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

Em Portugues

Guest Editors

Prof. Cintia Cristina Silva de Araujo

Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Contábeis, Atuariais
e Financeiras – FIPECAFI (Brazil)

Prof. Alexandre Faria
Fundação Getulio Vargas – FGV EBAPE (Brazil)

Prof. Jair N. Santos
Universidade Salvador – UNIFACS (Brazil)
Universidade do Estado da Bahia – UNEB (Brazil)

Prof. Nidhi Srinivas
The New School (United States)
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).

Em Portugues

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Activism, Testimonials

Training for change: The issues with current EDI training

Guest blog post by Rhianna Garrett, MA student in Technology, Creativity and Thinking in Education at University of Exeter

Despite universities’ efforts to create more equal spaces, students are still experiencing racism and discrimination on a daily basis. To attempt to tackle this issue, I decided to create a student-led anti-racism project titled ‘Active Together’, which aims to promote conversations about race in sports clubs and societies. My team and I chose to focus on sports, as we want to show students that issues of racism penetrate not just education but also leisure activities. We have been working alongside the Student Guild and Athletics Union and the University of Exeter to improve current equality, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) training, increasing awareness and promoting actionable change among the student community. Through these experiences, we have learned that intersectionality is crucially important to ensuring this training is effective. However, intersectionality is also incredibly complex to situate and explain in a short amount of time, which has become increasingly challenging as studies suggest that it is most effective to avoid 2-hour training sessions and work towards a slower introduction to information. Therefore, we need to start asking different questions. We need to stop asking if we have the training, and start asking what the training is achieving? Are we getting results? What results do we want? What is our end goal?

Active Together aims to investigate unconventional forms of training that evoke emotion and action and has been heavily inspired by Building the Anti-Racist Classroom (BARC). BARC offers a unique workshop to gather individuals interested in anti-racist pedagogy. Gamification methods are utilised – using game elements in non-game contexts – to promote change and challenge racism, asserting the student voice/experience as the main narrative. BARC encouraged us to think of new and creative methods to engage students in anti-racist activism and question the training that is currently in place. Training sessions like this are more meaningful experiences that help students retain what they have learned in the long-term, rather than implementing training systems for performative reasons.

As part of our project, Active Together aims to provide a suitable external training facilitator that matched our educational aims. We met with many interesting companies who all had different approaches to anti-racist training. The company Change Makers UNLTD offered us a huge amount of personal support, giving us advice on what training should include and validating our goals. Their company aims to create personalised training sessions depending on the goals of the customer. Another personalised training company we found was Equality and Diversity UK, who took a more systematic approach and tailored their sessions to the needs of the participants, the demographic of the group, and focused on the 2010 Equality Act. These amazing facilitators stress the importance of ongoing education and the significance of intersectionality. One of our project recommendations is for the University to research these new options and work to create more personalised training sessions based around what students need.

For my master’s dissertation, I was unsure about whether or not it was possible for me to use games as a way to engage people in the EDI training model I had created, until I discovered BARC. BARC created the Student Journey Game, which uses real student experiences to promote empathetic learning in a creative way and made me realise it was a possibility to combine my love of gamification with the project I had created.

I took the information that BARC offered (the student experiences, the themes, the background stories) and inserted them into a Dungeons and Dragons-style (D&D) facilitated discussion. This offered dice rolling-scenarios, storylines, discussion roles, action points, badge rewards and many other gamification elements to make not only an informing, but also fun experience for students. My main goal from this project is to make students excited to attend their EDI training sessions, rather than continue to feel the negative connotations training is attached to. By using this D&D model, it encourages an on-going adventure, much like the Student Journey Game, to promote a life-long dedication to constantly learning about issues relating to EDI. We also suggest creating a larger community of students and staff to discuss what training asynchronously and synchronously is needed and encourage those involved to act. We have taken inspiration from BARC and realised the importance of using real student examples of racism in their daily lives to represent how racism is not an invisible, abstract concept but a covert, systematic form of oppression that produces traumatic experiences for many.

From a small blog post, a small project, and three students, we have seen the power the student voice can have. We imagine a university where all students co-create anti-racist projects in their sports clubs and societies and make it a part of daily life. We imagine students getting excited to attend their EDI training sessions.

Spreading the burden is essential. This work isn’t easy, but if students and staff came together to spread the burden and recognise the work it truly requires, we believe there is a chance of creating more inclusive spaces.

Please feel free to contact us with any information on your personal training, or what you believe needs to be improved upon. Email us, or message our Instagram/Twitter/Facebook @ATogetherexeter. Or, if you wish to discuss further research collaborations then you can contact myself by email or on Twitter.