New Books Network

Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement (Routledge, 2020) bridges current policy debates around citizenship, states, and nations, and theoretical analysis of issues of belonging, consent, and...

Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement (Routledge, 2020) bridges current policy debates around citizenship, states, and nations, and theoretical analysis of issues of belonging, consent, and freedom. Jane A. Gordon, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, weaves together the complexities of statelessness, emphasizing that those who are often stateless are so within the nation in which they live, and contemporary enslavement, which is often connected to and the result of labor exploitation and neoliberal economic shifts. These two frameworks of vulnerability are also woven together through changes in western approaches to political and economic policies, the results of which have led to more pronounced precarity and inequality. Gordon’s analysis digs into the concept of exclusion, and through this lens, she is able to consider these parallel but distinct positions in which individuals find themselves. For the stateless, the issue is often that a nation has changed or shifted policies that then create stateless individuals of those who had been citizens.

Refugees and immigrants are also part of this analysis, but Gordon highlights the particular difficulty of those who experience a change in their status within their home country, thus leaving them stateless and vulnerable to exploitation. Contemporary enslavement, which follows and mirrors the global political economy, is coupled with statelessness in Gordon’s analysis because these same forces that create statelessness also provide opportunities to exploit equally vulnerable individuals, often entrapping and enslaving them for their labor. Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement explores the intersectionality of those most often found to be enslaved or stateless: women, and racial and ethnic minorities. This book helps to guide the reader through political theory and political economy to understand the current situations and to unpack the policy changes—both public and private—in the global north and west that gave rise to these conditions. The analysis of both statelessness and enslavement compels us to consider the concept of consent—a fraught idea which is itself controversial in so many contemporary conversations—which should be the foundation of our thinking of constructive alternatives, especially institutions of political belonging.


Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).