Modern slavery and human rights focus of conference

Modern Slavery, human rights and development posterEnslavement, slaveholders, international law, wartime abuses and forced marriage are just some of the areas speakers from Canada, the US and the UK will discuss at an upcoming conference on modern slavery.

Modern Slavery, Human Rights and Development will take place from June 26 to 28 at York’s Keele campus. The conference is organized by York Professor Annie Bunting of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples at York and the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery & Emancipation at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, with the support of the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Over the last decade, the problem of modern slavery has moved from being a marginal concern to a mainstream issue, with trafficking in persons for the purposes of forced prostitution as the primary focal point. Other related problem areas include bonded labour, which includes child labour, “classical” slavery and descent-based discrimination, forced labour for the state, wartime enslavement and servile marriage, as well as the severe exploitation of migrants and domestic workers.

The conference hopes to connect emerging literature concerned with modern slavery and human trafficking with more established scholarship in the related fields of human rights and human development. It also aims to offer a constructive critique of key policies and programs that have recently been introduced by both governments and non-governmental organizations to combat modern slavery.

Joel Quirk In the first session, Joel Quirk (left), deputy director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery & Emancipation at the University of Hull, will look at “Competing Visions: Human Trafficking versus Forced Labour?” Quirk is a Research Councils UK Fellow in law, culture & human rights and the author of The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). He is also the United Kingdom Jean Allain representative on the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Slave Route Project. Jean Allain (right), a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the School of Law at Queen’s University of Belfast, will tackle “Modern Slavery: From Human Rights to International Criminal Law”. He is the author of several books, including The Slavery Conventions: The Travaux Préparatoires of the 1926 League of Nations Convention and the 1956 United Nations Convention (2008).

Austin Choi-FitzpatrickSpeaker Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick (left), assistant director of the Center for the Study of Social Movements & Social Change at the University of Notre Dame, will discuss “Two to Tango: Slaveholders, Mobilization and Social Change” in the second session. He was formerly the national outreach coordinator for Free the Slaves, an international human rights group working to end contemporary slavery. Rhoda Howard-Hassmann of Wilfred Laurier University will look at “Slave Labour in North Korea” in the same session.

In the third session, York Professor Annie Bunting (right) (LLB ’88) of the Law & Society Program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and The Harriet Tubman Institute will talk about “Enslavement, Forced Marriage and Modern Slavery”. Bunting is currently directing an international research collaboration on forced marriage in conflict situations with historians of slavery and women’s human rights scholars. Benjamin N. Lawrance

During this same session, Benjamin N. Lawrance (left), the Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair in International Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology, will discuss “Forced Marriages, Marital Simulacra and their Perpetrators: Conceptualizing Protagonists and Process in West African Asylum Claims”.

“Modern Slavery and Global Inequality: Lessons from Global Justice Christien van den Ankerand Human Rights Debates” is what Christien van den Anker (right) of the University of West of England will speak about in session four. She is currently lead editor of the Journal of Global Ethics and director of the Migrant Rights Centre in Bristol. Her most recent work is a forthcoming co-edited collection on human rights and migration. Andrew Crane, the George R. Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics at York’s Schulich School of Business, will then discuss “Modern Slavery as a Management Practice: Exploring the Conditions and Capabilities for Human Exploitation”.

The fifth session – Research Methods and Case Studies – will feature Karlee SapoznikKarlee Sapoznik (left), a PhD candidate at York, talking about “Cocoa Trafficking and Hereditary Slavery in Mali: Investigating Omissions, Contextualizing Reports and Challenging Popular Narratives”. Sapoznik is president and co-founder of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery, a non-profit organization in Toronto. Darshan Vigneswaran of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious & Ethnic Diversity will look at “Methods and Modern Slavery: A South African Case Study” and Jonathan Blagbrough of the Children Unite in the United Kingdom will discuss “The Politics of Child Domestic Labour”.

In the final session, Fuyuki Kurasawa of York’s Department of Sociology will tackle “Visual Representations of Modern Slavery,” while Roy L. Brooks of the University of San Diego School of Law will look at “Redress, Human Rights and Human Development.”

To view the conference program, click here.

For more information about the Modern Slavery, Human Rights and Development conference, visit The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples website.