Uyghur Region

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Public Lecture Programme, Spring 2024

As the days start to lengthen and Spring beckons, we look forward to welcoming you once again to our public lectures at the Wilberforce Institute, detailed below. All will take place at our home in Oriel Chambers, 27 High Street, Hull, HU1 1NE. Join us for refreshments from 4.15 pm onwards, and if you can, stay afterwards for a glass of wine and a chance to talk with our speaker. If you can’t make it in person, you can still enjoy the lectures by streaming online – to register simply click on the lecture title below and follow the instructions onscreen.

For more details of how to stream lectures or directions to the Institute, please contact Sophie Blanchard at

Dr Judith Spicksley
Dr Judith Spicksley, Wilberforce Institute Lecturer and Public Lecture Programme Coordinator

What’s going on at the Wilberforce Institute? A Look at our Postgraduate Research.

When: 16.30 GMT Wednesday February 7, 2024

Who: Drs Charlotte Russell and Saphia Fleury

Charlotte and Saphia were both awarded their doctorates last year. Charlotte was funded by the Wiseman Khuzwayo Scholarship at the University of Hull, and Saphia received one of the three University scholarships awarded in 2019 to the ‘Falling Through the Net’ cluster, which examined issues of child exploitation.

Saphia, whose thesis looks at child displacement from Vietnam and Montserrat, 1975-2000, will talk on 'Preparing for climate-related migration: Lessons from history'.

Charlotte's thesis looks at the experience of asylum seekers in refugee camps. She will speak about 'Power, Agency and "Crisis Maintenance": the safeguarding experiences of refugees in the Aegean'.

Two Forms of Modern Reparation in Ghana.

When: 16.30 GMT Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Who: Professor Gary Craig, Visiting Fellow, University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Dr David Murden, Director of Africa Lands Trust

Gary Craig was one of the original founders of the Wilberforce Institute and the University’s first Professor of Social Justice. Here, he is joined by David Murden, former NHS Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, who now spends much of his time in Northern Ghana offering support to small villages that lie on former slave trading routes.

As Professor of Social Justice at Hull University until 2009 Gary Craig led on the modern slavery stream. He will be talking about a project called Emerging Voices, an action research multifaceted education project aimed at educating young people in Ghana's cities about the dangers of modern slavery, especially trafficking and forced labour. The project, based within a wider project in Accra, used techniques of drama, art, music, group discussion and project visits to historical slavery sites. By the end of the project, an evaluation demonstrated that many young people had established a much clearer view of how modern slavery worked (which is rife in, for example, the harvesting of cocoa beans in the west of the country and on the Volta Lake where young people were enslaved, often sold by their families, to work for fishermen in their work). The project was partly funded by the Anti-Slavery Knowledge Network funding stream of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is now attempting to ensure the lessons are built into a national curriculum for all secondary education in the country.

David Murden is the Director and Founder of Africa Lands Trust. After thirty years of experience working and trading in West Africa, centred on Ghana and Burkina, following a main slave route, David is looking to begin the second phase of the development vision of Africa Lands Trust. The first stage saw the provision of a medical boat for the villages along the White Volta. His talk will particularly illustrate the exploration and model of development for these remote and neglected villages. As a Wilberforce Heritage project, it is linked to the Wilberforce Institute, and the provision of the medical and survey boats in the project is intimately linked to Hull.

David Murden
David Murden, with the medical boat for the White Volta neglected villages, which is now in operation.

What's Wrong with Exploitation? Reconceptualising the Meaning of Victimisation in the Context of Modern Slavery

When: 16.30 GMT Wednesday March 13, 2024

Who: Professor Simon Green, University of Hull

Simon Green is Professor of Criminology and Victimology at the University of Hull. Currently Principal Investigator for two projects funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (looking at domestic abuse and violence reduction), Simon is particularly interested in the victims of modern slavery and how they are identified, protected and supported.

Since the turn of the millennium, there has been a concerted international response to the exploitation of human beings.  National and international awareness campaigns about the extent of various forms of exploitative practices have driven law enforcement, victim support and human rights strategies to combat them.  Despite this progress the language, definition and explanation for these exploitative behaviours remains contested, unclear and under-theorised. This contestation manifests itself in a fault line between the framing of the problem on the one hand as interpersonal victimisation and criminal justice and on the other, as political human rights, migration and global economic forces.  This lecture seeks to resolve these conceptual and practical limitations, and in doing so reconfigure the understanding and response to all forms of exploitation by developing a clear definition that is philosophically and theoretically grounded.  The purpose of this reconceptualisation is to provide a governing explanation for the type of injustice that sits at the heart of all forms of modern slavery.

Manufacturing Vulnerability: State-Sponsored Forced Labour and the Crisis in the Uyghur Region

When: 16.30 BST Wednesday April 17, 2024

Who: Professor Laura Murphy, Sheffield Hallam University

Laura Murphy is Professor of Human Rights and Contemporary Slavery at the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, at Sheffield Hallam University. She has consulted for the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Office of Victims of Crime, and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center, as well as other government agencies, workers unions, investor groups, law firms, and advocacy groups. This includes providing expert testimony and evidence on the current crisis in the Uyghur Region to the U.S., U.K., E.U., and Australian governments and private briefings to government agencies, advocacy groups, law firms, and others interested in the issue globally.

The Uyghur Region of China (officially known as Xinjiang, known by many of its Indigenous people as East Turkestan) has been at the centre of a strategic program of state-sponsored forced labour promulgated by the People’s Republic of China [PRC]. The nearly ubiquitous forced labour in the region affects global supply chains from apparel to renewable energy, plastics to electronics, and raw materials to automobiles. This talk will discuss why the government of the PRC is expending so many resources on this program of oppression, on the ways the government manufactures vulnerability among its Indigenous citizens as justification for its actions, and on the discourses of ‘urgency’ and ‘complexity’ that international corporations use as shelter for their complicity.

Enslaved Women and the Feeding of the Enslaved in the Antebellum US South

When: 16.30 BST Wednesday May 15, 2024

Who: Professor Emily West, University of Reading

Emily West is Chair of the British American Nineteenth Century Historians and Research Division Lead for the History Department at the University of Reading. She is interested in issues of race and gender in American history, and in particular on slavery in the southern states of the U.S.A. Alongside researching the lives of enslaved women and their relationships with their enslaved spouses, she also looks at family life under enslavement, affective ties between enslaved people and free people of colour, and infant and child feeding.

This talk will develop some themes from the speaker’s current book project on the labour of care in the living quarters in the antebellum U.S. South especially the labour associated with feeding enslaved people. Enslavers wanted the enslaved to eat with maximum efficiency at minimal cost, so they attempted to impose regimented, institutional style feeding regimes on their plantations and farms. Most of this labour fell upon enslaved women, for whom feeding has a duality as a form of gendered exploitation, but also a means by which women found pleasure, nurture, and empowerment through the cooking, preparation, and consumption of food. Routinely tasked with the feeding of infant and babies, which sometimes involved the practice of wet-nursing, enslaved women also cooked for and fed older children and other adults throughout the working day and sometimes in the evenings as well. These women performed a vital role but have yet to be centred in our analysis of slavery’s machinations and enslavers’ drive for efficiencies. 

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