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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers a global history, as well as cultural, legal, and political–economic analysis, of “trafficking,” a set of relationships and processes often constituted as the dark mirror of globalization. First, the chapter traces how the term “trafficking” emerged. Second, it examines the evolution of “trafficking” in the context of “drug wars,” from the imperial Opium Wars in China in the early nineteenth century to the twenty-first-century “narco” battlegrounds of Mexico. Third, it surveys how global studies-related research has developed critical lenses for analyzing the politics of “sex trafficking” and “human trafficking.” Finally, it examines the term “trafficker” as selectively deployed along racial and social lines in ways that produce obscuring pseudo-analyses of the violence of global capitalism that preserve the impunity of certain powerful actors, create monstrous misrepresentations of globalizing forms of violence, and stir moral and racial panics on a global scale.

Keywords: trafficking, race, piracy, trade, law, sovereignty, crime, violence

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