Beautiful dead bodies: gender, migration and representation in anti-trafficking campaigns

Andrijasevic, Rutvica (2007). Beautiful dead bodies: gender, migration and representation in anti-trafficking campaigns. Feminist Review, 86(1) pp. 24–44.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400355

Abstract

This essay addresses the link between sex trafficking and European citizesnhip by examining several anti-trafficking campaigns launched in post-socialist Europe. In illustrating which techniques are used in the production of images, it points to the highly symbolic and stereotypical constructions of femininity (victims) and masculinity (criminals) of eastern European nationals. A close analysis of female bodies dispayed in the campaigns indicates that the use of victimizing images goes hand in hand with the erotization of women's bodies. Wounded and dead women's bodies are read as attempts to stabilize the current political and social transformations in Europe by capturing women within the highly immobile boundaries of the sign 'Woman'. The essay suggests that the representation of violence is thus violent itself since it confirms the stereotypes about eastern European women, equates the feminine with the passive object, severs the body from its materiality and from the historical context in which trafficking occurs, and finally confines women within the highly disabling symbolic register of 'Woman' as to maintain an imaginary social order in Europe.

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