Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Understanding Global Slavery

Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader

Kevin Bales
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Pages: 222
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Understanding Global Slavery
    Book Description:

    Although slavery is illegal throughout the world, we learned from Kevin Bales's highly praised exposé,Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy,that more than twenty-seven million people-in countries from Pakistan to Thailand to the United States--are still trapped in bondage. With this new volume, Bales, the leading authority on modern slavery, looks beyond the specific instances of slavery described in his last book to explore broader themes about slavery's causes, its continuation, and how it might be ended. Written to raise awareness and deepen understanding, and touching again on individual lives around the world, this book tackles head-on one of the most urgent and difficult problems facing us today. Each of the chapters inUnderstanding Global Slaveryexplores a different facet of global slavery. Bales investigates slavery's historical roots to illuminate today's puzzles. He explores our basic ideas about what slavery is and how the phenomenon fits into our moral, political, and economic worlds. He seeks to explain how human trafficking brings people into our cities and how the demand for trafficked workers, servants, and prostitutes shapes modern slavery. And he asks how we can study and measure this mostly hidden crime. Throughout, Bales emphasizes that to end global slavery, we must first understand it. This book is a step in that direction.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93207-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Understanding Slavery Today
    (pp. 1-23)

    For Meera the revolution began with a single rupee. When a worker from the Sankalp organization found Meera’s unmapped village in the hills of Uttar Pradesh, India, he found the entire population was enslaved through debt bondage to work in stone quarries. The men and women hammered and pried rocks from the earth; the children hauled the rocks in baskets. Children as young as five worked in the pits making sand by smashing stones with a hammer. The dust, flying rock chips, and heavy loads meant that many villagers suffered from silicosis and damaged eyes or backs. These villagers were...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Slavery and the Human Right to Evil
    (pp. 24-39)

    Because my work concerns contemporary forms of slavery, I am often asked about the “evil” of slaveholders. Most people, when they confront the shocking realities of modern slavery, seek to understand it by defining the actions of slaveholders as evil. “How can anyone use violence in such a regular and dispassionate way merely for economic gain?” they wonder. Indeed, the cases of horrific abuse, even torture, that abound in my own research are enough to send one searching for a way to disassociate oneself from slaveholders. Young men from Mali are enslaved on the cocoa plantations of the Ivory Coast;...

  7. CHAPTER 3 No One Shall Be Held in Slavery or Servitude: A Critical Analysis of International Slavery Agreements
    (pp. 40-68)

    Most historians of slavery don’t know how lucky they are. The majority of scholars concerned with slavery focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the legal slave trade of the period, and its aftermath. For these scholars, the historical period can be clearly demarcated by the legislative moments when the slave trade or slavery itself was abolished within states or empires. The scholar of contemporary slavery enjoys no such clarity. Slavery as a social and economic relationship has never ceased to exist during recorded history, but the form that it has taken and takes today, as well as its definition,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Slavery and the Emergence of Non-governmental Organizations
    (pp. 69-86)

    One significant change in the nature of political action over the last fifty years is the shift away from established political parties to nonstate, issue-based campaigning groups, and away from nation-state politics to global politics. Before World War II, formal politics tended to take place at the level of the nation-state and within a context of competing sovereign nation-states. Indeed, the nation-state was a defining feature of life in the early twentieth century. In democratic countries, political action normally occurred through the vehicle of ideologically driven political parties competing for power. These parties operated with a bundle of policies and...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Challenge of Measuring Slavery
    (pp. 87-111)

    Social science data is notoriously loose and slippery. It primarily concerns the behaviors and attitudes of human beings, who are, as a species, often unreliable, confused, mercurial, and dynamic. As researchers we benefit from the fact that people act out their erratic ways within remarkably stable patterns—the most stable of which are the universal social institutions: government, religion, economics, education, and family. Slavery itself is not a universal social institution, as it has not been found in all societies, but it nearly made the list. In the very recent history of our species (meaning the last five thousand years),...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Globalization and Redemption
    (pp. 112-125)

    In this chapter I want to do two things. First, I want to explain how slavery mirrors other economic pursuits in becoming globalized. Second, I want to look at the traditional types of slavery practiced in Mauritania and Sudan in order to take up the thorny question of the “redemption” of slaves in Sudan and to shed a little light on this problem by contextualizing it historically and socially.

    Discussingglobalizationcan itself be problematic because of the different meanings and interpretations given this word. In defining it, I follow the work of Martin Albrow, one of the originators of...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Human Trafficking: A Worldwide Concern
    (pp. 126-153)

    Human traffickingis the modern term for a phenomenon—that of forcing and transporting people into slavery—which has been a part of civilization since the beginning of human history. Slavery and the traffic in slaves have continued into the present day. Today, however, a narrow focus on trafficking for sexual exploitation has obscured the larger problem. Sometimes synonymous with the slave trade, at other times the wordtraffickinghas been used only to describe transporting and forcing women into prostitution. At the end of the nineteenth century, there was significant official concern in Europe and North America over the...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Understanding the Demand behind Human Trafficking
    (pp. 154-171)

    Our understanding of human trafficking is piecemeal and often based on anecdotal information, as is true of many other criminal activities. Moreover, our understanding is complicated by the global reach of trafficking, and by social and cultural variation in the ways that the crime of trafficking unfolds. Compared to other criminal activities, human trafficking is especially difficult to bring into focus. In part, this is because the victims of trafficking are more likely to be hidden or unreachable than, for example, the victims of burglary or even murder. The result is a crime for which the technique of using representative...

  13. CODA: Three Steps to Stopping Slavery (And Four Things You Can Do Right Away)
    (pp. 172-174)

    This book shows that slavery may be widespread, but that it can be stopped. The national laws are in place, and international agencies like the UN are ready to act, but nothing will happen until the public demands action and antislavery work is funded. When every person who doesn’t want to live in a world with slavery takes the following three steps, it will be the beginning of the end for slavery.

    If you have just read this book, you’ve already taken this step. Now share this book with a friend, your church, or your class and order one for...

  14. APPENDIX 1. Slavery Research Questions Used in Case Studies
    (pp. 175-182)
  15. APPENDIX 2. Rankings of Countries on Ordinal Scales for Slavery and Trafficking Including Ranges of Estimated Numbers of Slaves
    (pp. 183-186)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 187-204)
  17. Index
    (pp. 205-212)