Book Symposium: Exploitation as Domination

March 4, 2023
Erasmus University of Rotterdam

Polak Building 1.17
Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam 3062PA


Oxford University (DPhil)
Freie Universität Berlin
Georgia State University
Harvard University
Cambridge University



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Exploitation is a globally pervasive phenomenon. Slavery, serfdom, and the patriarchy are part of its lineage. Temporary and sex workers, commercial surrogacy, precarious labour contracts, sweatshops, and markets in blood, vaccines or human organs, are some contemporary manifestations of exploitation. What makes these exploitative transactions unjust? And is capitalism inherently exploitative? In his new book, Exploitation as Domination, Nicholas Vrousalis presents a new theory of exploitation to address such questions. On the domination view, exploitation complaints are not, fundamentally, about harm, coercion or unfairness. Rather, they are about who serves whom and why. Exploitation, in a word, is a dividend of servitude: the dividend the powerful extract from the servitude of the vulnerable. Vrousalis claims that this servitude is inherent to capitalist relations between consenting adults, whereby capital is monetary control over the labour capacity of others. It follows that capitalism, the mode of production where capital predominates, is an inherently unjust social structure.

On the occasion of its publication, Erasmus University in Rotterdam will hold a 1-day symposium to discuss the book’s arguments and implications. In addition to Prof. Vrousalis, the speakers will include: Gulzaar Barn (Amsterdam), Lillian Cicerchia (Amsterdam), S.M. Love (Georgia), and Lukas Stanczyk (Harvard).

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February 24, 2023, 4:00pm CET

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