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ment anthropology has raised red flags for many anthropologists and been the topic of
muchcommentary andcontroversyforatleastthepasttwodecades(seeEscobar2001).
Scholars have critically examined the role of development in the furthering of empire
in the neoliberal world order (Agustín 2007, 2008; Escobar 2001; O'Connell Davidson
2006), pointing to ways in which development efforts operate from a presumed posi-
tion of privilege. While some foreground their concerns in the complicated responses
and results of economic development, others focus on the role of “charity,” or as Laura
Agustín has labeled outreach efforts, as “the social” (Agustín 2007).
In the wake of the global “War on Terror” there has been increasing examination
of the role of “development,” “outreach,” and “charity,” especially as it pertains to the
racialization of the Muslim world in the recent climate of Islamophobia. 2 The “War
on Trafficking,” which could arguably be seen as the feminized antidote to the hyper-
masculinized “War on Terror,” has also generated much controversy, especially within
the fields of anthropology, sociology, and geography. Scholars such as Denise Brennan
(forthcoming), Carole Vance (2011), and Julia O'Connell Davidson (2006) have pointed
out the shortcomings of the trafficking debate and the over-determination of the word
trafficking .
The widespread panic about transnational female labor, especially in the commercial
sex industry has resulted in an elasticity of the term human trafficking especially as it is
marshaled and deployed in policy and international conventions. As many have noted,
itisatermthatatonceclaims toomuchandtoolittle (Constable 2010;Davidson2006).
Like a rubber band, the term trafficking stretches wide enough to encompass all forms
of commercial sex work (whether by force, fraud, coercion or not), 3 but then shrinks to
exclude forced labor outside the sex industry. Born out of an understandable sense of
indignation regarding the types of abuse and exploitation that seem all too common in
migrant women's worlds, the concept has been expanded beyond reasonable or feasible
limits, becoming both conceptually and juristically obtuse, while narrowly gendered,
sexualized, and racialized at the same time. Specifically, the misunderstanding that hu-
and prosecuted. The paradigm of human trafficking as it exists today, and critically, the
disjuncture between the legal ambiguity and popular specificity with which trafficking
has been defined, offers uncomfortable insight into the complex ways that gender and
of policing and those in need of rescue, carving the world into victims and villains, both
of whom require intervention from EuroAmerican forces. 4
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