The placeness of sex trafficking-instilling consciousness through minnesota's experience

Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Melanie Povlitzki, Hannah Preble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Collaboration has long been lauded as an effective means of bringing about change. In the case of sex trafficking, one of the greatest social ills of our time, collaborations with designers can shed light on the ways that sex trafficking remains hidden from public consciousness thereby allowing it to proliferate. By joining forces with others working to end trafficking in Minnesota, we explore the types of places implicated in sex trafficking and the potential role of design solutions, adding new dimensions to dialogues that call for an end to modern-is a call to action. In these efforts, we immerse interior design scholarship, pedagogies, and practice in the placeness of trafficking. "Placeness" connotes the state of being tied to a place, a physical space with material and social/behavioral qualities. We use a Multi-Disciplinary, Multi-Sectoral, Collaborative Engagement approach to unravel the mysteries surrounding the placeness of sex trafficking. This required a synthesis of interdisciplinary knowledge and collaboration with other university units, as well as close work with local institutions, organizations, and community members. Our team visited places identified by our collaborators that allowed us to experience them firsthand and begin to narrow down the design parameters that might make these specific spaces amenable to trafficking. Findings point to sex trafficking of women and girls in Minnesota happening everywhere around us: from cyberspace to hotel rooms and bathrooms in transit spaces, from public to private places, from the obvious to the unexpected. Design parameters we identified as conducive to trafficking or not, include space planning, color choices, and code regulations. Attention to design opportunities that emerge through collaborative energies can build consciousness and position design as a medium for social justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Interior Design
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


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