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Dr Charlotte Beyer's research

My part of our research project examines the representation of transnational child trafficking in crime fiction from Britain, Ireland and Denmark.  The significance of investigating the nuances of these representations, and explore their capacity for contributing to a better public understanding and awareness of child trafficking, is becoming increasingly evident. Although recent work has recognised the particular vulnerability of women and children, the specific area of child trafficking and its representation has thus far received relatively little attention from critics and scholars, or the media.
My research investigates the thematic and textual methods employed in twenty-first century crime fiction to portray transnational trafficking of children and young people. This involves a consideration of how texts incorporate existing and new information about transnational trafficking, how they represent differing kinds of trafficking, and the textual and thematic means by which they le…

Ilse Ras reflects on slavery and human trafficking

I used slavery as one of the core search terms for my data collection ( 2013 marked the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s signing of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves, so as a result of this anniversary and the use of this search term, there is a substantial number of articles in the human trafficking corpus discussing historical slavery, rather than contemporary human trafficking.  One definitional concern, therefore, is whether historical slavery, as in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and, in particular, the exploitation of African people on American plantations, could be considered a form of human trafficking.
It certainly should be, if the principles of the Palermo Protocol are followed – historical slavery entailed the transnational movement of people, using coercion (in particular physical bondage and violence) as well as deception, for the purposes of exploit…

Dr Nina Muždeka explains what she will examine in her research

As a complex issue, transnational human trafficking invites  debate facilitated by the role of media as both a contemporary watchdog and a modern forum for showcasing diverse viewpoints. In the analysis of the transnational human trafficking coverage in the news media within the domain of narrative theory and the theoretical framework of poststructuralism, the following two aspects appear to be crucial:
(1)  The role of news media, as a forum for expressing different opinions in relation to the causes and solutions to human trafficking, in the construction of public opinion and response to the issue, as well as in the formation and implementation of policy on human trafficking, exemplified by the choices they make in reporting on the issue, and
(2)  The application of the contemporary narrative theory to the analysis of news media texts as means to construct meaning and reality, which details and explains the importance of the process of story-telling and the structural elements of the …

Dr Melissa Dearey's research

My part in this project is to conduct more intensely case-study based qualitative textual analysis of a small number of key texts in the non-fictional or ‘true crime’ genre. The main focus will be on popular documentary televisual representations of human trafficking in the UK today. The primary source I will be analysing is the narrative construction of present day human trafficking in the UK in the recent Al Jazeera produced documentary Britain’s Modern Slave Trade – Al Jazeera Investigates (2016). These narratives will be compared and contrasted to others presented in contemporary popular audio-visual representations of human trafficking in the true crime format and how these shape and influence, and are shaped and influenced by, popular epistemologies and mythologies of human trafficking. In this context, I will also be exploring the development and evolution in the ‘true crime’ genre in the context of present day representations of human trafficking.
The main themes I will focus o…

Principal Investigator Dr Christiana Gregoriou on her research

As principal investigator of the project, I am analysing English print media-specific human trafficking representation. The analysis is critical discourse analytic and qualitative. For this part of the project, a sample corpus needed to be extracted from the large English language media text corpus (of around 80,000 texts) Ilse Ras’s research method generated ( We looked at graph spikes where large numbers of these human trafficking-related texts were generated; from the 2000-2016 period, the sample corpus texts were hence limited to the periods of April 2001, March 2007, November 2013, Summer 2015 and May 2016. Employing Laurence Anthony’s ProtAnt software so as to trace prototypical corpus texts within these spikes enabled the generation of a sample corpus of a manageable set of 67 news texts of various length and spike-distribution.
The literature review around human trafficking rep…

Ilse Ras reports on her research on British newspapers

My role in the project is to collect and analyse a corpus of British newspaper articles, published between 2000 and 2016, on the topic of human trafficking. A corpus is nothing more than a collection of texts, and corpus linguistics is the field that uses corpora (the plural of corpus) to draw conclusions about language use.
Collecting corpora is not always a straightforward endeavour, in particular when the topic under investigation is sometimes misunderstood by the public, the media, and even legislators. For instance, human trafficking may also be known as ‘modern slavery’, and may encompass such crimes such as organ harvesting, forced labour, and domestic servitude. Furthermore, there is an ongoing debate about whether sex work should always be considered a form of exploitation and trafficking. Finally, it may not always be clear whether someone has been trafficked (i.e. moved using coercion or deception for the purposes of exploitation), or smuggled (i.e. voluntarily but irregularl…