Please join us in store for our first post-Hurricane Ida author appearance as we feature New Orleans-based writer and former Loyola professor Laura T. Murphy celebrating the launch of her new book, FREEDOMVILLE: The Story of a 21st-Century Slave Revolt.
To reserve your participation, please pre-purchase your copy of the book now from Octavia Books at octaviabooks.com/book/9781734420746 while using the comment box during checkout to write "attending event." (You may also write in a request a signed copy if you are not attending.)
In accordance with the Mayor Cantrell's guidelines, please be prepared to provide proof of at least one dose of an approved COVID vaccine or of negative PCR test within 72 hours to access.
Most people do not realize that slavery still exists, mostly in the form of inescapable and unpaid forced labor. Today there are more than 40 million people enslaved globally; nearly eight million of them live in India. Murphy’s book tells the untold story of how one small group of enslaved men and women in India staged a revolt to liberate themselves and wrest control of the rock quarry in which they worked. The founded their own town of Azad Nagar—Freedomville—and their remarkable story spread around the world.
Laura Murphy, a leading scholar, writer and activist on modern slavery and social uprisings, taught the story of Freedomville to her students and longed to go to that town, a model for a successful slave revolt in the modern age. In 2014, she finally got to Freedomville and met the villagers who participated in the revolt. There, she heard the untold story of what really happened, one that complicates the accepted narrative.
Laura T. Murphy is Professor of Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. She is the author of The New Slave Narrative: The Battle Over Representations of Contemporary Slavery, Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives, and Metaphor and the Slave Trade in Western African Literature. Her work has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the British Academy, and the National Humanities Center.
A celebrated revolution brought freedom to a group of enslaved people in northern India. Or did it?
Millions of people today are still enslaved; nearly eight million of them live in India, more than anywhere else. This book is the story of a small group of enslaved villagers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh who founded their own town of Azad Nagar—Freedomville—after staging a rebellion against their slaveholders. International organizations championed it as a non-violent "silent revolution" that inspired other villagers to fight for their own freedom. But Laura T. Murphy, a leading scholar of contemporary global slavery who spent years researching and teaching about Freedomville, found that there was something troubling about Azad Nagar's success. Murphy embarks on a Rashomon-like retelling—a complex, constantly changing narrative of a murder that captures better than any sanitized account just why it is that slavery continues to exist in the twenty-first century. Freedomville's enormous struggle to gain and maintain liberty shows us how realistic it is to expect radical change without violent protest—and how a global construction boom is deepening and broadening the alienation of impoverished people around the world.