Joe Monaco
KU Office of Public Affairs

Governor, KU to host Kansas Conference on Slavery and Human Trafficking

Thu, 01/24/2013

LAWRENCE – Gov. Sam Brownback and the University of Kansas will host the Kansas Conference on Slavery and Human Trafficking on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in the Kansas Union.

The two-day conference will examine existing research on slavery and human trafficking and identify gaps in educational and research programs that could be best filled in Kansas. The conference will culminate in research, legal advocacy and graduate education initiatives to be developed by KU and regional partners.

Gov. Sam Brownback“Governor Brownback has called on Kansas to become a national leader in research on slavery and human trafficking,” said Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender and sexuality studies, as well as the director of the Center for International Political Analysis at the Institute for Policy & Social Research at KU.

“KU is the perfect place to develop gap-filling educational and research programs on this issue, given the university’s strengths in immigration, inequality, international studies, peace and conflict studies, and gender studies. We appreciate Governor Brownback’s longstanding commitment to this critical human rights issue.”

The conference begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in Woodruff Auditorium with remarks from Brownback, followed by a presentation by Kevin Bales, a widely known author, professor of sociology and expert on slavery. The session is free and open to the public.

The conference continues from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, on Level 5 of the Kansas Union, with presentations from various university researchers, as well as a keynote address by Alison Kiehl Friedman, the deputy director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The session is free and open to the public, but attendees must register beforehand.

To register, or to view a complete conference brochure, visit

As a U.S. senator, Brownback teamed with the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2000 to enact the groundbreaking federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. On Jan. 18, Brownback and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced they will ask the 2013 Kansas Legislature to strengthen the state’s human trafficking statutes, with an emphasis on protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation.

"World-class research is essential if we are going to more effectively fight modern-day slavery, and, with our state's proud free-state heritage, the University of Kansas is ideally positioned to contribute unique expertise and research talent in this area,” Brownback said. “I salute Dr. Hannah Britton and other KU researchers who are working together to inform and accelerate the movement to end human trafficking.”

The conference is co-sponsored by KU and the Office of Governor Sam Brownback. KU entities involved in the conference include the Institute for Policy & Social Research; the Office of the Chancellor; the School of Law; the Office of Graduate Military Programs; the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department; the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies; the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equality; the Kansas African Studies Center; and KU Libraries.

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Lauded race and class historian becomes KU Foundation Professor David Roediger’s award-winning research and writing has already transformed how historians view the growth of social freedoms in America though the intersection of race, class, ethnicity, and labor. Now Roediger, as KU’s first Foundation Distinguished Professor of History (, will continue to break new ground in those fields as he leads KU’s departments of American Studies and History. Roediger likes to study historical flash points — where one particular change brings a cascade of wider cultural changes. His latest book, “Seizing Freedom, Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All,” makes the point that as slaves began freeing themselves across the South during the Civil War, their emancipation inspired and ignited other cultural movements for freedom — such as the women’s movement for suffrage and the labor movement for better working conditions and an eight-hour day. Understanding the individual stories of average people who wanted to make their lives better, including slaves or factory workers, is important to understanding the wider political movements and elections, Roediger said. “It's tempting to think that all the important political questions have been decided,” he said, “but actually people are constantly thinking about what freedom would mean for them.”

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