The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking

The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking

The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking

The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking


It is commonly assumed that slavery came to an end in the nineteenth century. While slavery in the Americas officially ended in 1888, millions of slaves remained in bondage across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East well into the first half of the twentieth century. Wherever laws against slavery were introduced, governments found ways of continuing similar forms of coercion and exploitation, such as forced, bonded, and indentured labor. Every country in the world has now abolished slavery, yet millions of people continue to find themselves subject to contemporary forms of slavery, such as human trafficking, wartime enslavement, and the worst forms of child labor. The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking offers an innovative study in the attempt to understand and eradicate these ongoing human rights abuses.

In The Anti-Slavery Project, historian and human rights expert Joel Quirk examines the evolution of political opposition to slavery from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day. Beginning with the abolitionist movement in the British Empire, Quirk analyzes the philosophical, economic, and cultural shifts that eventually resulted in the legal abolition of slavery. By viewing the legal abolition of slavery as a cautious first step--rather than the end of the story--he demonstrates that modern anti-slavery activism can be best understood as the latest phase in an evolving response to the historical shortcomings of earlier forms of political activism.

By exposing the historical and cultural roots of contemporary slavery, The Anti-Slavery Project presents an original diagnosis of the underlying causes driving one of the most pressing human rights problems in the world today. It offers valuable insights for historians, political scientists, policy makers, and activists seeking to combat slavery in all its forms.


Where slavery is legally recognized one can tell who is a slave, but
how does one describe the situation of people who seem to be
exactly like slaves but who, in the eyes of the law, cannot be so
because the law says nobody can be legally enslaved.

— Jonathon Derrick, Africa’s Slaves Today, 1975

The whole problem is still before us, as urgent and uncertain as it
has ever been. It is not solved. What seemed a solution is already
obsolete. the problem will have to be worked through again from
the start. Some of the factors have changed a little. Laws and
regulations have been altered. New and respectable names have
been invented. But the real issue has hardly changed at all.

— Henry Nevinson, A Modern Slavery, 1906

[O]nly that which has no history is definable.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, 1887

In January 2004, the New York Times once again found itself embroiled in a controversy concerning one of its reporters. the journalist in question was not named Jayson Blair, or Judith Miller, but was instead Peter Landesman, who had just published a New York Times Magazine cover story entitled “The Girls Next Door” exploring the increasingly topical issue of human trafficking. in his article, Landesman made the dramatic claim that the United States had “become a major importer of sex slaves.” To support this conclusion, he . . .

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