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Journal Article

Citation

Stierl M. Am. Behav. Sci. 2020; 64(4): 456-479.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2020, SAGE Publishing)

DOI

10.1177/0002764219883006

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

This article explores the figure of the "migrant slave" that appears to conjoin antithetical notions--migration, often associated with intentionality and movement, and slavery, commonly associated with coercion and confinement. The figure of the migrant as slave has been frequently mobilized by "antitrafficking crusaders" in debates over unauthorized forms of trans-Mediterranean crossings to EUrope. Besides scrutinizing the depoliticized and dehistoricized ways in which contemporary migrant journeys have come to be associated with imaginaries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, this article draws other, actual, comparisons between historic slavery and contemporary forms of migration. It argues that there does exist a historical resonance between the former and the latter. By remembering slave rebellions on land and at sea, the article makes the case that if one had to draw comparisons between historic slaves and contemporary migrants, beyond often crude visual associations, one would need to do so by enquiring into moments in which both enacted escape to a place of perceived freedom. It is shown that the fugitive slave escaping on the "underground railroad" resembles most closely the acts of escape via the Mediterranean and its "underground seaways" today.

Keywords: Human trafficking


Language: en

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