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Child Slaves in the Modern World

Gwyn Campbell

Publication Year: 2011

 Child Slaves in the Modern World is the second of two volumes that examine the distinctive uses and experiences of children in slavery in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This collection of previously unpublished essays exposes the global victimization of child slaves from the period of abolition of legal slavery in the nineteenth century to the human rights era of the twentieth century. It contributes to the growing recognition that the stereotypical bonded male slave was in fact a rarity. Nine of the studies are historical, with five located in Africa and three covering Latin America from the British Caribbean to Chile. One study follows the children liberated in the famous Amistad incident (1843). The remaining essays cover contemporary forms of child slavery, from prostitution to labor to forced soldiering. Child Slaves in the Modern World adds historical depth to the current literature on contemporary slavery, emphasizing the distinctive vulnerabilities of children, or effective equivalents, that made them particularly valuable to those who could acquire and control them. The studies also make clear the complexities of attempting to legislate or decree regulations limiting practices that appear to have been—and continue to be —ubiquitous around the world. 

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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Editors’ Introduction

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pp. 1-10

This is the second of our two edited volumes on child slavery. The first, Children in Slavery through the Ages, explored what constitutes child slavery, as opposed to adult slavery, and provided comparative examples of the trade in children and of child slavery in a wide range of geographical locations and societies, ...

Section I: Child Slaves in the Era of Abolition

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1: “All We Want Is Make Us Free”: The Voyage of La Amistad’s Children through the Worlds of the Illegal Slave Trade

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pp. 13-36

In Amistad, Steven Spielberg’s 1997 cinematic dramatization of the multiple trials of the African survivors of the slave ship La Amistad, Joseph Cinqué, in a trancelike state, standing only a few feet from his erstwhile Spanish- Cuban captors, faces the judge and chants “Give us, us free!” The demand is a powerful ...

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2: Children and Bondage in Imperial Madagascar, ca. 1790–1895

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pp. 37-63

Slavery was a traditional institution in Madagascar, and the slave trade, both domestic and export, a highly lucrative economic activity. Important changes occurred to both in the nineteenth century. First, the expansion of the Merina Empire1 from its heartland of Imerina in the high central plateau greatly stimulated ...

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3: Youthful Rebels: Young People, Agency, and Resistance against Colonial Slavery in the British Caribbean Plantation World

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pp. 64-83

Shortly after the October 1823 discovery of an alleged plot by enslaved Afro-Trinidadians to rise in revolt against their owners, Mrs. Carmichael, mistress of Laurel Hill estate, encountered a group of “young negroes” singing a catchy tune. Intrigued by the song, though not fully understanding its lyrics, ...

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4: Family Strategies: Slave Parents and Children in the Caracas Courts, 1750–1854

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pp. 84-103

In 1792 a former slave, Francisca Paula Blanco, petitioned the court of the captaincy general of Venezuela to deposit her fourteen-year-old daughter, a slave, with a responsible person other than her owner and also to order the determination of a fair value for the girl so that she could purchase her freedom. ...

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5: Degrees of Bondage: Children’s Tutelary Servitude in Modern Latin America

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pp. 104-123

In 1829, a decade after Chile had gained independence from Spain, the press reported on an incident that pitted a poor father against a prominent dignitary over the fate of a young boy. José Cruz Salinas charged that a local judge had arbitrarily abducted his son, ten-year-old Francisco, from his home ...

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6: Children and Slavery in the Western Sudan

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pp. 124-139

The literature on slavery in Africa has up to the present been more concerned with gender than with age. In large part, this reflects our sources, which are often very concerned with labor and reproduction and therefore, with adults. It also reflects a concern with the history of women and recognition that the disparity ...

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7: Slavery and Guardianship in Postemancipation Senegal: Colonial Legislation and Minors in Tutelle, 1848–1905

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pp. 140-156

Under the French colonial administration’s policy in Senegal, minors—children under eighteen years of age—became wards of the colonial state upon the abolition of slavery in the French colonial empire, in 1848. At abolition, there were many such children, mostly female, in areas of French sovereignty ...

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8: British Magistrates and Unfree Children in Early Colonial Gold Coast, 1874–1899

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pp. 157-172

The history of enslaved children in the early colonial Gold Coast (1874– 99) is located at the convergence of the histories of Britain, the Atlantic world, and West Africa. This chapter explores this intersection by looking primarily at the interface between unfree children (procured locally or imported ...

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9: The Redemption of Child Slaves by Christian Missionaries in Central Africa, 1878–1914

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pp. 173-190

Although Christian missionaries were stalwart opponents of slavery by the late 1880s, it took some of them decades to realize that ransoming slaves, mainly children, undermined their principled stance. All mission organizations eventually came to the conclusion that redeeming children from servitude prolonged ...

Section II: Child Slaves in the Modern Era

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10: “This Is Nothing But Slavery”: Child Domestic Labor in the Modern Context

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pp. 193-207

Child domestic labor, one of the most universal and exploitative forms of child work, is also one of the most difficult to regulate. Child domestic workers are hard to reach, not only because they work behind the closed doors of their employers’ homes but also because society sees the practice as normal ...

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11: Girls as Domestic Slaves in Contemporary France

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pp. 208-220

Globalization and demographic growth have increased the numbers of people subject to servitude. Anti-Slavery International estimated that in 2002 over 200 million people worked in some form of bondage and that 27 million were outright slaves.1 In contrast to the “old slavery,” Kevin Bales explains how a “new slavery” ...

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12: Strategic Agents: Adolescent Prostitutes in Cape Town, South Africa

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pp. 221-237

Adolescent prostitutes pose a conceptual challenge for academics and the general public: they are children in terms of age and physical immaturity, but they engage in “adult” sexual behavior. Hence, they do not fit easily into the conventional portrayal of childhood as a period of vulnerability, innocence, and dependence. ...

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13: Children, Slavery, and Soldiering

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pp. 238-253

Under international humanitarian and human rights law, the recruitment or use of children by armed forces or nonstate armed groups constitutes an egregious violation of their rights comparable with rape and mutilation. As such, it is illegal. Children have the right to be released from armed groups immediately and without ...

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14: Contemporary Child Slavery

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pp. 254-268

The year 2007 was a significant anniversary: two centuries since the parliament of Great Britain ordered British nationals to stop trading slaves between Africa and the Americas. The celebration of that bicentenary stimulated much publicity about slavery, both historical and contemporary. And while the British ...

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pp. 269-274

Gwyn Campbell is Canada Research Chair in Indian Ocean World History and Director of the Indian Ocean World Centre at McGill University. Born in Madagascar, he gained degrees in economic history from the universities of Birmingham and Wales, and has taught in India, Madagascar, Britain, South Africa, Belgium, and France. ...


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pp. 275-281

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443743
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821419595

Publication Year: 2011