Teaching Slavery in All Its Forms: Linking Historical Slave Systems and Modern Problems in Britain

Sunday, January 9, 2011: 9:10 AM
Room 205 (Hynes Convention Center)
Joel Quirk , Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom
This paper examines recent efforts to develop lesson plans and other educational materials dealing with modern forms of slavery, such as human trafficking, bonded labour, and wartime enslavement. The main focal point for this inquiry involves a modern slavery ‘pilot programme’ which is currently under development by the International Slavery Museum (ISM) in Liverpool. Since opening in 2007, the ISM has developed an extensive portfolio of educational activities, which currently include both specialised teacher training and a range of educational sessions for students of various ages. Until very recently, this portfolio focused almost entirely upon the history and legacies of transatlantic slavery and therefore had relatively little to say about modern slavery (or even other parallel historical slave systems).
In order to address this deficit, the ISM has recently begun to develop a new set of educational materials and lesson plans which place the problems associated with modern slavery alongside more familiar historical themes.  This new addition has raised a number of conceptual challenges and practical difficulties. On the one hand, there has been the challenge of developing strategies which can effectively convey the main features of ongoing human rights abuses to adolescent audiences. On the other hand, there has been the difficulty of teaching modern slavery without compromising or otherwise complicating existing offerings on historical slavery. By exploring recent ISM efforts to address these types of issues, this paper will offer new insights and information regarding the current status and potential future trajectory of education programmes focusing on questions of slavery and abolition.
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