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What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Slavery?
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What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Slavery?

First Edition


May 2022 | 104 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Slavery is a live issue today, but the people who talk about it as such are not all of a piece. Some insist the world is now plagued by the contemporary equivalent of transatlantic slavery, and call on us to combat “modern slavery”. Others hold that the on-going devaluation and destruction of black life continues the logic of transatlantic slavery. They urge us to address the “afterlives” of racial chattel slavery. These two groupings provide different answers to the questions, “what do we know and what should we do about slavery?” This book reviews what is known about the issues at the heart of each perspective, and argues that the concept of “afterlives” is more helpful than that of “modern slavery” to those seeking to challenge injustice, violence, inequality and oppression in the twenty-first century. 

 
Chapter 1: Introduction
 
Chapter 2: Background
 
Chapter 3: What Do We Know?
 
Chapter 4: What Should We Do?
 
Chapter 5: Conclusion

In this scintillating little book, O’Connell Davidson sketches out the relationship between slavery, racism and modernity. In so doing, she picks apart facile solutions to ‘modern slavery’ offered by philanthropists, police departments and NGOs, and instead demands we think more seriously about the structure of global capitalism and the afterlives of transatlantic slavery and colonialism. This brilliant book clarifies the term ‘modern slavery’, clearing some of the ground on our path to freedom. 
 

Dr Luke De Noronha
UCL

What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Slavery? brilliantly distills how to interpret the phenomenon of slavery and its relationship to freedom struggles both in past epochs and our current moment. By differentiating between the languages of modern slavery and slavery’s afterlives, Julia O’Connell Davidson underscores the policy stakes for abolitionists rejecting slavery in all its forms and enslaved humans whom, their condition notwithstanding, constantly reaffirm calls for reparatory justice and unapologetically declare that their lives and personhood matter.

 

Neil Roberts
Williams College

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