Peer Reviewed





Rhetoric, as a discipline, can and should play a part in helping (re)formulate and (re)frame approaches to human trafficking because of the potential for such change to ripple through cultural discourse, leading to shifts across public understanding, law, and policy. Specifically, I argue that a Cultural Rhetorics approach is both necessary for and best suited to initiate the building of new communication spaces to address the issue of human trafficking. Indeed, the lens of Cultural Rhetorics reveals new priorities for scholarly intervention. This work must be rooted in and driven by attentiveness to and careful handling of stories. Such an alternate approach might more closely consider and account for the stories that individuals tell about themselves, the stories that survivors tell about their lived experiences, and the stories that institutions put forward about human trafficking. In so doing, we might then be better able to evaluate how these stories interconnect and constellate not just with each other, but also with a range of cultural influences.


Rhetoric, Framing, Cultural Rhetorics, Activism, Human Trafficking

Total Pages

21 pages


Copyright © 2017 John T. Gagnon

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.


I am grateful to Dr. Malea Powell, Dr. Bill Hart-Davidson, Dr. Trixie Smith, and Dr. Candace Epps-Robertson for their encouragement and feedback.