Dr Rachael Attwood

Dr Rachael Attwood

I was awarded a DPhil from UCL in 2013, having previously studied at both UCL and the University of Oxford. My doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Professor Catherine Hall, is on the politics of activism against trafficking for sex work in turn-of-the-century Britain and, particularly, the representation of trafficking as 'white slavery'. I have taught at both UCL and the University of Sussex, where I was also a Research Fellow at the Centre for German-Jewish Studies. 

My current research focuses on the history of trafficking and migratory sex work in Britain and its empire, as well as on the history of trafficking and anti-trafficking actions in global Jewish communities. I am passionate about sharing my research outside of academia, particularly with child protection and anti-trafficking NGOs, and I have acted as an advisor on a number of academic projects on the history of women's mobility and trafficking.

I joined the University of Westminster as a Lecturer in History in September 2015. I teach on a variety of topics relating to British and Imperial History in the 19th and 20th centuries.

I am a historian of modern British society and culture, specialising in the long nineteenth century; gender history; the history of sexuality; and the history of Jewish immigration. I am happy to supervise students in any of these areas.

My current research focuses on two interrelated areas. The first is the history of trafficking for sex work in Britain and the British Empire from 1880 through to 1945. I am particularly interested in how ideas of slavery, nation, and empire impacted the representation of trafficking in metropolitan Britain throughout this time, and what this tells us about British society and politics.

My second area of research is the interplay between trafficking as a transnational phenomenon and Jewish culture, again from 1880 to 1945. Trafficking was, and is, a multi-denominational and multi-ethnic problem, related to diverse structural social and economic factors, and patterns of migration inter alia. Yet some notable trafficking networks and anti-trafficking initiatives were operated by Jewish people. I am interested in what trafficking meant, and what place trafficking assumed, within different Jewish communities across the world.

  • History Research Group

In brief

Research areas

The history of trafficking for sex work, the history of (im)migration into Britain, modern British social and cultural history, imperial history, Jewish history.

Supervision interests

Modern British History, gender history, imperial history, the history of sex work & trafficking for sex work, Jewish History