Adam Hochschild: End trade inequality to atone for slavery

Historians in the News

DAKAR, Senegal -- The best way Europeans and Americans can make reparations for their past role in the slave trade is to end unfair trade policies that keep Africans shackled in poverty, a U.S. historian said.

Adam Hochschild, whose 2005 work "Bury the Chains" charts the anti-slavery movement that led Britain to abolish the trade 200 years ago this Sunday, said more global campaigns were needed to end many forms of injustice persisting in the world.

In an e-mail interview with Reuters, Hochschild said apologies by nations which had participated in the slave trade were "fine", but were no substitute for action against abuses.

"The current global trading system, for instance, is really arranged for the benefit of multinational corporations and the wealthy countries, not the poor nations," he said.

"If North America and Europe dropped the tariffs and subsidies that prevent African farmers from competing fairly on the world market this would probably do more for Africa than any imaginable form of reparations," he said.

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, from where by 1867 at least 10 million people had been shipped as slaves by European traders to the New World to work in sugar and tobacco plantations, say U.S. and European agricultural subsidies are keeping their farmers poor and robbing their countries of millions of dollars....
Read entire article at Reuters

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