Trafficking as the moral filter of migration control

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We argue in this chapter that the concept of human trafficking supports states’ efforts to control migration by sorting migrants into victims and non-victims, and by demonising those who facilitate irregular movement across borders. This provides a justification for returning both groups to their countries of origin while giving states a morally high-grounded reason to police migration. We begin by looking at the origins of the trafficking concept in campaigns against prostitution and the movement of unaccompanied white women in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We trace how this combined with efforts to rid the world of child labour and concerns over the migration that accompanied globalisation to create the current international trafficking regime in the early 2000s. We end with a series of vignettes from recent ethnographic literature that demonstrate the inadequacy of the regime’s categories as well as the resistance of those seeking to navigate them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Handbook on the Governance and Politics of Migration
EditorsEmma Carmel, Katharina Lenner, Regine Paul
Place of PublicationCheltenham, U. K.
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781788117227
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2021


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