Critical and Empirical Approaches to Human Trafficking

Call For Papers

While often constructed as a universally abhorred form of violence, the concept of human trafficking continues to raise contentious debates in activism, policy, and scholarship. Mired in divisions around the role of the state, gender and sexuality, labor exploitation, and migration, factions disagree over definitions of trafficking, and some urge we abandon the term altogether.

This two-day conference will apply the contributions of critical anti-trafficking scholarship to the demand for empirical research on human trafficking in our communities and around the world. It uses the insights of discursive critiques to conduct better research on the prevalence, nature, and prevention of social problems that have become known as human trafficking. We seek interdisciplinary and intersectional conversations to better understand the continuities and ruptures across investigations of human trafficking, building toward more just and effective frameworks for research on exploitation and violence.

On April 4 and 5, the University of Kansas will host an interdisciplinary symposium examining human trafficking research. Kamala Kempadoo (York University) will open the symposium with a keynote address on Thursday, April 4 at 4 pm, with a reception to follow. Friday, April 5 will feature panels by regional and national scholars, including Amy Farrell (Northeastern University) and a closing keynote by Sally Engle Merry (New York University).

All papers related to human trafficking research are welcome, including but not limited to:

  • Empirical Approaches to Illicit and Criminalized Industries
  • Tracking Consequences of the Carceral Framework
  • Innovations in Critical Media Analysis
  • Ethics of Representation and Storytelling Against Narrative Tropes
  • Long Shadow of the Mann Act: Historical Precedents and Alternatives
  • Politics of Fieldwork across Ideological Difference
  • Survivor-Led Research Initiatives & Collaboration
  • Translating Critical Research to Policy Makers and Other Stakeholders

Please join us by submitting a brief CV and a 250-350 word abstract for a panel, paper presentation, or roundtable contribution addressing these issues to by January 7. Invitations will be distributed and registration open from January 15.

Convened by:

Profs. Hannah Britton>>, Stacey Vanderhurst>>, Akiko Takeyama>>, Brian Donovan>>, and Sarah Deer>>,

Sponsored by:

The Institute for Policy & Social Research, The Hall Center for the Humanities, The Center for East Asian Studies, The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, The Center for Global and International Studies, The Kansas African Studies Center, The Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian StudiesThe Department of American Studies, The Department of AnthropologyThe Department of Political Science, The Department of SociologyThe Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, The School of Public Affairs and Administration, and The Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity at the University of Kansas.

You can download a printable version of this in pdf format.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today