The Modern Slavery Research Project is committed to the production of thoughtful, geographically-informed, data-driven, community-based collaborative research that meets the needs of survivors and community stakeholders in addressing human trafficking in New Orleans, the US, aND internationally.

Cutting-Edge, Collaborative Research

MSRP understands scholarship as an ethical project. We engage in a hands-on approach to research that responds to the community, involves stakeholders in the process, and provides accessible, data-driven research to all those engaged in the effort to prevent modern slavery and aid survivors of trafficking. MSRP is dedicated to producing relevant and timely scholarship that has tangible impacts on local, national, and international responses to trafficking.

Organizations and agencies interested in partnering with the MSRP are invited to submit research, evaluation, or training requests to the team.


The Modern Slavery Research Project is comprised of a team of researchers and scholars dedicated to realizing the end of human trafficking.

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Dr. Laura murphy, Director, Department of English

Laura Murphy received her Ph.D. in African and African American Studies at Harvard University in 2008. Her research focuses on African literatures, historical and modern slavery, postcolonial studies, global literatures, and Black Atlantic cultures. She is the lead researcher for the Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University New Orleans. 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. Her 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. She is currently working on a book titled The New Slave Narrative, a critical analysis of the reemergence of the slave narrative tradition in the late 20th century. Her articles have appeared in Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Inquiry, Slavery and Abolition, Research in African Literatures, Studies in the Novel, Genre, College Literature, and the LA Review of Books. In addition to her academic work, she is the co-director of the New Orleans node of the Scholars Strategy Network and co-coordinator for the Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force.

Dr. Christian Bolden, Department of Criminal Justice

Dr. Christian Bolden earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Central Florida and Masters in Applied Sociology from Texas State University-San Marcos. His current research interests include reconciling interpretations of gang behaviors and processes with viewpoints of actual gang members, examining the social network dynamics of deviant populations, investigating the future of criminal innovation, navigating racial/ethnic dynamics in criminology, and human trafficking. Dr. Bolden was recently selected as the “Futurist in Residence” for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit Futures Working Group. His recent work can be found in Criminal Justice Review, Deviant Behavior, and the Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology.


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Dr. Rae Taylor, Department of Criminal Justice

Dr. Rae Taylor joined the Loyola University New Orleans faculty in the fall of 2009 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida. Her doctoral dissertation involved examining pregnancy as a risk factor for lethal and non-lethal intimate partner violence. During her tenure as a doctoral student, she was the recipient of several teaching and research awards, including the prestigious University Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching in 2008.

Dr. Taylor’s research and teaching interests include intimate partner violence and other violent crimes, societal and organizational responses to violent crime, and social inequalities. She has published research articles in Violence Against Women and Homicide Studies. Dr. Taylor has worked as a data analyst and policy consultant for CourtWatch Florida, a non-profit court monitoring and advocacy organization, and has been involved with several community based research projects pertaining to homelessness and other areas.

Dr. Taylor has worked in the criminal justice system as a victim advocate, and continues her training in victim services and crisis response. In addition to her academic degrees, Dr. Taylor holds a graduate level certification in domestic violence and has been inducted into the Alpha Kappa Delta National Honor Society and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She is a member of several professional organizations including the American Society of Criminology, the Homicide Research Working Group, and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, where she regularly presents her research. 


Cara MCClain, Research Assistant

Cara McClain received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Missouri - Columbia, where she focused on international multimedia journalism and community engagement. She joined the Modern Slavery Research Project team in early 2017 where she now runs the social media accounts and assists with research. 



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