From Bleeding Hearts to Critical Thinking: Exploring the Issue of Human Trafficking
March 19, 2012 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Vari Hall Rotunda
March 20, 2012 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. FSCR (Founders 305)
Stories about human trafficking, particularly ‘sex trafficking’ abound in the media. Yet what do we make of such stories and what can we do to address the issue?
This year two courses in Development Studies and Women’s Studies – SOSC3455 “Global Human Trafficking” and WMS6211/DVST5124 “The Global Sex Trade” – taught by Professor Kamala Kempadoo of the Department of Social Science, gave undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to study such questions in depth. Some of the results of the student study and research will be presented at a conference at York University on March 19-20, 2012.
The aim of the conference is to animate critical thinking amongst the wider York U. community about human trafficking narratives and to exchange ideas about strategies for change. The conference underlines the importance of theorizing everyday social problems in order to effectively tackle such issues both politically and academically, while emphasizing the need for informed research on migration and forced labour practices.
During the conference the work of students in the two courses will be showcased as examples of how one can engage with the issue of trafficking in meaningful and critical ways. A main focus is the analysis of media representations of human trafficking, including examinations of how race, nationality, sexuality and gender are taken up in films, TV documentaries and video clips. To publicize and kick-off the one-day conference, some of the undergraduate student research will be staged or presented in Vari Hall on Monday March 19. On Tuesday March 20, undergraduate presentations will continue, followed by paper presentations by graduate students. To complement the student analyses, internationally renowned sex worker rights’ activist and filmmaker Carol Leigh will present several of her short documentaries that explore the perceived nexus between sex work and trafficking. The conference will wrap up with the launch of the second edition of the book edited by Professor Kempadoo, Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work and Human Rights, which includes a new overview of studies on human trafficking and a reflection by policy-makers, researchers and activists on what has been accomplished since the first edition of the book. The event is being co-organized with the Centre for Feminist Research.