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Chapter

Cover Issues in Political Theory

2. Liberty  

Ian Carter

This chapter examines the concept of liberty. There are different rival interpretations of liberty. These interpretations can be discussed in terms of a well-known distinction: that between negative and positive liberty. Negative liberty is the absence of something: normally, the absence of external obstacles imposed by other human agents. Positive liberty is the presence of something: the exercise of our choice-making capacities in ways that put us in control of our own lives. Much of the recent literature on liberty has focused on a new challenge to these conceptions of liberty. The challenge comes from thinkers inspired by the neo-roman or republican idea of liberty as the antithesis of slavery. Republicans define liberty as the absence of domination. Meanwhile, some libertarians, who hold that liberty is best realized through the protection of private property and contract, have argued that liberty is always limited by the pursuit of economic equality.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

31. Human rights  

Ratna Kapur

This chapter looks at human rights, analysing the structure and politics of human rights in the twenty-first century. In particular, the chapter examines the influence of liberal internationalism on human rights and how this is shaped by the legacies of colonialism, slavery, apartheid, and engagements with sexual, religious, and racial differences. The chapter encourages questions about whether rights are universal instruments of emancipation, or whether the rights are more complex, contradictory, and contingent in their functioning. The chapter also sets out the dominant understandings of human rights as progressive, universal, and based on a common human subject. Human rights advocates sometimes differ on the strategies to be adopted to address violations; these can have material, normative, and structural consequences that are not always empowering. These competing positions are illustrated through two case studies: one on the Islamic veil bans in Europe and the second on LGBT human rights interventions.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

16. Human Trafficking  

Andrea M. Bertone

This chapter examines how the international community has defined and framed the issue of human trafficking over the last century, and how governments such as the United States have responded politically to the problem of human trafficking. Contemporary concerns about trafficking can be traced back to a late nineteenth-century movement in the United States and Western Europe against white slavery. White slavery, also known as the white slave trade, refers to the kidnapping and transport of Caucasian girls and women for the purposes of prostitution. The chapter first considers the definitions of human trafficking before discussing the anti-white slavery movement and the increase in international consciousness about the trafficking of women. It then traces the origins of the contemporary anti-human trafficking movement and analyses how trafficking emerged as a global issue in the 1990s. It also presents a case study on human trafficking in the United States.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

12. The Shadows of Empire: African Perceptions of Europe and the EU  

Adekeye Adebajo

This chapter considers the shaping of relations between Africa and Europe. It looks at how they continue to be adversely affected, by the historical trauma of five centuries of slavery and colonialism. The shadows of empire continue to cast over these bonds, as exemplified in the European Union’s (EU’s) heavy-handed and mercantilist negotiating approach during the conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African states between 2002 and 2016. Tensions could also be seen on issues relating to the poor treatment of African migrants by European governments, and a lack of African access to Covid-19 drugs. Some African leaders—particularly in the francophone world—embraced aspects of European colonial rule, as useful to their post-colonial development, but most leaders and citizens in Africa continue to note the destructive legacy and continued dominance of inherited European institutions and the unfair global structures of trade. Despite European talk of ‘equal partnership’ and its provision of development aid, non-reciprocal trade access (since revoked), and security assistance; the African side still often feels that an unequal, paternalistic relationship has continued with Europe, similar to the exploitative patterns of the past.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

32. Human rights  

Ratna Kapur

This chapter looks at human rights, analysing the structure and politics of human rights in the twenty-first century. In particular, the chapter examines the influence of liberal internationalism on human rights and how this is shaped by the legacies of colonialism, slavery, apartheid, and engagements with sexual, religious, and racial differences. The chapter encourages questions about whether rights are universal instruments of emancipation, or whether the rights are more complex, contradictory, and contingent in their functioning. The chapter also sets out the dominant understandings of human rights as progressive, universal, and based on a common human subject. Human rights advocates sometimes differ on the strategies to be adopted to address violations; these can have material, normative, and structural consequences that are not always empowering. These competing positions are illustrated through two case studies: one on the Islamic veil bans in Europe and the second on same-sex, queer relationships, LGBTQ rights, and colonial laws.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

4. The US rise to world power, 1776–1945  

Walter LaFeber

This chapter focuses on the emergence of the United States as a ‘superpower’ in 1945. It begins with a discussion of how America rose from being a group of British colonies to a continental empire containing human slavery during the period 1776–1865. It then examines how the reunification of the country after the Civil War, and the industrial revolution which followed, turned America into the world’s leading economic power by the early twentieth century. It also considers Woodrow Wilson’s empire of ideology and how the United States got involved in World War I, how the American economic system sank into depression between 1929 and 1933, and US role in the Cold War between 1933 and 1945.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

16. Rousseau  

David Boucher

This chapter examines Jean-Jacques Rousseau's political thought. It first provides a short biography of Rousseau before discussing varying interpretations of his ideas, suggesting that, because of his emphasis upon civic virtues and freedom as lack of an insidious form of dependence, the republican tradition best reflects Rousseau's concerns. It then considers Rousseau's distinctive contribution to the idea of the state of nature, noting that the springs of action in his state of nature are not reason are self-preservation and sympathy. It also explores Rousseau's views on private property, social contract, inequality, natural law and natural rights, democracy, religion, and censorship. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Rousseau's concern with freedom and dependence, and how the related issues of slavery and women were relevant for him.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

17. Burke  

David Boucher

This chapter examines Edmund Burke's political thought. It first provides a short biography of Burke before discussing the three main interpretations of him: first, as a utilitarian; second, in relation to natural law; and the third, which attempts to bring together the two antithetical interpretations. It argues that even though Burke has elements of utilitarianism in his thought, and although he subscribes to natural law and universal principles, both somehow have to coincide in the traditions and institutional practices of a community. On the question of political obligation, although he uses the language of contract, it is clear that Burke does not subscribe to its central tenets. The chapter proceeds by exploring Burke's views on sovereignty, constitutionalism, colonialism, and slavery.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

26. Emma Goldman  

Ruth Kinna

This chapter examines resistance in Emma Goldman’s anarchism. It starts with an discussion of her reputation, especially with respect to her detachment from conventional political theory and her failure to investigate race as a category of oppression. The chapter contends that Goldman’s structure of resistance involves love with open eyes and the spirit of revolt. It then considers her understanding of political theory as a practice informed by experience, which she then deploys to develop her conceptions of power and emancipation, in particular her understanding of the relation between class power and women’s oppression. The chapter discusses slavery and slavishness to show how Goldman used rights to advocate resistance to domination. The chapter further explores how her acceptance of revolt highlighted the futility of struggles for inclusion.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

30. Frederick Douglass  

Kiara Gilbert and Karen Salt

This chapter looks at the works of Black American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. It argues that Douglass’ political thinking was shaped by his experiences as an enslaved, fugitive, and freed person. Douglass fought for the emancipation of all enslaved peoples across the USA as he believed all humans were born with a right to self-determination and freedom from enslavement. Additionally, Douglass believed slavery to be a deep violation of a person’s humanity. The chapter explains that Douglass’ abolitionism was grounded in natural rights theory. It looks at the legacy of the influential political theory on liberty that Douglass left behind. This was despite his complicated and often contradictory relationship to early women’s rights movements and his struggles to acknowledge the claims of Indigenous people.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

Human Rights in International Law  

Rhona K. M. Smith

This chapter focuses on human rights within international law. It discusses the principal monitoring systems that ensured states complied with their international human rights treaty obligations. Some human rights agreements involved the abolition of slavery, humanitarian law, and labour rights. The chapter then lists treaties, customary international law, and soft law as the sources of international human rights law. States generally indicate their acceptance of international human rights law by agreeing to treaties, but they could avoid the full impact of legal obligations through reservations, derogations, and declarations. Thus, the existing mechanisms for monitoring human rights have a light touch that encouraged states to comply with treaties through constructive dialogue instead of any court processes.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

16. Global political economy  

Nicola Phillips

This chapter introduces the field of International Political Economy (IPE), the themes and insights of which are reflected in the Global Political Economy (GPE), and what it offers in the study of contemporary globalization. It begins with three framing questions: How should we think about power in the contemporary global political economy? How does IPE help us to understand what drives globalization? What does IPE tell us about who wins and who loses from globalization? The chapter proceeds by discussing various approaches to IPE and the consequences of globalization, focusing on IPE debates about inequality, labour exploitation, and global migration. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the BRICs and the rise of China, and the other with slavery and forced labour in global production. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether national states are irrelevant in an era of economic globalization.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

17. Gender  

Paul Kirby

This chapter examines the power of gender in global politics. It considers the different ways in which gender shapes world politics today, whether men dominate global politics at the expense of women, whether international—and globalized—gender norms should be radically changed, and if so, how. The chapter also discusses sex and gender in international perspective, along with global gender relations and the gendering of global politics, global security, and the global economy. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with the participation of female guerrillas in El Salvador's civil war, and the other with neo-slavery and care labour in Asia. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether war is inherently masculine.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

11. Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu  

Manjeet Ramgotra

This chapter examines the political theory and writings of French Enlightenment thinker, Montesquieu. It contends that Montesquieu’s constitutional theory of the separation of powers promoted a strong government which advanced individual freedom, maintained internal stability against absolutism and populism, and allowed the state to expand its boundaries at a moment in history when European powers were fighting each other to establish colonial empires across the world. The chapter presents the contexts in which he composed The Spirit of the Laws (1748), and then discusses Montesquieu’s typology of governments and considers the various notions of time and progress that undergird his view of how the various constitutions in the world are ordered. Finally, the chapter looks at commerce, peace, colonialism, and slavery, bringing to light the tensions and contradictions in Montesquieu’s thought.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

17. Gender  

Paul Kirby

This chapter examines the power of gender in global politics. It considers the different ways in which gender shapes world politics today, whether men dominate global politics at the expense of women, and whether international—and globalized—gender norms should be radically changed, and if so, how. The chapter also discusses sex and gender in international perspective, along with global gender relations and the gendering of global politics, global security, and the global economy. The first case study in this chapter considers the Kurdish Yekîneyên Parastine Jin (Women's Protection Units) and the role of women in political violence. The second case study examines neo-slavery and care labour in Asia.