Room C219-C220 Boardroom, College Building, Middlesex University,The Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BT
ABSTRACT: This paper describes how slavery-like situations may occur in transit states. It develops Arendt’s analysis of xenophobic crystallisation to show how under conditions of rightlessness, the interests of the ‘mob’ and capital may give way to economic exploitation and slavery.
Drawing upon data gathered as part of an ESRC funded project which included a study of 300 migrants who crossed from Libya to Sicily, it describes how migrants may become increasingly vulnerable to abuse over the course of the migratory process and eventually find themselves absorbed into informal situations of forced labour.
It notes how in the absence of governance, opportunistic and often small scale business has exploited the presence of labour in Libya, at times in concert with the police and government authorities and at times in opposition to them. This arbitrary situation was enabled as a result of European and Libyan policies which sealed off the state's borders and encouraged the expansion of Libya's detention infrastructure. This context gave rise to a symbiotic relationship between employers and the police, built on the circularity of bribes and a shared animosity towards non-Muslim migrants. As a result Libya became a site of not only widespread forced migration but also extensive slavery-like practices.
Brad K. Blitz is Professor of International Politics at Middlesex University and Director of the British Academy/DFID Programme, Tackling Slavery, Human Trafficking and Child Labour in Modern Business. He is Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, and Senior Fellow of the Global Migration Centre in the Graduate Institute, Geneva. He recently acted as Principal Investigator for the ESRC-DFID funded EVI-MED project on refugee and migrant reception systems in the Mediterranean and the EU Commission project INFORM.