The Persistence of Slavery: An Economic History of Child Trafficking in Nigeria. By Robin Phylisia Chapdelaine (book review)
Links to Fileshttps://academic.oup.com/jsh/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jsh/shac046/6659923
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Type of Work5 pages
Citation of Original PublicationGloria Chuku, The Persistence of Slavery: An Economic History of Child Trafficking in Nigeria. By Robin Phylisia Chapdelaine, Journal of Social History, 2022;, shac046, https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shac046
RightsThis is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Social History following peer review. The version of record Gloria Chuku, The Persistence of Slavery: An Economic History of Child Trafficking in Nigeria. By Robin Phylisia Chapdelaine, Journal of Social History, 2022;, shac046, https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shac046 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/jsh/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jsh/shac046/6659923 https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shac046
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Ironically, the abolition of the slave trade and the emancipation of the enslaved were among the European justifications for the colonization of Africa. Yet, enslavement and pawning—a practice where children were left with creditors as loan collateral until debtors repaid their loans—persisted if not intensified under new legal, economic, political, and social conditions unleashed by European colonial rule in Africa. In The Persistence of Slavery, Chapdelaine presents a nuanced account of the complexity of economic, political, and social changes caused by colonialism that led to the persistence of child enslavement, child trafficking, and other forms of coerced labor in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century southeastern Nigeria, particularly, Igbo society. Relying on colonial, anthropological and missionary records, newspaper articles, interviews of nearly two dozen respondents conducted by research assistants, and other sources, and applying the “social economy of a child” framework, the author impressively demonstrates how children as slaves, pawns, child brides, and traffickers produced wealth for their families, communities and the colonial sate in Nigeria. Chapdelaine argues that child trafficking, child slavery, and child labor persisted in the region beyond the nineteenth-century anti-slavery movement because of their value as wealth generators. She shows that contemporary child trafficking and bondage is a continuation of the centuries of transatlantic and domestic enslavement and pawnship in Africa.