Dr. Laura murphy, Director, Department of English
Laura T. Murphy is Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University New Orleans, where she and a team of researchers work to provide data-informed, community-based, survivor-centered research that improves community response to modern slavery in the U.S. and internationally. Through her work with the Modern Slavery Research Project, she has interviewed 600 homeless youth in the United States and Canada and has authored two major studies that provide a 4-pronged blueprint for community-based actions that will reduce the risk of trafficking in this population. She has performed research on modern slavery and consulted for anti-trafficking organizations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Nigeria, Ghana, and India.
Her book, Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives (Columbia University Press, 2014), explores human trafficking through the first-person testimony of nearly forty people who have been enslaved in the last twenty years. Her first book, Metaphor and the Slave Trade in West African Literature (Ohio University Press 2012, winner of the African Literature Association First Book Prize), examines the coded ways West African writers have memorialized the trauma of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. She is currently completing a new book titled The New Slave Narrative, which investigates the way people talk about the experience of slavery in the 21st century and analyzes the political mobilization of the term “slavery” and the cooptation of the voices of survivors in today’s anti-slavery movement.
Professor Murphy is a Subject Matter Expert on human trafficking for the United States Family Youth Services Bureau within the Department of Health and Human Services as well as for the Office of Victims of Crime within the Department of Justice. She is a sought-after trainer and public speaker who has educated and motivated thousands of community activists, students, law enforcement officers, service providers, and medical professionals to respond compassionately and effectively to the needs of survivors of trafficking. Her interactive workshops train community members in the trauma-informed best practices that address the root causes of modern slavery and human trafficking, grounded in the knowledge she has gained from serving as an evaluator for several human trafficking task forces and through the interview she has conducted with hundreds of survivors. As a consultant, she provides stakeholders assistance with community-based research, curriculum design, evaluation, and awareness projects in the field of modern slavery, human trafficking, and other social justice issues.