New Slavery in the Global Economy
Email this review


A numbing indictment of our blindness to the new forms of slavery engendered by the global economy. Bales, a leading authority on this subject (Univ. of Surrey, England), defines slavery, quite specifically, as the “total control of one person by another for the purpose of economic exploitation.” The control is facilitated by violence and the foreclosure of personal freedom. He estimates, given this definition, that there are approximately 27 million slaves currently held in the world economy. One of the more virulent characteristics of this new slavery is a tendency to view slaves as relatively short-term investments—replacement is often cheaper than maintenance, thus the slaveholders will extract as much labor as possible, even if it means their victims will only last for several years of bondage. New slaveholders in the world economy also frequently insulate themselves against prosecution by maintaining fraudulent work contracts. Bales opens his essay with the story of Seba, a woman brought to France from Mali to serve as a house slave, but the book focuses primarily upon slavery in the third world. He describes the plight of child prostitutes in Thailand, slaves born under control of the White Moors in Mauritania, charcoal workers in Brazil, brick kiln operators in Pakistan, bonded farmers in India, and prisoners of war in Burma. He provides both personal accounts from the lives of individual slaves, and an overview of legal, political, and historical factors which influence the particular manifestation of slavery in a given locality. Bales makes a convincing argument that the new forms of slavery are directly related to trends in the global economy, and that opposition to slavery must also take the form of an international, global awareness of the situation. A powerful exposÇ of the dirty little secret of the global village. (12 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-520-21797-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1999


NonfictionSURVIVORS OF SLAVERY by Laura T. Murphy
by Laura T. Murphy
IndieChild Sex Slave: A Memoir by Monluedee Luecha
by Monluedee Luecha
NonfictionWHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN by Joanna Bourke
by Joanna Bourke