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CFS Wk 1 F18

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Julie Jenkins

on 12 September 2018

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Transcript of CFS Wk 1 F18

The History of Contemporary Forms of Slavery
Free The Slaves.org
League of Nations Slavery Convention
(League of Nations Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labor, & Similar Institutions and Practices Convention) 1926

"the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised"
UN Center for HR (1991)
"--traditional (chattel slavery)
--sale of children
--child prostitution & pornography
--exploitation of child labor
--the use of children in armed conflicts
--traffic in humans
--sale of human organs
--exploitation of prostitutes
--forced labor under apartheid and colonialism
--forced labor for the State
--ritual or 'cult' slavery
--servile marriage
--domestic servitude
--abuses on migrant workers, prisoners, indigenous peoples, and street children"
--'honor killings'
--labor extracted from prisoners of war
What did you find striking about the process in which international conventions and definitions were debated and adopted?
What brought about the League of Nations' definition of slavery?
Chattel slavery & the transatlantic slave trade inspired international definitions & conventions
Enlightenment thinkers
religious groups
abolitionist groups
Abolition Movement strongest in UK:
domestic slavery illegal in England 1772
abolished the legality of the slave trade throughout British empire- 1807
Slavery Abolition Act of 1833--
abolished slavery throughout British empire
didn't affect India, Burma, or Ceylon
Slave-trade continued on foreign ships..
...but Britain signed treaties to provide them the right to search ships
(except the US)
1839- The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society
(Anti-Slavery International- ASI)
1890- "Brussels Act" (General Act for the Suppression of African Slave Trade)
end the trade in slaves, though not forced labor or domestic slavery
argued that expanded colonial administration would provide best protection; i.e. slavery used as an issue to justify colonialism
Brussels Act lapsed in 1919
belief that the slave trade was no longer an issue
1920- ASI (John Harris)
lobbied for global investigation by the League of Nations
recommended --
treaty for elimination of slavery & "all its forms"
serfdom, forced marriage, child marriage, inheritance of widows, adoption/sale of children for labor, debt bondage, forced labor
1926--Slavery Convention
"the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised"

binds signatories to prevent and suppress slave trade and bring about the complete abolition of slavery 'in all its forms'.
Advisory Committee of Experts on Slavery
from 1935-39
only heard evidence from governments
couldn't discuss forced labor
members wanted to narrow definition to only chattel slavery, slave raiding & trading
UN (1945) didn't include Slavery Convention-
but developed 1948 Universal Declaration of HR
"No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery & the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms"
Committee of Experts in 1951
laid groundwork for 1956 Supplementary Convention
heard evidence from NGOs & individuals
1956 Supplementary Convention
added new forms of 'servile status'/ "institutions or practices similar to slavery"
Debt Bondage- when value of services is not applied to liquidating the debt, or length and nature of these services are not limited and defined
Serfdom- bound by custom, law, or agreement to labor on another's land and not free to change status
Certain Marriage Practices
when woman is given or promised in marriage without right to refuse for payment in money or kind
when a woman may be transferred by her husband, his family or his clan to another for value received
widow inheritance
Exploitation of Children
1975- Working Group on Slavery (Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery - 1988)
mandate to combat the slave trade and slavery "in all their practices and manifestations- including apartheid and colonialism"
views slavery as open-ended; favors broad definitions
-- "the definitions in the existing relevant conventions did not cover the concept of slavery under all its present aspects"
1) "any forms of dealing with human beings leading to the forced exploitation of their labor"
2) "all institutions and practices which by restricting the freedom of the individual, are susceptible of causing severe hardship and serious deprivations of liberty"
Where is the threshold? How do we determine which practices can and can not be considered slavery?

Is it appropriate to use the term slavery for any & every form of inequality and exploitation? What are the advantages? What are the limitations?
How would you define slavery?

What images/ideas come to your mind when you think of slavery?
the definition of slavery debated over 19 & 20th centuries
moving between narrow & broad definitions
supported colonialism
didn't actually end slavery
policies weren't always enforced
colonial admins used forced labor, conscription into army, taxation to force people into contract labor
-clause inserted in covenant of League of Nations
--"secure and maintain fair and human conditions of labor and just treatment of the native inhabitants under their control"
--no enforcement, no time limit, no definition
League eventually formed the
Temporary Slavery Commission in 1924
What political factors influenced the 1926 convention?
proposal watered-down
narrow/vague definition
how far does "right of ownership" extend?
no enforcement or review
did ensure slavery had no legal status
Committee of Experts on Slavery - 1932
couldn't discuss forced labor
only consider evidence vetted by governments
Lugard (British) vs Angoulant (French)
Are enslaved persons still slaves once legal status has been abolished?
to have a permanent committee or not...
Advocacy of ASI
issue of apartheid & colonialism
UN Commission on Human Rights
Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities (Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights - 1999)
Working Group on Slavery
no power of enforcement except via the weapon of publicity
regulated by colonial powers
designed to have limited power
advisory & temporary
reports vetted by colonial powers
used b/c evokes strong reactions
linked to the experience of chattel slavery in the Americas
which is used to evaluate claims of exploitation
Strive to use a relativistic perspective
look for the internal logic of cultural systems
understand different cultural perspectives
evaluate each culture on its own terms, without bias
As opposed to 'ethnocentrism'
tendency to view the world from your own perspective or experiences.
Walley-- representations and popular discussions make it feel as if you have to speak about certain issues in either/or terms- either political outrage or cultural relativism
claims for a universal code of ethics/morals/values
can't be a universal code b/c each society should be judged based on its own standards
Misunderstanding to take cultural relativism to mean:
"that there is no absolute truth, be it ethical, moral, or cultural and that there is no meaningful way to judge different cultures because all judgements are ethnocentric"

**This is an extreme moral relativistic view
Moral Relativism is problematic b/c represents culture as 'static', practices persist b/c they must be functional
distinction between
'methodological'/'cultural' and 'moral' relativism
More accurate & useful to look at:
Whose interests are being served, whose perspective amplified?
Whose interests & perspectives are being marginalized, exploited, silenced?
By 1890- "Brussels Act" (General Act for the Suppression of African Slave Trade)
How did the definition broaden after the 1926 Convention?
Problematic Dichotomy between:
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