CFP: The Philosophy of Slavery and Emancipation

Call for Papers: Anthology on the Philosophy of Slavery and Emancipation

Historically, the institution of slavery was the focus of a great deal of philosophical research. Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Wollstonecraft, Bentham, Locke, Rousseau, Paine, Wilberforce, Grotius, Pufendorf, Nietzsche, Marx, and many others, considered such topics as the definition of slavery, the rightness or wrongness of slavery, which sorts of people could or should be enslaved, and whether (and if so, when) they should be emancipated.

In recent years, by contrast, philosophers have shown little interest in slavery. This anthology seeks to remedy this by presenting new work on the philosophy of slavery and emancipation. Possible topics to be addressed include, but are not restricted to:
• What is slavery? How is slavery different from other forms of unfreedom/inequality/labour etc?
• What was mistaken about historical arguments for slavery?
• How do we best explain the wrongness of slavery? Why were the actions of slave owners, slave traders, or those involved in the initial enslavement, wrong?
• Do people not involved in slavery have obligations to oppose slavery?
• Are slaves who once consented to their own enslavement required to obey their masters? Do such masters have a right to such obedience? Should the state recognise, or even enforce, such contracts of slavery?
• What is the relationship between slavery and sexism/racism/ableism/heteronormativity etc?
• What is the relationship between slavery and bondage & discipline, or dominance & submission, or sadism & masochism?
• What do slave narratives tell us about the nature or wrongness of slavery or about the rightness of emancipation?
• What is emancipation?
• What does the history of emancipation tell us about contemporary abolitionism?
• Who can emancipate whom, when, and from what?
• Is emancipation all that is owed to slaves? Does the legacy of slavery and emancipation require further action?

The anthology will, in the first instance, be submitted to Cambridge University Press for possible inclusion in their new series, Slavery Since Emancipation. The description of this series can be found here.

Guidelines for submissions
• Deadline for submission of abstract (150-300 words): 1st December 2013
• Deadline for submission of paper: 1st February 2014
• Manuscripts should be in English and be between 6000 and 9000 words, including abstract, references and footnotes.
• They should be prepared for anonymous refereeing and sent by email attachment as a word document or pdf to both editors.
• They will be subject to a process of peer-review.
• Expected date for preliminary verdict on submitted papers: 31st July 2014

Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, uctynat [at] ucl [dot] ac [dot] uk
Simon Roberts-Thomson, serobertsthomson [at] gmail [dot] com

Hollywood is not doing enough to shame fat people, apparently

I think we’ve entered Bizarro world, because The Guardian film blog is running a piece today about how Hollywood films are guilty of normalizing – even celebrating – obesity and not doing enough to warn people about the dangers of being overweight. Some choice excerpts include:

Oddly, though fatness is smiled upon, undue thinness is decried on film. Keira Knightley (who’s believed to weigh around seven stone) has been continuously attacked on this count. After all, people could try to emulate a screen idol; that might lead to anorexia, a condition that can prove fatal. Yet obesity kills many more than anorexia.

While actors like Knightley arouse disdain, those who fatten up for a part are applauded. Renée Zellweger was congratulated for putting on 30 pounds (just over two stone), twice, for the two Bridget Jones films. After Robert De Niro put on 60 pounds for Raging Bull, critics acclaimed his“transformative” achievement.


Still, when producers suggested that Jennifer Lawrence might actually lose a bit of weight, they found her less co-operative. “If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet’, I’m like, ‘You can go fuck yourself’,” she’s just told an admiring world. Yet a slim frame would hardly have been out of place in a film entitled The Hunger Games.

I know I haven’t had the most reliable meter on this in the past, but I am reasonably sure this piece is not intended as parody. The author seems to be genuinely bemoaning the plight of thin women who just can’t catch a break in Hollywood films. And implying that Renee Zellweger might’ve still been celebrated for gaining (a very moderate amount of) weight even if she hadn’t immediately become ultra-thin again once filming had ended. And suggesting that fit, petite Jennifer Lawrence really should’ve lost some weight for her role in the Hunger Games (come on honey, we need ‘a slim frame’). And ignoring the massive gender disparity between what mainstream film and TV says is acceptable for men, and what it says is acceptable for women. And. . .etc.

Because, as we all know, the dangerous message that Hollywood is sending to young girls is that it might be okay to feel good about their bodies, even if they aren’t skinny!