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like that we need to learn to be better, like that we can't figure out our own way
forward. I'm so tired of people trying to save us. Like save us from whom? And
from what? Oh the poor Muslim women, you know what? I feel sorry for the
poor Western women who don't know anything. Tell them to get off our backs!
Maysoun passionately conveyed her frustration at the way she felt that the UAE and
Arab Muslim world in general had been painted in the academic and political discourse
generated by EuroAmerica—or certain types of EuroAmerican “feminists.” She felt it
was unfair that the UAE was accused of having a “trafficking problem” that it sup-
posedly did not know how to deal with when she knew from personal experience that
there had been a push for civil society to address these issues, but that it was co-opted
by the state, precisely because of the rhetoric as laid out in the TIP.
Antitrafficking rhetoric and initiatives that operate from a position of privilege seek to
disciplinecertainbodiesthroughdevelopmentefforts.Theresultisaracialized morality
and a series of tragic missteps that have rendered lived experiences of migration, forced
labor, and sex work more challenging. Moralized development produces raced, classed,
gendered and sexualized discourse, policy and intervention. It also feeds into rhetoric
about the “moral decay” of the Muslim world, fueling “clash of civilizations” type rhet-
oric (Huntington 1996). Beyond xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric, moralized de-
velopment also mobilizes and supports efforts that operate to the detriment of migrant
are actually working to improve migrants' lives at the grassroots level. Privileged out-
reach efforts, operating as “the social,” further harms migrant workers by creating cat-
egories that question migrant worker subjectivity. It is not clear who is being served by
these efforts, other than the “rescuers.” When establishing a moral sphere of regulation,
it is important to interrogate what populations are being served and what the reverbera-
tions are to those most in need.
I am grateful to the Pomona College faculty research grant, the American College of
Learned Societies, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for their
support of this project. I would also like to thank my research assistants including
Christine Sargent, Sarah Burgess, Abby DiCarlo, and Justin Gutzwa. I am also grateful
to France Winddance Twine and Bradley Gardener, the editors of this volume for their
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