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Join Kevin Bales, Professor of Contemporary Slavery and Research Director of the Rights Lab, University of Nottingham for a Barbara Weinstock Lecture on Slavery in the Economy of the Anthropocene.
Many of the vast changes in our world brought about by the onset of the Anthropocene rest within the global economy. Slavery is a paradoxical driver of these detrimental changes. The paradox rests on the fact that within the global economy slavery is both economically trivial, almost insignificant, and yet critical and crucial in its impact. Recall that there are conservatively estimated to be some 40 million slaves in the world today. The UN estimates their efforts generate about $150 billion each year into the global economy. If slavery were a country of 40 million inhabitants with a GDP of $150 billion per annum, it would be a small, poor country with the population of Ukraine, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Arkansas. Yet how can the small, poor “country” of slavery have an immense and negative global impact on our environment? How can such a scattered and suppressed population of enslaved people be, as we know now, be a key driver of the environmental changes that in turn create the conditions of the Anthropocene?
What is just now coming to light, and is critical to the understanding of both slavery and the Anthropocene, is the very large and negative environmental impact of this very small number of slaves worldwide. Political corruption supports this slave-based environmental destruction and its human damage. We are clearly in a biologically and geologically new situation, hence the push to rename our current epoch the ‘Anthropocene’. So my last points will be conjectures – what are the possible futures for slavery, for our environment, for our economies, and for us?
This event will be held in person at Toll Room, Alumni House, on the UC Berkeley Campus.
For updates about this lecture and upcoming lecture series events, please visit the Berkeley Graduate Lectures website.