Beyond Slavery Library
The future of work
Cameron Thibos and Joel Quirk (eds)
All migrants deserve protection as migrants. All workers deserve protection as workers. Modern slavery and human trafficking campaigns selectively focus upon a small minority of vulnerable migrants, and a small minority of precarious workers. These cases are the tip of the iceberg.
Confronting root causes: forced labour in global supply chains
Genevieve LeBaron, Neil Howard, Cameron Thibos and Penelope Kyritsis
It is by now widely recognised that effectively tackling forced labour in the global economy means addressing its ‘root causes’. Policymakers, business leaders and civil society organisations all routinely call for interventions that do so. Yet what exactly are these root causes? And how do they operate?
The two most commonly given answers are ‘poverty’ and ‘globalisation’. Although each may be foundational to forced labour, both terms are typically used in nebulous, catch-all ways that serve more as excuses than explanations. Both encompass and obscure a web of decisions and processes that maintain an unjust status quo, while being used as euphemisms for deeper socio-economic structures that lie at the core of the capitalist global economy.
The question thus becomes: exactly which aspects of poverty and globalisation are responsible for the endemic labour exploitation frequently described with the terms forced labour, human trafficking or modern slavery? Which global economic processes ensure a constant and low-cost supply of highly exploitable and coerced workers? And which dynamics trigger a demand among businesses for their exploitation, making it possible for them to profit from it?
This 12-part report is an attempt to answer these questions in a rigorous yet accessible way. With it, we hope to provide policymakers, journalists, scholars and activists with a road map for understanding the political economy of forced labour in today’s “global value chain (GVC) world”.
Praise for Confronting Root Causes
“This report is a game changing explanation of why attempts to ensure human rights in global supply chains are failing. The authors’ questioning of the widely accepted 'truths' of globalization and its impact are a wake-up call to all those brand owners who invest more in risk management than in reassessing how they do business.”
—Judy Gearhart, Executive Director, International Labor Rights Forum
“This report offers a powerful analysis of the root causes of labour exploitation in today’s global supply chains. Combining top-drawer scholarship with real political clarity, it shows that exploitation is no accident – and it is the big players who are responsible.”
—Cathy Feingold, Director, International Department, AFL-CIO
“For those who wish to go beyond facile explanations and instead seek deeper understanding of exploitation and abuse within supply chains, this powerful report is a must-read. Its mix of excellent research and sharp analysis shows that labour exploitation is no accident. No more tinkering around the edges, it is time for fundamental shifts in our global economy.”
—Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator, Asia Floor Wage Alliance
40.3 million slaves? Four reasons to question the new Global Estimates of Modern Slavery
The fusion of the Walk Free Foundation's Global Slavery Index with data from the ILO to create the 2017 Global Estimate of Modern Slavery invites debate and scrutiny on a new level. As the report notes, “[to] be effective, policies and programmes must be grounded in the best possible understanding of the root causes of modern slavery at both the national and global levels" (p. 15). I couldn’t agree more, and therein lies the problem. We must hold tools like indices and indicators to the highest standards because they are intentionally designed to shape the behaviour of governments, international organisations, and citizens around the world. GEMS will act as a benchmark for the future evolution of modern slavery, so the scope for continually updating the methodology has shrunk – otherwise figures over time would be impossible to compare.
So as long as significant data problems persist – and important ones do – it remains a deficient yardstick for progress. If GEMS measurements are skewed, the policy prescriptions based on them will be skewed as well. The report’s authors should expect governments to take notice of its findings and to consider policies that will make them look better – so if the measurements themselves are off, policies may equally veer in an undesirable direction. The stakes in the struggle against exploitation are too high to tolerate misleading conclusions.
Shadows of slavery: refractions of the past, challenges of the present
Alice Bellagamba, Marco Gardini, Laura Menin (eds)
This collection is an outcome of five years of collective research and discussion aimed at bringing the legacies of nineteenth century enslavement together with examples of contemporary bondage and exploitation that may or may not fall under the rubric of ‘modern slavery’. It demonstrates one way of creating a contextually balanced understanding of how the past and present connect with each other, and do not. It interrogates, in the first place, which past matters in specific situations: is it the centuries-long past of the Atlantic slave trade, or the nineteenth century histories of regional and interregional enslavement? All together, these contributions ‘descend’ into the everyday worlds of people who live the consequences of historical slave systems or who happen to find themselves ‘trapped’ in novel forms of socio-political inequality, racism, labour exploitation and sexual and moral violence.
Domestic workers speak: a global fight for rights and recognition
Giulia Garofalo Geymonat, Sabrina Marchetti, and Penelope Kyritsis (eds)
Awareness has greatly increased over the past decade about the living and working conditions of the world’s 67 million domestic workers. We now know that abuse and exploitation, child labour, discrimination, starvation, violence, and debt bondage are disproportionately represented within this traditionally unorganised and invisible sector. What is less known is that the grassroots mobilisation of workers resisting their exploitation and stigmatisation has, against all odds, also been growing over the past 20 years. In order to get a better understanding of some of these issues that often remain hidden, we asked domestic workers’ rights activists themselves to tell us directly about their movement – their struggles, their experiences as domestic workers, the reasons for their ongoing exploitation, and the strategies to fight it.
Slavery: memory and afterlives
Josie Gill and Julia O'Connell Davidson (eds)
A call for remembrance is not necessarily a call for closer attention to the details of history. It is not essential to be well acquainted with geopolitics or military history in order to remember the war dead. Nor does remembering those whose lives were destroyed by slavery require a knowledge of historic slave regimes. But in former slave and colonial states like Britain, there is a difference between the remembrance of war and the remembrance of transatlantic slavery. Because the latter disrupts the dominant, self-congratulatory national narrative about a country’s love of liberty, equality, democracy and justice. So what exactly should or can we remember, and why, and what should we ‘do’ with these memories? This volume reflects on these questions as they relate to the memory of slavery and the different conversations that can be had about its past and present. But they do not, and cannot, provide the answer to these questions, for there is no simple or single answer.
Sex workers speak: who listens?
P.G. Macioti and Giulia Garofalo Geymonat (eds)
Gendered, racist, classist, homophobic, and transphobic violence haunts the world of sex work, and many of us believe that states, intergovernmental organisations, and NGOs should do more to help. Yet a lot is being done, the problem is the efficacy of these interventions. This volume addresses the violence, exploitation, abuse, and trafficking present in the sex industries, but it does so from the perspective of sex workers themselves. These are the women, men, and transgender people who are directly touched by interventions made ‘in their name’, and they are the people who actively and collectively resist all forms of violence against them. By publishing their voices directly we hope to help readers resist indifference, on the one hand, and to become more critical of states’ interventions, which are widely regarded and legitimated as necessary to combat ‘trafficking’, on the other.
Beyond Slavery Short Course
Contributors to the BTS Short Course
Ana Lucia ARAUJO
Brenda Oude BREUIL
Kristen E. CHENEY
Monisha DAS GUPTA
Roxanne Lynn DOTY
Sara R. FARRIS
Global Network Of Sex Work Projects
Lucrecia Rubio GUNDELL
Ali Moussa IYE
Jilian K. MARSH
E. Ann MCDOUGALL
Alice M. MILLER
Charles W. MILLS
Anne Elizabeth MOORE
Julia O’CONNELL DAVIDSON
Jessica R. PLILEY
P. Khalil SAUCIER
Stephanie J. SILVERMAN
James Brewer STEWART
Tryon P. WOODS