From Chattel Slavery to Modern-Day Human Trafficking: Exploring Connections between Two Campus Activist Movements

Samantha Thomas | September 22 | 1:30 - 2:30 PM | Room 2591

On college and university campuses around the country, student activists are working to address two issues that have remained separate from each other: universities’ histories with the slave trade and modern-day human trafficking. This study analyzes these two trends in campus activism. First, the author tracks the movement to respond to American universities’ history with the Atlantic slave trade. Using social movement theory, the author analyzes the birth of this movement and the actors and factors that have led to its progress. Second, the author focuses on the campus-based movement to combat modern-day slavery. She notes the social reasons why the two movements have remained distinct thus far and suggests that the two movements could benefit from cooperation and integration.

Presentation Objectives:

·         To raise awareness about the role American universities played in the Atlantic slave trade and continue to play in modern-day slavery;

·         To trace the progress of two social movements and identify key actors and factors;

·         To assess the quality of universities’ responses to each movement;

·         To offer a toolkit for student activists and faculty seeking to contribute to productive conversations about their institutions’ history with slavery;

To suggest how the two movements could support each other.

About the Presenter