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Methodological Challenges with Research in Trafficked Persons by Denise Brennan

This article is intended to discuss methodological challenges to conducting research with trafficked persons in the United States. It draws from my experiences as an anthropologist involved in an ongoing book project on life after trafficking.1 By exploring the methodological difficulties and ethical concerns that I have faced as an anthropologist, I hope to lay bare some of the methodological challenges that researchers across disciplines, particularly social scientists who rely on ethnographic research, are likely to confront when examining this issue. The central focus of this article is on the possibilities of collaboration between academic researchers, trafficked persons, and social service providers on advocacy, research and writing projects, as well as on the possibilities of trafficked persons speaking and writing for themselves. It also considers the role trafficked persons can play in building what the media and activists loosely term the “anti-trafficking movement” and asks what would have to happen for them to move beyond their “victim” status where they are called upon to provide “testimony” about trafficking, to participating in the decision making of the direction of the movement. Since it identifies obstacles to trafficked persons (to whom I refer to in this article as ex-captives)2 taking the podium and picking up a pen, it explores ways to mitigate potential problems when researchers “speak for” ex-captives.

Methodological Challenges in Research on Human Trafficking: Tales from the Field 

Related posts:

  1. Ending Forced Labor by Securing Immigrant Workers’ Rights by Denise Brennan
  2. Competing Claims of Victimhood? Foreign and Domestic Victims of Trafficking in the United States by Denise Brennan
  3. UNRISD Research and Policy Brief: Religion, Politics, and Gender Equality