Jessica Tjiu

PhD Student Jessica Tjiu

Jessica Tjiu

Ph.D. Candidate

Areas of Expertise

  • Human/Sex Trafficking Discourse
  • Sex Work
  • Labor Migration
  • (Im)migration
  • Transnational Feminism


  • M.A., Women and Gender Studies, San Francisco State University, 2016
  • B.A., Political Science (Concentration: International Studies), University of California, Riverside, 2014
  • B.A., Asian Literature and Culture (Concentration: Chinese), University of California, Riverside, 2014

Jessica Tjiu is a Ph.D student at The Ohio State University in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests focus on the human trafficking discourse, (migrant) sex work, labor migration, and (im)migration. Her MA thesis analyzes the historical and carceral contexts of California’s anti-trafficking law, CASE (Californians Against Slavery and Exploitation) Act. She argues that the CASE Act renders certain kinds of racialized and gendered bodies as being perceived as perpetual deserving victims—(white) young girls and women—and as demonized human traffickers—the dangerous, criminalized black/brown “Other.” Thus, the current carceral framework of human trafficking justifies systematic and racialized violence to protect deserving victims, without considering the socio-economic and political systems that perpetuate exploitation, institutional racism, and marginalization.

In the current human trafficking discourse in the U.S., anti-trafficking advocates and scholars tend to conflate trafficking with modern day slavery, omitting the historical trauma from the slave trade, institutionalized racism, and settler colonialism. To that end, she aims to historicize the human/sex trafficking discourses without erasing the (in)visible effects of institutionalized racism, slavery, and state-sanctioned violence on the existing systematic structures and institutions.