The Figure of the Trafficked Victim: Gender, Rights and Representation

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During the last two decades, critical scholars in gender, migration and post-colonial studies have been engaged in attempting to dislodge the figure of the sex trafficking victim from its position of primacy in public, policy and academic debates. The body of work that stresses the agency and rights of migrant women in the sex sector has put forward a convincing critique of the passive and enslaved trafficking victim and has replaced the latter with the figures of the active migrant and the political protagonist. Despite such a shift, however, the figure of the trafficking victim continues to dominate public and policy arenas. In this chapter, I am interested in the persistence of the figure of the victim and suggest that that the figure of the victim is not a ‘free-floating’ but rather produced through specific codes and conventions. These issues, I argue, become visible by bringing to the fore the nexus among sexuality, gender and narrative. By building on feminist scholarship on sexuality and representation in film, visual media studies and historical studies of East/West Europe, I explore the ways in which representations are embedded within narrative tropes and discursive constructions about women’s sexuality that are culturally and historically specific.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe SAGE Handbook of Feminist Theory
EditorsMary Evans, Clare Hemmings, Marsha Henry, Hazel Johnstone, Sumi Madhok, Ania Plomien, Sadie Wearing
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781473907331
ISBN (Print)9781446252413
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2014

Structured keywords

  • Gender Research Group
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol
  • MGMT Work Organisation and Public Policy




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