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Conference - Beyond Silos

Beyond Silos: Amplifying Marginal Voices and Under-Explored Methods in Human Trafficking Research



16th-17th June 2022 


Call for Papers   

‘Nothing about us, without us.’ This is a sentiment that people affected by human trafficking policy have long asserted in human trafficking discourse. Yet, non-profit organisations and policymakers alike often render affected populations invisible out of convenience. Worse, human trafficking policies may be actively harmful to affected populations. Without the voices and experiences of human trafficking survivors, research and policy can never be truly complete, or helpful. Additionally, individuals affected by human trafficking policies may have useful and necessary critiques to levy, unique to their lived experience. By invalidating or invisibilising such individuals, we risk overlooking or undermining their contributions to research – potentially as researchers in their own right. 

Among the more common approaches to human trafficking is the criminal legal approach. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons was drafted within the framework of criminal justice and border control. The 3-Ps approach that followed (protection, prevention, prosecution) only further solidified this law enforcement framework. However, the complexities of human trafficking, its past, present, and future, necessitate multi- and interdisciplinary approaches, particularly those that are underexplored and innovative in nature. Mainstreaming these myriad methodologies into research, advocacy, and policymaking is necessary to truly eradicate the factors that make human trafficking, and exclusionary policies resulting from a criminal law enforcement approach, possible across so many industries. 

Against this background, the Human Trafficking Research Network at the QUB Human Rights Centre will host the conference ‘Beyond Silos: Amplifying Marginal Voices and Under-Explored Methods in Human Trafficking Research’ on 16th-17th June 2022. We invite contributions broadly addressing, but not limited to, the following questions:   

  • To what extent are the lived experiences of affected populations (broadly conceived) reflected in anti-trafficking laws, policy and advocacy?
  • How can affected populations be included in research and policy-making and what challenges exist in this context?
  • How are “trafficked persons” conceptualised in law, policy and advocacy, and does this help or hinder the “fight” against trafficking?
  • How can affected populations’ diverse lived experiences inform anti-trafficking law and policy?
  • What might be alternative means of conceptualising or understanding human trafficking?
  • To what extent might research methods inform (harmful) policy-making or otherwise uplift the lived experiences of affected populations?
  • What are some research ethics that could militate against harmful policymaking?

The event is aimed at PhD and early career researchers, as well as practitioners, as a place for networking and discussion on human trafficking research. We welcome perspectives on this topic from disciplines such as, but certainly not limited to, law, politics, criminology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, and visual and interactive arts. We invite abstracts for individual papers which will be grouped into thematic panels to discuss and amplify marginal voices and under-explored methodologies. Each paper will be followed by feedback and a discussion with participants. We especially encourage people from groups that are underrepresented in trafficking policy and research, such as people from affected populations, to participate in the conference.    

The conference will conclude with a keynote address (details TBC in due course).   

The aforementioned questions may be answered in the context of, but not limited to, the following issues:

  • The gender dimension to trafficking.
  • “Feminist” foreign policy.
  • Racialisation and othering.
  • Health and wellbeing.
  • Immigration policies.
  • Labour law and working conditions.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of different research methods (broadly conceived) in human trafficking research.
  • Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to human trafficking research.
  • Survivors and affected populations as (formal or informal) researchers.
  • Particular methodological approaches, such as TWAIL, post-colonial or feminist methods 

We invite interested researchers to send abstracts in word document format (250 words max) to by 15 March 2022. Please include your name, position and institution (if applicable). Accepted applicants will be informed by 15 April 2022. If you have any queries about the conference, please contact the organisers at and follow the QUB Human Rights Centre on Twitter (@QUBHRC) for updates about the event. 

This conference is being co-organised by Irina Fehr (Tilburg University), Cherisse Francis (University of Warwick), Maja Grundler (QMUL), Gillian Kane (Queen’s University Belfast), Neiha Lasharie (University of Wisconsin Law School), Muiread Murphy (Maynooth University), Dr Siliva Rodríguez-López (University of A Coruña), Ileana-Maria Turda (University of Central Lancashire), and Isotta Rossoni (Leiden University).

Human Trafficking Research Network
Human Trafficking Research Network