Dr Rutvica Andrijasevic works at the Centre for Labour Market Studies and School of Management, University of Leicester. She is the author of Migration, Agency and Citizenship in Sex Trafficking (Palgrave, 2010) and has co-edited with Bridget Anderson a special issue of the journal Subjectivity entitled Conflicts of Mobility: Migration, Labour and Political Subjectivity. Her academic, policy and activist engagements are with issues of gender, sexuality, labour and citizenship in Europe. She is a member of the editorial collective Feminist Review. More information
The Figure of the Trafficked Victim: Gender, Rights and Representation
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 this figure is not a ‘free-floating’ one 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.