The release of 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s new film adaptation of the autobiography of Solomon Northup, has prompted a number of excellent reviews and discussions with historians. Check out the New York Times roundtable on the film, and Lewis Beale’s op-ed connecting the film to modern slavery.
Last week, the Australian anti-slavery organization Walk Free released its new Global Slavery Index, which offers multiple ways to explore the continued prevalence of slavery in the contemporary world. HAS support Whitney Stewart also pointed us to a thought-provoking slideshow on human trafficking in the chocolate supply chain, just in time for Halloween.
There are several upcoming conferences related to historical and contemporary slavery that may interest our members. Check out the Call for Papers for a conference on Human Trafficking in Early America, which will be held in 2015. A trio of British scholars are also seeking proposals for a 2014 conference in London on Non-Traditional Slaveholding in the Atlantic World.
That conference looks like it will advance one of our primary goals as Historians Against Slavery, which is to inform the general public and the activist community about the varieties of forms of slavery that have existed in the past. Two new books also promise to help in that effort. In a recent podcast, Simon Newman discussed his new book on the development of slavery in the British Atlantic. And an online review by Stanley Engerman, who is on the editorial board for our book series with Cambridge University Press, discusses a new book on Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds.
Next month, the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale will also be holding a conference about Indigenous Enslavement and Incarceration in North American History. Several recent articles on incarceration in the present have also probed the historical roots of the prison problem in the United States. Heather Ann Thompson, a historian at Temple University, explored the history and implications of mass incarceration in an article for The Atlantic. Andrew Gumbel also wrote earlier this month about the history of solitary confinement, opening with a nod to Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous tour of the United States.
A review of the new movie Don Jon connects sex trafficking with the rise of Internet pornography. Norma Ramos of the Coalition against Trafficking in Women, who was a keynote speaker at our September conference, is quoted.
Speaking of our 2013 conference, one of the attendees, Kristine Frederickson, has written a thoughtful meditation on the meeting in the Deseret News. Frederickson, a Mormon, explains how her faith tradition and historical study inform her activism.
Finally, over at The Junto blog, which previously posted a guest essay about our conference, Ken Owens recently asked if historians should have historical heroes. It’s a question that is relevant to those of us who both study—and admire—the abolitionists, and Owen’s essay offers some thoughtful arguments for retaining the concept of heroism in our historical work.