The right to locomotion? Trafficking, slavery and the state’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


The chapter questions the historical parallel frequently drawn between what is dubbed ‘human trafficking’ and the transatlantic slave trade, calling attention instead to the similarities between slave states’ efforts to restrict and control the mobility of the enslaved and the mechanisms used by contemporary states to prevent and ‘manage’ migration. In a world where so many people need and/or want to move, the forms of abuse, exploitation and violence that attract the condemnation of today’s abolitionists, along with other restrictions on freedom that fall outside the scope of their concern, are largely products of these restraints on freedom of movement. But assuring all human beings full and equal rights of free movement is not currently on any government’s political agenda. In fact, despite being articulated as concern to address the violation of a right belonging to all humankind, the commitment of political leaders of liberal states to the eradication of ‘trafficking’ is born of a preoccupation with state security and sovereignty, and more extensive and closer controls over free movement are presented as consistent with, even constitutive of, a battle to end a ‘modern-day slave trade’. This represents another victory for the particularist model of rights. Why does that go unchallenged by neo-abolitionist organisations such as Free the Slaves, Not For Sale, Stop the Traffik, and Walk Free, the chapter asks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevisiting the Law and Governance of Trafficking, Forced Labor, and Modern Slavery.
EditorsPrabha Kotiswaran
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Print)9781316675809
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Structured keywords

  • Migration Mobilities Bristol


  • Trafficking
  • freedom


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