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The Politics and History of slavery: Competing Visions of Rescue and Repair
The Department of History
The Politics and
History of Slavery:
Competing Visions of Rescue and Repair
Dr. Joel Quirk
Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa
Governments and activists in Europe and America regularly
invoke the immediacy of “modern-day slavery” in order to sidestep challenging questions
regarding the ethical and political case for reparations for historical slave systems.
Rather than seeking to repair harm, they instead prefer to promise rescue.
Despite ostensibly sharing a common concern with slavery, these competing
visions of rescue and repair provide very different conceptions of the nature
of the wrong to be combated, the political and ethical standing of key protagonists,
and the types of remedies and approaches required.