What does human trafficking look like? Most of us have seen stories of captivity play out on big or small screen with familiar casts of villains and victims. Compelling drama, perhaps, but the reality is far more complicated, and closer to home, than we might like to imagine. Make no mistake, says KU researcher Hannah Britton: it’s happening in the Heartland, and often in plain sight.
Issues as complex and consequential as human trafficking, exploitation, and gender-based violence, which intersect with culture, labor and migration, race, policy, and power, are challenging to unpack, surely. But for Hannah and her team of researchers in KU’s Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative (ASHTI), the ball truly begins to move forward when students, scholars and policy makers collaborate both across and within their respective disciplines, not only to respond to instances of exploitation, but to identify areas of vulnerability and strategies for prevention.
In episode five of Unwinding, we sat down with Hannah Britton, professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Injustice at the Institute of Policy & Social Research (IPSR) at KU, whose research has brought her around the world and all throughout Africa. But some of the best and most productive research, she says, takes place in the classroom with her students. And as she likes to point out, learning is not a one way street; quite the opposite, it is a multidirectional force that impacts both students and instructors alike. Meet Hannah, and learn about how she’s incorporating hands-on, qualitative research methods in her classes, the invaluable contributions of her students, like Corinne Schwarz, KU’s unique position in advancing human trafficking research, and her ongoing work with ASHTI to understand and address the root causes of exploitation that affects communities from the Global South to the Midwest.
It’s Unwinding with Hannah Britton:
Unwinding is a podcast that tells the human stories driving the minds and talents of the University of Kansas. In each episode we sit down with KU researchers in a favorite or familiar setting to chat about what they’re working on, why they’re passionate about it, why it matters, and what makes them tick as humans. You may find us on campus, running the trails, on a farm, at a coffee shop or down at the pub. Wherever the location, the conversation explores the fascinations and motivations that produce new discoveries.
Unwinding is a collaboration between The Commons at KU and KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The Commons is a catalyst for unconventional thinking, interdisciplinary inquiry, and unexpected discoveries across the sciences, arts, and humanities. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is the heart of KU. It’s home to more than 50 departments, programs and centers, offering more than 100 majors, minors and certificates. A collaborative and creative community, the College is committed to making the world better through inquiry and research.
Music: Lee Rosevere‘s “Let’s Start at the Beginning“