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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...



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

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

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Why Roma migrate

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

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The politics of slavery, racism and democracy in Mauritania

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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

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

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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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