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Race, ethnicity and belonging

The status of ‘slave’ has been inescapably linked to questions of race and racism since at least the late fifteenth century. The transatlantic slave trade set in motion a process through which slave, and the stigma attaching therein, were bound to Africa and Africans in European imaginations. European pretensions to moral ‘superiority’ were in turn codified and justified through a pseudoscience of race that emerged and flourished from the eighteenth century onwards. This ‘scientific racism’ asserted the existence of distinct and hierarchically ordered ‘types’ of human being, then racialised people from Africa as ‘black’ and encoded blackness with the dirt, dishonour, and dependency attributed to slaves. The history of transatlantic slavery is thus powerfully entwined with: 1) the emergence of the idea that race creates impermeable borders between flesh and blood human beings in terms of their capacities, moral worth and rights; and 2) a very specific form of antiblack racism. Read on...

Open letter to Theresa May: recognise the UN International Decade for People of African Descent

The British government has admitted to having no plans to recognise the UN International Decade for People of African Descent. At a time when racialised discrimination and inequality are rampant, this is unacceptable.

Confronting the brutal reality: how to teach the legacy of transatlantic slavery

The British curriculum sanitises the history of slavery by isolating it as an aberration of evil. Slavery built the west. Acknowledging that is the first step to undoing its damage.

Black ‘archival’ pain: the blurring of Black pasts and a Black present

Incessant Black death across American ‘history’ reveals an open-ended archive of anti-Black state violence. Black people keep dying, and while past and present differ they simultaneously blur.

Capitalist dispossession and new justifications of slavery

Discussions of migration are becoming increasingly dystopian. Based upon either exclusion or exploitation, new neoliberal arguments for open borders are not about freedom, but institutionalised domination.

Transforming ‘beasts into men’: colonialism, forced labour and racism in Africa

European colonisers maintained their workforce with forced labour after slavery was abolished, claiming work would do Africans good. This opened up new dangers to an already vulnerable population.

Undermining indigenous self-determination and land access in highland Peru

While current neoliberal privatisation laws provide for protections to indigenous lands, no formal or informal mechanisms exist for natives to actually enjoy such safeguards.

A master plan for Indigenous freedom

Andrew Forrest, the founder of the Walk Free Foundation, has written a master plan for Indigenous freedom. But who is the master and what is freedom?

Why Roma migrate

Almost all central and east European Roma migrants to western Europe are not trafficked. They seek opportunities denied at home and escape from the racism perpetuating their marginalisation.

Warehousing Palestine

The Israeli state ‘warehouses’ Palestinians in Gaza for many of the same reasons that the United States has historically incarcerated a disproportionate amount of African Americans.

The hidden injuries of caste: south Indian tea workers and economic crisis

Economic crisis has pushed Indian tea workers to seek employment outside the plantations, forcing them to re-engage with the caste hierarchy from which their ancestors attempted to escape. 

Adivasis in India: modern-day slaves or modern-day workers?

India’s Adivasis often work in conditions commonly described as ‘modern-day slavery’, but they are not slaves. Their unfreedom is both the fuel and product of modern Indian capitalism. Español

The politics of slavery, racism and democracy in Mauritania

The history of slavery is central to racism, activism and democracy in Mauritania. Much of what happens next will reflect the decisions of former slaves.

Shades of white: gender, race, and slavery in the Caribbean

Both whiteness and blackness were stratified along gendered lines in the colonial-era Caribbean. Many of the norms this engendered persist today.

Is memory enough? Remembering the racial legacies of slavery in France today

France is the only European slave-trading nation to legally recognise slavery and the slave trade as crimes against humanity, but questions of racial discrimination and colonial exploitation remain unresolved.

Racism, citizenship and deportation in the United States

US immigration laws from 1996 are draconian on paper and racially discriminatory in practice. Immigration reform in the United States must include their overturn.

The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil

Brazil’s government has taken important steps to combat racial inequalities over the past two decades. Afro-Brazilian populations nevertheless remain socially and economically excluded, continuing patterns that began with legal slavery.

Slavery’s afterlife in the Euro-Mediterranean basin

Invisible to even the most progressive Europeans, antiblackness is the foundation from which to understand the tragedies now occurring in the Mediterranean Basin.

The present tense of (racial) slavery: the racial chattel logic of the US prison

The US prison regime functions through a racial chattel logic. Its animating force is not economic exploitation but rather racialized social reorganization and neutralization.

Don’t call it a comeback: racial slavery is not yet abolished

The long and on-going history of black freedom struggle should remain the contemporary focal point and forum of political demands for global justice.

The political economy of personhood

Most humans have not been, and still are not, recognised as persons: gender and race remain prerequisites for recognition as an individual.

Race, ethnicity and belonging

Race is, ironically, an often-overlooked aspect of the modern slavery debate. BTS editors look critically at the field and introduce their next issue.

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