Reframing the "Modern Day Slavery" Paradigm in the U.S.: A Critical and Intersectional Look at Language, Images, and Stories in Anti-Human Trafficking Conversation


Megan Mattimoe, JD; RaShya Ghee & Kate D’Adamo | September 19 | 2:45-3:45 PM

Topic: Conceptual | Knowledge Level: Intermediate | Location: TBD

This presentation seeks to illuminate challenges presented and barriers related to the language and images used in anti-human trafficking work and formulate a better way forward. Specifically, the presenters consider the ways in which the diverse identities of people involved in trafficking situations, anti-human trafficking advocates, and the historical backdrop of the United States interacts with and impacts anti-human trafficking efforts. The presenters will discuss how anti-human trafficking language, imagery, and stories often inadvertently subvert objectives by shaping and influencing thinking, actions, attitudes, and the treatment of others in a non-comprehensive way. For example, how the imagery, language, and stories associated with referring to human-trafficking as "modern day slavery" is void of appropriate societal context, ostracizes and can offend victims and advocates, and recasts antebellum slavery in a sanitized light while retelling the story of American slavery as a rescue mission. This one example is a preview of how the presenters expect to deconstruct linguistic and visual tools to raise awareness and initiate a discussion for a more effective approach. The elucidation of such challenges is the departure point from which presenters and audience members will engage to formulate less constricting terms and work towards resolving such issues. At the conclusion of this presentation, attendees should have a basic understanding of subversive anti-human trafficking language choices and be able to identify better, concrete, options moving forward that more effectively accomplish the goal of discussing human-trafficking.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Highlight issues surrounding the language and imagery used in anti-human trafficking work

·  Discuss ideas for how to reframe our experiences

·  Set concrete objectives for participants to use going forward

About the Presenters