Spring 2021 - LBST 307 D100

Unfree Labour and Modern Slavery: Understanding Coercion and Exploitation in Contemporary (3)

Class Number: 5738

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 11 – Apr 16, 2021: Mon, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Laya Behbahani
    Office Hours: By appointment online
  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly Recommended: LBST 101.



An exploration of the expanding forms of unfree labour in capitalist economies as products of changing labour processes, global labour markets, and the policies of neoliberalism and 'austerity'.


We begin by critically engaging the concept of unfree labour, which has consumed much of contemporary international debates across the political spectrum. The impacts of law and policy development are considered in relation to international trade, focusing on contemporary forms of modern slavery. We will pay close attention to questions of gender, race, and inequality in the construction and reproduction of international markets, as well as to the role of various agents and social movements in contesting and reinforcing these relations. We will aim to critically reflect on contemporary narratives about the public policy concerning unfree labour and modern slavery in order to arrive at a socially nuanced international political economy explanation of labour.


  • Policy paper 20%
  • Research paper proposal 10%
  • Research paper 40%
  • Group presentation 15%
  • Pop quizzes 5%
  • Participation 10%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Labour Studies Program follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



Beate Andrees and Patrick Belser (eds), Forced Labor: Coercion and Exploitation in the Private Economy (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2009).

Judy Fudge and Kendra Strauss, Temporary Work, Agencies and Unfree Labour: Insecurity in the New World of Work (Routledge, 2013).

Genevieve LeBaron, Researching Forced Labour in the Global Economy: Methodological Challenges and Advances (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Genevieve LeBaron, Combatting Modern Slavery: Why Labour Governance is Failing and What We Can Do About It (Polity Press, 2020).

Richard Locke, The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).