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Dr Erin O'Brien

Faculty of Law,
School of Justice


Dr Erin O'Brien
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Law,
School of Justice
Discipline *
Criminology, Political Science
+61 7 3138 7103
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PhD (University of Queensland), MA (University of Durham)

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Australian Political Science Association (APSA)
  • American Society of Criminology Division on Women and Crime
  • British Society of Criminology – Women, Crime and Criminal Justice Network

Political activism, Human trafficking, Sex Work, Migration, Politics, CJRC, ILGG

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


Background Erin has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Queensland, a MA in Social Policy from the University of Durham, UK, and a BA (Honours) in International Relations from the University of Queensland, Australia. Prior to entering academia, Erin worked in strategic communications in the government and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Recent Research Erin’s research examines the spectrum of political activism from institutionalised structures and processes for policy change, to acts of politically motivated lawbreaking. She is particularly interested in the interplay between activists and the state in the construction of knowledge and formation of policy on issues of sex, gender, and justice. Her current research primarily focuses on human trafficking and policy discourse, and political activism within the anti-slavery movement. Erin is the lead author of The Politics of Sex Trafficking: a moral geography (with Belinda Carpenter and Sharon Hayes) which examines the morality politics surrounding the development of anti-trafficking legislation in Australia and the United States. She is also co-editor of Crime, Justice and Social Democracy: international perspectives (with Kerry Carrington, Matthew Ball and Juan Tauri). Erin is currently supervising PhD projects on civil society activism, human trafficking, sex work, migration, environmentalism, and terrorism.

Research interests

  • political activism, protest, and civil disobedience
  • tactics and influence of political interest groups
  • human trafficking and ‘modern day slavery’
  • consumerism, corporate social responsibility and labour exploitation
  • sex work and the sex industry
  • migration policy and discourse
  • religion and politics
Featured publications:
(2013) The Politics of Sex Trafficking : a Moral Geography. Critical Criminological Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK. (with Sharon Hayes and Belinda Carpenter)
(2015) Prostitution Ideology and Trafficking Policy. Journal of Women, Politics and Policy36(2), pp. 191-212.
For a full list of publications visit: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/view/person/O=27Brien,_Erin.html
This information has been contributed by Dr Erin O'Brien.


  • JSB260 Global Justice and Human Security
  • JSB263 Justice Institutions
  • JSB379 Political Practice, People Power and Protest
  • JSB982 Transnational Crime
  • JSB171 Justice and Society
  • NSB113 Diversity and Health
  • JSB378 Drugs and Crime
This information has been contributed by Dr Erin O'Brien.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.


Current supervisions