School of Politics and International Relations

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Kevin Bales

Professor of Contemporary Slavery, Faculty of Social Sciences



Kevin Bales is Professor of Contemporary Slavery in the School of Politics & International Relations. He was Co-Founder of the NGO Free the Slaves, the US Sister organization of Anti-Slavery International. His book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy published in 1999, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and has now been published in ten other languages. Archbishop Desmond Tutu called it "a well researched, scholarly and deeply disturbing expose of modern slavery". A revised edition was published in 2005, and a new edition was published in 2012. In 2008 he was invited to address the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Paris, and to join in the planning of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative. In 2006 his work was named one of the top "100 World-Changing Discoveries" by the Association of British Universities. The Italian edition of Disposable People won the Premio Viareggio iin 2000 awarded "ad una personalità di fama mondiale che abbia speso la vita per la cultura, l'intesa tra i popoli, il progresso sociale, la pace." The documentary based on his work, which he co-wrote, Slavery: A Global Investigation, won the Peabody Award for 2000 and two Emmy Awards in 2002. He was awarded the Laura Smith Davenport Human Rights Award in 2005; the Judith Sargeant Murray Award for Human Rights in 2004; and the Human Rights Award of the University of Alberta in 2003, and a Prime Mover Fellowship by the Hunt Alternatives Fund in 2009. Bales was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, by Loyola University Chicago, in 2010, and a Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa University of Nottingham, 2015. Also in 2015 he was the Richard & Ann Pozen Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the University of Chicago. He has twice served as a Trustee of Anti-Slavery International, and a consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings. Bales has been invited to advise the US, British, Irish, Norwegian, and Nepali governments, as well as the governments of the Economic Community of West African States, on the formulation of policy on slavery and human trafficking. He edited an Anti-Human Trafficking Toolkit for the United Nations, and published, with the Human Rights Center at Berkeley, a report on forced labor in the USA, and completed a two-year study of human trafficking into the US for the National Institute of Justice. Beginning in 2001 he worked with the chocolate industry to remove child and slave labor from the product chain. His book Understanding Global Slavery was published in September 2005. He is the author of New Slavery: A Reference Handbook (revised 2nd ed. 2005). In 2007 he published Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves, a roadmap for the global eradication of slavery which won the 2011 $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Promoting World Order. In 2008, with Zoe Trodd, he published To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today's Slaves; and with eight Magnum photographers, Documenting Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery. In 2009 he published with Ron Soodalter The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, the first full exploration of contemporary slavery in the United States. His latest book explores the relationship between slavery and environmental destruction, Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World was published in January 2016. He was the Lead Author of the Global Slavery Index GSI) in 2013 and 2015 and now serves on the GSI Expert Working Group. He gained his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics.

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