Critical Perspectives on ‘Modern Slavery’: Law, Policy and Society

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Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation

27 High Street



United Kingdom

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This one day conference aims to problematise and theorise the use of the term “modern slavery”, with the aim of working as a starting point for a radical re-think of the term and structures of exploitation.

Organised by:

Dr. Elizabeth Faulkner, Wilberforce Institute (
Dr. Laura Lammasniemi, University of Warwick (

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Bristol

Professor Jean Allain, Wilberforce Institute and Monash University

Please contact the organisers with any enquiries.

Conference programme:

9.00 - 9.30

Registration and coffee

9.30 -9.45

Welcome and Opening remarks

Laura Lammasniemi and Elizabeth Faulkner


Keynote: Jean Allain (Monash University)

Title: Hokusai's Wave: Where is the Modern Slavery Movement Heading?


Coffee break

10.45-12.45 (Parallel panel sessions)

Room: TBC

Panel 1: The false virtue of modern slavery law and policy. A critical examination of the law and policy obstacles to achieving a robust response for human trafficking and modern slavery victims
Chair: Samantha Currie (University of Liverpool)

  • Alicia Kidd (Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull), The policy responses to modern slavery and their implementation in light of immigration policy
  • Amy Weatherburn (Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Tilburg University), The policy responses to modern slavery and their implementation in light of labour market practices
  • Olivia Iannelli (Trilateral Research), The lack of proximity of related policies: the case of human trafficking and homelessness

Room: TBC

Panel 2: Creative and alternative methodologies and approaches to the study of modern slavery

Chair: Lorena Arocha (Wilberforce Institute)

  • Ayushman Bhagat (Durham University), Trafficking borders
  • Ella Cockbain (UCL) and Ieke de Vries, Northeastern University, USA, The development of ‘indicators’ in human trafficking research: possibilities and pitfalls
  • Jo Birkett (University of Brighton), “We make something with the flower, but feel like I make with myself something” Exploring A Community Arts Project engaging Women who have experienced Human Trafficking (HT): A Participatory Project
  • Patricia Hynes (University of Bedfordshire) and Patrick Burland (IOM UK), ‘Vulnerability’ to Human Trafficking: A Study of Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria and the UK



13.30-15.15 (Parallel panel sessions)

Room: TBC

Panel 3: Historical and religious perspectives on regulation of modern slavery and human trafficking

Chair: Laura Lammasniemi (University of Warwick)

  • Lennon Mhishi (University of Liverpool), The Entanglements of History and The Present: Modern Slavery as a Development Issue in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Sonja Dolinsek (Uni Erfurt), White”, “sexual” or “modern”? The emergence of the concept of “modern slavery” in the second half of the 20th century
  • Chipo Mwale (Birmingham City University), Human Trafficking, Slavery and Psychological Control

Room: TBC

Panel 4: Modern Slavery in Legal Context

Chair: Elizabeth Faulkner (Wilberforce Institute)

  • Bénédicte Bourgeois, Human Trafficking and “Modern Slavery”: Testing the conceptual duality in the light of the criminal justice process
  • Silvia Scarpa John Cabot University of Rome (Italy), The prohibition of slavery as a jus cogens rule of international law: definition and interpretation
  • Pankhuri Agarwal (University of Bristol) A socio-legal documentation of the legal journey of ‘freed bonded labourers’ and ‘victims of human trafficking’ in India


Poster presentations (tea and coffee available)

16.00-18.00 (Parallel panel sessions)

Room: TBC

Panel 5: Institutional and Corporate Responses to Modern Slavery

Chair: Chris O'Connell (Dublin City University)

  • Hila Shamir, Tamar Barkay, Jon Davies, Irene Pietropaoli (Trafflab: Labor Perspectives to Human Trafficking (ERC)), Anti-trafficking chains: the case of the UK construction sector
  • Elena Abrusci (University of Essex) and Rossella Pulvirenti (Liverpool John Moore University), Proving modern slavery: A human rights issue
  • Onyeka Osuji (University of Exeter), Situating Mandatory Modern Slavery Disclosure in Hierarchy of Legislated Corporate Social Responsibility


Panel 6: Colonial and theoretical perspectives on modern slavery

Chair: Catherine Armstrong (Loughborough University)

  • Avi Boukli (Open University), Genealogies of (modern) slavery: focusing on decoloniality and social harm
  • Shovita Dhakal Adhikari (University of Essex), Re (Imagination) of Child Trafficking Discourse and Interventions: A post-colonial perspective
  • Sreya Banerjea (SOAS), Marriage/Trafficking: Stories of Brides, Wives and Mother
  • Katarina Schwarz (University of Nottingham), The colonial contours of slavery in international law: Reconceptualising the definition of slavery and the maangamiz




Keynote by Julia O’Connell Davidson (University of Bristol)

Title: The problem of freedom: learning from histories of fugitivity and marronage

19.00 – 20.00

Wine reception and closing remarks

The conference is generously sponsored by:

The Society of Legal Scholars (SLS)

Modern Law Review

Wilberforce institute

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Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation

27 High Street



United Kingdom

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