This paper explores the attempt in the UK to characterise migrant domestic workers’ unfreedom (their inability to circulate in the labour market and the requirement that they reside and work in the homes of their employers) as modern slavery, domestic servitude and a form of trafficking. In doing so, it utilises a multidimensional approach to workers’ unfreedom and, building upon the work of Freedland and Kountouris, develops a conception of legal construction that is sensitive to legal pluralism and multi-scalar jurisdictions.

It traces the complex interaction of international, European and domestic laws involved in the construction of domestic servitude as a legal category. Reflecting on the case study, the paper argues that embedding domestic servitude in criminal law and immigration-control paradigms constrained the ability of advocates to use human rights instruments to challenge stereotypes and to address the deeper causes of migrant domestic workers’ unfreedom.

A light sandwich lunch and refreshments will be provided. 


have any questions about this event.This paper explores the attempt in the UK to characterise migrant domestic workers’ unfreedom (their inability to circulate in the labour market and the requirement that they reside and work in the homes of their employers) as modern slavery, domestic servitude and a form of trafficking. In doing so, it utilises a multidimensional approach to workers’ unfreedom and, building upon the work of Freedland and Kountouris, develops a conception of legal construction that is sensitive to legal pluralism and multi-scalar jurisdictions. It traces the complex interaction of international, European and domestic laws involved in the construction of domestic servitude as a legal category. Reflecting on the case study, the paper argues that embedding domestic servitude in criminal law and immigration-control paradigms constrained the ability of advocates to use human rights instruments to challenge stereotypes and to address the deeper causes of migrant domestic workers’ unfreedom.This paper explores the attempt in the UK to characterise migrant domestic workers’ unfreedom (their inability to circulate in the labour market and the requirement that they reside and work in the homes of their employers) as modern slavery, domestic servitude and a form of trafficking. In doing so, it utilises a multidimensional approach to workers’ unfreedom and, building upon the work of Freedland and Kountouris, develops a conception of legal construction that is sensitive to legal pluralism and multi-scalar jurisdictions. It traces the complex interaction of international, European and domestic laws involved in the construction of domestic servitude as a legal category. Reflecting on the case study, the paper argues that embedding domestic servitude in criminal law and immigration-control paradigms constrained the ability of advocates to use human rights instruments to challenge stereotypes and to address the deeper causes of migrant domestic workers’ unfreedom.