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Responding to Human Trafficking

Lecture Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Alicia Peters

Alicia Peters

Signed into law in 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defined the crime of human trafficking and brought attention to an issue previously unknown to most Americans. But while human trafficking is widely considered a serious and despicable crime, there has been far less consensus as to how to approach the problem—owing in part to a pervasive emphasis on forced prostitution that overshadows repugnant practices in other labor sectors affecting vulnerable populations. This talk examines the complicated ways in which cultural perceptions of sexual exploitation and victimhood inform the U.S. implementation process as well as more local responses to trafficking in Maine and New England. Particular attention will be paid to how the anti-trafficking response impacts the survivors of trafficking whom it is intended to protect.


Alicia W. Peters, Ph.D., is associate professor of anthropology and affiliated faculty in the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the University of New England. Dr. Peters earned her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her Ph.D. from Columbia University’s joint program in sociomedical sciences and anthropology. Her research examines how cultural understandings of gender and sexuality influence conceptions of human trafficking and the implementation of U.S. anti-trafficking law and policy. She is the author of the book, Responding to Human Trafficking: Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Law, published as part of the Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights series by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She has received grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Justice to conduct her research. She is currently writing a book based on an ethnographic study of the human trafficking response in northern New England.


Portland Forum in Innovation Hall
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME 04103

Assigned Reading

Alicia Peters, Responding to Human Trafficking: Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Law (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015/2018)


5 p.m. in Global Plaza, Innovation Hall


(207) 221-4435

Responding to Human Trafficking Poster
6:00 PM
Portland Forum in Innovation Hall

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public