"Negating Humanity": Modern Slavery in its Historical Context and its Implications for Policy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: History

Abstract

It is a frightening illustration of our times that it costs on average price an estimated $100 to buy a person. In the US in 1860, a slave cost $1,000 - some $20,000 today. By almost any indicator it would appear that slavery is thriving today, and not simply in developing nations. The issue is certainly exciting more attention. After nearly a century since the British Empire banned slavery, and for almost a century since the League of Nations re-iterated that ban, international bodies have attempted to define and outlaw slavery. Yet it persists. Over the last five years both Britain and the US have passed legislation and introduced far more stringent policing.
However, some would argue that its persistence is in some measure a question of definition. Slavery has never been simple to define, but what is certain is that "Modern Slavery" is not the old -fashioned "chattel" slavery exemplified in the ancient world or the New World. Far from it. The UK's 2015 Modern Slavery Act includes within its remit prohibitions on organ and embryo harvesting; forced marriage and debt bondage. Others see it as a question of enforcement, intrinsically linking slavery with globalisation and insufficiently restrained capitalism. They would argue that at their most extreme these forces encourage and excuse many forms of slavery, by essentially normalising them.
This study aims to examine both of these problems. The research of the Principle Investigator addresses issues of definition by examining the forces that drove, the effects of, and the implications of, what was arguably the first "Modern Slavery" legislation in the US: the 1910 White Slave, or Mann Act. On the surface it expanded US slavery beyond its usual racially proscribed boundaries, and seemed to take the idealism within the Thirteenth Amendment to new levels. Even so it has been considered notoriously unsuccessful in checking the enslavement of the young girls it sought to free, misogynistic and - ironically - inherently racist. Nevertheless, it remained the main source of legislation in the field until the 21st century.
Co-Investigator's work looks at the implications of the UK's 2015 Modern Slavery Act. This legislation criminalises a range of dehumanising, degrading and cruel practices under the remit of what it terms "slavery". It is this breadth of conceptualisation that has been seen as its weakness and it is that which this study seeks to examine. The project will establish how the Act has been enforced - what crimes it has focused on, as well as where its emphasis is taking the debate.
While these two studies compliment each other, the project has other objectives as well. The Project Partner in this bid shows its more practical stress. Paul Broadbent is the CEO of the Gangmasters Licensing Agency. His post was created in the wake of the 2004 Morecambe Bay disaster and he is charged with regulating and investigating the exploitation of workers in the food industry. Its remit is to be expanded to industry in general. As such he is centrally involved with the themes of this project - policy definition, public perception and efficacy of modern slavery legislation.
Funding will pay for two workshops and the establishment of a long-term network of journalists, leading policy makers, law enforcers and scholars who will collaborate through this project, as well as the research of the investigators. Themed on definition and public perception, these workshops will discuss and address such elements as the enslavement of the homeless in present day London and the use of AI in tracking labour supply chains in the US. Aiming to remain active after this project, members will use other networks to amplify their message, improve its connections and as a platform for conferences, web presence and publishing opportunities. The project aims to produce an edited volume with CUP, two peer-reviewed articles and a panel for the Historians Against Slavery's first conference in October 2017.

Planned Impact

While very much a pilot project, this investigation has the potential to achieve a broad public impact by involving a deliberately wide range of participants and practitioners from outside academic who are grappling with similar and related questions. However, at present these scholars, policy makers, enforcers, commentators and advisors are speaking to different audiences on a subject which not only has huge scholarly interest, but is also exciting great public debate. It is the object of this study to create a variety of means by which the participants can not only discuss the issues at stake with each other, but also disseminate those ideas with a wider, more general, audience.

Those taking part in the project - both the two main researchers, and those participants in the workshops - have all been closely involved in putting this bid together and is in that spirit of collaborative effort that this project seeks to continue. It is the aim of this project to both draw on, and contribute to the knowledge and efficacy of those working at the highest levels of policy formation, as well as those who have had the misfortune to be the victims of modern slavery. With this in mind the panel that the group will put forward for the inaugural European conference of Historians Against Slavery in October 2017, will have the PI and CoI, the CEO of the Gangmaster Agency and Shamere McKenzie, a former victim of sex-trafficking from the US.

Although the workshops planned will be small, their impact will be magnified by the fact that attendees are linked with organisations that play important roles on both sides of the Atlantic. The Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center in Virginia and the national, Historians Against Slavery, are the two of the leading bodies in the USA connected with tracking trans-national criminal activity and academic efforts to publicise and stamp out modern slavery. Alongside these groups, in the UK this research will also be tied in with the AHRC funded, multi-centred, Antislavery Usable Past (ASUP) - one of the UK's leading interpreters of the historical importance of abolitionists of all types to the efforts to control modern slavery.

In addition the project is developing connections with the more focused policy-facing group History and Policy, based in Cambridge and Kings College, London. Contributing to this forum will hopefully, as Polly Toynbee claimed, make politicians "boast less about new ideas and their own successes" and pay more attention to the policy lessons in this field of the recent, and not so recent, past. This project will be affiliated with all three of the above bodies, enabling it to use their superior media presence to intensify the impact and appeal of this relatively small project. This amplification should also be enabled by the connections the group have with journalism. One of the participants in the workshops is a freelance journalist with experience of working with Channel Four, Radio Four, Radio Five Live and the BBC World Service.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description While many of the outcomes of this award are yet to reach full fruition, the award has yielded considerable achievements already. The Falmouth workshop, May 18 and 19 2017, was a considerable success. Addressing a theme of defining the problem of slavery in a post "abolition" world. Like the blind men with the elephant, the attendees from the tech, legal, academic and law enforcement worlds showed how different the problem appeared from their own profession/discipline's perspective. This exercise provided both clarity and controversy. On January 16 and 17, 2018 we held the second workshop - this time in London. This two-day event addressed the way in which modern slavery is portrayed and manipulated. Again participants were from a range of interests - media, academia, law enforcement and the law. The papers from both of these meetings will be edited and are currently under consideration as a collected volume for Palgrave's Media series. The second main achievement, linked to the workshops, was the presentation of a paper on Marcus Braun and the Mann Act, given by the PI Kristofer Allerfeldt, to the first UK conference of Historians Against Slavery at the Museum of Slavery in Liverpool on October 7 and 8, 2017. A selection of papers given at this conference, including that of the PI will be published also in an edited edition of papers through the Historians Against Slavery's (HAS) series on Slavery Since Abolition with Cambridge University Press (CUP) - of which the PI will be co-editor. The paper given at Liverpool was a part of an article written on research into the Mann Act undertaken as a part of this funding in archives and libraries in New York, Chicago and Washington DC from June 6 to June 28, 2017. This has been accepted to publication in Global Slavery subject to some revisions. The network has put together a policy brief http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/policy-briefings/history-slave-law-policy-decisions/ which will be circulated to relevant agencies. It has also contributed to a policy document under the PACCs banner, resulting from a conference in September 2018 on Transnational Organised Crime. Further, as PI I have had an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Global Slavery. This will be published in 2019. I am allso working on a collection of papers from this investigation with Palgrave.
Exploitation Route A final meeting was held on April 23-24 2018 with the PI, Co-I, Tristram Riley-Smith and the Devon and Cornwall Police discussed was to formulate policy briefing and other more impact-facing outcomes. A poilcy brief has been produced http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/policy-briefings/history-slave-law-policy-decisions/. The PI and Caroline Haughey QC attended a PaCCS conference at Trinity Hall Cambridge in September 2018 which combined stakeholders and academics across a broad spectrum of subjects affecting and affected by organised crime, including human trafficking and modern slavery. The PI has been asked to organise a conference at Ditchley Park is being set up for November 22 which he will discuss the project's findings with leading policymakers and other practitioners. The PI is currently investigating the possibilities for generating interest and activity for Modern Slavery Day (October 18) 2019 with Reuters and Radio Four. To achieve this he is in negotiations with the BBC, the Office of the Independent Commissioner for Modern Slavery, Anti-Slavery International and various other bodies and individuals.
As of 2021, two key members of the project - Dr Riley-Smith and Kay Firth-Butterfield are involved with the PI on a Leverhulme funding bid looking into AI and its implications for privacy, safety and autonomy. This grew out of the ESRC funding. What is more the funding allowed for meetings which will cement research between Professor Allerfeldt and the World Economic Forum, looking into the implications of autonomous machines and slavery, ideas which emerged specifically from the networks established. It is hoped that Professor Allerfeldt will take up a fellowship with the WEF in 2022.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Other

URL http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/
 
Description The original point of this investigation was to act as a pilot project with NGOs and law enforcers to discover how we could work together to make policy on modern slavery more responsive and targeted to their needs. The second meeting of the group and guests in London in January thrashed out several vital issues in this sphere. With academics specialising in this field; a freelance radio/TV journalist/producer; the barrister representing the first case brought under the UK's 2015 legislation; senior police specialists in this field and the World Economic Forum's Head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, the meeting attempted to include as wide a variety of specialists over a broad time range. Focusing on the importance of how the media reports/reported and influences/influenced the policing and prosecution of modern slavery. At a final meeting in April of the two investigators with Claire Gollop of Devon and Cornwall Police, and Tristram Riley-Smith, the groups' findings will be used to assess their suitability for a policy briefing document. The network has produced a policy brief http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/policy-briefings/history-slave-law-policy-decisions/ Written in deliberately lay terms, this will be distributed to a variety of stakeholders, NGOs and policymakers. At a residential conference at Cambridge on 17/18 September 2018 as PI I gave a synopsis of our work which contributed to the findings exploring how Transnational Organised Crime is shaped, enabled and disrupted. This then was turned into a policy brief that will be aimed at a variety of NGOs, law enforcement agencies and policymakers. With Tristram Riley-Smith and I also organised and attended a Ditchley Director's Dinner on Modern Exploitation: Technology, Slavery and Human trafficking on 22 November 2018. This was attended by a variety of high-level people from the legal world, the police forces, business, civil service and academics. These included the Research Director at the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham and Professor of contemporary slavery Kevin Bales; the CEO of the campaigning organisation Anti-Slavery International Jasmine O'Connor; the Head of the Modern Slavery Unit (MSU) Miriam Minty and the Head of Modern Slavery Programme and Senior Consultant, Human & Digital Rights - Corporate Affairs at BT, Eric Anderson. It is hoped that this will contribute to a proposed Radio Four programme in due course. In October 2019, to mark Anti-Slavery Day, I discussed the findings of this modern slavery network from the perspective of a historian with PaCCS Communications Officer Kate McNeil. This is available at https://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/blog/modern-slavery-through-the-eyes-of-a-historian/ In August and September 2020 the expertise established by this network was used to allocate funding in a call by the AHRC for expressions of interest in the correlations between Covid and modern slavery. Further the interest in autonomous machines and enslavement also informed the basis of a Leverhulme funding bid on a AI, Privacy and Autonomy. And finally, this project has created a partnership between the World Economic Forum and Professor Allerfeldt, who is due to be made a Fellow of the WEF in 2022.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description PaCCS Policy Briefing - Understanding Transnational Organised Crime in the 21st Century
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/paccs-policy-briefing-understanding-transnational-organised-crime-in...
 
Description Policy brief for charities, police, civil servants and policy-makers on the findings of our two workshops on modern slavery, and methods by which to combat and control it.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/policy-briefings/history-slave-law-policy-decisions/
 
Description AHRC Funding Panel on the Impact of Covid on Modern Slavery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact I was one of the members of the panels deciding where to allocate funds for the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre COVID-19 Rapid Response Call. I sat on the (online) panels in August and September, but could not attend the final panels due to ill-health
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Ditchley Park Director's Dinner: Modern Exploitation - Technology, Slavery and Human Trafficking 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact On the evening of Thursday 22 November, 2018 the Dichley Foundation at Ditchley Park in Oxford hosted a formal dinner with speeches and discussions dedicated to the influence and use of technology in situations of exploitation through modern slavery. This was something I had been working to organise since the final workshop of this grant. The event was attended by a variety of high level charity workers, academics, civil servants and law practitioners and enforcers. Discussions and brief presentations revolved around the way in which slavery is both enabled and can be prevented by technological advances. Perhaps the most important outcome of this event was to introduce activists and academics who might otherwise never meet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Online discussion of modern slavery from the perspective of a historian with PaCCS Communications Officer Kate McNeil 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a discussion of how modern slavery policy has been perceived, reported and acted on by, with and through the influence of historians.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/blog/modern-slavery-through-the-eyes-of-a-historian/
 
Description Paper given at the first non-American conference of the Historians Against Slavery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Kristofer Allerfeldt gave a paper at the Historians Against Slavery conference in Liverpool's Slavery Museum on the significance of early twentieth century American efforts to outlaw "White Slavery" and how they have informed present-day policy on both sides of the Atlantic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/home/featureevents/2017/historians-against-slavery-conference.aspx
 
Description Transnational Organised Crime Conference University of Cambridge, 17/18 September 201 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The brief sent to participants stated that the object of this conference was to address a series of questions including where Transnational Organised Crime (TNOC) comes from? How is it rooted in cultural values, narratives & ideologies? How does it connect to social, economic & political structures in places where it thrives and how does it feed-back to affect those cultures & people?
The objective was to then be able
· To share new knowledge from innovative research into TNOC
· To provide context with plenary talks from three perspectives: the academic, the practitioner and the policy-maker
· To add value to this knowledge through engagement with an international gathering of practitioners, policy-makers & stakeholders
· To synthesise the insights deriving from these activities into "findings" and "recommendations for next steps" that will carry impact into the future
· To create conditions for longer-term collaborative networking between delegates from different sectors (public/private/NGO, academic/non-academic) with shared interest in TNOC
The outcome was a policy brief which has been published online http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/paccs-policy-briefing-understanding-transnational-organised-crime-in-the-21st-century/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/paccs-policy-briefing-understanding-transnational-organised-crime-in...
 
Description Workshop focusing on media impressions of modern slavery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was the second planned workshop which brought together senior police intelligence and enforcement officers in the field, academics, activists, journalists and lawyers - all with a remit to discuss the interpretation, enforcement and legislation concerned with modern slavery and how that is transmitted to the public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop on Defining Modern Slavery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a workshop at which Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, academics from the US, South Africa and the UK as well as the local sitting MP, engaged in Modern Slavery legislation and enforcement met to thrash out the problems involved in definition and understanding issues of modern slavery.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017