Call for papers: Slavery Past, Present and Future

27 Dec 2019 11:08 AM | Melony Shemberger (Administrator)

The fifth global meeting of Slavery Past, Present and Future will take place June 22-24, 2020, at Webster University, Leiden, The Netherlands. Proposals for paper are being sought.

Slavery (the treatment of humans as chattel) and enslavement through conquest, birth, gender, race, ethnicity, kinship, and exploitation of indebtedness have been an intrinsic part of human societies.

Slavery and a variety of other forms of exploitation existed in ancient societies across the world, and in many other states and territories. The Transatlantic Slave Trade furnished at least 10 million Africans for slavery throughout the Americas.

Controversial and contested estimates indicate that up to 40 million people worldwide are enslaved today. This modern re-emergence of slavery into public view, following legal abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade over two hundred years ago, is said to be linked to the deepening interconnectedness of countries in the global economy, overpopulation, and the economic and other vulnerabilities of individual victims and communities.

But should we think of these people as enslaved? And if so, is slavery an inevitable part of the human condition? Like ‘consumers’ of past eras, such as early industrialization, are we dependent on the exploitation of others? What does the persistence and mutations of different forms of exploitation mean in the context of abolition and recognition of universal individual and collective human rights?

The varieties of contemporary forms of exploitation appear to be endless. This interdisciplinary conference will facilitate a multidisciplinary exploration of slavery in all its dimensions.

Submissions are sought from people from all walks of life and identities, including:

  • Academics: from all disciplines, such as art, film, anthropology, sociology, history, ethnic studies, politics, social work, economics, and any field that touches the study of exploitation.
  • Civil society members: human rights activists, leaders in non-governmental organizations, and others in the NGO or social advocacy fields.
  • Professionals: social workers, corporate social responsibility and business ethics professionals, business leaders, and health care professionals.
  • Government actors: representatives, policymakers, lobbyists, and analysts
  • Global citizens with personal connections to slavery or exploitation: former slaves or indentured laborers, members of at-risk populations, migrant or guest workers, non-regularized immigrants, and refugees.

Conference organizers particularly encourage submissions from the Global South.

Potential themes and sub-themes

Defining slavery

  • What do we mean when we talk about “slavery”?
  • Using “slavery” to obscure other endemic forms of exploitation.
  • Teaching and learning about historic slavery and contemporary forms of exploitation.

Slaveries of the past

  • Classical (Egyptian, Greco-Roman, etc.) slavery.
  • Conquests and colonization – Aboriginal Australians, indigenous peoples of the New World, dividing and colonizing Africa and Asia.
  • Slaveries in Europe pre-Industrialization, such as villeinage and serfdom
  • Trans-Atlantic slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade
  • Depictions of slaves and slave traders in texts and art during the Abolition Period
  • Systems of slavery in tribal and traditional societies
  • WWII and post-WWII forced labor camps

Human trafficking and other Forms of contemporary exploitation

  • Definitions - Is human trafficking “slavery”?
  • Types of human trafficking (labor trafficking, sex trafficking, organ trafficking, etc.).
  • Civil society anti-trafficking activism: assessing contemporary initiatives and movements.
  • The role of the nation state: Can the nation state enslave? (prison labor, mandated military service, etc.); anti-trafficking policies and legislation.

Systems and structures of enslavement and subordination (historic and contemporary)

  • Role of slavery in national and global economies.
  • Economic, political, legal structures – their role in enslavement and exploitation.
  • Slavery’s impact on culture and the cultural impacts of historic slavery.

Voices of the enslaved

  • Slave narratives of the past and present.
  • Descendants’ interpretation of their enslaved and/or slave-holding ancestors.

Legacies of slavery

  • Identifying and mapping contemporary legacies – economic, social, cultural, psychological (e.g., Post traumatic stress disorder and intergenerational trauma).
  • Assessment of slavery’s impact – economic, political, other.
  • Commemorations and memorialization of enslavers and/or the enslaved.
  • Legal regimes tacitly designed to perpetuate slavery (e.g., convict leasing).
  • Legal segregation or discrimination (in housing, education, banking, transportation, etc.).
  • Racial terror (e.g., lynching, forced removals).
  • Racial subordination and re-enslavement (e.g., voter disfranchisement, mass.

incarceration, medical apartheid

  • Desecration of burial sites of the enslaved.
  • Destruction of or denial of access to historical information.
  • Lack of memorialization of sacred events/sacred persons/sacred sites.
  • Transitional justice (e.g., reparations, memorialization, restitution).
  • Limited rights attribution and recognition for Afro-descended peoples.
  • Capacities (and limitations) of domestic and international law in creating, implementing and challenging slavery’s legacies.
  • Built environment (e.g., architecture, historic buildings, cityscapes, borders).

Anti-slavery initiatives and movements

  • Reparations.
  • Economic compensation.
  • Restorative justice.
  • Teaching and learning about slavery.
  • Relationship to the global racial hierarchy.
  • Abolitionism and law: effects and (in)effectiveness.
  • The role of technology and multimedia.

Submission guidelines

Proposals should be submitted no later than Friday, Feb. 28, 2020:

  • Karen E. Bravo, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law: kbravo@iupui.edu
  • Email subject line: Slavery Past Present & Future 5 Proposal Submission
  • File format: Microsoft Word (DOC or DOCX)

The following information must be included in the body of the email:

  • Author(s)
  • Affiliation as you would like it to appear in the conference program
  • Corresponding author email address
The following information must be in the Microsoft Word file:
  • Title of proposal
  • Body of proposal (maximum of 300 words)
  • Keywords (maximum of 10)

Keep the following in mind:

  • All text must be in Times New Roman font, size 12.
  • No footnotes or special formatting (bold, underline, or italicization) must be used.

Proposal evaluations

All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed, and authors will be notified of the organizing committee’s decision no later than Friday, March 20, 2020. If a positive decision is made, authors will be asked to register online promptly and to submit a draft paper of no more than 2,000 words by Friday, May 8, 2020.

The conference registration fee is €220.

A limited number of fellowships is available to participants who would otherwise be foreclosed from attending. The fellowships take the form of registration deferrals.

Conference committee

  • Karen E. Bravo (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, USA).
  • David Bulla (Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia, USA).
  • Ursula Doyle (Northern Kentucky University School of Law, USA).
  • Judith Onwubiko (University of Kent, United Kingdom).
  • Ulrich Pallua (University of Innsbruck, Austria).
  • Sheetal Shah (Webster University, Leiden, The Netherlands).
  • Judith Spicksley (University of Hull, United Kingdom).

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