'Control in the Name of Protection': A Critical Analysis of the Discourse of International Human Trafficking as a Form of Forced Migration

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Abstract:

A typical depiction of human trafficking portrays na├»ve women who leave their country, run into the arms of exploitative mafia networks and are forced into the sex industry. The emphasis often lies upon the hazards involved in migration and sexual exploitation. This straightforward narrative not only creates a particular ‘trafficked’ subject, but also constitutes a specific and rarely questioned representation of international human trafficking. For governments, as well as for several inter-, quasi-, or nongovernmental organisations, trafficking has become an emotive political priority. The growing international concern around the issue has led to an increase in studies that examine the whole process of trafficking, with the aim of developing counter-trafficking projects and strategies. The majority of these studies limit themselves to describing the practice of trafficking, highlighting the actors involved, the routes taken, the exploitation and possible mechanisms to fight it. Thus, there is a stress on creating programs to combat this ‘evil’ at the expense of a better understanding of its complexities. In the present article I question the common interpretations of trafficking by analysing them as a form of discourse as understood by Michel Foucault. ...

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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