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Under Color of Law: Contemporary Slavery and the Uses of History

Thursday, February 23, 2012
12:00 AM
Rackham Amphitheatre

<br> <br> Rebecca J. Scott delivers the 2012 Henry Russel Lecture

In this public lecture, Rebecca Scott juxtaposes the stories of two women separated by an ocean and nearly two hundred years. Adélaide Métayer, born to a slave mother, became free during the Haitian Revolution, but later fled as a war refugee to Lousiana. There she faced the attempt of a former neighbor to force her and her children into slavery. She brought suit in the local courts, beginning a decade-long struggle to assert her freedom. Iwa Akofa Siliadin, born in Togo in 1980, was persuaded by an acquaintance to travel to Paris, with the promise of help with immigration papers and enrollment in school. Once in France, the acquaintance confiscated her passport, and put her to work as an unpaid nanny and housemaid. "Loaned" to another family to care for their children, Iwa Akofa Siliadin was constrained to labor without pay for four years. In 1998 she sought legal redress, and her case eventually reached the European Court of Human Rights. Analyzing these parallel experiences may help to clarify the extent to which it may be reasonable to use the term "enslavement" even in situations in which legally-recognized property rights in human beings have been abolished.

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