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Omo Colis

"Back in Nigeria anytime I wanted to pluck mango, this is how I pluck it. I had a farm from when I was 13 years old. My grandmother gave me the land because no money, no one go to school. So they give me the land. I cleared the land, plant cassava, plant mango. I went there to harvest it, then I sell it and get some money so I will take care of my brother, pay for his school fees. That is why I hold this tree. Anytime I see this picture I will remember. The land was far. Maybe if I didn’t have anything to do at home I would go to the farm, clear it there, clean the farm. I use cassava to make fufu or fry gari. Then I do palm oil. So from there we sold them. After that there is not a lot of money... even the land, if I plant fruit nothing will go well. So someone came in order to help me, so that I can go to school and a lot of things. From there they took me, this person, I didn’t even know that he want to sell me at Libya. Then he sell me from there, then another person sell me." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Omo Colis, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Stef

"I took this photo because it’s my shoes. I separated them and if you watch carefully it’s two different shoes. One is rotten and the other it’s a little bit new. It signifies my feet, and my feet signify my journey—one behind and one ahead. The one behind represents back then—Nigeria, Libya—it was so horrible, and that’s why you see that rotten shoe. If you check properly, the colour, the way it is, shows it was so… It’s something that reminds me of so much pain and it’s hard. It has to be behind me. The one at the front is life—this is my current stay in Europe. You understand, it’s a step I have to take: one behind and one in the front." This image was taken as part of the Voice of Freedom workshop in Asti, Italy, working with ten Nigerian women trafficked through Libya to Italy. The title of the photograph refers to the name of the individual who took the photograph, and not the figure therein.  Photo: Stef, courtesy of Voice of Freedom.

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Alex Henry

My work with the Rights Lab is based around the Antislavery Usable Past project. In particular I am looking into how images and photographs of the Holocaust have been used by museums and memorial sites around the world.

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Runa Lazzarino

A part-time research fellow within the Care and Custody Lever which aims at understanding both survivors and perpetrators’ mental health needs in order to pioneer an ad hoc therapeutic programme. I started investigating human trafficking and post-slavery life in 2010.

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Minh Dang

A Ph.D. Student in the School of Politics and International Relations studying the wellbeing of survivors of human trafficking and slavery. She is a member of the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, where she will launch the Survivor Alliance, a leadership capacity-building organization for survivors of slavery and human trafficking.

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Errolinda Ward

A Research Associate with the Rights Lab's Slavery-Free Communities project. One of my aims is to develop collaborative research with the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) and anti-slavery partnerships across the Midlands, building the evidence base for local and community-based anti-slavery interventions.

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Charlotte James

A research associate for the Rights Lab’s Antislavery Usable Project, exploring the use of visual culture in the modern abolition movement. My focus is on murals and I am creating a database of modern antislavery murals across a variety of topics from around the world.

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Caroline Emberson

Caroline joined the University of Nottingham in March 2017. She is working, with Dr Alexander Trautrims, on the Rights Lab ‘Unchained supply’ project which engages closely with practitioners to better understand, and to effect change in, modern slavery supply chain risk.

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Juliana Semione

A research associate on the Slavery Free Communities project. I am passionate about facilitating and improving community partnerships so that those partnerships can improve care, services, and ultimately quality of life for survivors of modern slavery.

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Andrea Nicholson

Andrea Nicholson is a team lead with the Rights Lab, a university Beacon of Excellence, where she leads the project Survivors’ Solutions. Her research draws on history, cultures, literature and psychology to interpret the law and frameworks surrounding contemporary slavery, focusing on the value and application of survivors´ narratives to anti-slavery strategies.

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The Survivors' Solution

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.  

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The Antislavery Imagination

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.

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The Peace Dividend

One of the first casualties of conflict is the rule of law, and in the absence of legal protections slavery flourishes. The conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burma, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Northern Uganda, and more recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Syria, and Mali have all been marked by enslavement used as a weapon against vulnerable populations. The conflicts in both Afghanistan and Colombia, two of the most long-lasting and destructive wars this century, involved the extensive use of child soldiers. Today the conflict in the Middle East and the resulting refugee crisis is fuelling a rapid growth in human smuggling leading to trafficking and enslavement. Conflict is driving slavery and human trafficking, and the profits of trafficking then fuel combatant groups. At the same time, the past 20 years of experience in the liberation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of slaves has demonstrated a clear “freedom dividend” which strongly supports peace and stability. In this comprehensive study of slavery and conflict, we aim to show whether ending slavery significantly reduces the likelihood of conflict and breaks the cycle of pervasive violence. Our thesis: slavery breeds conflict, freedom births peace. We are explaining the historical and contemporary extent of slavery within conflict, the role that slavery plays in supporting and fostering conflict, the potential for a ‘peace dividend’ arising from slavery reduction and for a ‘freedom dividend’ arising from conflict reduction. We aim to help the global antislavery movement understand the process by which those enslaved in conflict can be brought to a sound footing in a free and safe society.

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The Migration-Slavery Nexus

The last few decades have seen a rapid increase in complex migration-refugee flows between countries, as well as a growing public and policy concern around whether displaced people are vulnerable to human trafficking and slavery. However, there is little empirical research that establishes the links between migration and slavery. Instead the issues are treated separately. This project therefore bridges the gap and offers a large-scale study of the intersection between migration and contemporary slavery.   We are answering the questions: what are the processes through which migrants get trafficked and/or enslaved, within the context of ‘sending’, ‘transit’ and ‘receiving’ country environments? What are the lived experiences of migrants who are victims of trafficking and enslavement? What is the intersection between migration, forced marriage and slavery, within the context of both sending and receiving environments? What is the interface of migration, slavery and health in the context of traumatised migrants and refugees, especially those residing in camps? What potential sustainable interventions/practical solutions can help to address the challenges faced by deprived migrant communities (including the formerly enslaved and refugees residing in camps)? We engage with the lived experiences of different groups of migrants and the national, regional and international environments that induce slavery as well as the policies and responses to both migration and contemporary slavery.

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Bethany Jackson

My Rights Lab-funded research focuses on finding innovative ways to use geospatial technology to help combat the issue of contemporary slavery. I am a team member with the Slavery Observatory project.

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Jessica Wardlaw

A Research Associate with the Rights Lab's Slavery Observatory project. My research interests span Geography (including Web GIS, cartography, spatial cognition and knowledge construction, health geography) and Human-Computer Interaction (from applied aspects such as user-centred design, usability engineering and design practice, to cognitive aspects including sense- and decision-making, information visualisation and affective interaction design), especially as it applies to geographical and so-called "Big" data. I am especially interested in the boundary between amateur and professional, and human and machine, capabilities.

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The Rights Compass

The extensive growth in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methodologies for development work worldwide has not been replicated for the work of slavery liberation and reintegration. With some exceptions, the handful of groups that have assembled best practice guidelines have had limited success because these are not yet built on rigorous, large-scale M&E research.  We are therefore pioneering an extended antislavery M&E platform. This compass for antislavery work navigates us between the cardinal points of enslaved and free. We are collating a large database on current and recent antislavery interventions around the world, which we use to conduct systematic analysis on their relative success and failure. Alongside the database we are completing a publicly available social network analysis of the various agencies, organisations, research units and other extragovernmental bodies engaged in antislavery work, in order to track involvement, influence and impact within the movement. These two resources underpin our new Antislavery Impact Assessment and Evaluation Framework. This will evaluate ongoing interventions to identify the degree to which they have had an impact on reducing the prevalence of slavery. It will help us to pilot, validate, disseminate and support the adoption of standardised M&E tools across the antislavery movement with our NGO partners.

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Slavery-Free Communities

Even as we tackle slavery as a global problem, we recognise the importance of local action and offer the first major examination of slavery as a local issue. This is lodged in our work to help make Nottingham the world’s first slavery-free city. We test the ‘theories of change’ underlying policy responses to modern slavery, highlight evidence for good practice, adapt and apply the latest theories on the dynamics of social practice to local policy on slavery, and share transferable, scalable and sustainable policies that can help communities to become slavery-free. Throughout we build, test, and disseminate collaborative multi-agency policy responses to slavery, which can be adapted to a wide variety of settings. We share learning from the project nationally and tap into public sector networks to explore how our methods might be applied within varying local contexts and governance institutions. We are drawing up comparisons with other locality-based antislavery initiatives in the UK, and hope to roll out a city-based process nationally then develop a transferable model for developing countries with our NGO partners.  

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The Care & Custody Lever

Mental health support is one of the greatest gaps in the global antislavery response. When slaves are freed but given no support to rebuild their lives, many slide back into slavery. We are therefore pioneering a unique programme of therapeutic care for people coming out of enslavement. A culture- and cost-sensitive mental healthcare support package for survivors will address slavery’s aftermath. We are designing protocols that can be shared across agencies and in the wider field. Survivors are co-designing the programme with us. We will then adapt these recommendations for cost-effective care within low-resource settings. At the same time we are working to understand perpetrator behaviour and reasons for offending. This extensive examination of offenders’ narratives and motivations will help us develop the evidence base for therapeutic interventions. By understanding slaveholders’ behaviour, and sharing that knowledge with the therapists we train, we will improve the quality of therapeutic care.

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The Antislavery Ecosystem

We are demonstrating the tight connection between ending slavery and reducing environmental destruction. Our preliminary research shows that if slavery were a country, it would have a population of some 46 million people and the gross domestic product of Angola (in global terms a small and poor nation), yet would be the third largest emitter of CO2 (2.54 billion tons per year) in the world after China (7.39 billion tons) and the United States (5.58 billion tons). Responding to this, we are completing the world’s largest study on the relationship between slavery and ecosystems. This work will: Compile, synthesise and integrate spatial data on the landscape changes that result from slavery activities and calculate the environmental costs of these activities and the potential gains that stem from curtailing slavery, with a focus on carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services. Explore the values associated with environmental gains, their capacity to be captured in environmental markets, and their ability to help fund slavery prevention and abolition efforts. Explore links between ecological resilience and human vulnerability as a precondition to enslavement.