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CfP: Debating black slavery in Management and Organizational studies from decolonial and Afro-Diasporic perspectives

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Guest Editors

Prof. Cintia Cristina Silva de Araujo

Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Contábeis, Atuariais
e Financeiras – FIPECAFI (Brazil)
E-mail: cintyaraujo@gmail.com

Prof. Alexandre Faria
Fundação Getulio Vargas – FGV EBAPE (Brazil)
E-mail: alex.faria.br@gmail.com

Prof. Jair N. Santos
Universidade Salvador – UNIFACS (Brazil)
Universidade do Estado da Bahia – UNEB (Brazil)
E-mail: jair.santos@unifacs.br

Prof. Nidhi Srinivas
The New School (United States)
E-mail: srinivan@newschool.edu 
Western institutions report that over 30 million people in the contemporary world system can be reasonably described as enslaved (International Labour Organisation [ILO], 2012), and this number has risen dramatically with the COVID-19 pandemic and the consolidation of ‘modern slavery’ from a managerialist perspective – it “has been, is, and will likely continue to be a business” involving victims, exploiters, large corporations and consumers (Michaloiva, 2020). A contested umbrella term that includes slavery, human trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor and other forms of exploitation (Kara, 2017), modern slavery has been institutionalized in the global North as an emerging issue of contemporary capitalism (Bales, 2005) and hence transformed into a ‘global topic’ by a US-led management and organizations literature (Crane, 2013; Phung & Crane, 2018).

The US-led field of management and organizational studies (MOS) reaffirms the lasting dominant idea in the US and other countries in the West (Baptist, 2016) that black slavery is a matter of the past with remaining traces in the backward South. In contrast, decolonial and Afro-Diasporic perspectives from both the South and North embodying black slavery epistemes and cosmologies frame ‘modern’ slavery as a changing continuation of the longue durée of colonial/racial/patriarchal slavery capitalism inaugurated in the XVI century with the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Eurocentric conquerors/discoverers (Marable, 2015; Mignolo, 2011). Modern slavery as a ‘managerial problem’ emerges in the North in tandem with the resurgence of dewesternization, decolonization and deracialization movements on a global scale accompanied by renewed backlashes and alternatives, as well as increasingly radical dynamics of expropriation against the ‘invasive others’ in both the North and South (Stoler, 2017). The denial of slavery/enslavement as constitutive of modern management and organizations, from an increasingly heterogeneous, discriminatory and unequal Global North (Boatca, 2015), is cited by critical authors (Cooke, 2004), Afro-Diasporic voices in general (Nkomo, 1992) and, in particular, decolonial authors from the South who reframed racism and coloniality as constitutive dimensions of capitalism and predominantly Eurocentric managerial/organizational knowledge (Faria & Abdalla, 2017; Ibarra-Colado, 2006).

A growing ‘global’ Northern MOS literature on modern slavery denies these contributions by embracing a renewed ‘managerial’ agenda of sustainable development and human rights (Voss et al., 2019), which frames modern slavery as a contingent managerial problem for organizations and supply chains, which is triggered by the globalization of modern capitalism in crisis (Gold, Trautrims & Trodd, 2015; New, 2015). This managerial agenda embodying contested claims of civilizational superiority of the West/North in relation to the ‘rest of the world’ (Davis, 2011; Gonzalez, 2020; Wynter, 2003) has been put forward by North Atlantic research institutions shaping rewesternizing re-articulations of universalist debates, agendas, narratives and policies (Bales, 2005). In our view, the ‘globalization’ of modern slavery puts at risk a growing, heterogeneous and unequal population of the enslaved and the planet by denying the constitutive relationship between capitalism and black slavery highlighted by decolonial and Afro-Diasporic literature. After all, is it mere coincidence that in Latin America “the people who descend, partially or totally, from the populations colonized by the Europeans are, in their vast majority, dominated and discriminated against wherever they live?” (Quijano, 1993, p. 205).

In spite of and in response to the radicalization of Occidentalist geopolitics of knowledge and the dominance of the myth of racial democracy in Brazil, studies in several areas such as Anthropology, Sociology, History (Fernandes, 2008; Ferraro, 2019; Nascimento, 1978; Ribeiro, 1995), Architecture and Urbanism (Gomes, 1990; Santos, 2013, 2016) show how and why Brazilian capitalism continues to both challenge and reproduce discriminatory traits and structures of the colonial-slavery period/system (Baptist, 2016; Gonzalez, 2020; Sousa, 2017). These enduring dynamics embody everyday situations of racial, class and gender oppression and discrimination as well as struggles against unequal distribution of opportunities (Fernandes, 2008) within and outside higher education institutions and organizations (Bento, 2002; Jaime, Barreto & Oliveira, 2018; Silva, Vasconcelos & Lira, 2021).

These remnants of black slavery have been shaped by the confusing classification and perception of race in Brazilian society, which varies according to social context and such factors as affective ties and social class (Sansone, 1996). The intricate process of miscegenation called morenização1 (Ribeiro, 1995) implied favoring some black individuals while marginalizing others due to tone of their skin.

Sadly, organizations and management education institutions have reinforced these problems, repeating stereotypes harmful to minority groups (Paim & Pereira, 2018), ignoring and even trivializing the racialization of relationships and the differences of privileges between white professionals and individuals belonging to minority groups (Bento, 2002).

Despite the ethical commitment to the creation of scientific knowledge of quality, in both research and education, we observe an enduring disengagement with the extraordinary contributions historically produced by the ‘enslaved’ and diasporas engaged with decolonial and anti-racist struggles within and outside organizations and academia (Bernardino-Costa, Maldonado-Torres & Grosfoguel 2018; Robinson, 2000). Thus, by denying both the long duration of black slavery and the crucial contributions from decolonial and Afro-Diasporic praxis and epistemes to social justice at large, academia tends to perpetuate racist, colonialist and patriarchal MOS and business schools which are in need of decolonial and Afro-Diasporic perspectives in both the South and North (Dar et al., 2020; Faria & Abdalla, 2017; Jaime et al., 2018; Rosa, 2014).

Due to this colonialist and frankly racist denial of the legacy of black slavery (Cooke, 2003; Godfrey, Hassard, O’Connor, Rowlinson & Ruef, 2016), Northern agendas on ‘modern slavery’ gain traction. In this scenario, the process of reconstructing and reporting the memories of the slavery period/system is usually done by privileged individuals who do not identify with the events and consequences of the colonial-slavery system, which reaffirms the dynamics of epistemic-material expropriation (Santos, 2008).

In tandem with the radicalization of coloniality and Eurocentric mechanisms of appropriation of liberating knowledge triggered by the globalization of US-led counter-revolutionary neoliberalism, a resurging decolonial and Afro-Diasporic praxis has challenged this epistemic-material brutality of more than five centuries of slave capitalism (Bernardino-Costa et al., 2018). Together with researchers from other parts of the Global South in general, Brazilian researchers have resisted, re-existed and recognized other voices, bodies, and epistemes in their search for transformative knowledge engaged with the oppressed majority that personify such an ambivalent legacy.

Organizations, universities, individuals, communities and society both challenge and reproduce the ambivalent legacy of black slavery, which is underpinned by anti-racist intersectional struggles accompanied by the radicalization of recolonizing dynamics. This call for papers aims therefore to engage a growing population struggling against the radicalization of slavery capitalism in both the North and South by fostering transformative engagement with black slavery in MOS from decolonial and Afro-Diasporic perspectives (Mignolo, 2020; Quijano, 2000), by recognizing the remnants of black slavery in management and organizations and recovering decolonial and Afro-Diasporic epistemes.

We thus welcome diverse theories, cosmologies, methodologies and ideas in order to answer a variety of questions such as:

• In what ways can decolonial and Afro-Diasporic perspectives help the field of Management and Organizational Studies (MOS) to fight against modern slavery, structural racism and abyssal social inequality?

• ‘Slavery’, ‘enslavement’, or ‘a proslavery system’ How do these concepts allow (or not) the radical analysis of the colonial/slave period in MOS and in the geo-historical evolution of theories and practices in the field?

• To what extent do predominantly Eurocentric MOS contribute to global capitalism in general and large companies in particular benefitting from different forms of slavery, racism and prejudice against blacks and other minorities and from the ‘democratization’ of injustice-social inequality in the South and in the North?

• What decolonial and Afro-Diasporic voices and perspectives have been denied and appropriated by predominantly Eurocentric MOS? How can MOS researchers change these dynamics?

• What decolonial and Afro-Diasporic initiatives in MOS, in education and in research, have been helping to transform the contradictory realities of peripheral societies in the Global South?

• How do large companies, governmental organizations, and third sector organizations respond to criticism of the involvement and complicity of ‘organizations’ of global capitalism in the dynamics of recolonization via slavery, forced labor or human trafficking?

• What is the role of the different actors of heritage tourism in the dynamics of the dismantling and rearticulation of the dominant narratives about the colonial period in historical tourist developments? (Buzinde, 2010).

• What are the biggest challenges to combat slave labor in countries of the South and North marked by the continuous rearticulation of the hegemony of slave capitalism?

• What are the remnants of black slavery in corporate changes and resistance practices linked to the concepts of diversity and inclusion in organizations, universities and business schools?

• To what extent does the continuation of the period of slavery in modern capitalism influence and challenge contemporary labor relations in organizations?

• What is the role of predominantly Eurocentric Critical Accounting in the analysis of the processes of legitimization of black slavery from decolonial and Afro-diasporic perspectives? (Silva, 2014).

• What is the role of the large companies and economic sectors that benefit most from the black slavery regime and in the maintenance of systems of domination and patriarchal and racial stratification inside and outside academic organizations and institutions? (Nkomo, 1992).

We hope that this call for papers promotes dialogues with other movements, inside and outside the Management and Organizational Studies, engaged with transformations of decolonial and Afro-Diasporic perspectives in and for a pluriversal world in which different worlds coexist. We expect the participation of academics, professionals and ‘general public’ to recover and co-construct possibilities that continue to be denied and appropriated-contained by systems that reaffirm coloniality via black slavery.

Keywords: Decoloniality. Afro-Diasporic perspective in Management and Organizational Studies. Remnants of black slavery in management practices and organizational environments. Contemporary slavery.

1 lightening of the skin (Ribeiro, 1995).

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