What does an examination of slavery in the past tell us about its modern manifestations?
What is slavery? If it has been declared illegal by every single country and supranational organization on the planet, how can we understand the phenomenon of modern slavery? How is slavery different from other forms of unfreedom and extreme labour exploitation?
Prof. Damian Pargas examines slavery throughout history and its modern manifestations. He will explore the “institutions” and “practices” of slavery, tracing gradations of the human rights infringements of captives and their treatment as property and commodities across time and space. Drawing on historical examples ranging from the Atlantic world, to indentured servants in the British colonies, debt bondsmen in modern India, to current victims of human trafficking from Africa and Asia into Europe, Prof. Pargas puts this phenomenon into perspective.
About Damian Pargas
Damian Pargas is Professor of History and Culture of the United States. He studied social history at Leiden University, earning his MA cum laude in 2004 and his PhD cum laude in 2009. From 2009 to 2013 he was assistant professor of history and American studies at Utrecht University. In August 2013 he returned to Leiden as assistant professor of social and economic history. He is the author of two books and several articles on American slavery, slave family life, and slave migration in the 19th century.
In 2011 he was awarded a visiting scholar fellowship by the JFK Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität in Berlin, and from 2011 to 2014 he held a Veni postdoctoral fellowship from the Dutch Council for Scientific Research (NWO) for his project “Newcomers in Chains: Slave Migrants in the Antebellum South, 1820-1865.” He is the recipient and supervisor of the recently awarded NWO Vidi project “Beacons of Freedom: Slave Refugees in North America, 1800-1860.” Damian is also a board member of the Netherlands American Studies Association, founder of the Leiden Slavery Studies Association, founder and chief editor of the Journal of Global Slavery, and co-editor of the book series Studies in Global Slavery.
Suggested reading by Prof. Pargas
- Kevin Bales, Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader (Univ of California Press).
- Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death (Harvard UP).
- Joseph Miller, The Problem of Slavery as History: A Global Approach (Yale UP).
- Jean Allain, ed., The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
- Suzanne Miers, “Slavery: A Question of Definition,” Slavery & Abolition vol. 24, no. 2 (2003): 1-16.
- Kostas Vlassopoulos, “Does Slavery Have a History? The Consequences of a Global Approach,” Journal of Global Slavery, vol. 1, no. 1 (2016): 5-27.
- David Brion Davis, “Looking at Slavery from Broader Perspectives,” American Historical Review vol. 105, no. 2 (April 2000): 452-466.