Course Syllabus

Human Trafficking in a Global Context


Semester & Location:

Summer 2023, Session 1 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Human Rights, Criminology, Legal Studies, Anthropology

Faculty Members:

Polina Smiragina-Ingelström & Ninna Mörner (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Academic Support: 

Program Director:

Neringa B. Vendelbo, 

Time & Place:

Every day, please check Calendar for times.

Classroom: 1D-508 

Time: 11:35 - 2:35 (please check times for field studies on calendar separately) 


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Course Description 

Trafficking in human beings is a complex phenomena with many dimensions. For instance, trafficking may be approached as an issue of migration or organized crime that affects State security and rights, but it may also be viewed as a threat to human rights since it encompasses a spectrum of abuses of fundamental rights. Therefore, responses to trafficking must be multi-disciplinary and well coordinated because a variety of actors are involved to address different aspects of the problem, often times not necessarily with the same objectives. 

Since the adoption of the UN Palermo Protocol in December 2000, States have agreed upon a definition of trafficking in human beings and initiated numerous efforts to prevent and to respond to the problem of trafficking. These measures have included awareness campaigns, legislative reform, the development of national action plans and national co-ordinating structures as well as practical co-operation with international and non-governmental organizations, in particular to identify and to assist at-risk groups and victims of trafficking. This course will provide an overview of the issue of trafficking (perpetrators, victims, extent and organizations), the most important developments in the legal and policy framework to address trafficking at the international and European levels as well as insights and evaluation of the practical application of these measures. 


Course Objective

The course aims to introduce students to the definition and different manifestations of trafficking in human beings. The course will provide students with an overview of current responses in legislation, policy and practice at the international, European and national levels. Special emphasis will be given to developing an understanding of the measures taken to protect the human rights of trafficked persons. 



Polina Smiragina-Ingelström, PhD

PhD (2021, The University of Sydney), focusing on the gendered perspective on victimhood in the trafficking of men. MSc (2012, Gothenburg University), BA (2009, Moscow State University). Postdoctoral fellow in Criminology (Stockholm University). Polina’s research interests are within the disciplines of criminology and medical anthropology with a special focus on victimhood, gender, post-trafficking needs, and help-seeking behavior. Before commencing her academic career Polina was a migrant counselor and reintegration assistant at the UN Migration (IOM) mission in Russia. She was engaged in providing direct assistance to migrants in distress including victims of human trafficking and exploitation; and assistance in voluntary return and reintegration.  With DIS since 2016.



Ninna Mörner

Master in Economic History and graduated Journalist (Stockholm University). Editor-in-chief for the scholarly journal Baltic Worlds at the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies at Södertörn University (since 2009) and the annual State of the Region Report (2020). A recognized expert in the anti-trafficking field nationally as well as internationally, involved for over a decade in numerous studies, projects, and reports on human trafficking. Formed the Swedish Platform Civil society Against Human Trafficking in 2013, which she chaired until 2018.



Legal Instruments

The 1904 International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (referred to as the ‘1904 Agreement’).

The 1910 International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (referred to as the ‘1910 International Convention’).

The International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children (referred to as the ‘1921 Convention’).

The International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women of Full Age of 1933 (referred to as the ‘1933 Convention’).

The Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (referred to as the ‘1949 Convention’).

The 1979 Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (referred to as the ‘1979 Convention’).

The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (referred to as the Palermo Protocol).

The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Persons, which was adopted in 2005 (referred to as the Council of Europe Trafficking Convention).

The EU Directive 2011/36/EU (referred to as the EU Directive).

Academic readings

Andrijasevic, R. (2007). ‘Beautiful Dead Bodies: Gender, Migration and Representation in Anti-trafficking Campaigns’, Feminist Review, 86: 24–44.

Brunovskis, A., & Surtees, R. (2008). Agency or illness—The conceptualization of trafficking: Victims’ choices and behaviors in the assistance system. Gender, Technology and Development, 12(1), 53-76.

Christie, N. (1986). The ideal victim. In E.A. Fattah (Ed.), From Crime Policy to Victim Policy (pp. 17-30). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fohring, S. (2018a). Introduction to the special issue: Victim identities and hierarchies. International Review of Victimology, 24(2), 147-149.

Gallagher, A. T. (2015). Two cheers for the trafficking protocol. Anti-Trafficking Review, (4), 14-32.

Gallagher, A., & Skrivankova, K. (2015, November). Human rights and trafficking in persons. In the 15th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights. Background Paper. ASEM.

Heber, A. (2018). The hunt for an elusive crime–an analysis of Swedish measures to combat sex trafficking. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in criminology and crime Prevention, 19(1), 3-21.

Holstein, J. A., & Miller, G. (1990). Rethinking victimization: An interactional approach to victimology. Symbolic Interaction, 13(1), 103-122.

Judge, A., Murphy, J., Hidalgo, J., & Macias-Konstantopoulos, W. (2018). Engaging Survivors of Human Trafficking: Complex Health Care Needs and Scarce Resources. Annals of Internal Medicine, 168(9), 658–663.

Miller, J. (2011). Beach boys or sexually exploited children? Competing narratives of sex tourism and their impact on young men in Sri Lanka’s informal tourist economy. Crime, law and social change, 56(5), 485-508.

O’Brien, E. (2013). Ideal victims in trafficking awareness campaigns. In K. Carrington, M. Ball, E. O’Brien & J.M. Tauri (Ed.), Crime, Justice and Social Democracy (pp. 315-326). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

O'Connell Davidson, J. (2007). Prostitution. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology.

O'Connell Davidson, J. (2011). Moving children? Child trafficking, child migration, and child rights. Critical social policy, 31(3), 454-477.

Ollus, N. (2016). Forced flexibility and exploitation: experiences of migrant workers in the cleaning industry. Nordic journal of working life studies, 6(1), 25-45.

Oram, S., Abas, M., Bick, D., Boyle, A., French, R., Jakobowitz, S., ... & Zimmerman, C. (2016). Human trafficking and health: a survey of male and female survivors in
England. American journal of public health, 106(6), 1073-1078.

Piper, N., Segrave, M., & Napier-Moore, R. (2015). Editorial: What's in a name? Distinguishing forced labour, trafficking and slavery. Anti-trafficking Review, 5, 1-9.

Skilbrei, M.-L. (2012). Moving Beyond Assumptions? The Framing of Anti-Trafficking Efforts in Norway. In R. Aslaug Sollund (Ed.), Transnational Migration, Gender and Rights (Advances in Ecopolitics, Vol. 10, pp 211-227). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley.

Snajdr, E. (2013). Beneath the master narrative: Human trafficking, myths of sexual slavery and ethnographic realities. Dialectical Anthropology, 37(2), 229-256.

Surtees R. (2008a). Trafficking of Men — A Trend Less Considered. The Case of Belarus and Ukraine. IOM Global Database Thematic Research Series. Geneva: IOM.

Surtees, R. (2008b). Trafficked Men as Unwilling Victims. St Antony’s International Review 4(1), 16-36.

Surtees, R. (2013). Trapped at Sea. Using the Legal and Regulatory Framework to Prevent and Combat the Trafficking of Seafarers and Fishers. Groningen Journal of International Law, 1(2).

Vijeyarasa, R. (2010). The Impossible Victim: Judicial Treatment of Trafficked Migrants and Their Unmet Expectations. Alternative Law Journal, 35(4), 217–222.

Weitzer, R. (2014). New directions in research on human trafficking. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653(1), 6-24.

Wilson, M., & O’Brien, E. (2016). Constructing the ideal victim in the United States of America’s annual trafficking in persons reports. Crime, Law and Social Change, 65(1-2), 29– 45.

Approach to teaching

The course is taught as a combination of lectures and interactive methods such as group work, discussion, various exercises, films and a guest lecture.  


Evaluation of students' work during the course will be based on the following components, with the following relative weight: 


Percentage of final grade


Class participation: Attendance, preparation & ACTIVE participation in class

25 %


Media Assignment




Conference: Trafficking in the US



Student debates 15%

Final quiz



Class Participation The evaluation of this component will take into consideration the following aspects: 

Attendance: attendance in all classes and field studies is mandatory. See academic handbook for further information. You are urged to be punctual, particularly where guest lecturers and/or films are concerned. If you miss multiple classes the Academic Director will be notified and they will follow-up with you to make sure that all is well.  Absences will jeopardize your grade and your standing at DIS.  Allowances will be made in cases of illness, but in the case of multiple absences you will need to provide a doctor’s note.

Preparation: preparation for each lecture is a course requirement. See reading list included in this syllabus. Please be aware that there may be slight changes in the reading assignments during the course and various handouts will also be distributed, but you will be provided with ample time to properly prepare.

Participation: Active participation in all class sessions is required, and forms an important part of the student's grade for this component. Participation should preferably reflect the student's critical capacities and knowledge of the course material (see ”preparation” here above). 

The aim of the student should be to contribute constructively to forwarding meaningful, relevant dialogue and discussion among the group; in practice, this means that expression of one's personal views should be backed up by references to pertinent readings, materials, etc.

The course heavily emphasizes your own engagement and active participation. Much of the learning in this course is dependent on how much effort you put into your own explorations and research, not least in connection with the different types of assignments.

Films  Several films and documentaries will be shown during the course.


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


Course Summary:

Date Details Due