How Slavery Shaped the Modern World - A Historical and Cultural Analysis - Seeker's Thoughts

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How Slavery Shaped the Modern World - A Historical and Cultural Analysis

 We consider today's world free from the slavery, but are we free? or we are having an illusion of freedom?

Does the slavery exists in the modern day?

The answer is yes, According to the latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, there were 50 million people living in modern slavery in 2021, of whom 28 million were in forced labour and 22 million were in forced marriage

Modern day slavery affects every country in the world, and is often hidden in plain sight. It is a grave violation of human rights and a serious threat to global development and security. To end modern day slavery, we need to raise awareness, enforce laws, protect victims, and promote social justice.

Modern day slavery is a term that refers to the situation of people who are exploited by others for personal or commercial gain, and who are deprived of their freedom and dignity. Modern day slavery can take many forms, such as human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and commercial sexual exploitation. 

Modern slavery is a global problem that affects millions of people in different forms, such as human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, and child exploitation. It is a violation of human rights and dignity, and a source of huge profits for the perpetrators. How can we end this horrific practice and free the victims?

One of the most effective ways to end modern slavery is to raise awareness and mobilize action among the public, the media, the governments, the businesses, and the civil society. By exposing the reality and the extent of modern slavery, we can create pressure and demand for change. We can also support the organizations and initiatives that are working to combat modern slavery on the ground, by providing them with resources, information, and advocacy.

Another key strategy to end modern slavery is to strengthen the legal and policy frameworks that can prevent, protect, and prosecute. This means enacting and enforcing laws that criminalize all forms of modern slavery, and that hold the perpetrators accountable. It also means ensuring that the victims have access to justice, compensation, and rehabilitation. Moreover, it means addressing the root causes and the risk factors that make people vulnerable to modern slavery, such as poverty, inequality, discrimination, corruption, and conflict.

Modern slavery is a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires a comprehensive and coordinated response from all stakeholders. By working together, we can end this scourge and restore the freedom and dignity of millions of people around the world. To learn more about modern slavery and how to end it, you can visit these websites: Anti-Slavery International, Walk Free Foundation, United States Department of State, World Economic Forum, Time, The Borgen Project, and International Justice Mission.

History of Slavery

At one time, slaves were an indispensable resource to European economies. Working on plantations farms producing sugar, tobacco, coffee and rice, slave labour provided ships sailing between Europe and Africa for trading their produce for human and natural resources available there - thus creating the infamous Middle Passage voyages.

Traders purchased people from various African communities, either directly from their owners or owners' agents. Once purchased, traders then loaded them onto ships for the voyage across the Atlantic; sometimes lasting six-8 weeks depending on market and work requirements (male field hands were most in demand). Prices fluctuated depending on market demands for specific workers such as field hands.

Sex was also important, with women being cheaper than men; children typically being sold off before reaching age 10. Unfortunately, slavery could never remain under control and some enslaved people resisted by running away or trying to drown themselves; others formed societies of runaways while some took up writing, publishing their protests and visions of liberation in newspapers or churches as they wrote new theologies, new ways of knowing, and new constructs of their world through writing.

Enslaved people managed to preserve their cultural traditions amidst these tensions. They created a diverse array of African parables, proverbs and legends featuring cunning tricksters often represented as tortoises, spiders or rabbits who managed to defeat more powerful foes. 

Furthermore, they maintained musical traditions which combined European practices with intricate rhythm patterns, off-key notes and foot patting; sang songs for religious ceremonies mourning work coordination coordinating activities while working coordinating work tasks creating satirical works which critiqued their enslavement.

Scholars have examined many of these practices now gone, yet scholars continue to study their legacy in various ways. Some scholars have highlighted links between Atlantic slavery, European capitalist expansion and empire-building - major components of what Max Weber termed as the Great Divergence between Europe and other parts of the world.

Slavery in Europe

Europeans in the early modern period exploited and expanded upon preexisting African slave trade and production systems. Furthermore, many European merchants and rulers took advantage of African merchants who were more than willing to exchange slaved people--usually women--for various commodities.

Atlantic slave-related commodity chains provided links between Europe and the New World that facilitated economic development throughout European hinterlands, Atlantic colonies, global markets, as well as unequal relations that prioritized Europeans over Black Africans (Curran 2014).

European colonization and imperial expansion from the late 1500s through 1800s was not solely about trade and commerce but also about power - control over resources, territories and populations (Reed 2017). Therefore, slavery is intimately tied to Europe's global voyages as well as to their development of Eurocentric knowledge that continues to shape how we comprehend our globalized world today.

This special issue explores ways of evaluating slave-based activities' roles and weight for Portugal and Brazil's sugar value chains (Filipa Ribeiro da Silva), coffee production for Great Britain (Klas Ronnback) and linen production in Silesia (Tamira Combrink). These articles illustrate that global slavery enabled rapid industrialization, colonialism, capitalism - which ultimately had profound impacts on European societies.

Slavery in Europe entailed extreme and dehumanizing conditions that resulted in high mortality rates, yet slaves fought hard to preserve their families, cultures, and traditions while resisting oppressive conditions. They took different approaches when responding to oppression - keeping elements of themselves alive while running away or plotting uprisings were some of their options for resistance.

These histories of slavery and resistance have far-reaching ramifications for how we understand European heritage and identity today, with long-term effects in terms of politics, social justice and memorialization (Apoh and Anquandah 2018; Lane and MacDonald 2013; Richard 2015; Lauro 2015). They show how archives related to Atlantic slavery and colonization contain both deeply distressful histories as well as everyday practices of power and memory that shape what it means to be European in modern day Europe.

Slavery in Africa

Before European colonization, slavery was an endemic institution in Africa. While European societies relied on private land ownership for agricultural activities and economic activities that supported communities; African societies instead relied heavily on slave labor for this purpose as well. Slaves were employed in gold mines, domestic service positions, or for various purposes including political security or central authority expansion. Kings or noblemen often maintained corps of loyal slaves as political security measures or to spread central authority.

Slave markets were used by merchants and rulers from different cultures and nations across Africa to enslave people from across their continent. While most Africans who were captured were through kidnapping or raids, slave holders also enslaved those with debts or sold by their family as debt repayment; these exploitative practices became widespread throughout Africa creating competition between nations that often resulted in us-versus-them exploitation (Jones 2016).

Slaves were traded for various goods, such as cowry shells, tobacco leaves, guns and other trade items. African merchants and rulers quickly realized that Europeans were willing to pay more for captives they held captive and demanded European products and commodities that could increase their own status and wealth in return.

Even in precolonial Africa, which was notorious for various forms of slavery, there were ways to avoid becoming one. An effective strategy would be avoiding being recruited into an army or forced into marriage with an enemy tribe or state; another way was living in isolated areas to reduce risks of capture or slavery.

At the height of the slave trade, those most at risk were those living in West and Central Africa - today some of its poorest regions - where traffickers still find ample potential adults and children for exploit. Due to a combination of factors like poverty, desire for better lives, vulnerability due to war or climate change etc..., modern traffickers continue to exploit them as potential slaves - increasing the pool of those vulnerable enough to be exploited further still.

Slavery in America

At the dawn of modernity, Atlantic slavery shaped an intricate set of social, economic and cultural phenomena in America and beyond. While forced labor had existed for centuries - Europeans traded people and goods between themselves - the transatlantic slave trade introduced a novel form of it: one which was commercialized, racialized, inherited. Enslaved Africans were no longer seen as human beings but as commodities to be bought or sold on commodity markets before being traded back or even abandoned when no longer useful; their existence tied directly into a system of Eurocentric knowledge which elevated Europe above other regions like Black Africa or indigenous communities around them.

Planters sought to maximize their return on investment through efficiency measures like building more efficient cotton mills and breeding more productive slaves, such as increasing efficiency with each cotton bale produced, from 50 pounds up to 90 pounds, fueling economic expansion of Southern economies while solidifying America as a global powerhouse; but it also created tensions between Northern freemen and Southern planter elite, eventually leading to civil war.

Slavery's development in American colonies also resulted in the establishment of a rigid color line. Owners enforced violent discipline to boost productivity and limit revolts from bondspeople; whipping female slaves for disobeying commands was common; poor whites were required to perform militia duty to keep control over an ever-growing slave population; clergy preaching that slavery was God's will while scientists "proved" Blacks were less evolved - subspecies of humanity.

Bondpeople were never one unifying group, regardless of this rigid division. Although forced labor bound many together, different strategies kept bondspeople apart. Still, African Americans created new ways of thinking and living through worship services and literacy initiatives; their culture became distinct both to America and Atlantic world regions.

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