What Slaveholders Think

How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do

When it comes to human-rights activism, few targets are older than slavery. Yet it persists in places like India, where half the world’s slaves are held in debt bondage. Professor Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick wanted to understand one aspect of the issue that’s been little-studied: the people doing the enslaving. The result is his provocative new book, What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do.

Based on 15 years of work in the field, the book takes an innovative approach to analyzing and understanding the often-complicated reality of modern-day slavery and exploitation. Over a year and a half, Choi-Fitzpatrick interviewed 300 people, including slaveholders in India using exploited labor (mostly in agriculture), people from the slaveholder’s communities, and people held in, or previously held in, slavery.

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For a preview of his findings, watch the video above.