Protest repertoires have been relatively stable for a really long time. Petitions have been with us since the first anti-slavery movement. Boycotts for almost as long. Nothing changes, and then it does. The recent explosion of new tactics rooted in technological innovation has spelled promise and peril for movements, most of whom face formidable obstacles and better-resourced incumbents.
I’m as excited by this turn of events as anyone; much of my recent work has taken place in rural India, where the most sophisticated technology in sight is usually a Nokia candybar phone. Sometimes an exploited laborer sends an urgent midnight text calling for help. Sometimes.
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What fun to be asked about one’s own research! After finishing a PhD in sociology (Notre Dame, 2013) I took a job at a School of Public Policy in Europe. Best move ever. In what follows I sketch the three main veins of inquiry that have kept me busy recently.
A human rights approach to the contemporary anti-slavery movement
At present I am engaged in three primary lines of inquiry. The first involves the development of a human rights approach to contemporary slavery and human trafficking. A decade in the contemporary anti-slavery movement convinced me that current thinking within the movement was driven by Christian evangelical’s conceptualizations of salvation (here). But what’s the positive alternative? I initially sketched this out with one of my mentors (Alison Brysk) in a co-edited volume—From Human Trafficking to Human Rights (Penn 2012, here)—and developed more fully in two journal articles. Continue reading →