Call for Papers: Technology, Anti-Trafficking, and Speculative Futures


Call for Papers: Technology, Anti-Trafficking, and Speculative Futures


Guest Editors: Jennifer Musto and Mitali Thakor 

Deadline for Submissions: 8 May 2019


The Anti-Trafficking Review calls for papers for a special issue themed 'Technology, Anti-Trafficking, and Speculative Futures'. 

In the last decade, scholars, activists, and policymakers have repeatedly called for an examination of the role of technology as a contributing force to human trafficking and labour exploitation. In the dominant anti-trafficking imaginary, traffickers are presumed to be tech-savvy exploiters, contrasted with victims assumed to be at heightened risk of violence and harm because of technological manipulation.

Despite government, corporate, non-governmental, and media efforts linking trafficking to technologies, the distinct ways in which technology shapes anti-trafficking efforts remains understudied. A mix of affects ranging from fears that particular technologies directly contribute to trafficking to hopes that technology will solve forced labour have further blunted a critical examination about how tech-facilitated anti-trafficking activities are tied to surveillance, policing, and border enforcement. Moreover, the explosive growth of networked, predictive, and automated technologies makes new tools available to respond to trafficking, raising pressing questions about the human rights implications of integrating technology into counter-trafficking efforts.

This special issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review will explore how technology discursively shapes and practically reformulates anti-trafficking efforts. We invite empirical papers describing how technology has been integrated into anti-trafficking activities on the ground as well as papers documenting how technologies - and laws governing their use - implicate and directly impact trafficked people, migrants, sex workers, and other workers based in informal and unregulated labour sectors. We further welcome conceptual papers that consider theoretical framings of technology at the intersection of ethics, governance, and humanitarianism and which explore extant or new frameworks for accountability and data protection. Finally, we invite speculative papers that look to the future and creatively assess how technologies may undo, recalibrate, and redefine understandings about rights, work, vulnerability, personhood and shape the future of organising and visions of justice.

Contributors are invited to respond to, but need not limit themselves to, the following questions:

  • What accounts for the emergence of the 'tech' discourse in anti-trafficking? How is it that technology is seen as both a facilitator and disruptor of trafficking?
  • What explains state, NGO, and corporate preoccupations with technology, and what are the implications of such fears and aspirations? How do state and non-state actors collaborate in counter-trafficking efforts?
  • What empirical data exists about the impact and efficacy of integration of technology into anti-trafficking activities? What does accountability look like in measurements of effectiveness?
  • How are mobile apps, blockchain, drones, predictive and facial recognition software and other technologies being used to identify forced labour situations, assist trafficked persons, and/or prosecute traffickers? What are the intersecting gendered, racial, and class ramifications of these data-driven efforts?
  • How is technology used to resist punitive policies?
  • What role does technology play in agitating for the rights of trafficked people, migrants, sex workers, and other informal and marginalised workers?
  • What are the legal, social and health consequences of regulating, legally restricting, or criminalising the use of particular technologies?
  • Has surveillance and profiling at borders as well as other locations led to the actual identification of victims of trafficking? Is data gathered to curb trafficking used for other purposes and to what effect? How do we balance the continued calls for data collection and analysis with data protection?
  • How will automated technologies shape the future of work? Is the framework of 'trafficking' - and by extension 'anti-trafficking' - technically fluent and conceptually adequate in accounting for the displacement of workers and precarious working conditions that may accompany automation in myriad labour sectors? Is a new framework needed to address posthuman automated futures?


Deadline for submissions: 8 May 2019.

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


In addition to full-length conceptual, research-based, or case study focused thematic papers, we invite shorter, blog-style pieces of 1,000-1,200 words connected to the issue theme that focus on recent policies and newsworthy developments.

Special Issue to be published in April 2020.


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 migration. 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: Web of Science, ProQuest, Ebsco Host, Ulrich's, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Directory of Open Access Journals, WorldCat, Google Scholar, CrossRef, CNKI and ScienceOpen. 


We advise those interested in submitting to follow the Review's style guide and submission procedures, available at Manuscripts should be submitted in line with the issue's theme. Email the editorial team at with any queries.


Thematic Issue Guest Editors: Jennifer Musto and Mitali Thakor

Editor: Borislav Gerasimov