This book investigates one of the most pervasive forms of modern slavery: bonded labour, whereby labour is linked with a credit agreement, leaving a debtor bound to repay their debt through long-term servitude. Drawing on cases from Nepal and India, the author adopts a human rights-based approach, interpreting slavery as a violation of human rights, and focusing on the empowerment of slaves as rights holders. Ultimately the book aims to explore the links between rights, power inequality and oppression, and to uncover ways to achieve the full liberation of bonded labourers.
Identifying the factors and forces that contribute to and reinforce the situation of bonded labour in South Asia, the book demonstrates how systems of bonded labour are connected to long-term processes of colonisation, dispossession, migration, nationalisation of natural resources, and the introduction of private land ownership. Despite the fact that the United Nations has reported debt bondage as the most prevalent form of forced labour worldwide, there it is still little known about the real practical impacts of this approach to the lives of marginalised people.
Based on extensive ethnographic research, this book will be a useful guide to students and scholars of modern slavery, international development, and South Asian studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Slavery and Bonded Labour: A Problem of Definition 2. A Brief History of Slavery and Debt Bondage in India and Nepal 3. Bonded Labour: A Question of Power and Accountability 4. Human Rights and Liberation 5. Human Rights-Based Approaches to Bonded Labour: Cases of Sahariya and Kamaiya People 6.Human Rights and Freedom: Are They What We Fought For? Conclusions
Elena Samonova completed her PhD at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow at University College Dublin, Ireland.