NEW DELHI, April 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — HarperCollins is proud to announce Azad Nagar The Story of a 21st-Century Slave Revolt by Laura T. Murphy.
“A brave and brilliant report on the tyranny of the caste system and continuing feudal practices in India’s villages” —BASHARAT PEER
“A powerful, damning account of economic growth, beautifully told through the tragic story of the fight for freedom from slavery of tribals in India” —ALPA SHAH
A celebrated revolution brought freedom to a group of enslaved people in northern India – or did it?
Millions of people around the world today are 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 after staging a rebellion against their slaveholders. International organizations championed this as a nonviolent ‘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 Azad Nagar, found that whispers and deflections suggested 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 21st century. Azad Nagar’s enormous struggle to gain and maintain liberty shows why it is unrealistic 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.
Laura T. Murphy says: “I wrote Azad Nagar because the stories we typically hear about forced labor and the fight for freedom are reduced to the bits that are most exciting for fundraisers. But the violence that the people of Azad Nagar endured and the violence they committed in response reveal a more complex reality about the everyday struggle for rights, and that story deserved to be heard around the world. When I decided to publish this book, my first condition was that the book had to have an Indian edition. I am so glad to be able to share this work with the people who have done so much to fight for their own rights and the rights of others.”
Rahul Soni, Executive Editor (Literary) says: “In the year 2000, a small group of villagers in Uttar Pradesh rebelled against their slaveholders and founded their own town, calling it Azad Nagar. There are two things to note here – that slavery, or bonded labour as we call it here, still persists into the 21st century; and that an episode like this rebellion is still little-known outside of certain circles. Laura Murphy, who has spent years researching slavery in contemporary times in general, and Azad Nagar in particular, now brings us this important, urgent and powerful document that exposes the casteist and feudal practices that continue in our democratic nation, and what the limits of freedom are in the face of widespread systemic inequalities. This is a book I’m really proud to be publishing at HarperCollins India and it is, I think, a must-read for everyone interested in understanding modern India.”
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.
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