'Trafficking Representations' Call for Papers, Anti-Trafficking Review Thematic Issue


Deadline for Submission: 8 January 2016

The Anti-Trafficking Review calls for papers for a themed issue entitled ‘Trafficking Representations.’ Work that migrants do in the sex industry and other irregular employment sectors is increasingly characterised as exploitation and trafficking. Representations of trafficking and forced labour are pervasive within media, policymaking, and humanitarian debates, discourses and interventions. Of late, the notion of ‘modern slavery’ is on show in campaigns aiming to raise funds and awareness about anti-trafficking among corporate and local enterprises and the general public. Celebrity interventions, militant documentaries, artistic works and fiction films have all become powerful vectors of distribution of the trafficking and ‘modern slavery’ rhetoric. These offer simplistic solutions to complex issues without challenging the structural and causal factors of inequality. They also tend to entrench racialised narratives; present a narrow depiction of an ‘authentic victim;’ and confuse sex work with trafficking. Such representations play a key role in legitimising oftentimes problematic rescue operations that can involve criminalisation, detention and arrest of both non-trafficked and trafficked persons as well a justifying restrictive labour and migration laws that exacerbate migrants’ precarious living and work situations.

This issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review will seek to explore the specific ways in which different forms of representation erase the complexity of the life trajectories of people who have experienced trafficking, as well as those of migrants, women, sex workers and others who are labelled as trafficked according to the rhetoric of neoliberal humanitarianism. At the same time, the special issue is interested in ways in which popular representations of trafficking and modern slavery have weakened the efforts to gain a better understanding of how social, economic and political inequalities and labour exploitation are produced and maintained in various locations.

In addition, this issue also welcomes alternative artistic, scholarly and activist attempts to produce counter-representations of trafficking and ‘modern slavery’ in films, literature, art, theatre and social media, as well as reflections on those.

Authors may be interested in addressing the following themes:


  • The embedding of anti-trafficking campaigns within corporate marketing and social responsibility campaigns including the creation of goods made by formerly trafficked persons
  • The use of interactive technology to promote anti-trafficking representations and fundraising
  • Political representations of trafficking and anti-trafficking, including in social activism
  • The impact of the reframing of trafficking as ‘modern slavery’ in popular discourse on trafficked persons and on others also affected by anti-trafficking campaigns and interventions
  • The human rights implications of the representations of sex workers only as victims of trafficking
  • The politics, aesthetics, and ethics of documentary and artistic representations and counter-representations of trafficking
  • Fictional and documentary representations of trafficking being used as evidence in public debates and in court
  • Resisting anti-trafficking through art, celebrity and other spectacular forms of anti-trafficking humanitarianism
  • The disjuncture between representations of trafficking and the everyday lived realities of potentially and actually trafficked persons including their own self-representations.


The Review promotes a human rights based approach to anti-trafficking, exploring anti-trafficking in a broader context including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights. Academics, practitioners, trafficked persons and advocates are invited to submit articles. Contributions from those living and working in developing countries are particularly welcome. The journal is a freely available, open access publication with a readership in over 100 countries. The Anti-Trafficking Review is abstracted/indexed/ tracked in: ProQuest, Ebsco Host, Ulrich’s, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Directory of Open Access Journals, WorldCat, Google Scholar and CrossRef.

Deadline for submission: 8 January 2016

Word count for submissions: 4,000 - 6,000 words, including footnotes, author bio and abstract

Special Issue to be published in Autumn 2016

We advise those interested in submitting to follow the Review’s style guide and submission procedures, available here.

Manuscripts should be submitted in line with the issue’s theme. Email the editorial team at atr@gaatw.org with any queries.

Thematic Issue Guest Editors: Rutvica Andrijasevic, University of Bristol, and Nicola Mai, Kingston University, London.

Editor: Rebecca Napier-Moore