Seminar:‘Competing Visions: Human Trafficking versus Forced Labour?’
Dr Joel Quirk, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa Tuesday 16th September, 5:00-6:00pm Martin Ryan Institute Annex 201
In this lecture, Dr Quirk will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of human trafficking as a framework for conceptualising – and successfully combating – various forms of human bondage as they exist today. While human trafficking is now firmly embedded at both an institutional and popular level, a growing number of critics have called into question the conception and execution of recent anti-trafficking campaigns. This paper favours a different approach, which primarily focuses upon recent efforts to promote a “maximalist” understanding of human trafficking which incorporates numerous forms of human bondage. Over the last decade, many actors and institutions have come to describe a huge variety of problems as forms of trafficking, including cases of servile marriage, hereditary bondage, and wartime enslavement. This open ended approach to trafficking involves reclassifying practices that were previously conceptualized in terms of forced labour, or “contemporary forms of slavery”. While there are some political and rhetorical advantages to employing a trafficking framework, this paper seeks to demonstrate that this expansive “catch-all” approach remains subject to a host of analytical complications and practical limitations.
Dr Joel Quirk is Senior Lecturer in Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. His recent book publications include The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011) and Mobility Makes States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015, co-edited with Darshan Vigneswaran). Joel is a current member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project, where he serves as Rapporteur.
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