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Faculty Research

Photo of Nazli AvdanNazli Avdan

Dr. Avdan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at The University of Kansas. She teaches courses in U.S. Foreign Policy, terrorism, and graduate seminars on international relations theories and interstate conflict. Her research interests include migration, organized crime, transnational terrorism, and empirical approaches to world politics. She received her Ph.D. from Duke University in 2010 and most recently was a Junior Research Fellow at University College, Oxford. She joined the Political Science Department in Fall 2013.
Article: “Human Trafficking and Migration Control Policy: Vicious or Virtuous Cycle” 2012. Journal of Public Policy 32(2): 1-35.

Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between states’ migration control policies and human trafficking in origin, transit and destination states. Using cross-sectional data on states’ visa policies for 192 states and indicators for human trafficking from the Global Patterns report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the paper analyses feedback mechanisms between policies and trafficking. The empirical evidence suggests that, contrary to the pessimistic predictions of policy scholarship, the feedback is characterised by a virtuous mechanism. Firstly, the results show that, in line with expectations of security studies, states tighten visa policies in response to trafficking threats. Origin and transit states face a greater number of restrictions on travel. Similarly, destination states of trafficking impose tighter controls. Secondly, visa restrictions against origin and transit countries mitigate trafficking from and through these states. Finally, the paper demonstrates that the vicious effect whereby stricter policies exacerbate trafficking pertains mostly to destination and to visas imposed at borders states’ visa policies.
Photo of Hannah BrittonHannah Britton

Hannah Britton is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at The University of Kansas. She is currently serving as the Director of the Center for the Study of Injustice at the Institute for Policy & Social Research at KU. Dr. Britton’s previous work has focused on women in African legislatures, civil society, and government bureaucracies. She is currently working on several new projects: state strategies for addressing gender-based violence in southern Africa and a comparative analysis of human trafficking policies. She recently published an article with Laura Dean on human trafficking policies in Southern Africa. Dr. Britton is also leading the Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative at KU.
Britton, Hannah E. and Dean, Laura A. ”Policy Responses to Human Trafficking in Southern Africa: Domesticating International Norms.” 2014. Human Rights Review 15(3):305-328.

Schwarz, Corinne and Hannah Britton. “Queering the Support for Trafficked Persons: LGBTQ Communities and Human Trafficking in the Heartland.” 2015. Social Inclusion 3(1): 63-75.

Schwarz, Corinne, Erik Unruh, Katie Cronin, Sarah Evans-Simpson, Hannah Britton, and Megha Ramaswamy. “Human Trafficking Identification and Service Provision in the Medical and Social Service Sectors.” 2016. Health and Human Rights Journal 18(1): 181-191.

Photo of Mariya OmelichevaMariya Y. Omelicheva

Dr. Omelicheva is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Director for the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies. Her research and teaching interests include international and Eurasian security, counterterrorism and human rights, democracy promotion in the post-Soviet territory, and Russia's foreign and security policy. Dr. Omelicheva currently serves as a primary investigator on a Minerva grant from the U.S. Department of Defense's Minerva Research Institute.
Human Trafficking in the Organized Crime/Terrorism Nexus in Eurasia

The growing convergence between terrorism, organized crime, and human trafficking has been recognized in the academia and policy world. With the disruption of terrorist financing, many terrorist groups have turned to drug smuggling as a source of funding. Drug trafficking organizations have been diversifying their criminal activities into the lucrative and low risk crime of human trafficking and trade. Terrorist groups have also been implicated in human trafficking and kidnappings for ransom. Despite the many points of intersection between trafficking activities and terrorism, there is still a tendency to treat these forms of transnational crime as discrete, and examine them separately or as part of the overlapping trafficking routes. While a link between terrorism, organized crime, and human trafficking is suspected, the nature of such a nexus is not well understood.

The goal of this project is to examine the relationship between transnational crime and terrorism and the place of human trafficking in the crime/terrorism nexus. Specifically, the study compares the driving forces and dynamics of these criminal activities, identifies the conditions under which terrorist-criminal alliances are forged, and develops a typology of terrorist-criminal connections with human trafficking. The geographical domain of the study includes the post-Soviet states of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), and Russia. Struggling economies, corruption, unresolved conflicts, and weak law-enforcement characterizing these territories have allowed organized crime and terrorism flourish. Central Asia is one of the three major drug regions of the world that support insurgent movements and terrorism. It provides steady supply of narcotics from growers in Afghanistan to buyers in Russia and Europe. Illicit arm sales abound throughout the area, and locals are targeted as forced or cheap labor, or victims of sexual and physical abuse. Temporarily, the study spans the period from 1999 (a year that marked the beginning of Russia’s counterterrorism campaign and intensification of terrorist activities in South Caucasus and Central Asia) to present.

A new and important dimension that I will add to the project through the application of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) capabilities will highlight the role of spatial factors in facilitating or inhibiting the convergence of crime and terror. Spatial factors, as used in the study, combine environmental characteristics (e.g., levels of urbanization, topography, distance to capital, etc.) with socio-political and economic variables (e.g., size and concentration of population, transportation networks, levels of development of basic and productive infrastructure, and others).
Photo of Akiko TakeyamaAkiko Takeyama

Akiko Takeyama is an associate professor of Anthropology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at The University of Kansas. She is also currently a co-director of gender seminar at KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities. Her research and teaching interests lie in changing gender, sexuality, and class dynamics in the context of neoliberal globalization. Her first book project, Staged Seduction: Gender Politics and Class Struggles in a Tokyo Host Club, theorizes the commercialization of feelings, emotions, and intimate relationships among socially marginalized population —the youth and women— in contemporary Japan’s service-centered economy.
Her second major project, entitled “Affect Economy of Human Trafficking: Vulnerability, Hope, and Risky Endeavor in Japan and Neighboring Countries,” will explore the interrelation between politico-legal systems and the global economy. Specifically, she intends to bring human affect —hope, fear, and a sense of vulnerability— to the center of an analysis of 21st century capitalism, complicating such legal categories as human rights and individual consent especially when sexual and economic exploitation are carried out in the name of individual choice. With funding from Japan Foundation Research Fellowship, she conducted a full-year fieldwork in 2015. Her research sheds light on the complex set of social, economic, and legal contexts wherein coercion undercuts the legal assumptions of individual consent in human trafficking.

Graduate Research

Photo of Daniel AlvordDaniel Alvord

Danny Alvord is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Kansas with research interests in political and fiscal sociology, globalization, migration, race/ethnicity, and social theory. Broadly, Danny is interested in racial and migrant incorporation and how diversity (and philosophies of diversity) affects public policy and institutional legitimation. He earned his BA and MA in Sociology at the University of Central Missouri. His MA thesis explored how Korean and Nepalese immigrants conceived and talked about spatial distance from their home countries and social distance from American society. His dissertation research will explore how certain groups in America express racial and nativist prejudice through tax and welfare programs.
Photo of Alex CloydAlex Cloyd

Alex Cloyd is a University of Kansas (KU) graduate. He received a BA in History with departmental honors distinction and research experience certification. Presently, Alex is working towards an MA and a PhD in American Studies as well as a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His current graduate work at KU discusses drone technology, citizenship, and the impacts of technologies of violence and oppressive techniques of state-sanctioned policing and intervention. As a researcher with the Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative (ASHTI), Alex looks to contribute to anti-trafficking techniques and discourses within the education sector. Along with researchers in ASHTI, Alex is attempting to better inform preventative and protective policies to aid in building trafficking-resistant and resilient communities.
Photo of Ryan DaughertyRyan Daugherty

Ryan Daugherty is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Political Science Department. His research primarily focuses on local-level politics in Maya communities in Guatemala. He joined the ASHTI team in the spring of 2016 and is currently working with Luke Herrington on exploring faith-groups’ responses to human trafficking.
Photo of Jennifer Chappell DeckertJennifer Chappell Deckert

Jennifer Chappell Deckert is a doctoral student in the School of Social Welfare. In the Fall of 2016, she also began a full-time, tenure-track faculty position as Assistant Professor of Social Work and Field Coordinator at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. Jennifer has fifteen years of practice experience in school social work, high conflict mediation, and international social work. From 2009-2012, she lived and worked in Colombia where she worked as a social worker with local peace organizations on human rights and social justice issues. Jennifer has been a Graduate Research Assistant for the Center for Mental Health Research and Innovation and the Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative, and has taught at the University of Kansas Graduate School of Social Work. Her research and writing interests focused on community mental health, social work practice, and immigration. She has a B.A. in Peace Studies and International Development from Bethel College and an M.S.W. from the University of Michigan, where she majored in Interpersonal Practice, minored in Community Organizing, and completed a School Social Work Specialization. Jennifer's dissertation focuses on belonging and marginalization of migrant populations through a lens of transnationalism and intersectionality.
Photo of Rachel DenneyRachel Denney

Rachel is a 4th year doctoral student in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, with a concentration in Political Science. Her research focuses on the relationship between developing state governments and non-governmental organizations in Central America and the Caribbean. From Fall 2013-Spring 2015, Rachel was a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow, studying Haitian Creole. Since Fall 2015, she has served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the WGSS department, including a “live lab” in qualitative methodology focusing on the ASHTI project. Rachel has a professional background in the international non-profit sector.
Photo of Luke HerringtonLuke Herrington

Luke M. Herrington is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at KU. His research focuses primarily on the intersection of religion and international politics, with an emphasis on the relationship between religious freedom and political violence. He is currently conducting fieldwork in the Midwest with Ryan Daugherty to understand faith-based responses to human trafficking. In addition to joining ASHTI as a Graduate Research Assistant in January 2015, Luke is also an Assistant Reviews Editor for Special Operations Journal, and an Editor-At-Large and member of the Editorial Board at E-International Relations.
Photo of Marcy QuiasonMarcy Quiason

Marcy's research focuses on the relationship between public policy, gender, labor and sexuality. She is analyzing the discourse surrounding human trafficking policy using a postcolonial feminist lens. Additionally, she is researching the societal, economic, and political factors that push individuals into exploitative labor practices.

Marcy has been a Graduate Research Assistant with ASHTI since August 2015. She has conducted interviews with school social workers to study the vulnerabilities that push youth into exploitative situations.
Photo of Corinne SchwarzCorinne Schwarz

Corinne Schwarz is a PhD Candidate in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Department at KU. Her dissertation research looks at the intersections of street-level bureaucracy and anti-trafficking work. Currently, Corinne is conducting fieldwork in the Midwest to understand how street-level workers encounter human trafficking in their communities and organizations. Her research is funded with support from the NSF Law and Society Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, the KU IPSR Doctoral Research Fellowship, the KU Howard J. Baumgartel Peace and Justice Award, the KU Hall Center Graduate Summer Research Grant, and the KU Doctoral Student Research Fund.

Corinne has been a Graduate Research Assistant with ASHTI since August 2013. She has helped create interview protocols, conduct interviews, and transcribe and analyze data for the ASHTI pilot project. She has also served as a co-author on two publications using ASHTI pilot project data, published in Social Inclusion and Health and Human Rights Journal.