by Lyndsey P. Beutin
Duke University Press, 2023
eISBN: 978-1-4780-2435-4 | Paper: 978-1-4780-1978-7 | Cloth: 978-1-4780-1707-3
Library of Congress Classification HQ281.B5845 2023

In Trafficking in Antiblackness Lyndsey P. Beutin analyzes how campaigns to end human trafficking—often described as “modern-day slavery”—invoke the memory of transatlantic slavery to support positions ultimately grounded in antiblackness. Drawing on contemporary antitrafficking visual culture and media discourse, she shows how a constellation of media, philanthropic, NGO, and government actors invested in ending human trafficking repurpose the history of transatlantic slavery and abolition in ways that undermine contemporary struggles for racial justice and slavery reparations. The recurring narratives, images, and figures such as “slavery in Africa,” “Arab slave traders,” and “Black incapacity for self-governance” discursively turn Black people across the diaspora into the enslavers of the past and present in place of white Americans and Europeans. Doing so, Beutin contends, creates a rhetorical defense against being held liable for slavery’s dispossessions and violence. Despite these implications, Beutin demonstrates that antitrafficking discourse remains popular and politically useful for former slaving nations and their racial beneficiaries because it refashions historic justifications for white supremacy into today’s abolition of slavery.