To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Storiess by Today's Slaves / Edition 1

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Boys strapped to carpet looms in India, women trafficked into sex slavery across Europe, children born into bondage in Mauritania, and migrants imprisoned at gunpoint in the United States are just a few of the many forms slavery takes in the twenty-first century. There are twenty-seven million slaves alive today, more than at any point in history, and they are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica.

To Plead Our Own Cause contains ninety-five narratives by slaves and former slaves from around the globe. Told in the words of slaves themselves, the narratives movingly and eloquently chronicle the horrors of contemporary slavery, the process of becoming free, and the challenges faced by former slaves as they build a life in freedom. An editors' introduction lays out the historical, economic, and political background to modern slavery, the literary tradition of the slave narrative, and a variety of ways we can all help end slavery today.

Halting the contemporary slave trade is one of the great human-rights issues of our time. But just as slavery is not over, neither is the will to achieve freedom, "plead" the cause of liberation, and advocate abolition. Putting the slave's voice back at the heart of the abolitionist movement, To Plead Our Own Cause gives occasion for both action and hope.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If anyone thinks slavery is a horror buried long in the past or barbarism that always happens 'somewhere else,' this collection of narratives will puncture both of those as myths. Kevin Bales and Zoe Trodd have produced a crucial volume for our times, in which modern slaves bear witness to the brutal institution with candor, eloquence, and pain. This book can, and should, effect change."—Henry Louis Gates Jr.

"These slave narratives sound an alarm for all of us who think slavery ended in the nineteenth century. The words of modern-day slaves cry out to us to end the enslavement of millions in countries all over the world, including the United States. It is a heartbreaking story but inspirational, too, in revealing the power of resistance among people whose spirit is supposed to have been crushed. The authors, the slaves, the ex-slaves, have produced a powerful weapon in the contemporary movement for emancipation."—Howard Zinn

"To Plead Our Own Cause gives voice to some of the most voiceless people on the planet. The breadth of these gut-wrenching stories from all over the globe is impressive and informative. Kevin Bales and Zoe Trodd have made a valuable and unique contribution to the literature on contemporary slavery and traffic; this book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in slavery, globalization, ethnicity, human rights, or criminal behavior."—David Kyle, University of California, Davis

"In this spellbinding volume Kevin Bales and Zoe Trodd resurrect the abolitionist tradition of enabling slaves to tell their own stories. The horror of these collected contemporary stories is nearunbearable. This unique book constitutes a not-to-be-denied call for global action against slavery and trafficking."—Joe Lockard, Arizona State University, Director of the Antislavery Literature Project

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801474385
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Long Juneteenth

1. Sights and Scenes: Modern Slave Experiences

2. Ain't I a Woman? Female Slaves and the Dynamics of Gender

3. The Turning Point: Liberation from Bondage

4. Not Yet Realized: The Problem of Freedom

5. The Severed Chain: Freedom after Bondage

Appendix: Antislavery Organizations and Agencies

Permissions and Credits


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