Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Gender and Feminism Network Seminar: Capturing the Photographer's Assistant

25 January 2017, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

The First Step from Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls or the war on the white slave trade

Event Information

Open to



Gender and Feminism Network


Institute of Advanced Studies
Gower Street
United Kingdom

'Capturing the Photographer's Assistant - Trafficked women, global micro-history and the politics of historical rescue'

The IAS Gender and Feminism Research Network welcomes Dr Julia Laite from Birkbeck for this first seminar of the Spring Term for this talk on early 20th century trafficking.


Lydia Harvey was working as a photographer's assistant in Wellington, New Zealand, when she met Antonio Carvelli in 1910. He convinced her to come with him to Argentina to 'see gentleman', and, misled by promises of money and luxury, she agreed. After a harrowing experience in Buenos Aires and London, she became the key witness in the case against her traffickers and was repatriated to her home country. Harvey's story is part of a larger microhistory of trafficking that Dr Laite is currently writing. Using digitised newspapers, family history records online and intensive archival research in four countries, she has discovered many details about her life, and the lives and experiences of the other people involved in this case. In this talk, she will explore the way in which this small case helps to illuminate a wider global history of trafficking in this period, and will also discuss the complicated politics of rescuing Harvey - and her traffickers - from the past.

Speaker bio

Julia Laite is Lecturer in Modern History at Birkbeck, University of London. She researches women's history, the history of sexuality, and the history of migration in Britain and the British world. Dr Laite is currently working on a global microhistory of trafficking in the early twentieth century British world, which looks at one case of trafficking, or 'white slavery' as it was called, in 1910. She is also Primary Investigator in a three-year AHRC-funded project (with Philippa Hetherington, UCL) which examines 'Trafficking, Smuggling and Illicit Migration in Gendered and Historical Perspective', and seeks to bring together research on the modern history of trafficking and build a digital resource. Her first book, Common Prostitutes and Ordinary Citizens: Commercial Sex in London, 1885-1930 (Palgrave, 2011) examined the criminalisation of prostitution in the metropolis in a period that witness the codification of laws and development of policies that helped to shape the control of prostitution and the experiences of women who sold sex in the twentieth century.

All welcome.  Please register here.