ANTHRCUL 458 - Topics in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology
Winter 2022, Section 003 - Human Smuggling, and Human Trafficking in International and Comparative Perspective
Instruction Mode: Section 003 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Anthropology, Cultural (ANTHRCUL)
Department: LSA Anthropology
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Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior and above.
May be repeated for a maximum of 9 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying human smuggling and human trafficking.

The class will critically analyze the political economic, human rights, and global health dimensions of human trafficking. Using a theoretically-informed approach, students will examine both high profile cases such as the illicit organ trade, commercial surrogacy, and sex tourism, as well as less known forms of trafficking. These include debt bondage in Thai shrimp processing plants, construction workers laboring under the Kefala system in the Gulf region, and domestic workers in the homes of diplomats in Washington, DC. Placing the contemporary discourse on “modern slavery” in historical perspective will illuminate similarities and differences with the transatlantic slave trade in the eighteenth century.

Migrants are swept into smuggling and trafficking networks when economic and security issues arise in countries of origin, and opportunities for legal migration are limited. In destination countries, the demand for low skilled labor and the expectation of low cost products are contributing factors. Human smuggling is often a gateway to human trafficking. The class will therefore consider both states’ obligations to protect migrant rights and the limitations of contemporary migration management.

Weekly readings include case studies on class themes as well as theoretical articles to mobilize analytic thinking. For full credit, students will also engage with videos, music, poetry, artwork, and other media on the topics of human smuggling and trafficking.

Students will be evaluated on the basis of bi-weekly written responses to the course readings, active participation in seminar discussion, and a final paper focused on any of the international studies sub-plans.


As a result of this course students will:

  • Be able to analyze the relationships between sex, gender, and human rights
  • Gain tools for analyzing the visual iconography concerned with human trafficking
  • Be able to think critically about the balance between national security and migrants’ rights
  • Understand the political economy of human trafficking and its relationship to economic globalization

Course Requirements:

Class participation, three written reflections, group case study, and individual final project.

Intended Audience:

International Studies Majors and Minors

Class Format:

Seven themed modules explored through readings and lectures.


ANTHRCUL 458 - Topics in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
M 5:00PM - 8:00PM
003 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
004 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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