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About Julia O'Connell Davidson

Julia O’Connell Davidson is a professor in social research at the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol. She has a longstanding research interest in work and economic life, which she has explored through studies of employment relations in the privatized utilities, as well as through research on prostitution and on sex tourism. Julia is most recently the author of Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedomnow out from Palgrave (2015). She has published extensively on prostitution, ‘trafficking’, and ‘modern slavery’, and is also the author of Prostitution, Power and Freedom (1998, Polity) and Children in the Global Sex Trade (2005, Polity).

Articles by Julia O'Connell Davidson

This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Libyan outrage: slavery or borders?

A recent CNN video of an apparent ‘slave auction’ in Libya has caused horror on social media, but the term slavery hides the European migration policies leading to such abuse.

Slavery: memory and afterlives

What role does memory play in the politics of the present? How can we build better futures through politicising the past? The Brigstow Institute brings us a series reflecting on these questions.

Walk Free: measuring global slavery, or masking global hypocrisy?

The Walk Free Foundation claims to fight ‘modern slavery’ by measuring its extent, but is its index not just an exercise in political hypocrisy?

'Modern Slavery': a response to Rahila Gupta

Policymakers and modern-day abolitionists have co-opted trafficking and slavery discourse for illiberal ends. To say so is not the same as denying the appalling realities of the modern world. Quite the opposite.

The practical necessity of utopian thinking

BTS editors introduce their series on utopia, arguing that only by striving for utopia can we hope to move beyond the limited liberties that are commonly mistaken for freedom.

“Let us live or make us die!” Migrants’ challenge to their outlawry

On International Migrants Day, all liberal democratic states will reaffirm their respect for migrants' rights. This will mean little to those forced into a living death by border controls and immigration policies.

Race, ethnicity and belonging

Race is, ironically, an often-overlooked aspect of the modern slavery debate. BTS editors look critically at the field and introduce their next issue.

Rights talk, wrong comparison: trafficking and transatlantic slavery

Transatlantic slavery relied on force to move people, while today’s ‘trafficking’ does not. Vulnerable migrants have more in common with those escaping from historical slavery than those entering into it.

On freedom and (im)mobility: how states create vulnerability by controlling human movement

Beyond Slavery introduces its next issue on trafficking, smuggling and migration, arguing that mobility is central to life and that state restrictions on movement are the true threat to human wellbeing.

Introduction to this week's theme: beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery

Beyond Trafficking and Slavery editors introduce their first themed issue, which explores how slavery and trafficking have been represented—by public officials, activists, and numerous others—and their effect.

Introduction: moving beyond popular representations of trafficking and slavery

Beyond Trafficking and Slavery editors introduce their first themed issue, which explores how slavery and trafficking have been represented—by public officials, activists, and numerous others—together with the frequently troubling consequences that these popular representations have had upon policy and practice.

Convenient conflations: modern slavery, trafficking, and prostitution

Laws to reduce buying sex, such as proposed amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill, are not only ineffective, but their moral underpinnings drive them to single out sex work while ignoring other sectors in which women are at risk of exploitation.

Happy endings? Slavery, emancipation and freedom

Let’s stop giving the architects and beneficiaries of an increasingly neoliberal world order a platform on which to parade their moral condemnation of ‘slavery’, and focus on efforts to transform the meaning of ‘freedom’. 

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