Kevin Bales

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Kevin Bales
Kevin Bales at Chatham House 2013.jpg
Bales at Chatham House in 2013
Born1952 (age 70–71)
Alma materBA in Anthropology, University of Oklahoma; MA in Sociology, University of Mississippi; MSc in Economic History, London School of Economics; and Ph.D. at the London School of Economics
Known forBales is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Scientific career
ThesisEarly innovations in social research: the Poverty Survey of Charles Booth (1994)

Kevin Brian Bales, CMG (born 1952), is Professor of Contemporary Slavery at the University of Nottingham, co-author of the Global Slavery Index, and was a co-founder and previously president of Free the Slaves, the US sister organization of Anti-Slavery International.[1]

Professional and academic career[edit]

Bales graduated from Ponca City High School in Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1970. Bales earned his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in 1994 with a thesis on Early innovations in social research: the Poverty Survey of Charles Booth.[2] He holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma, an MA in Sociology from the University of Mississippi, and an MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics.[citation needed]

In 1990, Bales partnered with Simon Pell, to form the fund-raising and research consultancy, Pell & Bales Ltd.[3] The firm raises funds for medical charities, human rights groups, environmental campaigns, overseas development, and the Labour Party.[4]

Bales has since served as a Trustee of Anti-Slavery International and as a consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings.[citation needed]He has advised the US, British, Irish, Norwegian and Nepali governments and the Economic Community of West African States on matters relating to the formulation of policy on slavery and human trafficking.[citation needed] Bales also edited an Anti-Human Trafficking Toolkit for the United Nations, and published a report on forced labor in the US with the Human Rights Center at Berkeley.[citation needed]

In 2015 he was a Professor of Human Rights at the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights at the University of Chicago. From 2001 to 2005 Bales was a visiting Professor of International Studies at the Croft Institute at the University of Mississippi.[citation needed]

Bales has also served as Professor of Contemporary Slavery at the University of Nottingham, as Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Roehampton University in London. He served on the board of directors of the International Cocoa Initiative, and currently serves on the board of the Freedom Fund.[citation needed]


Bales has written several books on modern slavery. Perhaps his best-known book is Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (1999; revised edition, 2004, further edition 2012), an analysis of five slave-based businesses: prostitution in Thailand, the selling of water in Mauritania, production of charcoal in Brazil, general agriculture in India, and brickmaking in Pakistan. Archbishop Desmond Tutu called the book "a well researched, scholarly and deeply disturbing expose of modern slavery".[5] The book has been published in ten different languages. The book formed the basis for a film, Slavery: A Global Investigation, made by TrueVision in 2000, which won a Peabody Award.[6]

Awards and Recognitions[edit]

In 2000 Bales was awarded the Premio Viareggio prize for his services to humanity. In 2003 he received the Human Rights Award from the University of Alberta; in 2004, the Judith Sargeant Murray Award for Human Rights; and in 2005 the Laura Smith Davenport Human Rights Award. In 2006 the association of British Universities named Bales' work as one of the top "100 world-changing discoveries of the last fifty years". Two years later in 2008, Utne Reader named him one of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World". In 2008 he was also invited to address the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Paris, and to join in the planning of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative. The following year he was awarded a Prime Mover fellowship, and in 2010 awarded an honorary doctorate by Loyola University of Chicago for "outstanding service on behalf of human rights and social justice."

Most recently, Bales received the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Improving World Order.[7]

Bales was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to the global antislavery movement.[8]

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • Bales, Kevin (1999). Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (2004; 2012) ISBN 9780520243842
  • Bales, Kevin (2005). Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader ISBN 9780520245075
  • Bales, Kevin (2005). New Slavery: A Reference Handbook ISBN 9781576072394
  • Bales, Kevin (2007). Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves ISBN 9781435611511
  • Bales, Kevin; Trodd, Zoe (2008). To Plead Our Own Cause: Personal Stories by Today's Slaves ISBN 9780520257962
  • Bales, Kevin; Malbert, Roger; Sealy, Mark (2008). Documenting Disposable People: Contemporary Global Slavery ISBN 9781853322648
  • Bales, Kevin; Soodalter, Ron (2009). The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today ISBN 9780520268661
  • Bales, Kevin; Trodd, Zoe; Williamson, Alex Kent (2009). Modern Slavery: The Secret World of 27 Million People ISBN 9781851686414
  • Bales, Kevin (2016). Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World ISBN 9780812995763

Chapters in books[edit]


In 2007 in response to Kevin Bales' interview with Democracy Now! about Free The Slaves,[9] investigative journalist Christian Parenti wrote a criticism of Bales claiming he had made false claims about the chocolate industry. Specifically, Parenti argues that "Bales goes around fund raising, flogging his book and promoting himself on the basis that he has successfully reformed the chocolate industry and largely halted its use of child labor in West Africa. But no such thing has happened... Bales’ organization FTS defended the chocolate industry when the Department of Labor sought to list cocoa as a product tainted by slave and child labor."[10] Bales' work has also come under critique by sociologist Julia O'Connell Davidson.[11]


  1. ^ Hochschild, Adam Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery, London:Pan, 2006.
  2. ^ Bales, Kevin (1994). Early innovations in social research: the Poverty Survey of Charles Booth (PhD). London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  3. ^ "Pell & Bales - Milestones". Archived from the original on 2014-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  4. ^ "Pell & Bales raises its billionth pound for charity | UK Fundraising". 17 November 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  5. ^ "Disposable People New Slavery in the Global Economy Updated with a New Preface: Kevin Bales: Trade Paperback: 9780520272910: Powell's Books". Retrieved 2022-11-28.
  6. ^ "Slavery". Peabody Awards. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  7. ^ The Grawemeyer Awards: Plan to end slavery earns Grawemeyer Award Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 14 December 2010.
  8. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N3.
  9. ^ "The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  10. ^ "Christian Parenti responds to Kevin Bales". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  11. ^ Modern Slavery - The Margins of Freedom | Julia O'Connell Davidson | Palgrave Macmillan.

External links[edit]