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Cameron Thibos

BTS Short Course

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Activists, academics, trade unions, governments and NGOs around the world are trying to both understand and address forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery. The European Union has recently adopted a new strategy, which will be overseen by the EU’s Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. This new strategy has seen a wave of new initiatives designed to combat these practices. However, the frequently poor track record of past efforts in this area means that there is an urgent need for both additional research and further conversations regarding the best pathways forward. With labour exploitation and inequality on the rise, and debates over migration intensifying, high-level policy debates regarding forced labour, trafficking, and slavery can be expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

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Beyond Trafficking and Slavery seeks to constructively influence these debates by bringing together the best available research, and by both formulating and evaluating the merits of competing proposals for reform. In addition, we also aim to inform a new wave of scholars, policy-makers, and practitioners who are currently making their way through school systems and universities around the world. Our approach combines the rigour of academic scholarship, the clarity of journalism, and the immediacy of political advocacy in order to address the political, economic, and social root causes of exploitation, vulnerability, and forced labour around the world.

With the BTS Short Course, we have re-edited our publications from the past 18 months into the world’s first open access ‘e-syllabus’ on forced labour, trafficking, and slavery. With 167 contributions from 150 top academics and practitioners, this 900-page, eight-volume set is packed with insights from the some of the best and most progressive scholarship and activism currently available. We have made this free for download, as well as print and classroom ready, with the goal of reaching not only practitioners and students in the global north, but to also reach readers working in organisations and institutions unable to pay for expensive academic journal and subscription services.

1. Popular and Political Representations 5. Migration and Mobility
2. Forced Labour in the Global Economy 6. Race, Ethnicity and Belonging
3. State and the Law 7. Childhood and Youth
4. On History 8. Gender

BTS is a beacon for civil society organisations and anyone working to end extreme exploitation.
—Helga Konrad, former OSCE Special Representative
 for the fight against trafficking in persons


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ISBN: 978-0-9970507-0-7

1. Popular and Political Representations

Edited by Joel Quirk and Julia O'Connell Davidson

Much of what people think they know about human trafficking and ‘modern-day slavery’ is inaccurate, incomplete or unfounded. In order to help get their message out, political activists and government officials have repeatedly turned to a range of simplistic and misleading images, dubious ‘statistics’, and self-serving narratives. These narratives have had all kinds of negative consequences. Thanks to an often voyeuristic interest in commercial sexual abuse, much less interest has been directed towards ‘unsexy’ problems and practices. Thanks to the construction of migration as a problem and threat, policy responses have focused upon telling migrants to ‘stay at home’. Thanks to the popularity of ‘slavery as exception’, global patterns of systemic abuse, exploitation, and discrimination have been routinely dispatched to the margins of political conversations. Thanks to the depiction of trafficking victims as ‘exotic outsiders’ in need of rescue and salvation, there has been an uncritical return to some of the worst tropes of the colonial ‘civilising mission’. This must change.

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ISBN: 978-0-9970507-1-4

2. Forced Labour in the Global Economy

Edited by Genevieve LeBaron and Neil Howard

There is a growing and sober awareness among international policymakers and within global civil society that human trafficking, slavery and forced labour are not anomalies perpetuated by a few ‘bad apple’ employers. Rather, such severe labour exploitation is an endemic feature of the contemporary global economy. This edited collection brings together some of the sharpest minds from the worlds of academia and activism to investigate and shed light on the root causes of this exploitation. Its essays analyse how business demand for forced labour manifests in certain industries, as well as how political and economic factors combine to generate a supply of workers vulnerable to abuse. Written in intelligent yet accessible prose, it represents a key resource for policy, activism and research.

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ISBN: 978-0-9970507-2-1

3. State and the Law

Edited by Prabha Kotiswaran and Sam Okyere

The articles in this volume outline and critically interrogate the role of the state, national legislation and international conventions in shaping the understanding and construction of those conditions deemed to constitute modern forms of slavery. Our contributors further highlight the role of the state and national legislation in creating or allowing the varying forms of insecurities that necessitate entry into various precarious engagements. It is evident from these that the state plays a hugely significant role in the modern slavery discourse. It can be either a force for good or bad. Those who wish to see human rights and social justice realised at much higher level than that found in abolitionist discourse must recognise and be willing to engage politically with the state sponsored system of injustice.

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ISBN: 978-0-9970507-3-8

4. On History

Edited by Joel Quirk and Genevieve LeBaron

Campaigners and governments leading the fight to end ‘modern-day slavery’ selectively appeal to history to help justify their current activities. They uncritically praise Anglo-Saxon anti-slavery efforts, but have remarkably little to say about the larger history of enslavement, slave resistance, or the contemporary legacies of historical slave systems. Centuries of severe exploitation, racial subjugation, and violent abuse have too often been lost in the rush to celebrate the ‘moral triumph’ of abolition. The legal abolition of slavery was not a gift from great emancipators. Nor did it mark an end to the need for resistance. Former slaves were never compensated for their decades of toil and abuse, and their former masters made every effort to defend their privileges, contributing to global patterns of wealth, poverty, inequality, and discrimination that remain with us to this day.

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BTS-Short-Course-5---Migration-and-Mobility-Cover.jpg
ISBN: 978-0-9970507-4-5

5. Migration and Mobility

Edited by Julia O'Connell Davidson and Neil Howard

Mobility is and always has been an essential part of humanity’s economic, social, cultural and political life. To be able to move freely is a good. Yet in our unjust world, it is also an unearned and unequally distributed privilege. This volume reflects on that privilege, and on the suffering that results when states restrict access to it. The articles included here will explode the spurious contemporary binary between ‘smuggling’ and ‘trafficking’, and will argue that anti-trafficking discourse hides more than it reveals. Most crucially, it hides how state restrictions on the freedom of movement are the true threat to human wellbeing. Open the borders!

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ISBN: 978-0-9970507-5-2

6. Race, Ethnicity and Belonging

Edited by Joel Quirk and Julia O'Connell Davidson

Slavery cannot be reduced to a chapter in history that is now closed, but must instead be regarded as a continuing and fundamental wound. As recent campaigns around ‘black lives matter’ and the prison industrial complex have further demonstrated, the idea of race—and racism as a system of domination—are intimately bound up with the history and legacies of transatlantic slavery. Despite their professed concern with slavery today, self-proclaimed ‘modern-day abolitionists’ have remarkably little to say about slavery and racism. They instead argue that we need to think about poverty, rather than race, since ‘modern slavery’ is colour blind. This book seeks to expose the profound limitations of this popular approach. Over the course of twenty chapters, some of the world's leading experts illustrate how and why racism and other forms of discrimination continue to shape contemporary patterns of marginalisation, exclusion, and government and corporate complicity.

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ISBN: 978-0-9970507-6-9

7. Childhood and Youth

Edited by Neil Howard and Sam Okyere

This volume, replete with contributions from world-renowned children’s rights academics and practitioners, argues that the dominant abolitionist discourse and its associated policy directives often impede the best interests and rights of the children they purport to ‘protect’ or ‘rescue’. This largely happens because the protections proposed are politically disengaged, fail to tackle the underlying causes of children’s insecurities, and often lack thorough understanding of the social, cultural, and economic circumstances surrounding young people’s work, mobility, and lives. The volume therefore advocates for an approach to securing child and youth welfare that is more nuanced, context specific, non-dogmatic, politically engaged, and takes young people’s own accounts seriously.

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ISBN: 978-0-9970507-7-6

8. Gender

Edited by Sam Okyere and Prabha Kotiswaran

Women and girls, 'new abolitionists' say, are disproportionately affected by trafficking because of their prevalence in domestic, care, and sex work. This volume questions the selective focus on these activities, which are alternately characterised as violence and work. It also interrogates still-unresolved questions regarding the status of such work, as well as the ways in which it is understood, valued, recognised, and regulated. Our contributors highlight how gendered inequalities within and between households, as well as within and between nations, anchor the structural violence of global capitalism. Their calls for action push back against the present tendency to dwell on the images of the passive, innocent, vulnerable female victim whose only option is to be 'saved' from bad men. Interventions based on such imagery too often result in women being 'rescued' into situations that do little to improve their circumstances and worse still perpetuate their experiences of domination. Instead, they argue for an emancipatory agenda that fully values the labour and agency of women, one which dismantles prejudice and constraint rather than saves them back into a deeply unequal system.

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Contributors to the BTS Short Course


Alarmphone Tanya GOLASH-BOZA Treena ORCHARD
Erica ALLINA Thea GRUCHY Ingrid PALMARY
Bridget ANDERSON Lucrecia Rubio GUNDELL Letizia PALUMBO 
Rutvica ANDRIJASEVIC Will GUY P.J. PATTERSON 
Sundari ANITHA Kristen HAN Antoine PÉCOUD
Ana Lucia ARAUJO Jason HART Nicola PHILLIPS
Helen BAILLOT Iman HASHIM Sine PLAMBECH 
Christian BARRY Dina HAYNES Jessica R. PLILEY
Tanja BASTIA Karin HEISSLER Vanessa PUPAVAC
Harald BAUDER Kate HODGSON Joel QUIRK
Laya BEHBAHANI Liam HOGAN Jayaseelan RAJ
Jeroen BEIRNAERT John HOLMWOOD Vibhuti RAMACHANDRAN
Alice BELLAGAMBA Neil HOWARD Ben RICHARDSON
Amanda BERLAN Roy HUIJSMANS Marlise RICHTER
Rhian BEYNON Ali Moussa IYE Sébastien RIOUX
Gurminder BHAMBRA Mark JOHNSON Kate ROBERTS
Eileen BORIS Cecily JONES Caroline ROBINSON
Michael BOURDILLON Kerwin KAYE Dylan RODRÍGUEZ
Jo BOYDEN Kamala KEMPADOO Ben ROGALY
Laura BRACE Kyunghee KOOK Benedetta ROSSI
Karen BRAVO Prabha KOTISWARAN Srila ROY
Brenda Oude BREUIL Julia LAITE Andreas RÜHMKORF
André BROOME Genevieve LEBARON Julija SARDELIĆ
Annie BUNTING Carol LEIGH P. Khalil SAUCIER
Joseph CARENS Jens LERCHE Arthur SCARRITT
Kristen E. CHENEY Alex LICHTENSTEIN Nelly SCHMIDT
Sealing CHENG Roda MADZIVA Alessandra SCIURBA
Hae CHOO  Andrea MAJOR Benjamin SELWYN
Janie CHUANG  Jilian K. MARSH Jared SEXTON
Jason CONGDON Samuel MARTÍNEZ Svati SHAH
Sharon COWAN Kate MCDONALD Nandita SHARMA
Viviene CREE E. Ann MCDOUGALL Elena SHIH
Fraser CRICHTON Siobhán MCGRATH Robbie SHILLIAM
Gina CRIVELLO David MCNALLY Stephanie J. SILVERMAN
Katie CRUZ Sally MERRY Gretchen SODERLUND
Hugh CUNNINGHAM Alessandra MEZZADRI James Brewer STEWART
Monisha DAS GUPTA Fabiola MIERES Inka STOCK
Simanti DASGUPTA Alice M. MILLER Kendra STRAUSS
Mike DOTTRIDGE Charles W. MILLS Judith SUNDERLAND
Roxanne Lynn DOTY Sverre MOLLAND Marcus TAYLOR
James ESSON Anne Elizabeth MOORE Patrizia TESTAI
Janine EWEN Vanessa MUNRO Teodora TODOROVA
Sara R. FARRIS Zuzanna MUSKAT-GORKA Jo VEAREY
Susan FERGUSON Jennifer MUSTO Lisa WADE
Jane FREEDMAN William MYERS Ronald WEITZER
Bill FRELICK Garrett NAGAISHI Karen WELLS
Nicola FRITH Alf NILSEN Lucy WILLIAMS
Judge FUDGE Luke NORONHA Rachel WILSHAW
Nicholas GENOVA Julia O’CONNELL DAVIDSON Edlie WONG
Global Network Of Sex Work Projects Sam OKYERE Tryon P. WOODS

Additional praise for Beyond Trafficking and Slavery


“Beyond Trafficking and Slavery is a revelation in our crowded universe of knowledge and advocacy about contemporary slavery. Its creators and editors have harnessed an astonishing collection of the best writing from around the world on current forced labour and trafficking. 'On History' is the heart of the project, a clear-eyed, myth-busting, scholarly challenge to a triumphal abolition story that must be embedded in historical understanding of centuries of slavery itself. 'On History' is the go-to place in the global quest to comprehend how and why slavery has never died”.

—David W. Blight, Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery and Abolition, Yale University

"In warning us not to see emancipation as being over and successful, the volume complicates our assumptions on abolition, advances the frontier of knowledge on so-called free labour, and challenges us to be part of a global network to advance human rights and work for the elimination of poverty".

—Toyin Falola, author of The African Diaspora, and Past President, African Studies Association

"The Beyond Slavery portal on Open Democracy is truly setting the bar higher for discourse around human trafficking, in terms of both analysis and solutions...The contributors and editors of the site offer us an alternative: as an advocate and former social worker, I am as refreshed by the pieces that offer a biting critique of the anti-trafficking field as I am by the pieces that offer solutions with a global sensibility. I learn something new with every visit."

—Tiffany Williams, Associate Director, Institute for Policy Studies (Washington DC)

“Essential reading for students of gender politics and for all those concerned with social justice. Provides critical tools for deciphering contemporary imagery around ‘trafficking’ and ‘slavery,’ and for responding to global inequities in more progressive ways.”

—Elizabeth Bernstein, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Sociology, Columbia University

“The team at Beyond Trafficking and Slavery do incredible work to advance public debate around trafficking, slavery and forced labour. The site has already become the go-to source for campaigners, workers organisations, and students. They are a major ally in our effort to protect workers’ and migrants’ rights, and to resist the spread of market fundamentalism.”

—Sharan Burrow, Secretary General of the International Trades Union Confederation

“The articles published by BTS so far have provided a much needed criticism by academics and activists towards the usual sensationalistic and simplistic representation of human trafficking as ‘bad people doing bad things to poor victims’... [They] offer solutions based on evidence and respect for human rights, rather than on the needs of white saviours to rescue damsels in distress.”

—Borislav Gerasimov, La Strada International

“BTS is a beacon for civil society organisations, and for anyone working to end extreme exploitation. It shines a spotlight not only on individual bad apple exploiters, but on the much more important structural root causes of this exploitation. There is nothing else like BTS out there; it makes raising awareness, organising, and challenging complacent governments easier.”

—Helga Konrad, former OSCE Special Representative for the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons

“This collection offers a cogent exploration of intersections of the politics of race, trafficking and ‘modern slavery’. It’s essential reading for grasping how modes of racism persist and mutate in maintaining domination in a global social order.”

—Dr Sanjay Sharma, Brunel University London


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