Slavery Past, Present and Future / The Slavery Past, Present and Future Project

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 4:00am to Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 9:00am

Slavery Past, Present and Future
The Slavery Past, Present and Future Project

Tuesday 7th July – Thursday 9th July 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:
It is an unfortunate truth that slavery, in one form or another, exists in almost all human societies. The 2014 United States State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, for example, claims that virtually every country in the world is now a source, transit, or destination point for human trafficking, which it describes as a “modern form of slavery.”

Is slavery an inevitable part of the human condition? Controversial estimates indicate that up to 35 million people worldwide are enslaved. This modern re-emergence of slavery following abolition over two hundred years ago, is said to be linked to the deepening interconnectedness of countries in the global economy, overpopulation, and the economic and other vulnerabilities of the individual victims and communities.

This conference will explore slavery in all its dimensions and, in particular, the ways in which we understand and attempt to respond to it.

Throughout history, slavery (the purchase and sale of human beings as chattel), enslavement (through conquest, and exploitation of indebtedness, among other vulnerabilities), and similar extreme forms of exploitation and control have been well documented.

Slightly more than two hundred years ago a hard fought consensus emerged regarding the evils and wrongness of human enslavement. (In 2007 the United Kingdom celebrated the 200th anniversary of its abolition of the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans. In 2008 the United States followed suit.) Yet, despite these historic triumphs, slavery continued in various forms.

For example, post “Emancipation” and “Abolition”:

~Indian and Chinese natives were indentured into servitude on the plantations of Britain’s Caribbean and Pacific colonies
~Pacific Islanders were “blackbirded” to enslavement on Australia’s Queensland sugar plantations
~Native and imported Indian and Chinese laborers built the roads, railroads and other infrastructure of Britain’s African colonies
~King Leopold’s Armies enslaved the natives of the Belgian Congo
~Alarm about the enslavement of white women in the colonies and back alleys of European and US cities swept Europe and the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
~Share cropping, the Klu Klux Klan, and lynchings re-enslaved the descendants of African slaves in the United States
~Child brides and their exploitation continued to be the cultural norm in many countries.

And today, the varieties of slavery are astonishing. Consider, for example, enslavement or mere “exploitation” among:

~fishermen in Thailand’s booming shrimping industry,
~children on Ghana’s cocoa plantations,
~among immigrant farmworkers on U.S. farms,
~prostituted women and girls on the streets and in the brothels of Las Vegas,
~the dancing boys (bacha bazi) of Afghanistan,
~the sex workers of The Netherlands’ Red Light Districts,
~the listings of human “merchandise” in newspapers and online media throughout the world,
~Syrian refugee girls and women in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, and the migrant workers from Southeast Asia who flock to the oil rich Gulf States for work.

Does this mean that the world may not have changed as much as we would like to believe since worldwide abolition and the recognition of universal individual and collective human rights? Like the ‘consumers’ of the past, are we dependent on the abhorrent exploitation of others?

Submissions to this conference are sought from people from all genders and walks of life, including academics (from multiple disciplines, such as art, anthropology, history, ethnic studies, politics, economics) and non-academics; social workers, activists, and health care professionals; government representatives and policy makers; former slaves and indentured laborers; members of at-risk populations such as migrant and guest workers, non—regularized immigrants, and refugees.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of potential themes:

– What is slavery – social, cultural, and legal definitions?
– Is human trafficking a modern form of slavery
– The experience of slavery (from the perspectives of slave, slave master, and society)
– The legacies of slavery in contemporary life: Power-subordination structures; Guilt (ancestral, descendant, survivors’, beneficiary’s) and its rejection; reparations
– Contemporary anti-trafficking and anti-slavery organizations, their missions, methodologies, and effectiveness
– Social, cultural, political, and economic structures that create and sustain slavery through space and time
– Enslavement and its effects on families and societies
– The perils and successes of rescue and rehabilitation; what are the risks of re-enslavement?
– Self-enslavement: can a human sell himself?
– Addiction as enslavement?
– Is enslavement gendered?
– The role of race, ethnicity and otherness
– Official commemorations and denials of and apologies for slavery
– Education and educating about slavery
– Experiencing enslavement through literature, visual and performance arts

The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.

What to Send:
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 13th March 2015. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 22nd May 2015. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; proposals may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Slavery 1 Proposal Submission.

All abstracts will be at least double blind peer reviewed. Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Karen E. Bravo:
Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of  the Probing the Boundaries domain which aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore innovative and challenging routes of intellectual and academic exploration. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.


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