Call for Papers: Public Perceptions and Responses to Human Trafficking


Public Perceptions and Responses to Human Trafficking

Guest Editors: Kiril Sharapov and Suzanne Hoff

Deadline for submissions: 9 December 2018

Despite the increasing volume of critical appraisals by NGOs, academics and activists, dominant anti-trafficking policy and media discourses continue to favour a series of simplistic binaries. These binaries (victim – criminal, legal – illegal, free – unfree, deserving victims – fallen women, and so on) overlook the complexity of political, cultural, economic and individual contexts in which human trafficking and exploitation occur. In addition, the re-emergence of the powerful rhetoric of ‘trafficking as modern slavery’ makes it difficult to distinguish between different forms of exploitation and abuse, and places heavy restraints on mobility and rights of people on the move.

Informed by such reductive interpretations, a number of public awareness campaigns have proliferated, warning us – depending on who and where we are – how not to become a victim of human trafficking, or how to identify and report one. These campaigns draw upon specific narratives of suffering and abuse (as explored in Issue 7 of the Anti-Trafficking Review) and spill into the everyday life of largely unsuspecting individuals. In response, a range of anti-trafficking (or ‘anti-slavery’) actions by members of the public has sprung up including but not limited to anti-trafficking vigilantes and paramilitaries, ‘reality tourism’ and ‘advocacy tourism’, standing, running, or dancing to end human trafficking, and ‘clicktivism’, including liking, re-tweeting and sharing anti-trafficking campaigns on social media. By enabling such new types of user participation and ignorance production around human trafficking (where ignorance must be seen as not just a lack of knowledge but as deliberately produced and productive), such awareness campaigns and responses re-enact and re-establish another binary of uninformed – informed (and ready to act) members of the general public.

This issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review will aim to explore perceptions, knowledge (and ignorance) and responses of the general public vis-à-vis human trafficking and related exploitation. It will also discuss the diversity of anti-trafficking awareness-raising actions and their impact, and whether they can actually help reduce exploitation and human trafficking.

Contributors are invited to engage with, but need not limit themselves to, the following questions:

  • What does public awareness of human trafficking entail and how can it be measured/assessed? What are the empirical data already available?
  • What are some of the methodological challenges of assessing public attitudes towards/knowledge of human trafficking, including within the context of the escalating migration ‘crises’?
  • What is the actual impact, including unintended or negative impact, of human trafficking awareness campaigns? Do they reach their intended target groups or, rather, ‘preach to the converted’?
  • Why so much effort has been put into raising public awareness of this crime in comparison to other serious and more prevalent crimes?
  • What are the current most widespread types of anti-trafficking responses (action or inaction) by the general public and how useful and effective are they? Does ‘clicktivism’ matter and work?
  • What should meaningful and effective anti-trafficking action by members of the general public entail? Are there examples of grassroots, bottom-up awareness actions that work?
  • Can we change and/or prevent the ‘evil’ of public ignorance (knowing but not responding)?
  • What effect does the reintroduction of the terminology of ‘(modern) slavery’ have on public perceptions of human trafficking? Do ‘modern slavery’ disclosures by businesses have any impact on the general public’s consumption practices and is the idea of social change via ethical consumption by informed individuals a utopia?


Deadline for submissions: 9 December 2018

Word count for full article submissions: 4,000 - 6,000 words, including footnotes, author bio and abstract.


In addition to full-length conceptual, research-based, or case study focused thematic papers, we invite the submission of shorter, blog-style pieces of 1000-1200 words, which are relevant to the issue theme. We particularly welcome contributions from those with direct experience with the issue, as well as from authors from or based in the global South. We also invite book reviews or book review essays (comparing 2-3 books). 


Special Issue to be published in September 2019.


The Review promotes a human rights based approach to anti-trafficking, exploring anti-trafficking in a broader context, including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights. Academics, practitioners, trafficked persons and advocates are invited to submit articles. Contributions from those living and working in developing countries are particularly welcome.

The journal is a freely available, open access publication with a readership in over 100 countries. The Anti-Trafficking Review is abstracted/indexed/tracked in: Web of Science, ProQuest, Ebsco Host, Ulrich’s, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Directory of Open Access Journals, WorldCat, Google Scholar, CrossRef, CNKI and ScienceOpen. 

We advise those interested in submitting to follow the Review's style guide and submission procedures, available at Manuscripts should be submitted in line with the issue's theme. Email the editorial team at with any queries.

Thematic Issue Guest Editors:  Kiril Sharapov and Suzanne Hoff

Editor: Borislav Gerasimov