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Rates of exchange: human trafficking and the global marketplace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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Since 1992, the world has witnessed significant geopolitical shifts that have exacerbated the permeability of national borders. In the wake of these changes, there has been a resurgence of human trafficking films that visualise the many unseen movements associated with the surge of globalisation. Many of the popular fiction films center on the movement of people and through a lens of criminality, dramatize the management of the new unruly body. However, as corrective, documentaries call attention to other flows—technological and financial. In doing so, they animate the complexities of economic globalization, and highlight the injustices that take place in the interstices—those zones where licit and illicit economies overlap and test human trafficking’s definitional borders. Documentaries achieve this complex cartography not only through their subject matter, but also through fundamentally unstable and hybrid character as representations of the real dependent upon tactics of fiction. Thematically and formally, then, these films call attention to the instabilities of border control, lifting the topic of human trafficking from a frame of pure criminality, placing it within the flows of the contemporary global economy, and encouraging a much needed shift in perspective.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Contemporary Documentary Film
EditorsAlexandra Juhasz, Alisa Lebow
Place of PublicationChichester, West Sussex, UK; Malden, MA, USA
ISBN (Electronic)9781118884508
ISBN (Print)9780470671641, 9781119685661
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

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