1st Edition

White Supremacy, Racism and the Coloniality of Anti-Trafficking

Edited By Kamala Kempadoo, Elena Shih Copyright 2023
    292 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    292 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Global efforts to combat human trafficking are ubiquitous and reference particular ideas about unfreedoms, suffering, and rescue. The discourse has, however, a distinct racialized legacy that is lodged specifically in fears about "white slavery," women in prostitution and migration, and the defilement of white womanhood by the criminal and racialized Other. White Supremacy, Racism and the Coloniality of Anti-Trafficking centers the legacies of race and racism in contemporary anti-trafficking work and examines them in greater detail.

    A number of recent arguments have suggested that race and racism are not only visible, but vital, to the success of contemporary anti- trafficking discourses and movements. The contributors offer recent scholarship grounded in critical anti- racist perspectives that reveal the historical and contemporary racial working of anti- trafficking discourses and practices globally—and how these intersect with gender, citizenship, sexuality, caste and class formations, and the global political economy.


    Rethinking the Field from Anti-Racist and Decolonial Perspectives
    Kamala Kempadoo and Elena Shih

    White Supremacy and Imperialism in Anti-Trafficking

    1. Anti-Trafficking and Anti-smuggling Campaigns in West Africa as New Racialised Migration Deterrence Efforts
      Sam Okyere and Peter Olayiwola
    2. Trafficking, Terror and their Tropes
      Pardis Mahdavi
    3. The Anti-Trafficking Apparatus has a Racial Justice Problem
      Lyndsey Beutin
    4. Exploring the Role of Race and Racial Difference in the Legislative Intent of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act
      Arifa Raza
    5. Global White Supremacy and Anti-Trafficking: Race, Racism, and the Politics of Human Trafficking
      Elya Durisin
    6. To Trip the White Fantastic: The Road from White Supremacy to Sex Trafficking Safaris
      Gregory Mitchell
    7. Colonialism and Racialization in Anti-Trafficking

    8. Whore’s Passport: Racialism, National Identity and the Trafficking of Brazilian Women
      Thaddeus Blanchette and Ana Paula da Silva
    9. Anti-Trafficking and Settler-Colonial Discourses of Protection: The Coloniality of Racialized Interventions
      Julie Kaye
    10. The Jaula and Racialization of the Amazon: Reflections on Racism and Geopolitics in the Struggle Against Human Trafficking in Brazil
      José Miguel Nieto Olivar and Flávia Melo
    11. Constructing Victims and Criminals Through the Racial Figure of ‘The Gypsy’
      Marlene Spanger
    12. "Is It Because I’m Not Young and White with Blue Eyes?": Canadian Police Response to Sex Workers of Color’s Experiences of Exploitation and Trafficking
      Menaka Raguparan
    13. Trafficking Indianness by Legislating Settler Sexuality Logics
      April Petillo
    14. Imperial Anti-Trafficking: Producing Racialized Knowledge Regimes over the Longue Durée
      Mishal Khan
    15. Migrant and Sex Worker Resistance to Anti-Trafficking

    16. Resistance of Butterfly: Mobilization of Asian Migrant Sex Workers Against Sexism and Racism in Canadian Anti-Trafficking Measures
      Elene Lam, Jaden Hsin-Yun Peng and Coly Chau
    17. The Aesthetic of Migrant Sex Work: Creation of White Identity and Perceived Moral Superiority
      Nada DeCat
    18. Sex Work in Jamaica: Trafficking, Modern Slavery and Slavery’s Afterlives
      Julia O’Connell Davidson and Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor
    19. Migrant Domestic Workers, Asylum-Seekers and Premonitions of Anti-Trafficking in Hong Kong
      Julie Ham, Iulia Gheorghiu and Eni Lestari


    Kamala Kempadoo is Professor of Social Science at York University, Canada. She has published extensively on the Caribbean sex trade, global sex workers’ rights, and hegemonic anti- trafficking discourses, including the books Global Sex Workers (edited with Jo Doezema, Routledge 1998), Sexing the Caribbean (Routledge 2004), and Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered (edited with Jyoti Sanghera and Bandana Pattanaik, Paradigm 2005/ 2011). More recently, she is co-editor, with Halimah A. F. DeShong, of the collection Methodologies in Caribbean Research on Gender and Sexuality (Ian Randle Press 2021).

    Elena Shih is Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University in the U.S., where she directs a human trafficking research cluster through Brown’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. Her research focuses on the impact of anti- trafficking programs on the policing of migration, sex work, gender, and poverty. She is the author of Manufacturing Freedom (University of California Press 2023), a global ethnography of anti-trafficking rehabilitation in China, Thailand, and the U.S.

    ‘This book offers a trenchant — and utterly necessary — critique of contemporary anti-trafficking efforts, exposing the racist and neo-colonialist underpinnings of mainstream and even self-styled "critical" approaches to addressing severe exploitation in our global economy. By providing a platform for anti-racist scholars — and more importantly, those who are racialized, colonized, and marginalized by anti-trafficking interventions — to voice their concerns, this volume humbles and challenges us to do and think better. This should be required reading for any academic, activist, or policy-maker who aspires to help rid the world of "modern-day slavery."’

    Janie Chuang, American University – Washington College of Law

    ‘This illuminating volume puts to rest any lingering doubt that racism is integral to the history and advancement of coloniality and global capitalism—not just in the case of human trafficking, but equally in measures designed to fight trafficking. A much-needed intervention at the intersection of global migration, class, and sex/gender.’

    Ilan Kapoor, York University, Toronto, and author of Confronting Desire: Psychoanalysis and International Development

    White Supremacy, Racism and the Coloniality of Anti-Trafficking is a bold and imaginative project. The editors of the book, Kamala Kempadoo and Elena Shih, have brought together contributors that dig deeper, and go beyond the smokescreen of ‘rescue’ that dominant anti-trafficking campaigners with more resources convey on our TV screens.

    ‘For those who seek a better understanding of studying the methodologies and responses to human trafficking, this book is worth reading.’

    Kwame Nimako, Founder and Director, Black Europe Summer School, Amsterdam

    ‘This is an important collection that sets the framework for how we understand human trafficking. It provides a sweeping overview of anti-trafficking campaigns across the globe as it
    definitively shows how racism undergirds these efforts resulting in criminalization and exclusion.’

    Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Florence Everline Professor of Sociology and Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Southern California

    This robust tapestry of works from an interdisciplinary body of authors is a required reading for any person interested in contemporary debates on human trafficking, how this phenomenon has been historically conceptualized, and the impact that anti-trafficking measures have had on particular groups.

    Carlos Iglesias Vergara, Lancaster University Law School, UK