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Trafficking and Sex Work

Members of this research cluster critically examine key narratives about the cross-border movement of persons. It is premised on the argument that, despite global and local anti-trafficking provisions, the definition and enforcement of laws and policies regarding human trafficking are based primarily on assumptions about victimization, sex work, and migrant and racialized women’s vulnerability to exploitation. In particular, the research of members of this cluster is aimed at disrupting common misconceptions about human trafficking from a transnational feminist perspectives, while also situating the Canadian experience and evolving legal and policy frameworks within the international context.

Faculty and students in the group come from York University, but also from other institutions in the Toronto region. They represent a variety of disciplinary backgrounds including:  women’s studies, social science, socio-legal studies, and political science.

Members of the research cluster have a number of goals:

  1. Critically examining key narratives about the cross-border movement of persons for work in sex industries and explore alternative ways of thinking about “sex trafficking.”
  2. Critically examining discourses of "modern-day slavery" in the context of globalization and human rights.
  3. Fostering dialogues within and among those concerned about human trafficking discourses.
  4. Advancing research and policy development and providing tools and resources to communities directly affected by anti-trafficking interventions.


White Supremacy, Racism, and the Coloniality of Anti-Trafficking (Routledge, forthcoming 2022)

What is Trafficking in a region built on exploitation? Thoughts from the Caribbean (2020)

On Migration, Sex Work, and the Pandemic in the Caribbean (2020)

A Sex Work Research Symposium: Examining Positionality in Documenting Sex Work and Sex Workers' Rights (2017)

Challenging Trafficking Policy Brief (2017)

Sex Work Research Symposium (2016)

Symposium Proceedings (Published in 2012): From Bleeding Hearts to Critical Thinking: Exploring the Issue of Human Trafficking