Anti-Trafficking Review, Call for Papers

Anti-Trafficking Review, Call for Papers

25 January 2016

Where’s the Evidence? – Anti-Trafficking Review, Call for Papers, 1 July deadline

The Anti-Trafficking Review calls for papers for a themed issue entitled ‘Where’s the Evidence?’

Responses to, and international interest in, human trafficking have proceeded apace over the past 15 years in line with the adoption of the UN Trafficking Protocol. Yet, a great deal of anti-trafficking work is based on assumptions that are not well-proven and infrequently questioned. Why, for example, do some regions or groups emerge as trafficking hot-spots to become ‘intervention intensive’? How do anti-trafficking actors justify and explain the need to continue work in a particular area, or with a particular group? Similarly, anti-trafficking measures often continue in the absence of efforts to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. How, in these circumstances, can the value of anti-trafficking work be estimated? On what basis is funding continued or denied to organisations undertaking such interventions? There has been some critical reflection on these issues, with a number of critical commentators questioning the production, global circulation and validity of statistics on human trafficking in particular. Statistics often take on a life of their own, despite their often questionable genesis, whilst the place and value of qualitative approaches in the field is also open to some scrutiny. Qualitative research methods are not necessarily any more robust in this relatively young field, and critics have questioned unethical and sometimes directly harmful methods of both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis.

This special issue builds on such work, to critically explore the question of evidence in both the characterisation of human trafficking and in evaluating the merit of anti-trafficking work. Contributors are invited to engage with, but need not limit themselves to, the following questions:

  • What constitutes evidence to gain knowledge about and inform responses to human trafficking?
  • Is there a disjuncture between research and practice in anti-trafficking work? And why does so little anti-trafficking policy and practice appear informed by solid research and data?
  • What type of evidence is missing from current policy and practice?
  • What are the methodological complexities associated with research on human trafficking? How can more rigorous and robust research on trafficking be conducted?
  • What is - and indeed what should be - the role of research in the production of discourses about human trafficking? What are the impacts of anti-trafficking ‘truths’ on different groups who come under their purview? How do discourses of human trafficking create their own reality, and sometimes tautologically their own ‘evidence’?
  • What kinds of processes and relationships might facilitate an effective engagement between these two spheres of research and practice?
  • How well does current research offer political analyses and critique of structural and systemic failings that contribute to trafficking in persons?
  • What biases shape evidence on trafficking, and what evidence is shaping biases in anti-trafficking efforts?
  • Who is making decisions about what constitutes evidence of trafficking? In whose interest are decisions made – in the interests of trafficked persons, anti-trafficking actors, or others? What conflicts of interest exist for those making decisions?
  • What harms have resulted from evidence and its collection; from a lack of evidence; and/or from evidence that has gone unheeded?
  • What is (or should be) monitoring and evaluation anti-trafficking work? What might we learn from the risks and successes in other areas of M&E? What are the particular methodological challenges of evaluation for this sector?
  • Is research on human trafficking useful if it is not directly driven by, or related to policy and practice goals?

The Debate Section of this issue will invite authors to defend or reject the following proposition: ‘Global trafficking prevalence data advances the fight against trafficking in persons.’

The content of this news item was taken from Anti-Trafficking Review