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Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy Paperback – November 16, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0520243842 ISBN-10: 0520243846 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2nd edition (November 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520243846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520243842
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The horror of slavery, says Kevin Bales, is "not confined to history." It is not only possible that slave labor is responsible for the shoes on your feet or your daily consumption of sugar, he writes, the products of forced labor filter even more quietly into a broad portion of daily Western life. "They made the bricks for the factory that made the TV you watch. In Brazil slaves made the charcoal that tempered the steel that made the springs in your car and the blade on your lawnmower.... Slaves keep your costs low and returns on your investments high."

The exhaustive research in Disposable People shows that at least 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world. Bales, considered the world's leading expert on contemporary slavery, reveals the historical and economic conditions behind this resurgence. From Thailand, Mauritania, Brazil, Pakistan, and India, Bales has gathered stories of people in unthinkable conditions, kept in bondage to support their owners' lives. Bales insists that even a small effort from a large number of people could end slavery, and devotes a large chapter to explaining the practical means by which this might be accomplished. "Are we willing to live in a world with slaves?" he asks. As a sign of his commitment, all his royalties from Disposable People will go toward the fight against slavery. --Maria Dolan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

No, University of Surrey lecturer Bales isn't reporting on wage slavery: the stories that slip into the newspaper now and then about workers in sneaker or soccer ball factories in Indonesia or Vietnam earning 20 cents or $1 a week. Bales means 27 million people held in chattel slavery, debt bondage, or contract slavery: "enslaved by violence and held against their wills for purposes of exploitation." Their masters he calls "slaveholders" because they don't claim to own their victims; they control their victims' lives and mobility and gain enormous profits from their labor. Bales investigated five case studies--prostitution in Thailand, water delivery in Mauritania, charcoal making in Brazil, brickmaking in Pakistan, and bonded labor in Indian agriculture--to trace the nature of modern slavery and compare its forms. Three factors explain the new slavery: the population explosion; economic globalization and modernized agriculture; and "the chaos of greed, violence, and corruption created by this economic change in many developing countries." Globalization ties us all to the new slavery, and Bales suggests what the reader can do. Mary Carroll --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed how modern slavery penetrates the global economy and flows into the things we buy, he is a leading abolitionist in the last great anti-slavery movement. Bales exposed how modern slavery penetrates the global economy in his Pulitzer-nominated book, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. The film based on this book, Slavery: A Global Investigation (TrueVision), which he co-wrote for HBO and Channel 4, won a Peabody Award and two Emmys. His book also inspired a project undertaken by seven Magnum photographers, which he helped to design and write, entitled Documenting Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery, which was mounted as a touring exhibition and published as a book by Hayward. Scientific American published his findings as a 9-page fully illustrated feature story. Bales was named as the originator of one of "100 World-Changing Discoveries" by the Association of British Universities and as a "visionary who is changing your world" by Utne Reader. Disposable People went on to publication in ten other languages and won the Premio Viareggio for the Italian edition.

In 2001 he co-founded Free the Slaves, the American sister-organization of the UK's Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest human rights group. In ten years it has helped to liberate thousands of slaves in India, Nepal, Haiti, Ghana, Brazil, Ivory Coast, and Bangladesh, and work with them to build new lives of dignity. After reading Bales' book Ending Slavery, President Clinton told the plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative: "It tells you that it is a problem we can solve and here's how to do it." Ending Slavery won the 2011 $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Promoting World Order. In 2008, with Zoe Trodd, he published To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today's Slaves. In 2009, with Ron Soodalter, he published The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, an expose and plan to make America slave-free for the first time in its history. He is currently writing a book on the relationship between slavery and environmental destruction, and with Jody Sarich a book on forced marriage. He gained his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics.

Hi lives in Brighton, England.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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If you want to get an idea of what's happening in the US and the world read this book.
Raquel B.
From forced prostitution in Thailand, to water carriers in Africa and bondage slaves in India, you get a good picture of what 21st century slavery looks like.
uri simonsohn
Bales gives an intimate account of slavery in different locations and the information that he presents is compelling, informative, and heartbreaking.
Getyourownbeer57

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Jedidiah Palosaari VINE VOICE on July 17, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow. This *is* a book everyone should read. I'd heard about bits of slavery here and there in modern times. After I heard Bales on NPR and read about his work in Scientific American and the Sun, I was eager to get ahold of this book. But I had no idea that the horror was so widespread.
Bales writes with clearness and imagination, yet is thoroughly scientific and researched. He followed sociological procedures and didn't merely report on other's ideas, but did primary research himself with a set variable questionnaire. All of this work makes his arguments irrefutable.
Disposable People traces the three main types of slavery- old fashioned chattel slavery, debt slavery (the largest) and contract slavery (the fastest growing), in five different empirical countries. The first case of contract slavery in Thailand I found the most horrendous- families selling their daughters into slave-prostitution and death by AIDS, for the price of a colour TV. The case of chattel slavery in Mauritania was the most interesting- Arab Muslims speaking of their black slaves as their children, who need to be guided by a firm hand, but are inferior; who are fed the bare minimum to work and live, and not allowed to go to school. A place where the children of a female slave become the property of the slave owner, whether or not he is the father, and women can be kept as slaves by the claim that they are actually the wife of the slave owner, who has on his side the Qur'an's stipulation that one may have sex with one's female slaves. It was all too reminiscent of the antebellum period. Bales' weakest arguments were in regards to the form of slavery in India.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on March 13, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Disposable People" by Kevin Bales is an important book on the topic of slavery in our time. The author intelligently combines original cases studies and third-party research with a solid understanding of global economics. The result is a startling but convincing expose that should be read by everyone.
Mr. Bales describes the major factors driving slavery today. First, the post-WW II population explosion has created a huge and desperate reserve army of the unemployed. Second, the process of proletarianization continues in many so-called "developing" nations as millions of peasant farmers are displaced by mechanization. Third, economic globalization serves to break down the social fabric as materialism and greed substitutes for the communal values that prevail in peasant societies.
Mr. Bales is careful to contrast the "New Slavery" of today with the "Old Slavery" of the past. The New Slavery is clearly embedded within the logic of post-industrial production, where capital avoids its social and environmental responsibilities and ruthlessly exploits human and natural resources for maximum profit. In this light, the New Slavery represents the race to the very bottom of a brutal system that is controlled by speculative investors and is accountable to no one.
Case studies examining prostitution in Thailand and coal production in the Brazilian rainforest help us further understand the dynamics of the New Slavery. Subcontractors do the dirty work of luring and keeping laborers in servitude while shielding owners from justice. Mr. Bales tells us that in the case of Brazil, the landowners who blithely ignore such practices include some of the largest corporations in the world.
The Old Slavery defined by the traditional master/slave relationship has survived into the present as well. Mr.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is fascinating, well written, and informative. The author never whines when discussing horrible situations around the world; he simply presents what he has learned from his extensive research. Every issue that I would have wanted to ask the author about is addressed in the book. The book is interesting politically, economically and culturally. I highly recommend it.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that should be required reading in schools all over the world. It tells the truth about slavery in our time. There are young African girls being enslaved in major cities like Paris, half-starved and tortured. There are little children in India and Pakistan working unbearable jobs all day every day for no pay. There are the sex slaves working in Thailand, unable to escape, picked up by the corrupt police when they try, and beaten, raped, and returned to the brothel where they are beaten and raped some more. There are the slaves of Mauritania, Brazil, and on and on, each with their own story. Of course there are topics not covered in this book, like the kidnapping and forced prostitution of French, British and American girls in the Middle East and Japan. But this book will motivate you to join Anti-Slavery International and become a modern day abolitionist.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book documents slavery in just five countries, but more importantly it gives a face to victims of slavery. Slaves range is age from 3 years to the age of usefulness. Mr. Bales contrasts American slavery to the slavery of today's global economy. However, horrific and inexcusable American slavery was, in some ways today's slavery is worse. It is certainly far more prevalent than most of us would like to beleive. Mr. Bales gives fairly easy tips on how average people can help combat slavery. My hope is that so many people will read this book that our combined efforts will have a positive and real effect for millions of adults, children, and children yet unborn.
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