Race, Labor, Slavery and the Trafficking Framework


Do Black Sex Workers Lives Matter Whitewashed Anti-Slavery, Racial Justice, and Abolition by Robyn Maynard (2018)

This is the most specifically focused work I have found on this subject. This essay is by Canadian University of Toronto Department member and author of “Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present.” On the Academia.edu site, this is available for download.

Black Suffering for/from Anti-trafficking Advocacy by Lyndsey P. Beutin (2017)

Published in the Anti-Trafficking Review, Issue 9. “This article analyses the images that Antislavery Usable Past creates to promote its cause of ‘making the antislavery past usable for contemporary abolition’. Drawing on collective memory studies, I discuss the political implications of how pasts are used for present issues. I argue that Antislavery Usable Past appropriates black suffering by reducing the memory and imagery of slavery to objects that are compatible with the anti-trafficking narrative, without regard for the ongoing black liberation struggle. I conclude by discussing the troubling trend of incorporating anti-trafficking exhibitions into institutions that preserve the history of slavery and abolition. Such inclusions redirect the history lessons of slavery away from understanding and addressing anti-blackness in the present and towards supporting advocacy campaigns articulated in the logics that underpinned racial chattel slavery in the first place.

The white man’s burden revisited by Dr. Kamala Kempadoo (2015)

“The antislavery movement, for example, is dominated by white middle-class or elite men—in the US, Britain and Australia—who founded the majority of international organisations and populate executive boards and directorships, with the resources and cultural capital to produce books, news items, and films on the subject. People of color and non-westerners are positioned in their campaigns as objects for rescue and education, modern-day ‘slaveholders,’ or ‘survivor leaders.’

Anti-Blackness in the Anti-Trafficking Movement: “Modern-Day Slavery” and the Erasure of Racial Slavery  (December 2013)

MA student presents detailed analysis of current work on anti-trafficking and discourses of slavery, focused on US slavery of African Americans. A valuable collection of resources and notes.

Sex Work or Human Trafficking? Race and Imperialism in CNN Report From Cambodia by Anne Elizabeth Moore (May 2014)

“Roaches scatter when the light comes,” Mira Sorvino says in a December video report for CNN, describing a group of shirtless brown-skinned men, faces blurred for the camera, who decline consent to be filmed by getting up and going inside as her videography crew approaches. This group of men weathered the illegal bombing of their country, Cambodia, by her country, the United States, and then survived mass killings under the Khmer Rouge and two decades of civil war after that, all of which left the country so impoverished that people there currently live on about two dollars a day, or less than half the living wage. Sorvino has no sympathy, however, and she doubles down: “Roaches and rats scatter when the light comes,” she says angrily. Her comparison of these men to two of the world’s most hated creatures would, in other contexts, be seen as full-on racist imperialism, but Sorvino feels justified using the slurs because Don Brewster, a white human trafficking abolitionist living in Cambodia, told her these men are sex traffickers. And she believes him.”

White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-vice Activism, 1887-1917 by Brian Donovan. (2005)
This book discusses the importance of race in the “white slave trade” discourse in the late 19th-early 20th century.

Unpacking the Crisis Women of Color, Globalization, and the Prison-Industrial Complex by Julia Sudbury (January 2010)
Discusses multiple aspects of the war on the poor and prison abolitionism. This work is the basis for a critique of the anti-trafficking framework that emphasizes issues not included in many critiques and provides a broad structural view.

The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class by David R. Roediger (1991-2007)
Background material on race, labor and terminology that informs current discourse on trafficking and slavery.”Use of the term white slavery and avoidance of master grew together. The labor movement it self adopted both the embrace of blunt, indeed overdrawn, comparisons with slavery, and euphemistic usages of a newly popular word: boss.”

Sex Work & Racism: Historical Overview of Racism in Anti-Sex Work, Anti-Trafficking and Anti-Immigration Legislation in Europe
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