In the two decades before World War One, Great Britain witnessed the largest revival of anti-slavery protest since the legendary age of emancipation in the mid-nineteenth century. Rather than campaigning against the trans-Atlantic slave trade, these latter-day abolitionists focused on the so-called 'new slaveries' of European imperialism in Africa, condemning coercive systems of labor taxation and indentured servitude, as well as evidence of atrocities.
A Civilized Savagery illuminates the multifaceted nature of British humanitarianism by juxtaposing campaigns against different forms of imperial labor exploitation in three separate areas: the Congo Free State, South Africa, and Portuguese West Africa. In doing so, Kevin Grant points out how this new type of humanitarianism influenced the transition from Empire to international government and the advent of universal human rights in subsequent decades.
Kevin Grant is an Assistant Professor of History at Hamilton College