With new awards, humanities, social sciences college to progress scholarship on flexibility, sexuality

Q: How did you currently being working together after your respective arrivals at Brown?

Shih: We began at Brown at the identical time, and we received to know each other simply because we’re equally fellows at the Center for the Review of Slavery and Justice

I try to be pretty very careful about how the examine of “human trafficking” is affiliated with CSSJ. Just lately, it’s turn out to be fairly fashionable to equate contemporary sex trafficking with historical racial slavery — for occasion, calling human trafficking “modern-day slavery.” But this is incredibly dangerous and has destructive implications. It captivates individuals who truly feel guilt that their ancestors participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and moves them to converse out in opposition to trafficking, which sad to say tends to displace interest and funding from knowledge the historical past of chattel slavery and its modern day racial legacy.

I believe Emily’s and my work, taken alongside one another, highlights the complications and complexities of contemporary human trafficking though also delivering historic context for it and reminding men and women that we are continue to grappling with the results of racial slavery.

Owens: We have a collaborative CSSJ investigate cluster in the performs that will be referred to as Intercourse and Unfreedom. We in the beginning came up with the thought mainly because we uncovered we ended up mentoring, advising and serving with each other on several students’ thesis committees, which confirmed the similarities in our study focuses. Once we the two end our book assignments, we hope to launch that cluster and delve far more into the ways our do the job intersects. 

Q: How does your scholarship overlap?

Shih: I believe just one thing we’re both equally accomplishing is bringing forward tales of women’s present survival methods. In the early 2000s, the Global North, the United Nations and policymakers designed a narrative about human trafficking and framed the anti-trafficking motion as a humanitarian initiative. But students have revealed that what they really did was generate a extremely narrow definition of who can be identified as a sufferer of trafficking and who are not able to. They excluded migrants, undocumented employees and folks with any form of felony track record, for example. And they turned to the sector overall economy to “rescue” and “rehabilitate” these girls, training them in points like jewellery-generating and purse-stitching so they could make so-referred to as slave-no cost goods to be marketed in the U.S. It implied this thought that we can obtain somebody’s freedom. 

In my e-book, I’m asking: Alternatively than featuring new, current market-driven kinds of rescue and rehabilitation for victims of intercourse trafficking, how do we shift this by seeking at techniques that girls have been previously arranging? Like the ladies Emily is researching, how did sex employees locate their individual paths to flexibility when the condition wasn’t conferring it on them? 

Owens: A different website of convergence in our tasks is that we both of those explore the unique methods females have to present themselves in purchase to be acknowledged as a target. My operate uses court transcripts to fully grasp the lives of the ladies I examine. What is so hanging to me is the way they designed their arguments. They were being so savvy. They realized exactly what kinds of arguments would or would not assistance them get more free. They could not argue that slavery was completely wrong, or that a male beating up a woman was incorrect, simply because they understood that wouldn’t sway anybody at the time. Similarly, in Elena’s operate, you see intercourse workers currently being questioned to execute a certain kind of femininity, like taking a job building jewelry, in get to be presented as eligible for “rehabilitation.” Like the women I examine in the previous, marginalized gals in the present are strategizing inside, by and against a established of structures established up by people who are not basically fascinated in looking at them survive and prosper.

I assume ultimately we’re each arguing that laws, then and now, are structured in a way that would make it too easy to blame women of all ages for violence they’ve endured. To assistance us rethink sexual violence and how to react to it, the initial thing we want to do is to pay attention to ladies much more and acquire ladies far more critically.