Assistant Professor of English and Director of African and African American Studies, Loyola University New Orleans
Expertise & Civic Involvements
Murphy’s research is on slavery and human trafficking, past and present. She is a scholar-activist whose work investigates how slavery is represented in contemporary American cultural discourse and how human trafficking has been mobilized as a political tool in the last twenty years. She is a survivor advocate and community organizer, as founder of the Survivors of Slavery network (survivorsofslavery.org) and the New Orleans Human Trafficking Working Group (nolahumantrafficking.org). She is also the National Chapter Coordinator for Free the Slaves.
"Trafficking and Exploitative Labor among Homeless Youth in New Orleans," (with ), Modern Slavery Research Project, Loyola University New Orleans, March 2015. Studies the prevalence of trafficking among homeless and marginally-housed youth in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"‘White Slavery!’: Unionized Labor, Organized Crime, and Commodified Women in The Wire" Genre (forthcoming). Links the discourse surrounding human trafficking that we find in media such as the HBO television show The Wire to the “white slave trade” scare of the early 20th century to suggest that Bush-era immigration fears and conservative sexual mores influence the discussion of human slavery today, as they have for over a century.
Survivors of Slavery: Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Slave Narratives (Columbia University Press, 2014). Provides over forty first-person accounts of modern day slavery from the voices of slaves and traffickers. Utilizes extensive interdisciplinary introductions to explore the political and economic contexts that facilitate human trafficking, as well as the themes, tropes, and silences that emerge in narrating slavery today.
Metaphor and the Slave Trade in West African Literature (Ohio University Press, 2012). Investigates the metaphorical representations of the trans-Atlantic slave trade that pervade Anglophone West Africa literary and cultural discourse since 1950 to identify the modes of memory particular to the African communities affected by the traumatic trade in human lives.
- Laura Murphy's research on sex trafficking among homeless youth discussed in , "Human Trafficking Victims among Those Seeking Help at Covenant House, Loyola Report Says," Times-Picayune, March 11, 2015.
- Laura Murphy quoted on the risks homeless youth face in Kevin Ryan, "Homeless Teens at Greater Risk of Sex Trafficking" CNBC, March 10, 2015.
- "Funding Anti-Trafficking Efforts Must be a Priority," Huffington Post, March 10, 2015.
- Laura Murphy quoted on enforcing human trafficking laws in Katie Moore, "Despite Outrage, Sex Trafficking Arrests Rare in Metro Area" WWLTV, March 9, 2015.
- Guest to discuss the film "Twelve Years a Slave" on MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry", October 20, 2013.
- Guest to discuss the history of and attitude toward human trafficking in New Orleans on Notes from New Orleans, August 8, 2013.
- "Shots Not Heard Round the World in NOLA," The Root, May 16, 2013.
- Guest to discuss human trafficking on New Orleans Public Access’ “Health Issues”, April 23, 2013.
Talks and Briefings
- "The Illegibility of Modern Slavery and the Sentimental Reading Lesson," American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Toronto, ON, April 2013.
- "On Becoming a Scholar-Activist," Keynote Lecture, African Literature Association, Charleston, SC, March 2013.
- "The Silence Slavery Keeps: How Survivors of Slavery Remember (and Forget)," College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, November 2012.
- "Freedom and the Modern Day Slave Narrative," Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking, Lincoln, NE, October 2012.
- "Crusade Politics and the Appropriation of Human Rights Discourse," African Literature Association, Dallas, TX, April 2012.
- "Captive Commodities: The Fiction and Reality of Modern Day Slavery in West Africa," African Studies Association, Washington, DC, November 2011.