Discoveries in the Making
Shedding light on modern slavery
Europeans imposed colonial rule violently upon Africa, paving the way for oppression and exploitation. They forced hundreds of thousands of Africans to work for insignificant pay or nothing at all, justifying such actions with the claim that Africans had to be "civilized" through labour. Eric Allina-Pisano, at the new Master’s Program in International Development and Globalization and the Department of History is examining how colonial rule in Mozambique marked the emergence of modern slavery, which differed from previous forms. Earlier slaveholders never denied their workers were held captive under the lash, but colonizers camouflaged coercion behind claims that Africans were employed under imaginary contracts. Abolition-era slavery proponents alleged that Blacks’ supposed inherent inferiority justified their subjugation, while modern slavery claimed that forcing “uncivilized Africans” to work would improve their “moral and material well-being.” Though earlier slave-owners treated bondservants with great brutality, they paid large sums of money for them and regarded them as valuable investments. In contrast, the exploiters of Africa’s modern slaves paid virtually nothing for their labour, treating them as expendable “men-machines.” Allina-Pisano also addresses how the colonial era established some of the political and economic conditions that still sustain slavery today, pointing to how the colonial period was the "midwife" of contemporary forms of servitude in Africa.
Eric Allina-Pisano, Associate Professor at the Master’s Program in International Development and Globalization and Department of History
Telephone: 613-562-5800 ext. 4426
The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is on August 23.