Slavery as it occurred during the times of the US Civil War and in the aftermath of the Mahdi rebellion in Sudan in the 1880s seemed to have been largely banished, however, slavery has become very topical again in recent years. For example, Boko Haram, and the group calling themselves ‘Islamic State’ openly propagate slavery as part of their identity. The history of slavery, of the human being treated as property or of the possession of a human being through violence and exploitation, is global, and was never limited to classical antiquity and transatlantic slavery.
On 7-8 November 2018, the German Academy of Sciences and Humanities hosted a symposium titled ‘The Return of the Slaves – Slavery and Dependence in the Middle East and on the Indian subcontinent’ in Mainz, Germany which traced slavery, and other forms of dependence from antiquity through to today. Stella Freitag, Researcher with the Walk Free Foundation, was invited to open the two-day session with a presentation about modern forms of slavery, including how modern slavery is conceptualised and statistically measured by Walk Free, its global prevalence and what governments are doing to overcome this global scourge.
The symposium focussed on two large regions that historically have diverse connections with each other: the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Over two days, scientists from various disciplines presented and publicly discussed today’s forms of slavery and their historical roots. The conference was closed by a public panel discussion with all participating speakers.
The output from this conference will be a joint publication featuring an article from each speaker and will be part of the publication series of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2019.
Listen to Stella’s interview with German radio, SWR2