What’s going on at the Wilberforce Institute?

Wilberforce Institute Webinar, Thursday 11 February 2021, 4pm GMT

On February 11 at 4pm GMT we hold our regular ‘What’s going on at the Wilberforce Institute?’ slot, this year by webinar, when we showcase the work of our PhD students. This year we welcome back Craig Barlow, now with his doctorate completed: he successfully defended his thesis in April last year. Craig will talk on ‘Criminal Exploitation and the Statutory Defence: Putting Theory into Practice’. Since he completed his thesis, entitled ‘Child Criminal Exploitation: A New Systemic Model to Improve Professional Assessment, Investigation and Intervention’, the model he devised has been applied to case analysis and the development of expert evidence in both the criminal and family justice systems, in relation to modern slavery, and in the wider context of the general safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. His presentation will describe and explain this approach in the context of trafficking for criminal exploitation and the statutory defence for victims of criminal exploitation under Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Our three newest PhD students, Isabel Arce Zelada, Mavuto K. Banda and Jen Nghishitende, who make up the ‘Living with Modern Slavery’ cluster, will follow, giving us insights into their research so far. All three joined us in Autumn last year, despite experiencing a number of problems as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. They have done incredibly well in difficult circumstances and have now begun to put their own stamp on their projects.

Isabel will talk first about ‘Asylum as Violence in UK Courts’.

Her project looks at the process of asylum within the liminal state of being outside of the nation-state as a person seeking asylum. By acknowledging that we live under a grand narrative of human rights that are tied to nations the liminal space of leaving a nation-state to seek refuge somewhere else exposes a state of being in which no nation-state is kept responsible for the enforcement of an individual’s human rights. How does this affect subjectification?

The asylum process is heavily reliant on the narrative of the person seeking asylum, however, it also scrutinises the narrative from the initial interview and throughout the court hearing. Whether the person is accepted as a refugee by the end of the process or not they will have experienced:

  1. being extracted from their previous nation to refer to them as an individual in the eyes of the court;
  2. being subjectified into categories already existing in the asylum narrative; and
  3. having their identity questioned by national or personal notions of what that identity should be.

Isabel is interested in the reality of going through a process of subjectification in which identities are disputed and asked to be proven throughout that process. And what are the experiences of those going through a process in which the subjectification into an asylum seeker and a refugee supersedes the personal subjectification of the person seeking asylum?

Jen will talk next about her project, which investigates a related issue: ‘The Dignity and Rights of Women and Children Subjected to Modern Slavery in the United Kingdom’.

In recent years, the spotlight has been placed on the accounts of survivors of modern slavery – their tales of slavery and their eventual escape or rescue. As such, scant attention has been placed on what happens after slavery: how survivors go on with their lives and how they reintegrate into society with their rights and dignity intact. Jen’s research will investigate life after modern slavery in the United Kingdom, specifically focusing on women and children and how they attempt to move on with their lives after experiencing the ordeal of modern slavery, including the support available to them to achieve ‘normal’ lives.

Finally, Mavuto’s project comes at modern slavery from the opposite perspective, investigating how restrictions on modern slavery can work to make children more vulnerable to exploitation. His project is entitled ‘Evaluating child labour bans in Malawi’s agriculture’.

The United Nations and International Labour Organisation are promoting children’s rights and fighting against all forms of child labour around the globe through legal frameworks. Being one of the signatories to these greements, the Malawi Government has put in place policies and legal instruments to operationalise their international obligations on children’s rights and committed itself to combat child labour. This study aims at exploring the impact of banning under-18 year olds  from working in the commercial tea and tobacco estates in Malawi on youth and their families’ livelihoods.

To attend this free event, please click on the link below: