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Featured Abstract from #CrimJustAsia17 Conference

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This year the Crime and Justice Research Centre will co-host the Crime and Justice in Asia and the Global South International Conference with the Asian Criminological Society. The conference will be held in Cairns from 10-13 July 2017 and will feature international speakers:

  • Professor Rosemary Barberet, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (USA)
  • Professor Jianhong Liu, University of Macau
  • Professor Raewyn Connell, University of Sydney
  • Professor Chuen-Jim Sheu, National Tapei University
  • Professor Guoling Zhao Peking University, China
  • Professor Stephen Tomsen, University of Western Sydney
  • Professor Elliott Currie, University of California
  • Professor John Braithwaite, RegNet, ANU

Abstracts for the conference are now due by 31 March 2017!

To showcase the diversity of topics that will be presented during the conference, each week the CJRC blog will feature an accepted abstract from a presenter.

This week’s featured abstract is from CJRC researcher and Senior Lecturer, Dr Erin O’Brien, from the School of Justice, Faculty of Law.

Abstract title: “The conforming narrative of human trafficking”

Stories of human trafficking are prolific in the public domain. Often these stories compensate for the absence of reliable empirical data about trafficking. However, even when that data exists, stories are more likely to resonate and guide our understanding of the problem. This is due to the centrality of narrative in the way humans construct and derive meaning from the world around us. Stories of human trafficking are powerful and compelling, not just because of the horrors of exploitation they describe, but because they employ a narrative code to convey a great deal of information in a simple, and immediately understandable, format. 

Narratives of human trafficking, whether in news reports, documentaries, or fictional films and television programs, convey specific messages about who the victims of trafficking are, who the villains might be, and how the heroes can solve the problem. This research examines the trafficking narrative as presented in several destination countries – Australia, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. Through an analysis of trafficking stories, this research questions why a certain type of story, and a certain archetypal character, has become dominant. This paper argues that the dominant trafficking narrative resonates with target audiences in the Global North in large part because it does not overtly challenge strongly held preconceptions. These stories of trafficking conform to a ‘western worldview’, reflecting cultural assumptions within destination countries about migrant women, consumerism, and the Global South.

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