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The Third Slavery Project


The Third Slavery Project (TSP) is a multi-pronged, multi-layered, coordinated initiative for locating solutions to the present-day problems of involuntary servitude, forced labor, human trafficking, and other contemporary forms of slavery-like practices which we conceptualize as the Third Slavery. We use the term “Third Slavery” to historicize newer forms and varieties of human slavery, in contrast to the “classical” slavery of pre-15th centuries and the trans-Atlantic and trans-Saharan slaveries spanning the 15th to 20th centuries.

The Third Slavery concept addresses the gaps in our awareness of, language for, knowledge about, and current redresses to human slavery. Despite noble efforts to abolish chattel slavery at the end of the 19th century, various forms of slavery, forced labour, or involuntary servitude have reemerged in the 21st century. More recent efforts to confront various facets of modern slavery-like phenomena however valiant, seem disparate or disconnected. This new era of human exploitation, that we call the Third Slavery, is larger in scale and scope than most imagine. Third Slavery is a phenomenon that circumnavigates political, legal, economic, and cultural institutions, even with an enduring public mindset that slavery is an historic relic. 

We see a pressing need to end the Third Slavery. Too often new initiatives operate in an historical vacuum, suggesting the past is divorced from the present or future. Yet we know descendants of the second slavery carried with them the traumas of an earlier era; they inherited wealth inequities, racialized subordination, inferior access to education, and other barriers that re-positioned some to enter the Third Slavery. Accordingly, its eradication requires the multi-faceted approach of the Third Slavery Project partners who can leverage deep academic and historical expertise and practitioner expertise to deploy a scalable solution to address the complexities of modern-day human slavery.