Critical Humanitarian Studies and the Culture Industries

My research addresses the intersection of humanitarianism, women’s rights, and popular entertainment. I theorize the ways in which, in neoliberal capitalism, the culture industries have become central to women’s rights campaigns in the United States, resulting in a focus on spectatorial emotions as avenues for social change. I define humanitarianism not solely as a particular type of intervention, such as international interventions in times of war or natural disasters, but as a modality of government, a mode of approaching social problems and of envisioning political solutions. The humanitarian logic, which seems to dominate contemporary women’s rights campaigns, brings sentimentalism and morality into the realm of gender justice.

I am currently working on a book manuscript that looks at the role and impact of popular entertainment in shaping discourses and practices of women’s rights, with a special focus on contemporary campaigns against the traffic in women.

Click here to find more about my book.

Related articles

“Labor, Migration, and the Movement to Stop the Traffic in Women.” Women in & beyond the global. 10 December 2013

“Counting the Victims: The Politics of Numbers in Anti-Trafficking Campaigns.” Women in & beyond the global. 27 December 2013.

“Slave Hunters and Brothel Busters: Investigative Journalists as Anti-Sex Trafficking Humanitarians.” Feminist Formations 24.2 (Summer 2012): 1-24.

Selected relevant presentations*
Invited Talks

Keynote Speaker, “Slave Hunters and Brothel Busters: Investigative Journalists as Anti-Sex Trafficking Humanitarians.” Feminist Formations SymposiumUniversity of Arizona, September 6, 2012

“The Politics of Anti-Trafficking Humanitarianism in the U.S.: From Neoliberal Compassion to Women’s Rights” Center for Historical Research, Ohio State University, April 15, 2011

Selected Conference Presentations

“Sites of Alterity: The Feminine Body and the Politics of Human Rights.” Feminist Transgressions National Women’s Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 13-16 November 2014.

“Precarious Subjects: The Choice of Sex in Sex Work Migration Narratives.” Feminism Unbound: Imagining a Feminist Future, National Women’s Studies Association, Oakland, CA, November 8-11, 2012.

“Gendered Markets, Market Feminism, and the Fight against the Traffic in Women.” Histories of Capitalism, the 37th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, Vancouver, Canada, November 1-4, 2012.

“The Traffic in Women: Reflections on the Sexuality of a Global Crisis.” Gender and States of Emergency, Ohio State University, April 21-22, 2011

“On Gendered Markets and Market Feminism: a USAID Case Study.” Difficult Dialogues: The National Women Studies Association Annual Conference, Denver, November 11-14, 2010

*Conference papers are available upon request