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Dr. Elizabeth Swanson

Elizabeth Swanson is the Mandell Family Foundation Senior Term Chair in Literature and Human Rights in the Arts and Humanities Division at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. Author of Beyond Terror: Gender, Narrative, Human Rights (Rutgers University Press 2007), she has published many articles on human rights, gender studies, and literature, and co-edited several edited collections on literature and human rights. Her latest volume is Human Bondage and Abolition: New Histories of Past and Present Slaveries (2018) co-edited with James Brewer Stewart as part of the HAS/Cambridge University Press Slaveries Since Emancipation Book Series.

Dr. Swanson’s work on slavery stems from her commitment to human rights. She is particularly interested in the processes of how formerly enslaved people can move from survival to full freedom, living independent, sustainable, and dignified lives. This interest informs her focus on processes of restoration, reintegration, and empowerment of survivors of human trafficking around the world. Dr. Swanson also traces the legacies of US plantation slavery to ongoing violence and oppression of African American peoples and communities, focusing especially on mass incarceration by engaging in prison education.

Dr. Swanson’s anti-slavery work includes a leadership role in Made By Survivors (now Her Future Coalition), an international non-governmental organization that fights human trafficking using economic empowerment, education, and hope, for over ten years. She directed the Women’s Entrepreneurial Development Laboratory, an innovation space dedicated to testing business models to fight slavery and human trafficking, poverty, and marginalization of women, in the Lewis Institute Social Innovation Lab, Babson College, and has engaged her students in prison education work for many years.

“Victims, perpetrators, and the limits of human rights discourse in post-Palermo fiction about sex trafficking” by Alexandra Schultheis Moorea & Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg. The International Journal of Human Rights. Volume 19, Issue 1, 2015. (Download PDF | Abstract)

Speaker’s Bureau Talks: 

From Survival to Freedom: Evolving Strategies for Reintegration and Independence in the Aftermath of Slavery

The Power of Partnership: Business Innovations in the Fight Against Slavery

More Radical Than Thou: Politics and Posturing in Reception of Sex Trafficking Narratives