As we work to achieve the goal of ending slavery, we need to listen to the antislavery ideas and solutions of enslaved people themselves: what do they suggest would enable their communities to become not just slavery-free but slavery-proof? We are creating, analysing and utilizing the first major development resource of contemporary slave narratives. We argue that contemporary slave narratives are a central facet of the antislavery agenda and we place survivors' ideas at the heart of the antislavery movement. This includes a mapping of survivor accounts onto the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to answer the question: which SDG achievements are more likely to prevent or end enslavement, from the point of view of slaves themselves? Underpinning all our work to uncover the Survivors’ Solution for ending slavery is our support for a Survivor Alliance: a survivor-led, national organizing body for survivor voices that builds survivor-leadership capacity.
Even as we tackle slavery as a global problem, we recognise the importance of local action and offer the first major examination of slavery as a local issue. This is lodged in our work to help make Nottingham the world’s first slavery-free city. We test the ‘theories of change’ underlying policy responses to modern slavery, highlight evidence for good practice, adapt and apply the latest theories on the dynamics of social practice to local policy on slavery, and share transferable, scalable and sustainable policies that can help communities to become slavery-free. Throughout we build, test, and disseminate collaborative multi-agency policy responses to slavery, which can be adapted to a wide variety of settings. We share learning from the project nationally and tap into public sector networks to explore how our methods might be applied within varying local contexts and governance institutions. We are drawing up comparisons with other locality-based antislavery initiatives in the UK, and hope to roll out a city-based process nationally then develop a transferable model for developing countries with our NGO partners.
Zoe Trodd is a Professor in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham, founding co-director of the Centre for Research in Race and Rights, and co-director of the university's research priority area in Rights and Justice. Her focus is the history, literature and visual culture of protest movements, especially antislavery.
My thesis offers the first in-depth urban cultural analysis of the network of Puerto Rican community activism in Loisaida (part of the Lower East Side) from the 1960s to the 1990s. This community organized itself to fight against postwar urban deindustrialization, housing disinvestment, and gentrification, which negatively affected low-income areas. By recreating the urban history of sustainable activism in Loisaida and focusing on the initiatives and projects of key community organizations, I demonstrate how they sought ultimately to claim specific spaces: from housing and public spaces to educational and cultural centers. The adjective 'sustainable' does not simply connote 'environmental' but rather highlights the role of the environment in a broader sense-built environment, educational environment, cultural environment-in shaping the quality of life of an urban neighborhood. Moreover, the methodologies and rhetoric of these groups frame their activism in distinctly human rights rhetoric: the right to education, the right to housing, the right to the city.