The sophistry begins with the title. A new book by Julia O’Connell Davidson has the words ‘Modern Slavery’ in its title, The Margins of Freedom: Modern Slavery, but actually sets out to prove that modern slavery doesn’t exist. Is this a clever marketing technique to generate sales on the back of a topical subject? There has been no slavery since Transatlantic slavery, as far as Davidson is concerned, partly for the very literal reason that we no longer have fortresses, dungeons, people manacled on slave ships and human beings transported as objects. Even at this literal level, I would argue that there are strong modern parallels with people being smuggled into countries in the back of lorries and container ships, packed like sardines and suffocated to death or if they’ve reached their destination alive, they have ended up enslaved, only to die further along the line like the Chinese cockle pickers at Morecambe Bay.
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