Presentation on theme: "Equiano and Smith: The anti-slavery movement and development."— Presentation transcript:
Equiano and Smith: The anti-slavery movement and development
Overview Colonialism, export of sustainability and slavery Abolition of slavery and Polanyi’s double movement Equiano and Smith – two voices of abolition What does abolition tell us about social change and globalization today
Main argument The anti-slavery movement, which accomplishes a major feat in ending the slave trade, reconfigures colonialism in such a way that it sets the stage for the development era.
A Key Fact and Two Questions to Begin At the time of abolition (1833) the slave plantations of the Americas were more profitable than they had ever been (Schaps, n.d.) If this is the case, why was slave trade abolished? What does this mean for our contemporary times?
Equiano and Smith Equiano – (written 1777) personal narrative conveys the horrors of slave trade and his desire to be civilized (also uses Smith’s arguments about moral economy) Smith – (published 1776) distant theoretical voice provides model for how economies should work through invisible hand and “free” labour
Short History of Slave Trade Stage 1 (1560s) – Spanish conquest of Aztecs; small pox and slavery from sailors destroy Amerindian populations, lead to moral arguments of the importance of their souls – first mass slavery wave ends (Allina-Pisano, 2009) Stage 2 ( ) – first wave of mass slavery replaced with second wave, this time with slaves imported from Africa (12 million people over the next 200 years) (Allina-Pisano, 2009) Stage 3 – other European powers get into slave trade, establish colonies in Indies and build sugar plantation economies; triangle trade evolves, feeding false sustainability of Euro economic growth (industrialization through surplus accumulation) (McMichael, 2008)
Stage 4 (1770s-1790s)– as slave populations grow, so do slave revolts- testing resolve of system; at same time, the revolts draw attention of public back in UK and generate anti-slave activism (Schaps, n.d.) Stage 5 – (1770s-1830s) – the rise of the anti-slavery movement. A key argument of anti-slave movement is not only is it morally right, it is better for British economy if slave trade ended: end of slavery would open up African markets (Equiano); Its continuation creates uneven market (Smith), encouraging investor to do what “isn’t natural to him [sic]”;
Moral Economy Two pillars of anti-slavery argument are moral and economic (pro-slavery arguments use same in counter) Moral: Immoral Reduces chances of conversion to Christianity Economic Bad for British economy (less efficient workers) Wage labour better way to get best out of workers Economies should concentrate on what they do best (not have false incentives in place)
Predicts Development Ending slavery becomes a moral duty because of the inhumanity of slavery, but also more importantly because Europe’s ‘higher’ level of development and knowledge means it must set example (more civilized) Leads to programs to send Africans “back” to continent to spread gospel; Equiano argues they could open up African markets to European manufactured goods; Also develop other exports (not slaves) for Europe (e.g. raw materials), thereby doing what African economies ‘do’ best; This will be followed later by the need to create European versions of nations within Africa (i.e. colonies) to carry on both of these missions more directly (alternative explanation to Allina-Pisano)
Question: What lessons are there to learn from the story of the abolition of slavery in our contemporary era of globalization?
Movements can change even the most lucrative economic system; Efforts at change must come from many angles; The change that comes as a result may have positive and negative repercussions; The seeds of the new orthodoxy often contain the same logic as the past one.
Sources Edwards, P. (1967). Equiano’s Travels. London: Heineman. Smith, A. (1776). Excerpt from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Retrieved from nd.html nd.html Schaps, D. (n.d.). The Debate Over Abolition. Retrieved from Swaminathan, S. (2007). Adam Smith's Moral Economy and the Debate to Abolish the Slave Trade. Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 37: pp