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Debt Bondage SPR18

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Julie Jenkins

on 6 March 2018

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Transcript of Debt Bondage SPR18

Forced Labour & Debt Bondage
Debt bondage/ bonded labor understood as a 'type' of Forced Labor
--and the most prevalent type
1924 Temporary Slavery Commission
recommended inclusion of forced labor and debt bondage
but...excluded from 1926 Slavery Convention
ILO- 1930- Forced Labor Convention
--"Work or service extracted from any person under the
menace of any penalty
and for which the said person has not offered himself
voluntary
"
--includes debt-bondage and serfdom
--aimed at colonial govs use of workers for public and private enterprises, forced production of crops, export goods
--guidelines that workers must be paid wage, only used for public works that benefit community
protect indigenous labor from exploitation and workers in industrialized countries from competition
1956 Supplementary Convention
"The status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or those of a person under his control as security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined"
Emphasizes involuntary entry and coercion
"Children sold into debt bondage"
"ancient tradition of slavery and debt bondage", "rooted in caste system"
Marx-
assumption that forced/bonded labor would diminish with capitalism
if found, then must be a 'traditional' or 'pre-capitalist' mode of production
Breman-
"a capitalist mode of production...by no means precludes certain forms of absence of freedom, emanating for example from the necessity to enter into debt"
ILO reinforced efforts in 2000
"Global Alliance Against Forced Labor"
--argued that under neo-liberalism and Structural Adjustment of 1980s & 90s
--labor rights not prioritized
-- deregulation of markets
--governments forced to cut welfare services, adding to vulnerability
argued that forced labor & debt bondage occur to enable employers to compete in world market
seeks to reform capitalism to eliminate forced labor ('fair globalization')
--accepts that 'free' labor relations aren't exploitative
Is debt bondage 'unfree' when it involves voluntary entrance?
rather than 'free'/'unfree'; forced/ voluntary
continuum, with different degrees of unfreedom/freedom & inequality
India-
--no reliable figures

--Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act 1976
--debt bondage, combined with wages below minimum wage, constitute forced labor
--'force' implied in accepting wages lower than minimum wage
Precolonial & Colonial System:
--landowners (higher caste) employed bonded labourers for agriculture, household work, non-economic services
--debt-laborers typically from lower castes -- b/c landless & more vulnerable to debt
--system of patron-client
--typically life-long & heriditary
Be careful..
--caste system became more rigid under British colonialism
--caste associated with occupation but didn't always indicate "class"
--mobility occurs, redefining the caste group
Decline in 1950s b/c--
--land reforms
--new agricultural methods
--increased availability of non-agricultural occupations
--increase political power for lower castes
replaced with neo-bondage (Bremen)
--more exploitative, no patron-client relations
--uses migrant labor
--can be exploited more through long hours, low wages, without fear of labor unrest
--often through money lender or 'jobber', or employers paying an advance
Jobber- (contracted by employer)
--gives advances to employee
--full wage payment not received until end of contract
--often find themselves more indebted at end of contract
lower castes highly represented b/c long history of social and political oppression
--nature of education
--dalits historically excluded from land reforms
--stigma
also includes other marginalised groups
enter into b/c economic compulsions
--27.6% living under Indian poverty line
--can't make subsistence needs without loans
--loans not available through other means
Initially, ILO emphasized
--involuntary entry
--"extra-economic" constraints upon exit
ILO now focuses on
extra-economic constraints of exit
India:
--Agriculture, sugar cane, rice mills, construction, brick kilns, fish processing, silver works, mat weaving, salt pans, bidi making...
"Bonded Labor is a relic of history that should have long ago been eliminated from South Asia, but greed, corruption, and government ineffectiveness allow this caustic mode of exploitation to persist well into modern times." CNN Siddharth Kara, Harvard Fellow
Brass-
--unfree labor may have been a consequence of capitalism expansion
--capitalism prefers unfree labor & tries to eliminate the freedom associated with the wage laborer
But Breman & Brass disagree on
--Brass- degree of extra economic coercion today is the same as the unfree regimes of the past
--Breman-- significant transformation has occurred in these relationships
What does Khan's examination of the football stitching and glass-bangle industries contribute to our understanding of debt-bondage?
Can there be debt without bondage? Is it fair to compare the Amazonian (or other forms of debt-bondage) to the US mortgage/debt industry? When does debt become a type of bondage?
-degree of power that lender/debtor has in relation to one another

How has debt bondage transformed in the case study given by De Neve & Carswell?
How is the pannaiyall different from the use of debt in the power looms? How is it similar?
Why do people find themselves in debt-bondage in 'free' labor contracts?
Why does the action of indebting laborers occur in the power looms?
How do laborers respond to these relationships of indebtedness?
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