A Research Associate with the Right’s Lab’s Antislavery Usable Past Project, focussing on usable photographic images in both activism and education. Crucially, I scope the photographic culture of contemporary antislavery.
As we work to achieve the goal of ending slavery, we need to listen to the antislavery ideas and solutions of enslaved people themselves: what do survivors suggest would enable their communities to become not just slavery-free but slavery-proof? We are creating, analysing and utilizing the first major development resource of contemporary slave narratives. We argue that contemporary slave narratives are a central facet of the antislavery agenda and we place survivors' ideas, including those of children, at the heart of the antislavery movement. This includes a mapping of survivor accounts onto the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to answer the question: which SDG achievements are more likely to prevent or end enslavement, from the point of view of slaves themselves? Underpinning all our work to uncover the Survivors’ Solution for ending slavery is our support for a Survivor Alliance: an international survivor-led organization that focuses on leadership development and capacity building for survivors of slavery and human trafficking.
We examine contemporary antislavery influencing techniques, argumentation, rhetoric, visual culture, and adaptations of past antislavery methods. We are examining the dynamics behind the antislavery imagination: the literary, visual and rhetorical culture of contemporary antislavery. Our team is assessing the efficacy of antislavery campaigns and tactics; exploring which laws, definitions, philosophies, literary devices, images, opinion-building activities and organisational strategies were useful to earlier antislavery generations, and how they might be useful for contemporary abolitionists in adapted form; and placing contemporary antislavery in a multi-century history of activist print culture, visual culture and performance techniques.
We offer the first corpus linguistics approach to slave narratives and slavery discourse, working with data from NGOs, social media, data generated through the Rights Lab itself, and industry data from recent disclosure legislation. In our first strand, Record and Represent, we combine research on corpus linguistics and privacy preserving search to understand how language data generated by vulnerable groups in society can be collected and processed in a manner that preserves the privacy of the individuals who create it. In our second strand, Fractured Identities, we use innovative, cutting-edge approaches from sociolinguistics to establish shifting patterns of identity as individuals tell narratives of their time enslaved. This analysis will enable policy makers and other key stakeholders to gain direct access to the experiences of those who have been enslaved in their own voices. We are further using corpus linguistics to examine large quantities of media language, in order to study the representation of slaves by different agencies and link this back to the experiences expressed by slaves themselves.
Zoe Trodd is the Director of the Rights Lab, and an expert on antislavery past and present. Her focus is multidisciplinary strategies for ending slavery.