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Unintended victims of humanitarian anti-slavery measures


Project Description

This project is one of three PhD scholarships exploring the consequences of modern slavery. You will research the impact of humanitarian anti-slavery measures on the livelihoods of the population groups these measures are intended to protect, especially those of children and young people.

In response to global initiatives such as the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, recent legislation in some sub-Saharan African countries has sought to ban child labour in order to meet ethical and fair trade requirements.

This study will conduct fieldwork on tea plantations in Malawi to understand the impact of such bans on tea estates that no longer employ under-18 year olds.

The Wilberforce Institute places high importance on the contribution of its PhD students to the research agenda of the Institute. Our students meet regularly for the exchange and discussion of ideas and successful applicants will be expected to play a central role in the intellectual and administrative development of the cluster, as well as its outputs.

For further information contact the supervisors or the team lead:

Dr Judith Spicksley ()

More about this research team

You will be part of a team of researchers exploring critical questions of victimology in modern slavery studies. The team aims to investigate critically the problems experienced by those living with the consequences of modern slavery, whether directly as victim of exploitation, or indirectly as victims of the measures put in place to prevent it.

This team of researchers focuses attention on the pitfalls of intervention as well as the benefits. There are two strands. Currently there is much emphasis on identifying those affected by modern forms of slavery through raids and rescue operations, known as the carceral approach (Bernstein, 2012). The attribution of victim status and hence their access to support, protection and justice, is entirely dependent on a series of bureaucratic processes known for their inaccuracy and bias in decision-making (ATMG, 2010; Arocha, 2013).

At the same time, it is clear that there are significant gaps in our knowledge about what it is that allows differential access to justice: while some victims have been able to secure a successful outcome, many others have not.

The first strand of these scholarships has two elements, being concerned on the one hand with an investigation of the experience of those victims as witnesses in the court process, and on the other with the ongoing experiences of victims in the medium to long-term as they move on with their lives.

The second strand examines the experience of those prevented from exercising their human rights because of restrictions placed on them by measures put in place, both locally and internationally, to prevent the emergence of modern slavery. Together these three scholarships will allow us to understand the mechanisms and impact of three decades of policies and interventions aimed at eradicating modern slavery, and provide a blueprint for improving the lives of those who have had to live through this.

The Wilberforce Institute brings together experts in humanities, law and social sciences to help tackle this global problem head on. Through our research and practice, we give leaders and communities the tools they need to help shape a better future.

We actively partner with governments, NGOs, communities, businesses and other organisations to inform policy, practice and public participation at a local, national and international level.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a 1st class undergraduate degree and Masters level qualification in Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology, Human Geography, Law or any other cognate discipline, together with relevant research experience. A 2:1 may be considered, if combined with relevant experience.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 16 March 2020 at the latest.

Studentships will start on 21 September 2020.

Funding Notes

This is a funded scholarship over a three year period for full-time study. The funding you receive will cover the fees for your PhD programme and also an annual maintenance grant at the level of UKRI (£15,009 in 2019/20).

There is an optional writing up period if you need to complete your thesis after the three year period of your research degree, for which there is a small charge. Your maintenance grant will not cover you during this optional writing up period.

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