Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Political Science

First Advisor

Vincent Lyon-Callo

Second Advisor

James Butterfield


Modern slavery has managed to persist through the 21st century as it has shape-shifted into new occupations and various forms of entrapments. However, my research will prove that despite its seemingly different situations, multitudes of modern industries continue to employ harsh and unfair working conditions which utilize labor laws that restrict protections for employees. To fully comprehend how these new-age jobs are in fact new forms of old-age slavery, it is paramount to look into past forms of enslavement – primarily looking into Columbus’ discovery of Hispaniola and the Atlantic Slave Trade. To aid us easing into modern-day enslavement, a comparison of colonial and post-colonial variations of slavery in specific context to Malaysia under British colonial rule will further depict the similarities in old and new forms of servitude. Lastly, we will look into the industries that continue to employ illegal and inhumane work practices and regulations such as the Thai shrimp and seafood industry, the Vietnamese migrant labor worker industry, as well as the Indonesian migrant domestic worker industry. Through thoroughly examining all these differing contexts of slave use, we will ultimately create a new definition of ‘modern slavery’ that encapsulates the main characteristics of ‘slavery’ without a sociocultural background attached to it.

Additionally, I will incorporate a sociological perspective to this paper by including personal accounts that I have collected over the years I spent growing up in Malaysia – telling the stories of five Indonesian migrant domestic workers, as well as explain Marx’s labor theory of value and the feminization of the workforce, to create a well-rounded overview of modern-day slavery. I hope that by incorporating these personal accounts, I will enable the procurement of empathy and allow us to view these migrant workers’ struggles from a first-hand perspective.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access