Laura Murphy

Associate Professor of English and Director of the Modern Slavery Research Project, Loyola University New Orleans

About Laura

Murphy is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University New Orleans, where she and a team of researchers work to provide data-informed, community-based, survivor-centered research that improves community response to modern slavery in the United States and internationally. She is the author of Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives (Columbia University Press, 2014), which highlights the voices of over 40 survivors of 21st century slavery. In her most recent study, she interviewed 641 homeless and runaway youth about their experiences of labor and sexual exploitation, and provided a four-pronged blueprint for how homeless service providers can best assist youth at risk of trafficking. She is a sought-after trainer and public speaker who has educated and motivated thousands of community activists, students, law enforcement officers, service providers, and medical professionals to respond compassionately and effectively to the needs of survivors of trafficking. As a consultant, she provides stakeholders assistance with community-based research, curriculum design, and awareness projects in the field of modern slavery, human trafficking, and other social justice issues.

In the News

Laura Murphy's research on human trafficking discussed by John Haskins, "Study Provides Important Revelations about Human Trafficking in America," The Blaze, April 23, 2017.
Laura Murphy's research on sex trafficking among homeless youth discussed by Rebecca Catalanello, "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 by Kevin Ryan, "Homeless Teens at Greater Risk of Sex Trafficking" CNBC, March 10, 2015.
"Funding Anti-Trafficking Efforts Must be a Priority," Laura Murphy, Huffington Post, March 10, 2015.
Laura Murphy quoted on enforcing human trafficking laws by 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", Laura Murphy, October 20, 2013.
Guest to discuss the history of and attitude toward human trafficking in New Orleans on Notes from New Orleans, Laura Murphy, August 8, 2013.
"Shots Not Heard Round the World in NOLA," Laura Murphy, The Root, May 16, 2013.
Guest to discuss human trafficking on New Orleans Public Access’ “Health Issues”, Laura Murphy, April 23, 2013.


"Narrating 'White Slavery!' in The Wire. A Generic Genealogy" Genre 47, no. 2 (2014).

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.

"Anti-trafficking's Sensational Misinformation: The "72-hour Myth" and America's Homeless Youth" Journal of Human Trafficking (2018): 1-3.

Tracks down the sources of the misinformation being spread that runaway and homeless youth are likely to be trafficked for sex within 72 hours of leaving home. Provides a nuanced and survivor-centered portrait of the human trafficking –both sex and labor– that affects the homeless youth population.

"Labor and Sex Trafficking Among Homeless Youth: A Ten-City Study Full Report," The Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University New Orleans, April 1, 2017.

Provides a detailed account of labor and sexual exploitation experienced by homeless youth in Covenant House's care in ten cities.

"Trafficking and Exploitative Labor among Homeless Youth in New Orleans," (with Christian L. Bolden and Rae Taylor), 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.
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.