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Noted Sociologist Will Speak at Davidson on "Modern Slavery"

August 24, 2001
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

Kevin Bales
Kevin Bales

Sociologist Kevin Bales, the person whose work has brought slavery in the modern world to public attention, will speak at Davidson College about that subject on Wednesday, September 5. The public is invited to hear Bales' address, entitled "New Slavery in the Global Economy," beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Gallery Room of Chambers Building. His presentation is sponsored by the Dean Rusk Program in International Studies, and admission is free.

Bales, professor of sociology at the University of Surrey Roehampton in London, England, is author of the 1999 book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. The book was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and has been published in five languages. Disposable People reviewed the extent of slavery in the modern world, and concluded that there may be about 25-million enslaved people today--more than at any previous time in history.

Bales talks about two broad types of slavery. The "old" slavery, historically represented by the pre-Civil War United States South, was based on legal ownership and division along ethnic and racial lines. The "new" slavery, in contrast, is based not on formal ownership but on other legal instruments such as contracts and debts. Slaves are cheap, even "disposable," and drawn from the poor and dispossessed, rather than from particular racial or ethnic groups.

Desmond Tutu called the book "a well researched, scholarly and deeply disturbing expose of modern slavery."

Born in the United States, Bales has lived in Britain for the past 18 years, and earned his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics. He is a trustee of the organization, "Anti-Slavery International," and is currently on leave from the University of Surrey to establish a chapter of the organization in this country. His work earned him the year 2000's Premio Viareggio for services to humanity, and British television's Channel 4 recently broadcast a documentary film based on his work.

Bales is also a consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings, and has been invited to advise the U.S., British, Irish, Norwegian, and Nepali governments on the formulation of policy on slavery and human trafficking. He is currently completing another book which evaluates governmental policies and programs that address slavery and trafficking.

For more information on Bales and his visit to Davidson, call the Dean Rusk Program at 704-894-2440.

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson is currently engaged in "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.

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