School of Social and Political Science

Slavery and Abolition: The Black Mediterranean

06 April 2022
16:00 - 17:30


MS Teams (please e-mail for the link)



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Tropes of slavery once again occupy a central stage in humanitarian narratives of the Mediterranean. Central themes are the human trafficking networks and labour intermediaries deemed responsible for migrants’ “slave-like” living conditions in contemporary agri-food production in Southern Europe. A new abolitionist discourse takes root in this context, which evokes a version of suffering that is at the same time recognizable but is also often based on a forced contrast between victims and perpetrators, between “guilty” and “innocent”. Inspired by the work of Orlando Patterson and Black Marxism, Timothy Raeymaekers address the larger question of plantation labour in the Mediterranean from the perspective of racial capitalism. He argues that the violent relations of production and labour reproduction in the plantation cannot be divorced from the wider spatial distribution of power throughout Mediterranean society – including the material infrastructures that deliberately place migrant workers in a situation of persistent liminality. This focus on migrant labour infrastructures opens the possibility to address the wider question of racial capitalism as a mode of production that simultaneously extracts productive energy from the land and from human bodies, while systematically marginalizing the sources of life that are placed outside the realm of formal development. 

Key speakers

  • Timothy Raeymaekers - University of Bologna