In what ways do the arts reflect, reveal, or critique child labor and human trafficking crimes in our communities? How is the effect of artistic representation different from the effect of legal action? Does repeated representation of these activities in the arts deaden public response or deepen it?
Over the course of three days and across varied media and forums, The Center for Civil & Human Rights and its partners – The Kellogg Institute for International Studies; The Department of Film, Television and Theatre; The Center for Social Concerns, Higgins Labor Studies Program; and the College of Arts and letters – explored these questions through performance and dialogue.
Beginning with Prof. Anton Juan’s play “Shadows of the Reef,” a dramatic evocation of the problems of child labor in Philippine fishing communities, and continuing with screenings of two films, “Last Train Home” by Lixin Fan and “Fields of Mudan” by Steven Chang, the complex web of social and global pressures that come to bear on the problems of human trafficking were brought to light.
The symposium’s concluding event was a panel discussion with Prof. Anton Juan, Carlos Arejola (National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Manila) and Terence Coonan (Center for Advancement of Human Rights, Florida State University). With their differing professional perspectives, the speakers both elucidated and problematized the issues of child labor. A constant theme was the deeply ingrained nature of child and forced labor in our social structures.