Trafficking, unfreedom and modern slavery in the UK

Authors: Louise Waite*, University of Leeds
Topics: Human Rights, Economic Geography
Keywords: labour, unfreedom, trafficking, modern slavery
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Forum Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper is located in the broad sphere of migrants’ unfreedom in contemporary labour regimes of the UK. It will discuss how this area intersects with the recent discourse of ‘modern slavery’, and consider the racialized historicization of this phrase. As noted in the session description; workers’ experiences of coercion, control and confinement are vital to explore in neoliberal labour regimes, together with increasingly bio-political forms of carceral cosmopolitanism. This is acutely relevant to the experiences of trafficked persons; frequently narrated as paradigmatic coerced and exploited workers. The paper will locate trafficked persons in the UK within an emerging landscape where faith-based organisations are increasingly appearing in both practice and discursive registers of the current ‘fight against modern slavery’. Such politico-religious settings have been studied in the United States, but less so in the UK. Using case study research from a current Economic and Social Research Council project on faith and anti-trafficking, the paper will explore whether faith, secularity and post-secularity are useful frames to (re)interrogate the struggles over un/freedom for trafficked persons.

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