'Modern slavery': why is unfree labour so persitent? by Jan Lucassen
Ever since 2020, human rights organisations have been raising alarm about the abominable labour conditions and disenfranchisement of migrant workers involved in the construction of stadiums and other infrastructural works in Qatar in connection with the World Cup starting on 20 November of this year. This extreme form of restricting the freedom of workers (often referred to as 'modern slavery') is a persistent phenomenon. But to understand why – despite the formal abolition of slavery globally – all sorts and degrees of unfree labour remain so persistent, we need to go further back in time, because only through a historical perspective can we understand why many people and parties – and not just greedy employers – have strong interests in the perpetuation of unfree labour.