Challenging the Human Trafficking Narrative : Victims, Villains and Heroes by CJSDRC member, Dr Erin O’Brien was launched last night at Avid Bookstore West End, by Professor Kerry Carrington. It was a full house attended by a large audience.
The book is published in a Routledge book series Victims, Culture and Society co-edited by her and Professor Sandra Walklate, from University of Liverpool
Concerns about victimisation, as well as the politics of victimisation, have multiplied over the last 50 years. The book series Victims, Culture and Society explores the major concepts, debates and controversies that this concern has generated. As the impact of globalisation, the movement of peoples, the divergences between the global north and the global south have become ever more apparent, this series provides an authoritative space for original contributions in making sense of these far reaching social, political and cultural changes. These issues by their very nature demand an interdisciplinary approach outside conventional conceptual boundaries. Victims, Culture and Society offers the space for that voice. Erin’s book – which draws upon a range of interdisciplinary insights, from political theory, feminism, criminology and sociology, is therefore an ideal fit for the series. In it Erin deconstructs the familiar story of an Ideal victim of human trafficking, A foreign villain and a Western Hero, and interrogates the discourses and assumptions embedded in this over-simplified and caricatured narrative by turning it on its head. Why do dominant victim narratives construct a hierarchy between ideal and undeserving victims? Why do these narratives construct victims as hapless with no agency? Why are some victims narratives more prominent than others?
Why are the villains always foreign, ’undesirable others’ Johns, or pimps from gangs or organised crime?
What’s the role of the consumers in the sex industry? Are they villains or heros?
And why are the heros in dominant narratives about human trafficking nearly always white anti-trafficking activists and govts from the global north?
Erin’s book provides a beautifully crafted and engaging response to these questions.
Further information about the book can be found here: