problem (from assuring that local police officers are trained to identify the clearest signs of trafficked people and be familiar with the legal mechanisms through which perpetrators can be prosecuted to attempting to articulate the ways in which unpaid labor can be framed within the purview of contemporary union politics to tracking transnational production chains that link sites of forced labor to commodities that are shelved in reputable stores on other sides of the world to creating schools for children whose parents have been stigmatized by virtue of previous experiences in coerced and degraded forms of labor). For published lists and descriptions of such organizations, see the appendices in To Plead Our Own Cause and The Slave Next Door, the conclusion of David Batstone’s Not For Sale (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), and the third part of Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered, edited by Kamala Kempadoo (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers), 2005. 9 See Anthony DeStefano, The War on Human Trafficking: U.S. Policy Assessed (New Brunswick, NY: Rutgers University Press, 2008). 10 This depiction is informed by Yvonne Zimmerman, “From Bush to Obama: Rethinking Sex and Religion in the United States’ Initiative to Combat Human Trafficking,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 21, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 79-99 and the author’s fieldwork observations of groups such as, the New England branch of Run For Freedom. For discussions of the ethics and economics of purchasing redemption, see Buying Freedom, ed. Kwame Anthony Appiah and Martin Bunzl (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007). This dominating orientation of political response has improved considerably under the Obama administration with the inclusion of attention to trafficking for labor exploitation and attention to male victims as well. 11 Naim, Illicit.


Bales does precisely that, contrasting contemporary slaves from those of the transAtlantic moment:12 In what he refers to as “old slavery,”13 slaves were expensive and therefore a major investment. There were many incentives to keep them alive and in decent health, to claim and document them as one’s property, to recapture them if stolen. Given the values of titles of their ownership, one could use one’s slave against loans or debts through their transfer. In addition and by implication, slavery was not only legal and protected by law, but by an entire edifice of rationalization and justification. At the core of this was the racialization of master-slave relations, the use of the most authoritative sources—those of theology and of science—to frame blackness itself as a badge of inevitable servitude to supposedly natural white masters.14 Relations between masters and slaves tended to be long-term; slaves remained enslaved for lifetimes and across generations. Indeed, when the availability of Africans for sale dwindled, already owned slaves were made to breed the next generation of “beasts of burden.” Relative to contemporary slavery, the overall profits of trans-Atlantic slavery, it is now widely claimed, were significantly lower.15 By contrast, there is today a glut or oversupply of potential slaves. As already mentioned, the exponential growth of the world population has been most dramatic precisely where enslavement is most prevalent. Flooded with people, needs overwhelm available resources, exacerbating already pronounced discrepancies in the distribution of wealth (where there are some with massive surplus incomes and others who cannot find any paid work). Purchasing a person today, therefore, is not a major investment. Benjamin Skinner illustrates this through his transcript of a conversation about
12For further discussion of this, see Jane Anna Gordon, “Race, Immigration, and the Lucrative Production of Vulnerability.” In it I outline and critically engage the concerns of those within slavery studies that treat the imperfection of the conceptual vocabulary for distinguishing among varieties of involuntary labor as permanent and unavoidable, those who are fundamentally opposed to the efforts to identify a transhistorical definition of conditions of enslavement, the reservations of other scholars eager to distance themselves from evangelical abolitionist movements, those opposed to the language of trafficking and the trafficked since in their view it contributes to problematic international law that proffers limited protections in exchange for the enactment of victimhood, those for whom “slavery,” since lacking government support and driven into an illicit economy, is not the proper focus of political or economic analysis, and those who insist against calling contemporary forced labor “enslaved labor” by arguing that doing so has the nefarious consequences of so broadening the meaning of the term that one is left unable to make sense of the ongoing legacies that its particular trans-Atlantic forms have had for descendants of masters and slaves alike. 13 Again, this is highly misleading since trans-Atlantic slavery was a quintessentially modern, capitalist form of enslavement, e.g. “new” when compared with centuries of master-slave relations that preceded it. 14 “The naturalness” and “inevitability” of this was in fact the outcome of processes of experimentation and the consolidation of political power. There were periods in which Native Americans were used as slaves in the United States and, prior to the colonization of the Americas, there were few human communities that were not touched at one point or another by direct experiences of enslavement. Indeed, I here follow the position of Frantz Fanon, that it is impossible for one group to colonize another without racism developing, without framing subordination as deserved. See Fanon, “Racism and Culture” in Toward the African Revolution (New York: Grove, 1967), pp. 29-44. 15 This claim needs to be further investigated. A growing scholarly consensus has tried to push the argument that trans-Atlantic slavery was not that profitable. This appears as the latest effort to minimize the ultimate significance of the peculiar institution in the history of this nation and hemisphere. For a discussion of the competing camps in this debate, see David Brion Davis, Slavery and Human Progress (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), pp., 51-82 who characteristically stays above the fray, seeing this as symptomatic of a more general shift in the attitude to the meaning and value of slavery as anathema to progress and development.


purchasing a Haitian child.16 Casual and streamlined, the trafficker explained that Skinner could return to the States with a child in a matter of days for the princely sum of fifty dollars. Most of the negotiations were over consumer details: what would be the size of the place at which she would work; what would be her tasks (would these include sex);17 who would cover the travel costs; what was the fee for the work of the person securing the child; was the mark-up relative to the country of origin of the purchaser. Not only because it is illegal to own another person, but also because making such claims is not worthwhile, today ownership of slaves is rarely asserted publicly. This has led some writers to insist, against the likes of Bales, that we cannot call such practices “slavery” at all; that without legal sanction they are at best instances of “forced labor.”18 What is more, just as in other sectors of economic life in which it is less costly to replace than to fix a given possession, whether a television or a phone, the same is generally true of people. If not immediately useful, a slave is simply discarded with the implication that relationships of master to slave are usually short term.19 Contemporary slaves engage in a vast range of tasks, from picking tomatoes and servicing brothels to cleaning homes, braiding hair, performing gymnastics or church songs, or selling trinkets. Still, as mentioned at the start of this essay, it can be grouped into three main forms. In chattel slavery which, as with earlier trans-Atlantic versions, involves capturing or being born into permanent servitude, ownership is asserted and children of slaves are also treated as property usually in displays of conspicuous consumption most common in Northern and Western Africa and some Arab countries. With debt bondage, one pledges oneself against a loan of money on ill-defined terms. Absent any meaningful protections, nothing that the indebted does diminishes the original debt and it is often passed across generations. Physical control rather than actual ownership is asserted in practices most widespread in South Asia. Contract slavery, the contemporary version of the better-known historical practice of indenture and overlapping with if not identical to trafficking, involves offering guaranteed employment in workshops or factories in places to which one would otherwise be barred entry. Phoney contracts are produced and used to entice people whose lack of freedom is then enforced by threats of the dangers of having been shown to have violated immigration law.20 This is most frequent today, evident throughout western Europe

Benjamin Skinner, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery (New York: Free Press, 2008), pp.1-41. 17 It was quickly explained that this was only relevant to selecting the age of the child. 18 For discussion of such debates see Beate Andrees and Patrick, Forced Labor: Coercion and Exploitation in the Private Economy (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2009). 19 The exception to this trend is debt-bondage, which often spans generations. 20 There are countless examples of this: young women from Togo presented as relatives whose passports, upon entry, are taken away. They are made to work fourteen-hour days without pay. If they do not comply, they are beaten. Still, those doing the enslaving would insist that the women were given everything they needed and that these conditions were better than those at home. There is also the case of Chinese acrobats whose visas and passports were confiscated on arrival and who were fed minimally each day and forced to perform constantly. They were also beaten up when not obedient. When they were not performing, they were rented out to clean other people’s homes. Although given pocket money, they were never paid. There are also much publicized cases of deaf Mexican peddlers, forced to sell trinkets and the Zambian boys church choir. For these examples, see Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter, pp. 117-136.



and the U.S., but also in south and southwest Asia, Brazil, and many Arab states (especially oil-rich ones in which the U.S. military is present).21 Because slavery is technically illegal, it is easiest to buy and sell people where law enforcement is dysfunctional and corrupt and where regulation of treatment of people is largely absent. This is more and more the case where there is a push to pursue commercial, profit-generating opportunities at all costs, including paying less or no attention to the protection of workers. While racial, ethnic, and gender inequalities do play a role in who is likely to be enslaved, as we will discuss at greater length soon, there is much greater variation in the demographic nature of master-slave relations than was the case in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. (In this way, contemporary slavery bears a greater resemblance to preEuropean colonial slave trading, especially as conducted in the Muslim world.) People are trafficked within nations and regions by members of their own gender, ethnic, or religious groups.22 Still, vulnerability to enslavement is overrepresented among rural communities, among the disabled, and among subordinated minorities. By any index, profits for the sale in people are massive. The most lucrative and best-known, sex slavery, can generate those of 800% a year. There is no doubt that conditions that make people vulnerable to enslavement, also make work that is slave-like all too common. Descriptions of current labor abuses among non-slaves abound: from sweatshop labor in Asia in which people work in excess of twelve hour days without air-conditioning, suffering from undiagnosed workproduced conditions to undocumented and guest workers paid significantly less than minimum wage, if paid at all, going uncompensated for injuries, fearful of reporting abuses lest they be deported. With the former, contrived scarcity produces the threat that work could simply be taken elsewhere, that it will remain only where no obstacles (however indispensable they may be to democratic rights) are encountered. With the latter, the blurred space of tolerated illegality gives employers almost complete power23 evident in the widespread presence in such labor situations of workers who share the features of vulnerability characteristic of slaves and of indicators drawn up by the

Other widespread forms of contemporary enslavement or forced labor take place in the context of wars during which the government or the army capture and enslave civilians and use them as laborers or in campaigns against others. Another is children who work as domestic slaves in informal arrangements that promise educational opportunities but with lack of regulation or enforcement frequently become sites of abuse. For further discussion see Kevin Bales, Zoe Trodd, and Alex Kent Williamson, Modern Slavery: The Secret World of 27 Million People (Oxford, England: One World Press, 2009). 22 Compared with other forms of crime in which women participate in relatively low numbers, it is in trafficking that the proportion of women criminals is greatest. This is true globally. See United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, February 2009. 23 Even though the same cannot be said of men and women who enter as guest workers, many observers would say that these outcomes are acceptable since the men and women under discussion often violate the law on entering the U.S., e.g. that it is okay for them to do something resembling penal labor if they are in fact criminals. This discounts that those who enter without formal permission do so in response to clear and known publicized demand for their labor and ongoing practices of complicit toleration. Indeed while measures have been taken to promote compliance by employers with the immigration control policies, they are not penalized in ways that remotely constitute genuine deterrents. Jessica Pagan has fruitfully explored the situation of contemporary Mexican migrant workers to the U.S. as slave-like or forced labor.



International Labor Organization to identify forced labor.24 In these circumstances, while the “right to exit” is formally present, it is rarely anything more than hollowly formal. Finally, those who dispute calling contemporary slavery anything other than forced or coerced labor emphasize that these practices are no longer given moral or legal sanction, that if a slave escapes, the world is not on the side of the master; instead he or she might well face prison time (rather than communal esteem). There is not the institutionalized racism that cemented the relations at the core of the trans-Atlantic slave trade with the implication that even free blacks were assumed to be slaves. If in the plantation past the response of an escaped and appealing slave was “get back to work!” to call someone a slave today is to tap into a consensus of moral outrage. The Relationship of “Slaves” to “Wage Slaves” For Bales (1999, 2000), it is essential to insist on the unique specificity of slaves, separating them conceptually and politically from “wage slaves” or other underpaid and alienated labor.25 For him and for Benjamin Skinner (2008b), it is misleading and dangerous to use the word “slavery” to describe any exploitative work. One could call “slave-like” the demands faced by a young lawyer, expected to devote all of her time to proving her commitment to a firm, asked even to do what she might consider ethically problematic. The same is truer of someone who must work excessively long hours because her hourly wage is so small. But these are not literal slaves. Each, at least technically, can choose to exit their situations, can say “I quit” without fear of reprisal: No one will bar the door; no one will physically force them to stay put. For the actual slave, by contrast, in Bales and Skinner’s assessment, to try to leave is to face severe injury, pedagogical punishments that demonstrate to others that escape is not an option. To use the language of slavery loosely or metaphorically therefore, for these writers, contributes to rendering a whole sector of the population invisible.26 These are
These include whether threats or actual harm is inflicted on workers; the withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions that violate agreements; or threats of denunciation to authorities (where worker’s immigration status is irregular). 25 The lamentable absence of explicitly Marxist thinkers from discussions of contemporary slavery is most likely a function of the discourse’s primarily liberal character, e.g. its emphasis on a largely unproblematized notion of violated consent (which blurs the many ways in which capitalist economic systems normalize eradicating conditions necessary for any coherent view of such a concept); its highly moralistic tone that often decontextualizes the actions and relations of those who profit from and are most exploited by such relations; and its inevitable focus on illicit sectors (home to the lumpenproletariat) rather than licit economies and forms of labor. 26 The metaphorical usage of slavery in especially Anglo-American republican writings has been widely noted, producing the bizarre situation of white slave owners fighting for their liberation from the British while framing literal black slaves as the antithesis of the new nation, as possessing a slavishness from which citizens needed protection. For further discussion, see David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London: Verso, 1999), p. 36. There are instances when the use as metaphor of words that describe the literal predicament of some others might be understood in reassuring ways, as a sign that in societies framed as irredeemably fragmented and polarized, we remain embedded in shared, mutually comprehensible webs of meaning. If only semi-consciously, we concede in the use of particular metaphors an apprehension of the life conditions of other people. On this interpretation American colonists knew precisely how regrettable was slavery and that freedom had to be defined as not living under overseers like themselves. There is, however a much less sanguine interpretation in which employing metaphors is a form of usurpation, of erasing the literal referents to which, in a mediated way, the given words refer. In such renderings, those who call their situation slave24


women, men, and children who face the omnipresent use of violent coercion and manipulation for the purposes of their economic exploitation. They have entered relations and conditions that no one would without having been fundamentally misled. Once there, the only possibility for exit is extra-ordinary courage, ingenuity, and luck. If we fail to distinguish them from other alienated workers, their particular predicament will be lost in a sea of wage slaves, in a moment in which the absence of workers’ protections is the norm. While acknowledging the need to draw attention to the ongoing existence of people held in bondage through physical coercion for the generation of profits, how tenable is the exit clause of classical liberal social contract theory as an index of enslavement or its absence? How adequate is the requirement that one would have needed to be fooled to arrive in the circumstances of a slave? There is no question that emphasizing the literalness of particular situations of enslavement is essential to mobilizing a movement of response and developing deterrent legislation, but might there be conceptual and political losses in separating slaves too stringently from the larger caste of alienated laborers? After all, the distinction between free and wage labor, on the one hand, and the enslaved, on the other was itself historical and contingent, originating largely in efforts to distance the metropole from the colonies, pre- and then industrial workers in Europe from their New World slave counterparts. Reflecting on this genealogy, Susan BuckMorss provocatively asks whether the institution of slavery could have taken root in the colonizing centers of Europe. She replies: The answer to this question was contested rather than assured. What made colonial slavery modern was its capitalist form, extracting maximum value by exhausting both land and labor to fill an insatiable consumer demand . . . Forged out of the most current economic forces, why would the plantation system not become the dominant form of industrial labor in Europe as well as the colonies?27 The fact that today we find it difficult to imagine a Manchester textile revolution powered by the labor of African, Irish, and English slaves, or a form of capitalism not synonymous with “free” labor . . . attests to the effective limits placed on our historical imaginations by the boundary of race, nation, and

like will in fact be antagonistic to those who might say, “but we really are slaves.” For further reflection on these points, see Jane Anna Gordon, “To Be Literal: A Political Theoretical Exploration of the Meaning of Shared Metaphors,” a paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Associating Meeting, Chicago, 2007. 27 Buck-Morss cites Richard Williams who writes, “If Europeans had been assigned to [the unfree slot] the mark of vertical classification . . would have been something other than skin pigmentation.” See Hierarchical Structures and Social Value: The Creation of Black an Irish Identities in the Unites States (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 85-86. He writes that when the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no “white people” for another sixty years. This had to be forged for English, Scots, and other European servants, tenants, merchants, and planters so that this single status could stand above its opposite, the non-white. Ironically strategies for accomplishing these groupings borrowed heavily from those used to institutionalize separations between Protestants and Catholics (whose familial structures were also refused recognition, whose religious organizations and practices were outlawed, and who were violently discouraged from becoming literate). On subsequent efforts to undo some of the lasting consequences, see William Darity Jr.’s unpublished comparison of affirmative action policies in Ireland, India, South Africa, and the United States in “Affirmative Action in Comparative Perspective: Strategies to Combat Ethnic and Racial Exclusion Internationally.”


modern progress that were constructed in large part to close off these possible alternatives.28 Enslavement of Europeans was far from unfathomable in the 17th and early 18th centuries. For leading liberal figures, including Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, it offered (rather than a way of maximizing profits) a solution to problems of maintaining social order, of keeping the growing number of “idlers,” “criminals,” “vagabonds,” or “paupers” duly occupied.29 Penal slave labor, which involved the enslavement of Europeans by other Europeans, was also common in France, Spain, England, and the Netherlands well into the 19th century.30 In addition, indentured servitude, substantively similar to contemporary contract labor,31 was an established way of supplying workers to the colonies and limiting unemployment in the metropoles. It was only in the 1760s that slavery ceased explicitly to be recommended as the best response to the situation of England’s poor. As word spread of its cruelty, many called the practices of New World plantation “pre-modern.” At the same time, as David Brion Davis has stressed, experiments in labor discipline in Europe increasingly resembled plantation models, drawing on their strategies for surveillance, control, and behavior modification, developing conceptions of the nature of modern labor out of the Caribbean experience. Indeed it was precisely as the volume of African slavery and the porosity of the boundary between “slave-holding colonies and slave-rejecting Europe” grew that “more stringent were the laws passed in an attempt to reenforce it.”32 The ending of the British slave trade in 1807 coincided with the emergence of the tag of “free” labor. Its appearance, however, was at best bittersweet, as it was marked by the steady dismantling of earlier protective legislation:33 only two years later, legislation barring unskilled and juvenile labor in the woolen industry was repealed; in 1834, in the same year as slavery was officially abolished in the colonies, The Poor Law Amendment ended public welfare provision, leaving to all but the most affluent of the English, the choice between starvation and the workhouse. Still, such labor was distinct from slavery and “voluntarily submitted to” because “a worker who

Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009,) pp. 87-88. 29 David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975), pp. 263-264. 30 Orlando Patterson (1982) emphasizes, in a spirit similar to Bales but with rather different substantive implications, that it is almost universally believed that slavery was abolished in northern Western Europe by the late Middle Ages but that this is far from true, that severe forms of enslavement, especially penal and galley slavery used in public works, were widespread. 31 In its outward form, there is no question that the relations that culminate most frequently in contemporary forced labor most closely resemble historical indentured labor arrangement and relations. Much historical literature has stressed how, with few restrictions, indentured laborers were often subject to extensive abuses, but how, at the same time, this condition was finite. David Roediger, for instance, describes how many whites in colonial America had come and labored as indentured servants. Shipped under frightful and dangerous conditions, those who were not sold off immediately in Northern cities were marched, chain-gang style through the Southern countryside, made available to any who were interested. Still, the servitude of white indentures was temporary. Once freed, most became selfemployed artisans who rarely became rich, but who prided themselves in embodying an elaborate doctrine of the indispensable relationship between economic and political independence. See David Roediger, p. 28. 32 Buck Morss, p. 89. 33 Ibid., p. 97.



accepted token wages could be defined as free, even if in fact he remained perpetually dependent.”34 There were those who recognized quite how qualified this “freedom” would be and the defeats secured by overemphasizing distinctions within the modern labor force. Even if their positions were not ultimately to become hegemonic, classes of involuntary laborers and “masterless men,” as documented by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker (2000), rejected the strong wedge assumed by abolitionists then (and now) between modern slavery and modern free labor in a “universalism from below.” Regrettably, the hostility of white labor to abolition and free Negroes defined the U.S. movement of free labor in fundamental ways. Indeed Ignatiev insists that working class formation and whiteness developed together,35 offering a Herrenvolk oneness of whiteness that appeared to dissolve white class differentials in an exchange of what W.E.B. Du Bois called the “public and psychological wage of whiteness” for a sentence of lifelong wage labor. When considering the substantive similarities and differences between slave and wage labor at the start of the 20th century, Du Bois considered what it meant to be a slave: It is hard to imagine it today. We think of oppression beyond all conception . . . or on the contrary, we may think of the ordinary worker the world over today, slaving ten, twelve, or fourteen hours a day, with not enough to eat, compelled by his physical necessities to do this and not to do that . . . and we say, here, too, is a slave called a “free worker,” and slavery is merely a matter of name. But there was in 1863 a real meaning to slavery different from that we may apply to the laborer today. It was in part psychological, the enforced personal feeling of inferiority, the calling of another Master; the standing with hat in hand. It was the helplessness. It was the defenselessness of family life. It was the submergence below the arbitrary will of any sort of individual. It was without doubt worse in these vital respects than that which exists today in Europe or America. Its analogue today is the yellow, brown and black laborer in China and India, in Africa, in the forests of the Amazon; and it was this slavery that fell in America.36 He continued: Slaves lived largely in the country where health conditions were better . . . . They received no formal education, and neither did the Irish peasant, the English factory-laborer . . . and in contrast with these free white laborers, the Negroes were protected by a certain primitive sort of old-age pension, job insurance, and sickness insurance; that is, they must be supported in some fashion . . . for they represent invested capital; and they would never be among the unemployed. On the other hand, it is just as true that Negro slaves in America represented the worst and lowest conditions among modern laborers. One estimate is that the maintenance of a slave in the South cost the master
34 35

Davis, p. 490. Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White (New York: 1995, Routledge), p. 184. 36 W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America (New York: The Free Press), pp. 8-9.


about 19 dollars a year, which means that they were among the poorest paid laborers in the modern world. They represented in a very real sense the ultimate degradation of man . . . . No matter how degraded the factory hand, he is not real estate.37 Paternalism and sadism were most pronounced in the case of the enslaved; laws and social practices (from their barter, to denials of recognition or protection of familial relations, to policies that framed slaves as sub-human while outlawing all of the means (whether through access to arms or the courts) through which they might express human responses to conditions of enslavement38) all framed the slave as a commodity or moveable good within relations of absolute control. By comparison, laborers had some agency, even if it was experienced primarily as precariousness. Compelled “to wander in search for work and food; their families [were] deserted for want of wages” in a freedom to seek out and then consent to compromising conditions. Still, the direct bartering of human flesh, concludes Du Bois, did involve a “sharp accentuation of control over men beyond the modern labor reserve or the contract coolie system.”39 A striking feature of contemporary accounts of slaves conditions and of their own testimonies is the uniqueness of their situation (a “sharp accentuation of [violent] control” by others) and their sense of their predicament as a function of a larger political economy that forces them into vulnerable and compromising situations. In other words, their stories combine the sadism of efforts to turn people into slaves with the precariousness of “free” labor. Strategies through which one set of people tries to convince others that they are not human are remarkably consistent, in spite of differing legal and social contexts. For instance, distinctions between clean and dirty; holy and profane; human and non-human are all deliberately undercut. It is typical for too many enslaved people to be piled into small spaces, often alongside animals. For them to be made to work, eat, use the toilet, and sleep all in the same, confined location. Often it is treated as a privilege to be able to wash. People are callously renamed and separated from anyone who could legitimately or reflexively object. In efforts literally to occupy the mind and supplant the will of the enslaved, uses of terror and the nurturing of shame are indispensable: slaves are made to feel responsible for their condition, whether in having “allowed” themselves to be fooled or manipulated into this outcome or by supposedly lacking any skills or qualities that would elevate them above this role. Without these, being enslaved is a situation for which they are suited and that they therefore, in a perverse sense, sought. Such logics
Ibid., pp. 9-10. As far as the law was concerned, slaves were not men and women. Still the laws demonstrate recognition of and an effort to anticipate and curb specifically human responses to experiences of enslavement. Slaves had no right of petition, could own nothing, could not make contracts or hold property, could not hire themselves out, marry or control the fate of their children, seek appeal from their master or testify in a court of law. The offenses of assault or battery or rape could not be committed against the person of a slave. This is evident in countless stories, some of the most memorable retold by Frederick Douglass, of masters and overseers publicly boasting of the maiming and murder of slaves. Rather than facing rebuke, such men and women were esteemed in their respective communities. Even if the law was at times harsher than actual practices, it represented in Du Bois’s words, “permissible possibilities” in a situation in which “the only curb upon the power of the master was his sense of humanity and decency, on the one hand, and the conserving of his investment, on the other,” Du Bois, p. 11. 39 Ibid.



and the absolute control they aim to secure require isolation of many varieties: keeping the enslaved physically apart from any others with whom they share language; by having them with others all of whom face such exhausting and ongoing demands that there is no idle time during which or energy with which to communicate; through cultivating drug addictions; purloining the official documents that would enable the slave legally to have access to a world beyond; by making the slave feel that there is nowhere or no one to which he or she might run, that wherever he or she goes would be to a situation with no future.40 Still, many of the enslaved see their situations as the obvious or inevitable outcome of a more broadly shared predicament, one with the added dimension of social worlds prepared for some groups, in this case women, only appropriately to engage in some occupations. One woman simply stated, I wanted to escape but had no other place to go . . . The roads of Athens are the property of my trafficker or his friends . . . If I had a good job I would never begin the profession of a prostitute . . . What do you think that once you get to Italy or Greece they present you a long list of jobs and then ask you which one you like the best? I am telling you: there is only one job there for young girls, the most difficult one, the most humiliating . . . You might think it is embarrassing to be a prostitute, but to me it is embarrassing to live on somebody’s shoulders, and that somebody is my paralyzed mother . . . My situation and the situation of many other Albanian girls like me should make the Albanian government think and create jobs in order to employ Albanian young people in Albania.41 In other words, as David Hume wrote mockingly of “the exit clause” in the thought of Hobbes and Locke in the 18th century: “Can we seriously say, that a poor peasant or artisan has a free choice to leave his country when he knows no foreign language or manners, and lives from day to day, by the small wages which he acquires? We may as well assert, that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master; though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean, and perish, the moment he leaves her.”42 In sum, meaningful consent requires, as the condition of its withholding, actual alternatives. In these cases, by definition, they are largely or entirely absent. In devoting attention to how agency is exercised in these most compromised and compromising of conditions, several feminist scholars have implicitly challenged the second clause of Bales’s and Skinner’s definition of slavery43 with which this section opened, that is the requirement that those in conditions of enslavement could not have
See To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves, edited by Kevin Bales and Zoe Trodd. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008). 41 Kevin Bales and Zoe Trodd, To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves, pp. 56-57. 42 David Hume, “Of the Original Contract,” (1748), edited and rendered into HTML by Jon Roland. Available at: 43 This requirement is implicitly and explicitly shared by many other writers and in the logic of much anti-trafficking legislation. Indeed, as Jonathan Todres has observed, those who are able through their own ingenuity and luck to escape trafficking situations are often seen, in the eyes of law enforcement, as opportunistic illegal migrants who encountered difficulties and are certainly not favored when compared with the iconic victim who needs the intervention of state agencies and then serves as an appreciative witness. Discussion of this argument appears in the next section of this paper.


knowingly entered their situation. Rejecting the demand or desire for innocents duped, such writers advance the view that one can soberly understand one’s lack of freedom, negotiating the constrained options before one.44 In the U.S. context, for instance, Eva Rosen and Sudhir Venkatesh found through interviews conducted with thirty-eight sex workers in a Chicago low-rent apartment that by comparison with legal minimum wage employment, illicit sex work offered relatively good money and flexible hours. Rosen and Vekatesh refer to this instance as an example of “perverse integration” or as one in which “structural forces marginalize certain peoples, rending their decisions to enter the informal and criminal sectors paradoxically rational.” Offering just enough to deter seeking other, less dangerous work, the pursuit of illicit options is an example of “bounded rationality,” or a process in which, aware of the paucity of options, one selects the least bad.45 Similar findings emerged out of a study of Thai children who explicitly stated that sex work is preferable to begging and sweatshop labor since they earn more and, even with the risks, are less likely to be severely injured in ways that make future work impossible.46 Finally, the NGO Education Means Protection of Women Engaged in Recreation (EMPOWER) found that many bar girls in Bangkok were financing their college education through sex work and resented policies that aimed to “rescue” them unless they supplied a real economic alterative.47 Such research rejects both a view that all women engaged in sex work were deceived into entering their situation and more classical “false consciousness” formulations that would frame their duping as a more mediated process of their having been molded through more prolonged socialization processes to consent to arrangements that could only compromise their freedom.48 On this view, to demand some version of complete innocence in order to make such people into a cause is not only a discredit to them but also a move that in seeking good and bad guys obscures important lessons about why and how their predicaments have been produced. While the slave of the trans-Atlantic era did not wander in search of employment, having to leave his or her family in a protracted precariousness,49 what insurances were afforded him or her were cemented by a particularly acute sadism in
One can add to these complicating considerations other prevalent phenomena: What about parents who are paid a small fee for their children, sometimes in the hope that this next generation will have educational opportunities in urban centers in exchange for some work, but in others in the hope that their child will, doing whatever work is demanded of them, support their elders through remittances? Are considerations of innocence and duping really illuminating in such circumstances? 45 Eva Rosen and Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, “A ‘Perversion’ of Choice: Sex Work Offers Just Enough in Chicago’s Urban Ghetto” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 37, no. 4 (August, 2008), 424. I want to thank Elizabeth Cozzolino for bringing this article to my attention in her own excellent discussion of feminist debates over whether work in prostitution can be freely chosen. 46 Heather Montgomery, "Are Child Prostitutes Child Workers? A Case Study" International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 29, no. 3/4 (2009): 130-140. 47 Christina Arnold and Andrea M. Bertone, "Addressing the Sex Trade in Thailand: Some Lessons Learned from NGOs, Part I" Gender Issues 20.1 (2002): 26-52. 48 For a similar challenge to the adequacy of “false consciousness” formulation, see Charles Tilly, “Domination, Resistance, Compliance . . . Discourse” Sociological Forum 6 (3) 1991: 594 and discussion of it in Stephen Lukes, Power: A Radical View (Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). 49 A sympathetic friend once asked whether the slave does not in a sense “have it good.” However perverse and awful, while being owned, one was offered a substitute for the absent governmental safety net; one was not, for now, disposable. In other words, the appeals of paternalism, however problematic, become more evident where capital and resources are so heavily concentrated in a very few hands.


which he or she was cared for and sustained because he or she was a thing and an investment. Of course such transubstantiation cannot be achieved without extreme forms of bad faith, of a class of masters trying to convince themselves of a reality that everything before them contradicts. Indeed, it is this “pathology of liberty,” as Frantz Fanon would call it, that renders such relations so cruel.50 The present is both similar and different to the age of legalized slavery. Those enslaved as opposed to exploited do encounter unique forms of terror of the kind outlined above. Still, they land up in such circumstances because of widespread and normalized extreme vulnerability. Even then, as we will soon see, they encounter a degree of the casualization of labor, of their own disposability that is new. In other words, even where control is near complete, relations of current masters to slaves are rarely lifelong, making even the few insurances Du Bois described rare. We risk particularizing and individualizing situations of enslavement, as abolitionists of the 19th century did, if we do not consider the causes of its growth as symptomatic of the same factors that are normalizing increasingly alienated labor worldwide. Both are the logical conclusions of a drive to the bottom in which efforts to woo ever fleeting finance capital is thought to demand the complete elimination of any measures that have historically amounted to the protection and empowering of collective labor and through it a democratized citizenry. Within this emergent episteme, the sensibilities at the core of the logic of collective bargaining and decisionmaking are being eroded, translated as a form of ungraciousness with the result that “regular” labor relations (including the pushing back of child labor restrictions and seeking out jurisdictions whether in prisons or through guest worker programs with no minimal pay or safety requirements) more and more closely resemble what we are here calling those of enslavement. There is no doubt that not being owned or subject to ongoing threats of physical force is a basic condition of democratic freedom, but it is a highly relative one. In other words, surely slavery and slave-like conditions are a result of similar and related phenomena: the licit and illicit sides of the same moment of primitive accumulation.51 Marked by sharp discrepancies of wealth accrued through the absence of limiting safety nets, an ascendant paternalism treats the presence of the few that have, because in such short supply, as a blessing. Nothing is to be said or done that might lead the bestower of grace to reconsider or retract. In such circumstances, relations like those of indenture, in which one party binds itself to another with little or no protections, becomes the norm. In principle, such situations need not be abusive—one can hope for the good will of another, but their understanding of their own economic interests are unlikely to bode well for us. After all, where minimizing direct responsibility through deliberately labyrinthine accountability chains is the new management norm, the aim is to be able to claim not to know what goes on under one’s watch, enabling such absurdities as the discovery that U.S. tax dollars were being funneled into construction projects such as the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in which Middle Eastern and African laborers were
It is clear that there is a unique relationship between unpaid labor and sadism—that these are relations that cannot be maintained without behavior in which one person treats him or herself as absolute freedom and the other as pure facticity. For a classic discussion of this phenomenon, see Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966). 51 Marx’s classic discussion of primitive accumulation appears in Part VIII of Capital, Volume I. For a highly productive critical engagement of it that informs this essay, see Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital.


living and laboring in slave-like conditions.52 Slavery and forced labor are but one extreme of a far larger spectrum that emerges out of near absolute control of some over a global economy in which forms of global governance to keep pace with global finance are not yet extant. Surely today, if we are to see through slavery a lens into what is new and old about the political economic present, it is as useful to explore the important similarities as what distinguishes slave from other underpaid work. The Nature of Racialization in Contemporary Practices of Enslavement Before the trans-Atlantic slave trade, much enslavement was of foreigners incorporated into a society through conquest. Currently, many of the enslaved are also those perceived and treated as foreigners by highly racialized immigration policies that aim most to slow the movement of those from portions of the Global South that were former colonies. Even with the push to distinguish victims of trafficking from criminals, many traffickers are empowered by visa and passport restrictions, carefully negotiating economies of vulnerability, choosing destinations in which, for these particular victims, the world beyond captivity appears and may in fact be largely hostile and punitive. So while it is true that no government and or law enforcement agency would side openly with people called “the masters of slaves,” they may well continue, often with great popular support, to write and push for increasingly restrictive immigration restriction policies that criminalize particular categories of migrants while encouraging their ongoing violation in contradictions that stir up officially sanctioned anger against the least powerful. In sectors of the domestic labor market that cannot be outsourced (that must remain physically here), there have been a series of such measures taken to create jurisdictions outside of regular labor law. It is here that underregulated migrant labor/guest worker schemes spring up often alongside enslaved labor along with schemes that couple corporations with local prisons. The hostility toward this labor and the ambivalence—they are taking our jobs; they are doing work that we would not do— strikingly resembles the hostility of many poor whites in the U.S. to their slave counterparts. There may sporadically be anger directed to those who employ such men and women (almost always from the political left), but normally it is the most marginal who are blamed and scorned with enough regularity that such arrangements can continue with little interruption. Much has been made of the fact that contemporary slavery is not racialized in the ways quintessentially associated with the emergence of the modern world, that vulnerability now reflects a more complex and idiosyncratic combination of multiple factors including but not limited to poverty, race, ethnicity, sex, immigration status, class, caste, and age.53 Vulnerability of enslaved people does rely on the ability easily to marginalize their suffering, however.54 Some of this is achieved through the heavily

For discussion of this see Bales and Ron Soodalter, The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 211-215. 53 U.N. Econ. Soc. Council [ECOSOC], Comm. On Human Rights. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence Against Women, Par. 55, U.N. Doc E/CN.4/2000/68 Feb. 29, 2000. 54 Attention to local norms and expectations is central to this. When it was revealed that a group of Chinese gymnasts had been tricked and coerced into performing for months without pay, being hired out with no renumeration to clean when entertaining business was slow, suburban neighbors were shocked



mediated and cloaked relations between local sites of labor and global markets to which they are indispensably tied in complex production chains, but much of it also builds upon specific regional histories that place different relative value on the lives of members of discrete groups (whether on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, region, or religion) that now combine in ever more global relations.55 However, rather than something radically new, the multinational, multicultural, and multiracial nature of contemporary slave trading, if anything, more closely resembles pre-Atlantic versions, particularly those of the Roman and varied Islamic empires.56 For many writers showing symptoms of “racial exhaustion,” contemporary vulnerability appears thankfully post-racial, no longer primarily a story of white over black or of the European and the African. Much has therefore been made of the fact that people who are manipulated into situations of coerced labor today often come from the same nations as their captors, sharing the same phenotype, language, and religion and moving internal to rather than across regions. While it is certainly true that masters
and all said that they had thought of them as quiet and friendly, as model citizens. See Bales and Soodalter, pp. 118-120. 55 Indeed, it is less that such relations of inequality are new as that in trying to make sense of a global situation, we are called upon to account for all, rather than a small fraction, of such regional particularities. 56 Slave trading in the Islamic world was conducted on a different scale and with different lasting consequences than its trans-Atlantic counterpart. Beginning eight centuries earlier, except for aberrational periods (including, especially, that of the arrival of the English colonial presence in Africa), it involved lower average annual volumes and a greater reliance on slaves for social and cultural rather than narrowly economic purposes. Although there was some plantation labor, primarily for the production of cloves and wheat, slaves mainly occupied the service sector (working as concubines, porters, cooks, etc.), linked more to consumption than to production. If in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, two African men were bought for each woman, the reverse was true in the Islamic slave trade. Although there were abusive masters and the Koran assumed the distinction between master and slave as part of divine design, there was a long tradition within Islamic writings of emphasizing that slaves were people rather than just possessions. There were only two ways one could become a slave, by being born to a slave mother or captured in a war. If a slave’s father was free, he or she was automatically free. There was also greater propriety in sale of slaves. Males could only be examined above and below the knees, females by face and hands, though black women were often put on the block scantily clad. What is more, economic systems were distinct from Western-style capitalism, as greater prestige accrued to those involved in scholastic and military affairs than those of trade. All were expected to invest money in mosques and schools rather than simple reinvestment. A commitment to importing cheaper foreign goods that the poor could afford, the absence of a tradition of primogeniture, and strict prohibitions against usury all created significant obstacles to capital accumulation and primarily extractive slave labor. Although slavery continued in the Islamic world after it was abolished in Christendom, its practice of freeing of slaves was far more frequent and widespread. Perhaps most significantly, black slaves, when freed, did not face the racial discrimination that was the norm in the Americas; they did not live as a separate caste after manumission. There are correlations between blackness and poverty in Islam, but black communities are not consistently segregated. This is in part because the majority of black slaves were female, having children with masters while many black males were castrated. Most significantly for this part of our discussion, slave populations within Islam were always multiracial and multinational, but particular groups often performed particular tasks. There was, for instance, a clear preference for black male slaves in work requiring great physical strength, and for the role of concubine, there was a centuries-long penchant for the particularly beautiful women of Nubia and Abyssinia. Slaves were formally at the bottom of the social scale, inferior to all who had freedom, but in fact their status depended on a whole range of factors (their attributes and functions and social and personal character of their owners). While some worked in harsh conditions, others were pampered servants of artists and merchants. Many were nurses, maids, porters, musicians, (sometimes very highly trained) singers and dancers, and assistants within the military. Some such men rose to positions of general; at times a favorite concubine or one who mothered a Sultan were more powerful than any born princess. See Segal 2001.


come in all stripes and the enslaved are not only brown, the emphasis on a radical break from dominating patterns of modernity obscures substantive similarities with how it was that people to be sold were collected and transported in the trans-Atlantic moment and trajectories with longer histories that overdetermined the geopolitical distribution of destitution and relative affluence today. Indeed if one accounts from the specificity of the history of post-communist nations of Eastern Europe and cease to mistake the Atlantic world for the globe, the movement of people continues to follow highly familiar routes. When observing trafficking trends, for instance, while there is certainly internal movement, Africa is predominately an origin region. Asia is both an origin and destination. Central and Southern Europeans move primarily to Western Europe and Latin Americans and Caribbeans to North America.57 Globally the majority of exploited girls and boys are not white—most individuals trafficked are from developing countries whose populations consist mainly of persons of color. Within the U.S. the same pattern is evident. In New York City and San Francisco, African-American girls and women constitute the majority of trafficking victims.58 In Thailand, the majority of purchased and sold girls are from the north, from ethnic minority groups denied Thai citizenship. Within Cambodia, ethnic Vietnamese make up five percent of the population but thirty percent or more of the trafficked population. Dalits make up a significant portion of the women forced into prostitution in India and of the boys and men living in debt bondage.59 The likelihood of being re-trafficked disproportionately affects women from countries with gender equality gaps, poverty, and imperial legacies.60 Many social scientists are reluctant to make generalizations about the nature of slavery across centuries. The owning of one person by another individual, family, government, or group appears to have taken so many different forms, that its significance is too varied neatly or accurately to pin down. After all, while owned by other people, there were not only men who labored and died in mines and plantations but also those who served as tutors or mothers of royal sons. Others worked in government posts, some rising to positions of mayor or general.61 There were, in other
Global Report on Trafficking in People, 2009. See Janice G. Raymond, etc. al. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends 42, 2001. 59 See Harriet D. Lyons, The Representation of Trafficking in Persons in Asia: Orientalism and Other Perils, Rose Kisia Omondi, Gender and the Political Economy of Sex Tourism in Kenya’s Coastal Resorts, 2003, and Karen Dunlop, Human Security, Sex Trafficking, and Deep Structural Explanations. 60 Robert Hanser, Taryn Branson, J. D. Lanham, and Attapol Kuanliang. “The Role of NGOs in the Prevention of Human Trafficking: An Emphasis on Victim-Centered and Restorative Justice Approaches.” Contemporary Issues in Criminology and the Social Science 4, no. 1 (2010): 38-55. I would like to thank Lynsey Graeff for, through her own excellent capstone paper, making me aware of this and other writing pertinent to understanding the commodification of foreignness in regionally varied sex trade practices and in efforts to intervene in and curb them. 61 Historically, the growth of a slave population or of a full-fledged slave trade is almost always a function of expansionary, imperial war through which, rather than killing captives, they are taken. In some cases, the aim of enslavement is explicitly to be humiliating—one does not spare the vanquished soldier but demonstrably takes his wife and children or one does keep the warrior alive but with the view that anyone who remains a slave rather than taking his own life is a coward, too attached to biological life to be noble. Often the aim of taking slaves was to assure that a war was profitable, that the defeated paid its costs through their labor or through being ransomed. How slaves were integrated into local economies varied. Where communities were organized into self-sufficient agricultural economic units, slaves joined the household. In more complex economies, slaves would work on large agricultural estates or in clothing or
58 57


words, instances in which slaves could perform roles linked to a higher status than free workers who could be shipped off to labor unknowingly with few rights. Being owned has not clearly or undisputedly dictated one’s life options relative to those not of such status. Still, David Brion Davis (1984), who is conservative in his attitude toward such generalizations, offers one highly compelling suggestion about the perennial meaning of “the slave.” He suggests that a prototype of the modern person, the slave is the archetypal foreigner and outsider, the one with no recognized or honored kin. Rather than the opposite of the autonomous person as evident in most Enlightenment political thought, for much of human history, the slave was the person who did not belong, who, outside of family and community, was unprotected by their rules and prohibitions. As such, he or she was the person to whom anything could be done. His or her value, as Marx said of money and the commodity, was in his or her detachability, alienability, and mobility. Popular discourses surrounding contemporary enslavement in the U.S. have negotiated the question of foreignness in peculiar ways. On the one hand, the issue itself has been framed as a foreign one, originating elsewhere and only now touching us (rather than as resulting at least in part through longer colonial histories of entanglement). Few reports generated in Western Europe or the U.S. account for the numbers of people trafficked internal to their countries (focusing instead on those crossing international borders) and the Trafficking in Persons Report did not, until recently, include a self-study of the United States. On the other hand, what has made contemporary slavery palatable as an American issue has been its formulation as the cause of protecting white women from abusive, foreign men. International treaties generated since 1995, including the
pottery workshops. In empires, slaves often replaced local labor as original populations were constantly held away at war. There were also instances in which slavery itself became big business, as in the case when Rome became the center of an international market that brought Jews, Lydians, Indians, Arabians, Persians, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Spaniards—the world in miniature—into big public actions. In places where there was a great abundance of slaves, the wealthy would have them in large numbers, working as valets and maids, doorkeepers and nannies, teachers and musicians, in the full range of positions from menials to managers. While Romans, for instance, preferred to have Greek slaves educate their children, in Greece there were public slaves, bought by the government to work as inspectors, heralds, registrars, scribes, and as policemen who could arrest free men. They were paid enough to feed and clothe themselves, could be tipped in the form of food and wine, and could have their own homes and families. Still, they could not appear in court, needing to be represented by others. In general, where there were lots of slaves, as in fifth century Athens (where people dispute whether the population made up 1/3 or 4/5 of the polity), there were efforts to make sure that they did not become too aware of their size and potential for collective resistance. Throughout, pirates have been major slave traders, coming to battlefields to purchase the fallen, to kidnap and transport, knowing where people will and will not buy and what skills and qualities they are seeking. Many legitimate sailors have also turned a profit stealing and selling passengers. Perhaps most consistently, to be a slave is not to be a full member of political society or a citizen with full rights. Even when freed in Rome, it took two generations to become unblemished by a past of servitude. Policies toward slaves generally became less harsh as slave populations became more local; as they bred internally and were, in increasingly numbers, native born. It does seem that enslavement itself was a way of maintaining boundaries of belonging as empires grew and borders blurred. Foreigners, now internal, could still thereby be separated. This is much like illegal immigrants today. There is a desire to continue to rely on their economic contributions without allowing them to become part of the polity, through putting them outside of the regular jurisdictions of labor and immigration law to keep them permanently foreign. For a historical survey of institutions of enslavement, see Melzer 1993.


Trafficking Protocol and the CRC Protocol, the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, the ILO Convention No. 182, regional policies, and programs, from the outset, writes Jonathan Todres, aimed “not to guard against the trafficking of all persons, but rather only white women. While that has long since been remedied formalistically in international law on human trafficking, its legacy has not.”62 This legacy is one that viewed trafficking as linked fundamentally to prostitution or to “white slave traffic” and fighting it as keeping women from being “procured” for immoral purposes abroad.63 Indeed, U.S. federal law continues into the present to focus most significantly on criminalizing (through the Mann Act, originally formulated in 1910 as the White Slave Traffic Act) those involved in prostitution rather than on stopping forced labor at its sources.64 Even though language to describe the actual targets of trafficking has been reformulated, it is now as protecting primarily women of color and Eastern European women from “their” men. Not only obscuring the far more prevalent reliance on trafficked male and female migrant labor in domestic and agricultural sectors, such formulations also lead ironically to resentment and hostility toward those victims able to escape who are therefore seen more through the lens of opportunistic illegals who encountered difficulties en route than as people in need of protection.65 One
Jonathan Todres, “Law, Otherness, and Human Trafficking,” 49 Santa Clara Law Review 2009, p. 639. See, for instance, International Agreement for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic May 1904; International Convention for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic, May 1910; International Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children, September 1921; Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, March 1950. Jonathan Todres observes that although in 1870 the white slave trade referred specifically to white women in Europe, when some urged in 1910 that the name for this crime be shifted to account for the full range of effected women, several social movements and campaigns argued that they needed to rely on recognizable slogans that would enhance the likelihood of their success, even if, by implication this meant treating the protection of white women as of greater value and necessity than the suffering of women of color, men and boys. Todres comments (2009, 640), “In all likelihood, that exclusion does not happen with such ease unless those being excluded are considered less important.” 64 Much excellent work has been done on the disastrous consequences of U.S. policies focused almost entirely on the prosecution of sex trafficking of women. See, in particular Yvonne Zimmerman’s (2010) exploration of how the use of theological language highlighted the imperative for decisive anti-trafficking actions while creating policies inimical to combating it. Religious groups, which depicted this as a sinister trade that profits ruthless businessmen, criminals, and corrupt officials at the expense of millions of women and children, saw it as their God-given duty to take action to combat it, even as they suggested that human rights violations were questions of sexual impropriety, pushed for cutting off funding from reputable and effective agencies, and antagonized relations among groups that could collaborate. TIP’s inaugural director, Ambassador John R. Miller spoke of his work as a moral mission, as a spiritual task through which people wrongly submitting to other people were freed into the service of G-d. Although not written into actual TVPA legislation, faith-based community initiatives that shared these formulations were consistently those to receive most funding, whether or not they had a proven track record in working on this issue. This worsened in 2003 with the reauthorization act that included the Prostitution Loyalty Oath that stated that no funding could be given to a group that did not explicitly state that it did not promote, support, or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution. Zimmerman illustrates the special status given to sex in its almost always being the first specified and only one explained in policies and the framing of the sex industry as the main culprit in the proliferation of trafficking. This is particularly problematic she states, citing David Feingold (“Human Trafficking,” Foreign Policy 150 (September–October 2005): 26–32), since the worldwide market for cheap labor is exponentially larger than market for commercial sex. See also Anthony M. DeStefano. The War on Human Trafficking: U.S. Policy Assessed. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008. 65 Jonathan Todres, p. 633.
63 62


counterveiling trend has been the push to criminalize the brands of sex tourism that take Western male clients on “exotic” holidays with primarily Asian girls and women. Foreignness remains at the core of these economies as predominantly middle-aged, middle-, and lower-middle class men have access to women and forms of intimacy that would be too costly to purchase through equivalent means at home. What is more they envision themselves as treating with kindness and generosity women who are secondclass citizens in relation to their own, local men (Todres 2009, 627).66 In so doing, of course, they entirely divorce their current situation and relations from longer histories that positioned Western European and American currency to function as it does and for them to envision their whiteness as of inevitable sexual appeal. Even if such men within Europe and the U.S. are distinctly un-foreign, as they enact specific racialized and gendered histories, they can be made foreign as targets of moralistic crusading discourses, as examples of a contagious and contaminating spiritual poverty in need of containment. Foreignness is indeed malleable. As is probably already clear, the ways in which contemporary slavery has gained attention and visibility in the U.S. reflects more about the desired self-image of many Americans than it does about the actual issue, that of the real shape of foreignness. Who is at risk has required framing potential victims in ways that make involvement in the cause gratifying. Part of this consists in placing people who might be descendants of slave masters in the role of rescuers and saviors through distancing and at times pitting contemporary slavery against one in which African-descended people had a particular monopoly on victimhood.67 In the U.S. context, either we might all suddenly be victims and fingers are pointed at enslaved Christians in the Sudan or it is Third World women (who make up the majority of contemporary Christians)68 who need to be rescued from their own cultural context, from their own problematic men.69 This kind of discourse surrounded early invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as the U.S. depicted itself as
66 Ratna Kapur, “The Citizen and the Migrant: Postcolonial Anxieties, Law, and the Politics of Exclusion/Inclusion” Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 8, No. 2, Article 8. Available at 67 The leadership at the Dutch Institute for the Study of Slavery (NINSEE) described several different occasions in which contemporary abolitionists resented any requests that they connect their research and formulations to those that emerged to make sense of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In a seeming pitch for limited political room, it appeared that either African-descended people or a more global vulnerable population would monopolize center stage as victim. 68 This point is made in Zimmerman 2010. 69 Dominant brands of U.S. Christian abolitionism are constrained by their lack of a systematic account of the role of capitalism as an economic system in these developments. Their preference for limited government intervention in the economy leaves their response as primarily moralistic ones aimed at constraining political borders and sinners’ appetites, banishing bad apples by playing the role of savior to individual women. They echo, with few qualifications, the moral hysteria surrounding the “white slave trade” that Emma Goldman criticized at the start of the twentieth century as a moral crusade that, achieving little by way of deterrence, offered up human sorrow in the form of a diverting toy through which people could engage in moral outcry lest they consider the cause or “bottom of things”: that profits under capitalism are generated through underpaid labor driving women and girls in droves into prostitution. See Goldman, “The Traffic in Women” in Anarchism and Other Essays (New York: Dover, 1969), p. 178. She continued, “Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex. It is therefore almost inevitable that she should pay for her right to exist, to keep a position in whatever line, with sex favors. Thus it is merely a question of degree whether she sells herself to one man, in or out of marriage, or to many men. Whether our reformers admit it or not, the economic and social inferiority of woman is responsible for prostitution” (1969, 179).


bringing liberal freedoms to local women, replaying Frantz Fanon’s earlier discussions of the same phenomenon in French colonial relations in North Africa. It is no doubt true, as Martha Fineman (2008) has argued, that vulnerability is “an inevitable, enduring aspect of the human condition that must be at the heart of our concept of social and state responsibility,” that it differs only in likelihood and magnitude. When trying to cultivate a more internationalist politics, such an orientation is deeply appealing. Still, I wonder if the widespread appeal of the turn to vulnerability as an alternative, however social scientifically defensible, is not tied up with a desire to break radically from the weight of the past, particularly the old logics of the trans-Atlantic period in ways that put beyond reach historical lessons of ongoing usefulness. For starters, for example, in the U.S., it cannot be coincidental and irrelevant that the sectors in which slave labor is currently most concentrated are precisely the domestic and agricultural ones deliberately excluded from the 1930s Labor Relations Act to assuage Southerners in the Democratic Party who would only extend such protections to American workers if the category excluded their black counterparts.70 In addition, it is true that today traders of people include those of the same ethnic, racial, linguistic, and religious groups as those sold. Still, “locals” were also part of older, complex networks through which captives of war and other kidnapped people were brought into enslavement. European women and Christians are now among those traded across the globe. That too has been true for centuries. All races of people are now implicated and poverty may well be a better index of vulnerability than phenotype. But when has there not been a post-colonial relationship between poverty and race? It is true that a feature of contemporary enslavement is our awareness of it as a global phenomenon that is both unified and highly fragmentary but patterns of carefully choosing particular groups for unique qualities thought to be linked to their ethnic, religious, racial, linguistic, or regional origins is also not novel. Even if the human palette is vastly enlarged, one might recall here the association of particular nations with physical strength or beauty, with spiritedness or subservience. Processes of racialization, tied up indispensably with the legitimating of making of human beings into disposable tools for economic exploitation, were elaborated at the core of modernity in the quintessentially capitalist slave trade of the Atlantic world. Just as we would be dangerously wrong not to see contemporary enslavement because it does not directly duplicate this model,71 we would be equally crazy in theorizing contemporary practices of enslavement not to make use of political thought that emerged out of such experiences. Contemporary men and women could not fail to recognize the efforts to make then into slaves in the writing of Frederick Douglass. We should not fail to see that situations of enslavement, rather than those of aberrational moral failings, are a new iteration of Walter Rodneyesque simultaneous and interrelated underdeveloping and overaccumulation in a highly unequal global economy currently undergoing a process of reintegration. We will be tone deaf to contemporary political life if we divorce the present from the history that has shaped it, that has enabled us to know with great predictive power how the likelihood and magnitude of vulnerability will be distributed. This is not to say
Indeed, if one adds in prostitution, which also was not covered by collective bargaining legislation, one has covered most of the current domains of economic life where slavery is blossoming and regulation urgently needed. 71 This is due inn large part to the changed role of U.S. agriculture and production in the global economy.


that we try to understand the present through the Manichean lenses that were forced upon particular stages of European colonial relations. It is instead to suggest that we are alienating and marginalizing key resources and allies in seeking leverage and visibility for contemporary forced labor by overemphasizing its radical break from the more recent past. We would do better by paying attention to interrupted projects of decolonialization; the divorcing projects of democratization from those of creating political economic conditions for something resembling genuine independence and sovereignty of former colonized nations. In other words, if aims, in discussing forced labor today are actually to reduce the conditions of its emergence, we should further develop our accounts of how non-random are patterns of ongoing unequal distribution of life opportunities. This demands looking at center-periphery relations within and alongside national and regional inequalities and how these are expressed in ongoing processes of gendering, racialization, ethnicization,72 or in the generation of the kind of people whose suffering can be rendered less visible. It remains easier to exploit people whose membership in the human community is minimized, who are cast beneath the role of “other”. Indeed, as Frantz Fanon emphasized, one group cannot consistently subordinate another without explaining their treatment as deserved.73 Understanding the ways in which particular variegated understandings and uses of race, gender, and ethnicity now combine in relations that are global is crucial and urgent both for understanding the contours of contemporary enslavement and the nature of political economic life today.74 We should not mistake challenges to a longstanding Atlantic-centrism for the irrelevance of its particular lessons.
See Manuela Boatc!, “Class vs. Other as Analytic Categories: The Selective Incorporation of Migrants into Theory” in Mass Migration in the World-System: Past, Present, and Future, edited by Terry-Ann Jones and Eric Mielants (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010). 73 This is where I depart from Jonathan Todres’s otherwise remarkable essay. He describes the necessity of “othering” as essential to understanding contemporary trafficking. I here follow Fanon that those who we treat as less than human are forced out of self-other relations to which regular ethical norms apply. 74 This also involves understanding and categorizing the situation of brown and black men in the U.S. today. Blackmon (2008) has made famous what he terms “slavery by another name,” a practice prevalent at the beginning of the twentieth century of charging vagrants, or those who were unemployed, with a sentence of thirty days of hard labor. When the accused were unable to pay the fees for the sheriff, deputy, court clerk, and witnesses, their sentence was typically extended to a year during which standing arrangements between counties and major corporations turned over the charged for the duration in exchange for money to cover the fines and fees. Often placed in prison mines, chained at night, and whipped for offenses, forty-five years after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, thousands of men worked as “slaves” in all but name. Although it did not last a lifetime and did not pass on to children, it involved the buying and selling of free, innocent men to do the bidding of masters under threats of physical coercion at rates that clearly followed the needs for cheap labor, deterring black aspirations as they were demonstrably shown that “law” was used to coerce them to comply with preferences of white corporate interests in a practice that did not recede until World War II. Angela Davis argues that prisons in the U.S. continue relations that defined the plantation. Supplying domestic sites of cheap labor, prisoners cannot go on strike or unionize and are not paid a minimum wage. In other words, in addition to going overseas, jobs go to places outside of normal political jurisdiction or to legal “nowheres,” where people assemble dental apparatuses and do computer data entry. Prisons have prepared brochures to lure such corporate sponsorships in what is framed as finding a use for otherwise disposable populations. Not only outside of the reach of labor law, when resident population counts are collected to determine what is required for governmental institutions to be sufficiently representative, prisoners are counted in prison districts rather than in home communities, even though they will not vote while there. Given rates of incarceration in urban core communities, this diminishes yet further already severely compromised political power. See Davis “Race and Criminalization: Black Americans and the Punishment Industry” in The House that Race Built, edited by


Concluding Reflections In classical political thought it was assumed that people who were meaningfully free engaged directly in time-consuming practices of self-governance. To be able to spend hours and days in debate with their political equals they relied upon sizeable communities of slaves and non-slave women who tended to and maintained “the world of things,” among them, the household. Few today would condone the arguments for such arrangements, but discrediting their ideological justification has not eliminated modified versions of the practices themselves. Is it possible in an age that claims to be marked by the triumph of liberal democracy actually to move beyond the norms that underpin slave and colonial societies, ones through which the freedom of some continues to be premised upon the exploitation and alienated labor of countless others? And more broadly, can we devise practicable models of economic development that feasibly avoid what Karl Marx called “primitive accumulation,” or brutal episodes of conquest and coerced labor on which most projects of civilization have historically relied? The present, in spite of the dominant place it affords democratic language, is marked by the widespread production of vulnerability. This is contributed to by ubiquitous attacks on projects of governance and government as organs that could increase collective control over shared living conditions and the desire instead for market mechanisms, the primary aim of which is to generate profits, to offer all solutions.75 The difficulty, as Eric Williams has noted, is that there is nothing within this logic that collides with or problematizes enslavement.76 Indeed the efforts to frame slavery and capitalism as inherently contradictory relied on a theory of history in which slavery was cast as pre-modern, too inefficient and unprofitable to continue once industry had been introduced. The problem with this approach was empirical: it was wrong. So we are left in a peculiar political terrain in which there is a constant invocation of projects of democracy and self-governance at the same time as a complete retrenchment of attention and will to protect political economic conditions that make them possible. Liberty is assumed to be a natural condition rather than a major project and always fragile feat. Indeed, any coordinated distribution-minded planning is pegged as a potential violation of rather than basic prerequisite for meaningful individual freedom.77 If we refuse the view that slavery ever disappeared, instead making a starting point of the observation that its rules and practices simply shifted with time---either as the actual occupants of the position of the enslaved were slightly altered or as people moved
Wahneema Lubiano (New York: Pantheon Books, 1997) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003). 75 Anti-political politics on the right and the left do not help matters: the versions on the right are opposed to secular sovereignty, wanting simply to impose one way of doing things, avoiding the intrinsically agonistic qualities of democracy; the left, in its concerns with the inherent corruptions of power, is increasingly anti-statist and advancing against sovereignty a “politics” or ethics of lamentation that is universalizing in anti-political ways. On this point, see Honig (forthcoming). 76 Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1994). 77 There does appear to be an encroaching sea change through which conditions in which certain basic labor protections are now recast as luxurious entitlements. The formerly unthinkable reintroduction of child labor and jurisdictions within the economy where people are not paid minimum wage, etc. seem to many to be increasingly tenable. Indeed, they may suggest with fingers wagging that it was the gains of labor that drove once local jobs abroad to others sensible enough to be less demanding. Although not all unpaid, voluntary labor is the same as slavery, it is remarkable how commonplace the variety of unpaid internships has become.


up and down a spectrum of involuntary, alienated conditions---our approach to understanding the relationship of slavery to democracy must be rather different. Against neoliberal forms of democracy and those brands of democratic theory that either are devoted to highly modest proposals for procedures, practices and programs that might supplement liberal institutions on the one hand,78 and on the other, those that are actively anti-statist, under the label of being post- or anti-sovereignty, we can juxtapose what W.E.B. Du Bois termed “abolitionist democracy.”79 Emerging with the Reconstruction Era in the U.S., this approach made a deliberate project of transforming former masters and slaves into independent citizens with the capacity to have a meaningful say in the affairs that determined their daily lives. This in turn necessitated an absence of gross inequality and the dependency that is its twin, through measures to create basic education and provisions for the economic wherewithal that would foster sufficient independence to make mutual cooperation a coherent possibility. The efforts of Reconstruction legislators to seek such aims through curbing the power of the planter class, ironically, benefited the whole of the southern region that also suffered at the hands of oligarchic control. In other words, a free society demanded an explicit challenge---rather than the coddling and indulging---of the former slave masters. The legal franchise, itself in need of ongoing monitoring, to this extent, was not adequate. It was the abandoning of the project of forging new institutions designed to incorporate black people into the social order that led, in Angela Davis’s account, to the prison-industrial complex.80 She writes: There is a direct connection with slavery: when slavery was abolished, black people were set free, but they lacked access to the material resources that would enable them to fashion new, free lives. Prisons have thrived over the last century precisely because of the absence of those resources and the persistence of some of the deep structures of slavery. They cannot, therefore, be eliminated unless new institutions and resources are made available to those communities that provide, in large part, the human beings that make up the prison population.81 The vision of abolitionist democracy is not exhausted by what has come to be called social democracy. For it adds to it a sense that democracy and slavery are never completely distinct, that the aim of democratic institutions is to interject a counterweight to tendencies toward oligarchy that would undo the public terrain as a distinctive sphere in which we wage ever incomplete struggles against unfreedom. Doing so successfully demands discerning the discrete tasks of particular moments.

Joel Olson, The Abolition of White Democracy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 130. For recent excellent discussion of abolitionist democracy, in addition to Olson’s The Abolition, see Lawrie Balfour, “Unreconstructed Democracy: W.E.B. DuBois and the Case for Reparations,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 97, No.1 (Feb, 2003): 33-44 and George Lipsitz, “Abolition Democracy and Global Justice,” Comparative American Studies: An International Journal, Vol. 2(3) (2004): 271-286. 80 Angela Davis, Abolition Democracy, 95. For further discussion of this point see Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) and Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010) and “Labor in the Correctional State,” a special issue of Labor 8:3 (Fall 2011), edited by Leon Fink. 81 Davis, Abolition Democracy, 96-97.
78 79


Failure to undertake these is to abandon the very possibility of a realm in which rules other than those of the market and of war can apply. Works Cited Andrees, Beate and Patrick Belser, editors. 2009. Forced Labor: Coercion and Exploitation in the Private Economy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Arnold, Christina and Andrea M. Bertone. 2002. "Addressing the Sex Trade in Thailand: Some Lessons Learned from NGOs, Part I," Gender Issues 20.1: 26-52. Bales, Kevin. 1999. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press. ______. 2000. “Expendable People: Slavery in an Age of Globalization,” Journal of International Affairs Spring 53.2: 461-484. Bales, Kevin and Ron Soodalter. 2009. The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today. Berkeley: University of California Press. Bales, Kevin and Zoe Trodd. 2008. To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today’s Slaves. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. Bales, Kevin, Zoe Trodd, and Alex Kent Williamson. 2009. Modern Slavery: The Secret World of 27 Million People. Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications. Batstone, David. 2007. Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It. New York: HarperSanFrancisco. Blackmon, Douglas A. 2008. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Doubleday. Boatc!, Manuela. 2010. “Class vs. Other as Analytic Categories: The Selective Incorporation of Migrants into Theory” in Mass Migration in the World-System: Past, Present, and Future, edited by Terry-Ann Jones and Eric Mielants. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 38-54. Buck-Morss, Susan. 2009. Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. Comaroff, John L. and Comaroff, Jean. 2006. “Law and Disorder in the Postcolony: An Introdduction” in Law and Disorder in the Postcolony, edited by Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1-56. Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, March 1950.


Davis, Angela. 1997. “Race and Criminalization: Black Americans and the Punishment Industry” in The House that Race Built: Black Americans, U.S. Terrain, edited with an introduction by Wahneema Lubiano. New York: Pantheon Books, 264-279. ______. 2003. Are Prisons Obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press. Davis, David Brion. 1975. The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ______. 1984. Slavery and Human Progress. New York: Oxford University Press. DeStefano, Anthony M. 2008. The War on Human Trafficking: U.S. Policy Assessed. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Douglass, Frederick. 1982. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. New York: Penguin Classics. Du Bois, W.E.B. 1992/1962/1935. Black Reconstruction in America, with an introduction by David Levering Lewis. New York: The Free Press. Dunlop, Karen. 2008. “Human Security, Sex Trafficking, and Deep Structural Explanations,” Human Security Journal Volume 6, Spring: 56-67. Fanon, Frantz. 1968. Black Skin, White Masks, translated by Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press. ______. 1965. A Dying Colonialism, translated by Haakon Chevalier. New York: Grove Press. ______. 1991. The Wretched of the Earth, translated by Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Press. Feingold, David. 2005. “Human Trafficking,” Foreign Policy 150 (September–October): 26–32. Fineman, Martha. 2008. “The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition,” Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Vol 20, No. 1, Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 8-40. Available at SSRN: Global Report on Trafficking in People, 2009. Goldman, Emma. 1969. “The Traffic in Women” in Anarchism and Other Essays, by Emman Goldman, with a new introduction by Richard Drinnon. New York: Dover Publications. Hanser, Robert, Taryn Branson, J. D. Lanham, and Attapol Kuanliang. 2010. "The Role of NGOs in the Prevention of Human Trafficking: An Emphasis on Victim-Centered and Restorative Justice Approaches." Contemporary Issues in Criminology and the Social Science 4.1: 38-55. Harvey, David. 2003. The New Imperialism. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 26

Hume, David. 1748. “Of the Original Contract,” edited and rendered into an html by Jon Roland, available at Ignatiev, Noel. 1995. How the Irish Became White. New York: London. International Agreement for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic, May 1904. International Convention for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic, May 1910. International Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children, September 1921. Kapur, Ratna. 2007. “The Citizen and the Migrant: Postcolonial Anxieties, Law, and the Politics of Exclusion/Inclusion,” Theoretical Inquiries in Law Vol. 8, No. 2, Article 8, Available at: Kempadoo, Kamala, editor (with Jyoti Sanghera and Bandana Pattanaik). 2005. Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers. Linebaugh, Peter and Marcus Rediker. 2000. The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon Press. Logan, John R. “Separate and Unequal: The Neighborhood Gap for Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians in Metropolitan America,” US 2010 Project. Lukes, Stephen. 2005. Power: A Radical View, Second Edition. Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan. Lyons, Harriet D. 1999. The Representation of Trafficking in Persons in Asia: Oreintalism and Other Perils. Electronic Document. Re/Productions Issue 2. Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. 1978/1972. The Marx-Engels Reader, Second Edition, edited by Robert C. Tucker. New York: W.W. Norton. Melzer, Milton. 1993. Slavery: A World History. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. Montgomery, Heather. 2009. "Are Child Prostitutes Child Workers? A Case Study," International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 29, no. 3/4: 130-140. Naím, Moisés. 2005. Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy. New York: Anchor Books. Omondi, Rose Kisia. 2003. “Gender and the Political Economy of Sex Tourism in Kenya’s Coastal Resorts,” a paper presented at the International Symposium/Doctoral Course on Feminist Perspectives on Global Economic and Political Systems and Women’s Struggle for Global Justice. Tromso, Norway. 27

Patterson, Orlando. 1982. Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Raymond, Janice G. et. al. 2001. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends 42. Roediger, David. 1999. The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, New Edition with an introduction by Kathleen Cleaver. London, England: Verso. Rosen, Eva and Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh. 2008. “A ‘Perversion’ of Choice: Sex Work Offers Just Enough in Chicago’s Urban Ghetto,” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 37, no. 4 (August): 417-441. Sartre, Jean-Paul. 1966. Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, translated by Hazel B. Barnes. New York: Washington Square Press/Pocket Books. Segal, Ronald. 2001. Islam’s Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Skinner, E. Benjamin. 2008a. A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery. New York: Free Press. ______. 2008b. “A World Enslaved,” Foreign Policy March/April: 62-67. Stiglitz, Joseph. 2002. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton. Tilly, Charles. 1991. “Domination, Resistance, Compliance . . . Discourse,” Sociological Forum, 6 (3): 593-602. Todres, Jonathan. 2009. “Law, Otherness, and Human Trafficking,” 49 Santa Clara L. Rev. 605. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, February 2009. U.N. Econ. Soc. Council [ECOSOC], Comm. On Human Rights. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence Against Women, Par. 55, U.N. Doc E/CN.4/2000/68 Feb. 29, 2000. Williams, Richard. 2010. Hierarchical Structures and Social Value: The Creation of Black and Irish Identities in the United States. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Zimmerman, Yvonne. “From Bush to Obama Rethinking Sex and Religion in the United States’ Initiative to Combat Human Trafficking,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 26(1) Spring 2010: 79-99.


Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.