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CFS Wk 1- 2 W15
Transcript of CFS Wk 1- 2 W15
Sociology at Harvard
"slavery is the permanent, violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons"
critiques League of Nation's definition b/c of emphasis on 'ownership' and 'property'
argues that being 'property' isn't a central characteristic of being a slave; rather not being able to be the 'subject' of property is- not able to 'own'
Roman property laws, giving right to absolute property and dominion over property, produced because of slavery
--slaves came first, laws secondary
--myth in reality
--personal, sovereign, civic
--issue of degree, rather than absolute value
grew as ideal within the context of large scale slavery
--in other contexts- 'freedom' is characterized by attachment to a social group
"to say, then, that a slave is the 'property' of the master is to say: 'the master exercises some unspecified rights over the slave' -- hardly an informative statement...we still need to know what rights govern other, non-slave relationships" (Kopytoff 1982).
What kinds of variations in institutions of slavery does Miers examine? How do these make defining slavery difficult?
"slavery is the permanent, violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonored persons"
"natal alienation" leads to "social death"
-"homeless"- kinless, rootless, stranger
-no independent existence outside of owners
-life 'spared' (from war, poverty, etc) in return for 'social death'
in some contexts, while 'slavery' and indentured servitude, serfdom, etc differed theoretically, the social experience was the same
--offered protection from poverty
--higher standard of living than poor 'free'
--used b/c evokes strong reactions
--linked in the Western imagination with the experience of chattel slavery in the Americas
--extreme deprivation, inhumanity, dominion
--could be used and definition changed to fit a variety of political & social purposed
Is it appropriate to use the term slavery for any & every form of inequality and exploitation? What are the advantages? What are the limitations?
--protection/legal rights under Islamic law
--could hold office/have power over the 'free'
Sell children as "poverty relief"
--also status symbol
Always acquired by violence?
--Linked too heavily with "Christian European Model" of Chattel slavery
--property, bought/sold, lack of rights, status hereditary
--Tendency to ignore the subject
-definitions typically center of issue of volition, property/ownership, violence/force
Why does Miers say complete freedom only exists in theory?
Should 'violence' or 'force' be a central characteristic of slavery? How do we define violence?
Should the idea of being legal 'property'/ownership be a central characteristic?
How have academics understood & defined slavery?
Marx & Engels
Social Evolutionary Theorists
--slave society (Greek/Roman)
mode of production:
--forces of production
--relations of production
"Producers can reproduce their lives through labor, but the exploiting class can not"...lives on the surplus of producers through some MOP.
MOPs: to extract surplus...
--Slave - exploiters own producers
--Feudalism - land, use of political system
--Capitalism - wage labor
ALL ARE FORMS OF LABOR EXPLOITATION
--slavery's existence is an anomaly in capitalism
Lovejoy, Miers, Kopytoff, Mellasioux
--studied in relation to domestic forms of slavery in Africa
--Slaves are 'strangers', although could be incorporated into the kin group via marriage, patronage
--"made it possible for one society to steal the productive labor that another society has invested in producing human beings"
Graeber seeks to show parallels between capitalism and slavery
--What struck you about his argument?
--wage labor involves subordination
--wealth (property) isn't necc. an end in itself but really about the production of people
--mechanisms of exploitation tend to be invisible
"if we do not accept the Roman and civil law conception of absolute ownership, then ownership, stripped of its social and emotional rhetoric, is simply another name for property; it can only mean claims and powers vis-a-vis other persons with respect to a given thing, person or action. This is what a master possesses with respect to his slave; it is also exactly what a person possesses with respect to his or her spouse, child, employee, or land" (Patterson 1982, p. 22).
property not a relationship between persons & things, but a relationship between persons
"claims/powers vis a vis others persons with respect to a given thing, person, or action"
Kevin Bales-- Free the Slaves
--need to find a way to limit the definition
--favors equivalency over similarity
"a state marked by the loss of free will where a person is forced through violence or the threat of violence to give up the ability to sell freely his or her own labor power"
--control, rather than ownership
--appropriation of labor power
Manzo-- Slavery is unpaid labor (influenced by Marx)
Van der Anker-- no, it's not about wages, its about control
Very few academics are addressing the why...Why does slavery exist?
Free the Slaves and Anti-Slavery International -
contemporary slavery exists b/c of poverty
--forced to work
--owned or controlled by employer, usually through physical/threatened abuse
--dehumanized, treated as a commodity, or bought/sold as property
--physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement
“In many developing countries modernization brought immense wealth to the elite and continued or increased the impoverishment of the poor majority. Throughout Africa and Asia the last fifty years have been scarred by civil war and the wholesale looting of resources by home-grown dictators, often supported by one of the super-powers. To hold onto power, the ruling kleptocrats have paid enormous sums for weaponry, money raised by mortgaging their countries. Mean-while traditional ways of life and subsistence have been sacrificed to the cash crop and quick profit. Poor families have lost their old ways of meeting a crisis. Traditional societies, while sometimes oppressive, generally relied on ties of responsibility and kinship that could usually carry people through a crisis such as the death of the breadwinner, serious illness, or a bad harvest. Modernization and the globalization of the world economy have shattered these traditional families and the small-scale subsistence farming that supported them. The forced shift from subsistence to cash-crop agriculture, the loss of common land, and government policies that suppress farm income in favor of cheap food for the cities have all helped bankrupt millions of peasants and drive them from their land—sometimes into slavery. Although modernization can have good effects, bringing improvements in health care and education, the concentration of land in the hands of an elite and its use of land to produce cash crops for export have made the poor more vulnerable. Because the political elites in the developing world focus on economic growth, which is not just in their collective self-interest but required by global financial institutions, little attention is paid to sustainable livelihoods for the majority. So while the rich of the developing world have grown richer, the poor have fewer and fewer options." (Bales)
Kevin Bales: Free the Slaves
Old Slavery vs New Slavery
-Legal ownership vs legal ownership avoided (control)
-Slaves maintained (shortage) vs slaves disposable (surplus)
-High purchase cost vs low purchase cost
-Low profits vs high profits
-increase in population
--modernization= increased inequality= vulnerability
--"chaos of greed, violence and corruption" created by population growth and globalization in developing countries
--"new" slavery has historical roots
--trans-atlantic slave trade as benchmark
--Did cash-crop production begin after WWII?
Colonialism-- set up a specific international division of labour
Europe relied on colonies' 'export monoculture' in the industrialization process
Bretton Woods Institutions
-International Monetary Fund (IMF)
-International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank)
--IMF disburse credit needed to stabilize national currency exchanges.
--World Bank- provide loans for specific projects
Europe a 'model' to be applied to the rest
--focus on industrialization
loans, aid aimed at stimulating the industrialization process, rather than for social investments
i.e., setting up infrastructure, energy systems, export base
the gap in income between 'First World' and 'Third World' increasing
-- "running hard but increasingly falling behind"
And the gap in income within the 'developing' countries were also increasing...with more people living in relative and absolute poverty.
The Debt Crisis
1970s & 1980s
-increase in world price in oil
-First World went into recession
-Third World also affected by raise in energy costs & reduced demand for products
--increase in interest rates
--couldn't repay previous loans from WB, IMF and other banks
---revenues from sales of commodities used to pay off debts, rather than fuel industrial development. Forced to cut investment and social expenditure.
WB- Structural Adjustment Loans
IMF- Structural Adjustment Programs
1. reduction of public spending (social programs, food subsidies)
2. currency devaluation
3. privatization of state enterprises (industry, water, electricity, phones)
4. reduction of wages to attract foreign investors
5. reduce export prices
6. trade liberalization (eliminate restrictions on imports)
-food prices went up, wages went down
-energy, water, etc left to market pricing
-reduced purchasing power
“the political rhetoric of the West blaming local producers for exploiting child labor, masks the economic benefit that Western consumers get from cheap clothes and from keeping the economic rules of the game in place so that the majority of the world has hardly any chance of developing a mixed-base economy, without widespread poverty, with decent living standards and adequate working conditions." (Van der Anker 2004)
Need to look at different forms of slavery in different parts of the world and assessing to what extent local factors and global factors play a role.