Personal details

Dr Erin O'Brien
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Law,
School of Justice
Discipline *
Criminology, Political Science
+61 7 3138 7103
View location details (QUT staff and student access only)
Identifiers and profiles

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, CJSDRC

* 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 resistance. 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 examines emerging activism and advocacy strategies in response to human rights abuses, and political discourse and policy concerning human trafficking and labour exploitation. Erin is the author of Challenging the Human Trafficking Narrative: Victims, Villains, and Heroes (Routledge 2018), lead author of The Politics of Sex Trafficking: A Moral Geography (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) and co-editor of Crime, Justice and Social Democracy: international perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan 2012). Erin is the leader of the Governance, Activism and Social Change group of the QUT Crime and Justice Research Centre, and Coordinator of the Policy and Governance Major in the Bachelor of Justice Degree. She is currently supervising PhD projects on civil society activism, human trafficking, sex work, migration, and environmentalism.

Research interests

  • political activism and resistance
  • tactics and influence of political interest groups
  • human trafficking and ‘modern slavery’
  • consumerism, corporate social responsibility and labour exploitation
  • sex work and the sex industry
  • migration policy and discourse
  • religion and politics

Challenging the Human Trafficking Narrative: Victims, Villains, and Heroes, by Erin O’Brien. Routledge 2018.
The Politics of Sex Trafficking: A Moral Geography, by Erin O’Brien, Sharon Hayes and Belinda Carpenter. Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
Crime, Justice and Social Democracy: International Perspectives, edited by Kerry Carrington, Matthew Ball, Erin O’Brien and Juan Tauri. Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
For a full list of publications visit:,_Erin.html

This information has been contributed by Dr Erin O'Brien.


  • JSB260 Global Justice and Human Security
  • JSB263 Australian Political Institutions
  • JSB379 Political Practice, People Power and Protest
  • JSB982 Transnational Crime
  • JSB171 Justice and Society
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