Every country in the world has now legally abolished slavery, yet millions of people continue to be trapped in forms of human bondage regarded as similar to historical slave systems. This article takes up the analysis of these slavery-like forms by thinking through the ramifications of the grey areas of overlap between slavery, on the one hand, and forced labor, indentured servitude, debt-bondage and human trafficking, on the other one. In this respect, historians of slavery and abolition have developed two major approaches. The first treats slavery as a hierarchically separate category, whilst the second argues that slavery has tended to overlap with other forms of human bondage. This article aims to demonstrate that the second approach, which can be succinctly described as "blended together", is better suited to capturing the ambiguities that have characterized post-abolition experiences of human bondage. From a political and ideological standpoint, the "blended- together" approach highlights the problems inherent in the widespread construction of slavery as an exceptional evil.
Keywords: Slavery, coercion, human trafficking, forced labor, human bondage, post-abolition