This article explores the relationship between the historical events surrounding the legal abolition of slavery, and the widespread and often longstanding practices that fall under the rubric of "contemporary forms of slavery." Slavery is routinely dismissed as an historical artifact, but this complacent viewpoint obscures a range of complex and enduring problems. In this article, I suggest that one of the main limitations of an emerging literature on contemporary slavery is a recurrent tendency to downplay or disregard the historical dimensions of current problems, in favor of a problematic bifurcation between "new" and "old." Employing a macro-historical perspective, I take up the complex relationship between the historical and contemporary, introducing the concept of an "Anti-Slavery Project," which builds upon the notion that the present status quo can be traced to both the remarkable achievements, and substantive limitations, of legal abolition.


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pp. 565-598
Launched on MUSE
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