SOAS University of London

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

The Figure of the Trafficked Victim: gender, rights and representation

Rutvica Andrijasevic (Leicester)

Date: 10 October 2012Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 10 October 2012Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Seminar

In this talk I take the figure of the trafficked victim as my point of departure and illustrate the ways in which representation of trafficked victim’s body as female, wounded and innocent ties in with citizenship and social policy. 

Two main debates frame the representation of the figure of the trafficked victim: migration and prostitution. Both are organised around issues of force, deception and coercion. Drawing on feminist and queer works on representation, I will unpack the figure of a coerced, innocent, and wounded trafficked victim to show the normative assumptions around gender, sexuality and the nation on which such a figure is based. 

More concretely, this will lead me to discuss the notion of Woman, namely of ‘woman as representation’ which, in opposition to ‘women as experience’ works as a signifier bound by the symbolic order whereby the female occupies of position of the irrational, unstable, sexualised and racialised ‘Other’. By doing so, I will show that issues of passivity, domesticity and morality are always already entrenched within the symbolic register of femininity and consequently set, and limit, the ways in which migrant women, especially those doing sex work, can be represented. 

Drawing on feminist work in cinema studies, I will further discuss how such representation goes hand in hand with voyeurism of women’s bodies, and hence the ways in which victimisation and eroticisation overlap in the figure of the trafficked victim. 

Finally, and by pointing to the necessity of placing the figure of the trafficked victim within a specific historical and political context, I will show that representation and rights are both imbued with sexual meaning and need to be considered together.  This will lead me to discuss how the figure of the trafficked victim cannot be viewed apart from social policies on prostitution and migration as well as debates on citizenship.  

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 0207 898 4434