Jennifer Suchland

Jennifer  Suchland

Jennifer Suchland

Associate Professor


308E Dulles Hall

Areas of Expertise

  • Law & Cultural Studies
  • Critical Human Rights
  • Postsocialist Cultural Studies


  • Ph.D. Department of Government, University of Texas, 2005 with Graduate Certificate in Women's and Gender Studies
  • M.A. Department of Government, University of Texas, 2000

I am an interdisciplinary scholar, trained in political & feminist theory and area studies and jointly appointed in Slavic and East European Languages & Cultures and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies.  I teach and advise students in both programs as well as in the International Studies program (including with the Human Rights Minor).

My research, teaching and ethical commitments are to a robust study of rights, law and political discourses as they are culturally and geopolitically entangled. I have been interested in how rights categories emerge and evolve and what is at stake in those articulations. In my first book, Economies of Violence: Transnational Feminism, Postsocialism, and the Politics of Sex Trafficking (Duke University Press, 2015), I analyze the re-emergence of global anti-trafficking discourse at the end of the Cold War looking in particular at the kinds of anti-violence agendas that gained resonance and power through the racialized “white” figure of the postsocialist trafficking victim “Natasha.”  This real yet mythologized figure prioritized an image of trafficking as primarily a sex crime unrelated to economic and political forces.  While framing trafficking, in particular sex trafficking, as a form of violence against women helped elevate the issue to a new global scale, the anti-trafficking apparatus that has taken predominance is largely stripped of a human rights agenda in which economic, sexual, and political precarity are central concerns.

In recent work I take-up the widely used moniker that human trafficking is “modern day slavery.”  Specifically, I aim to understand how the problem of human trafficking has circulated through discourses and registers of transnational violence and criminality to produce renewed national categories of recognition in law and social advocacy.  I explore this primarily in the U.S. context as a process of “domestication” that turns some violence into productive forms of governance and cultural affect.  Rooted in settler colonial and racist logics, contemporary anti-trafficking practices seek to find new “modern slaves” which both allows for and forecloses recognition of state sanctioned violence.   

I also have several current projects focused on Russia, including research on race and sexuality.  In addition, I am engaged in collaborative academic and community projects concerned with critical human rights, including collaborations with Livable Futures and Human Rights in Transit projects.

My current publications can be found here:


Book Publications


Economies of Violence book cover