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United States in a World in Crisis

The Geopolitics of Precarious Work and Super-Exploitation


Adrián Sotelo Valencia

This work by the distinguished Mexican theorist Adrián Sotelo Valencia explores new dimensions of super-exploitation in a context of the structural crisis of capitalism and imperialism. Steeped in a new generation of radical dependency theory and informed by the legacy of his own mentor, the famous Brazilian Marxist Ruy Mauro Marini, Sotelo rigorously examines prevailing theoretical debates regarding the expansion of super-exploitation in advanced capitalism. Building upon a Marinist framework, he goes beyond Marini to identify new forms of super-exploitation that shape the growing precarity of work. Sotelo demonstrates the inextricable link between reliance upon fictitious capital and the intensification of super-exploitation. Poignant contrasts are drawn between US capitalism and Mexico that reveal the nefarious new forms of imperialist dependency.

Fernanda Bretones Lane, Guilherme de Paula Costa Santos and Alain El Youssef


This article analyzes the ways that discussions regarding the abolition of the slave trade held at the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) affected slavery in the Iberian empires. Drawing from newspaper coverage, diplomatic correspondence, and conference minutes, we reassess the conditions under which Portuguese and Spanish agents negotiated with their British counterparts; highlight the Iberian political dilemmas that surfaced at the Congress; and elucidate the plenipotentiaries’ subsequent resolutions addressing the transatlantic slave trade. As a result of the talks held in Vienna, Spanish subjects in Cuba and Portuguese subjects in Brazil established political and diplomatic strategies to support slavery in order to maintain their positions in the world market of tropical goods. In other words, while slavery was undergoing reconfiguration in Brazil and Cuba, slave-owners and their political representatives were forced to engage with the hegemonic, abolitionist discourse systematically established by the British at the Congress in order to formulate their proslavery response. The article thus demonstrates that the Congress of Vienna was integral to the international consolidation of the politics of “second slavery” in the Americas. In other words, Brazil and Cuba were forced to engage with the hegemonic discourse systematically established by the British at the Congress in reconfiguring slavery and formulating their proslavery defense.

The “Fused Horizon” of Abolitionism and Islam

Historicism, the Quran and the Global History of Abolition

Nathaniel Mathews


This article considers slavery and abolition in Muslim societies globally as a historical and historicist problem. I argue that the changes in popular consensus among Muslims about the desirability and permissibility of owning slaves is primarily due to a Gadamerian “fused horizon” of abolitionism and Islam. I theorize one site of its emergence from interreligious African cooperation in New World slave rebellions. By studying slavery as a global process and parochializing the boundaries between the civilizational and regional histories of Islam, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, there emerges a radical critique of slavery and capitalism that combines elements of both abolitionism and Islam. The historical experience of enslaved people provides an experiential and evidential basis for this new hermeneutical horizon.

In Memoriam

Joseph C. Miller, University of Virginia

Mapping Uncertainty

The Collapse of Oyo and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, 1816–1836

Henry B. Lovejoy


This historical GIS experiment attempts to map the collapse of the kingdom of Oyo alongside the departure of slave ships from the Bight of Benin. The achievements and drawbacks of mapping Africa’s pre-colonial past require an overview of the sources and methods used to illustrate the dissolution and formation of inland places during an intense period of intra-African conflict. By collating geopolitical data, it is possible to represent on annual maps the likely origins and migrations of diverse groups of enslaved people who were involved in the warfare in the Bight of Benin hinterland between 1816 and 1836. During this period, an unknown number of captives were enslaved and forced into an internal slave trade, most especially into the Sokoto Caliphate, while over 75,000 individuals involuntarily boarded European slave ships leaving for Brazil, Cuba and, due to British abolition efforts, Sierra Leone.

Pernilla Myrne


Women probably made up the majority of the slave population in the medieval Islamic world, most of them used for domestic service. As men were legally permitted to have sexual relations with their female slaves, enslaved women could be used for sexual service. Erotic compendia and sex manuals were popular literature in the premodern Islamic world, and are potentially rich sources for the history of sex slavery, especially when juxtaposed with legal writings. This article uses Arabic sex manuals and slave purchase manuals from the tenth to the twelfth century to investigate the attitudes toward sexual slavery during this period, as well as the changing ethnicities and origins of slaves, and the use of legal manipulations.


Martijn van den Bel and Gérard Collomb


During the 16th century, the Amerindian population of the Guianas was already aware and in contact with the Spanish settlement at Margarita. The Aruacas, the privileged allies of the Spanish, relied on their large socio-political (trade) network to obtain victuals and commercial goods from the Guianas but also raided Caribe villages to assure red slaves for the Spanish plantations and mines in the Antilles. The first encounters between the Amerindians of the eastern Guianas and the English, Dutch and French show fear of the Spanish and their allies but this arrival is taken by the local population to wage war against the Spanish and Aruacas but this time also accompanied by a North European force. These encounters took place mainly in the embouchures of rivers along the Guiana Coast, establishing a ‘zone franche’ or socio-economical free zone populated by Europeans and Amerindians which was dominated by the latter, notably the Yao of the Oyapock estuary, who controlled this coastal area through access of interior beyond the falls. In this contribution we will focus upon the Amerindian policies and alliances in these encounters, dubbed the ‘Yao Connection.’