TAPSA Talk - Kimberly Walters

"Force is a Form of Trafficking’: The Shifting Sands of Transnational Sympathy and the Epistemology of Commercial Sex"

With the rapid rise in transnational funding for anti-trafficking initiatives, South Indian organizations that were once sites of sex worker empowerment efforts (in the name of HIV prevention) have begun to morph into sex worker rescue projects. This talk explores this ongoing shift at a highly visible sex workers’ community-based organization (CBO) in Hyderabad, India that recently expanded into a non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in prevention and rehabilitation. Based on fieldwork conducted at this organization in 2009 and in 2012-2013, I suggest that the anti-trafficking movement operates similarly to an industry manufacturing salable goods. The transnational charitable market for stories of the rescue of trafficked women creates demand for narratives of victimization and hence pressure for their production. Anti-trafficking organizations, consequently, cultivate these narratives among sex workers who did not previously produce them. Northern desires to consume rescue narratives effect a new form of force in the lives of sex workers in the global south with broad implications for the production of knowledge about commercial sex.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)