Picture of Genevieve LeBaron

Dr Genevieve LeBaron

Senior Lecturer

Contact Details:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 2221688
Room: 1.24
Email: g.lebaron@sheffield.ac.uk

External Links:

Personal Website: www.genevievelebaron.org

Follow on Academia.edu


Genevieve LeBaron is Senior Lecturer in Politics attached to both the Department of Politics and SPERI at the University of Sheffield. She is also Co-Chair of Yale University’s Modern Day Slavery Working Group housed at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition and a UK ESRC Future Research Fellow (2016-2019). She joined the University of Sheffield as Vice-Chancellor's Fellow in 2013.

Genevieve’s research focuses on the political economy of the global labour market, including current research projects on the governance of labour standards in transnational supply chains and the business models of forced labour.

She is Co-Founder and Editor of openDemocracy.net’s Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, a popular journalistic site that brings together stakeholders who are serious about tackling modern slavery’s economic, political, and social root causes. She has written for leading newspapers including The Guardian and Salon.com, and her research on forced labour has been profiled widely in the media including Fortune Magazine, The Economist, and The Guardian. In 2015, she was awarded the Rising Star Engagement Award from the British Academy in recognition of her contributions to research and policy-making on forced labour.

Prior to joining Sheffield, Genevieve was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, where she remains an Honorary Research Fellow. There, she co-authored Protest Inc: The Corporatization of Activism (Cambridge: Polity, 2014, with Peter Dauvergne), which was shortlisted for the BISA-IPEG Book Prize and is currently being made into a documentary film. She has been Yale University’s Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Fellow and a Visiting Scholar at the International Labour Organization in Geneva and the University of California, Berkeley.

Genevieve has received grants from the Ford Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences, UK Economic and Social Sciences Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award (2015-2017).
  • ESRC Future Research Leader (2016-2019).
  • Co-Founder and Editor, openDemocracy’s Beyond Trafficking and Slavery.
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour, The International Labour Organization (2015).
  • Yale University Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Fellow (2015-2016).
  • Reviewer for publishers including Polity, Zed Books, Sage, Routledge, Palgrave.
  • Reviewer for funding bodies including the UK Economic and Social Research Council and Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
  • Advisory Board, Studies in Social and Global Justice book series, Rowman and Littlefield.

In 2016-2017, I am teaching POL3159: Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Slavery in the Global Economy. At the University of Sheffield, I have also taught POL612: The Political Economy of Globalisation and have developed POL3145 Gender in the Global Political Economy and a new MA module, Business, Labour, and Migration. I have taught courses on labour studies, globalisation, and business at Yale University, York University (Toronto), and Simon Fraser University.

"My teaching philosophy is simple: Recognising that political economy is not a far-off and distant object but rather a force that shapes our daily lives, I try to create courses that are current and relevant to students and encourage them to integrate and consolidate their own experiences. By treating students as intellectual colleagues who bring fascinating insights and ideas to the debate, I strive to create learning environments that not only foster critical thinking and deep analytic reading, but also enable students to understand why these abilities matter."


Watch: Dr LeBaron interviewed on The MacMillan Report.

Dr LeBaron is currently focused on two projects:

I. Challenges in Researching the Shadow Economy

Forced labour, human trafficking and slavery are widely believed to be rapidly proliferating in the global economy. There is however, no reliable global estimate of slavery or trafficking, nor a sound methodology for measuring prevalence of severe labour exploitation. Given the risks associated with researching the shadow economy, few scholars and organizations have even attempted to collect hard data. Reliable estimates and data are necessary for future research on forced labour. This programme will provide a vehicle for an interdisciplinary group of expert scholars to tackle this problem.

Funded by the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences

II. Understanding and Governing Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains

The overall aim of this research is to achieve an in-depth understanding of how forced labour (and overlapping practices like slavery and human trafficking) operate in global supply chains. Key questions include: What factors create 'demand' for forced labour within supply chains? What are the pathways that allow forced labour access to formal industry? How effective are recent public and private governance initiatives to combat forced labour, especially in the sub-tiers of global production? These questions will be investigated through a range of qualitative methods including elite interviews with key informants and ethnographic field research among workers themselves. Supply chain analysis will be used to understand the firm-to-firm dynamics of forced labour along the supply chain (raw material, component, manufacture, distribution and retail). Project partners include Yale University, the International Labour Organization, UK House of Commons, Impactt Ltd, and openDemocracy.net.

Funded by UK Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders Grant.

Key Projects and Grants

Awarding Body: British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Title of Research: Challenges in Researching the Shadow Economy
People Involved: Genevieve LeBaron
Years Funded For: 2015-2017
Amount: £17,500.

Awarding Body: UK Economic and Social Research Council
Title of Research: Understanding and Governing the Global Business of Forced Labour
People Involved: Genevieve LeBaron
Years Funded For: 2016-2019
Amount: ~ £280,000



  • P. Dauvergne & G. LeBaron (2014). Protest Inc: The Corporatization of Activism. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2014.
  • G. LeBaron (2014). Unfree Labor and the Free Market: Prisoners, Profitability, and the American State, 1820-2011. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. (Under contract)

Journal Articles

Book chapters

  • G. LeBaron, J. Lister & P. Dauvergne (2017). ‘The New Gatekeeper: Compliance Audits as an Extra-Contractual Mechanism of Global Governance.’ In C. Cutler and T. Dietz (eds), The Politics of Transnational Governance by Contract. Routledge.
  • G. LeBaron (2017) ‘Women and Unfree Labour in the Global Political Economy.’ In A. Roberts and J. Elias (eds) Handbook of International Political Economy of Gender. Edward Elgar.
  • G. LeBaron (2017) ‘Prison Labor, Slavery, and the State.’ In L. Brace & J. O’Connell-Davidson (eds) Slaveries Old & New. Proceedings of the British Academy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • G. LeBaron (2016) ‘Slavery, Human Trafficking, and Forced Labour: Implications for International Development.’ In J. Gruegel & D. Hammett (eds) The Handbook of International Development. London: Palgrave.

Edited Collections

Reviews in refereed journals

  • G. LeBaron (2015/2016) ‘Hazard or Hardship: Crafting Global Norms on the Right to Refuse Unsafe Work.’ Perspectives on Politics (forthcoming).
  • G. LeBaron (2015) ‘Occupying Political Science: The Occupy Wall Street Movement from New York to the World.’ Global Policy.
  • G. LeBaron (2013) ‘Gender Inequalities, Households, and the Production of Well-Being in Modern Europe.’ Feminist Economics 19(1): 141-145.
  • G. LeBaron (2013) ‘Making Feminist Politics: Transnational Alliances Between Women and Labor.’ Politics & Gender 8(1): 145-151.

Research Reports

  • G. LeBaron & J. Lister (2016) Ethical Audits and the Supply Chains of Global Corporations. SPERI Global Political Economy Brief.
  • C. Hay, S. Lavery, M. Craig, T. Hastings, H. Lambie-Mumford, D. Tepe-Belfrage, G. LeBaron, A. Gamble, A. Barber, C. Berry & T. Payne (2015) Inequality Redux. SPERI Paper No. 22.
  • G. LeBaron & N. Howard (2015) Confronting Root Causes: Forced Labour in the Global Economy. Geneva: International Labour Office.
  • J. Allain, A. Crane, G. LeBaron & L. Behbahani (2013) Forced Labour's Business Models & Supply Chains. York, UK: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  • J. Lister & G. LeBaron (2012) Shopping For Sustainability at the Canton Fair: The Political Economy of Transnational Brand Retail Governance in China. Vancouver, Canada: Liu Institute for Global Issues.

Newspaper and Magazine Articles (selective)

  • J. Quirk & G. LeBaron. ‘The Use and Abuse of History: Slavery and its Contemporary Legacies.’ openDemocracy.net, 20 April 2015.
  • G. LeBaron & N. Howard. ‘Forced Labour is Big Business. And States and Corporations Are Doing Little to Stop It.’ openDemocracy.net, 13 March 2015.
  • G. LeBaron. ‘Time to Get Serious About Slavery in Supply Chains.’ SPERI Comment; openDemocracy.net, 7 October 2014.
  • G. LeBaron, N. Howard & C. Thibos. ‘Why We Need to Move Beyond Trafficking and Slavery.’ openDemocracy.net, 3 October 2014.
  • G. LeBaron & P. Dauvergne. ‘Wal-Mart and Exxon Have This in Common: Big Checks, Famed Nonprofits, and Corporate Greenwashing.’ Salon.com, 22 June 2014.
  • G. LeBaron & A. Crane. ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: Slavery on a High Street Near You.’ The Guardian, 20 November 2013.

Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • 'Researching Forced Labor in Global Supply Chains.' Invited Presentation, British Academy Summer Soirée, 28 June 2016.
  • ‘Combatting the Business of Forced Labor in Global Supply Chains.’ Invited Lecture, Yale University, 27 January 2016.
  • 'Lessons from Beyond Trafficking and Slavery.’ Invited plenary presentation, Historians Against Slavery Conference, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, 25 September 2015.
  • ‘Governance Gaps in Eradicating Forced Labour in Domestic Supply Chains.’ Invited presentation, International Labour Organization, Regulating Decent Work conference, Geneva, 10 July 2015.
  • ‘Corporatizing Activism: The Politics and (In)Effectiveness of Market Based Labour Governance.’ Invited lecture, London School of Economics, Reinventing Corporate Accountability After Rana Plaza conference, London, 23 June 2015.
  • ‘Benchmarking Global Supply Chains: The Power of the ‘Ethical Audit’ Regime.’ Invited presentation, Review of International Studies 40th Anniversary panel, British International Studies Association Conference, London, 18 June 2015.
  • ‘Protest Inc: The Corporatization of Activism.’ Invited lecture, University of Cambridge, Cambridge Review of International Affairs lecture series, Cambridge, 28 October 2014.
  • ‘Interactions in Public and Private “Modern Slavery” Governance.’ Invited presentation, University of Amsterdam, workshop on Combining Public and Private Labor Standards Protections, Amsterdam, 25 September, 2014.

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