Politics out of Security: rethinking trafficking in women

Aradau, Claudia (2006). Politics out of Security: rethinking trafficking in women. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e96e


Human trafficking has recently become visible on the European agenda as a security problem, integrated in a continuum of organised crime, illegal migration, drug trafficking, and terrorism. This thesis unpacks the problematisation of human trafficking as security and attempts to rethink modes of unmaking security and disrupting its effects. Security practices have constitutive effects in terms of subjectivity and political effects in terms of the constitution of political community. The securitisation of trafficking in women entails practices that, for the purpose of governing the phenomenon, turn 'victims of trafficking' from suffering bodies into 'abject', risky others. Victims of trafficking are the locus of 'imputations of dangerousness', risky subjects who can engage in renewed migratory projects. Despite the depoliticising, inegalitarian, and exclusionary effects of security, political strategies that can unmake them are still lacking. This research proposes a politics of equality, liberty and universality, formulated as prescriptions against the state and enacted through forms of collective organisation. It draws on the work of Alain Badiou and Etienne Balibar to flesh out the implications of a politics of equality and universality in its relation to liberty and their disruption of practices of security. Equality and liberty suspend the practices of inequality and unfreedom that govern the situation of trafficking. A politics of equality and universality is formulated as the equality of work. Prostitution-as-work reconfigures the situation of trafficking, by making illegal migrant sex workers count where they had counted for nothing and changing forms of exploitation and abuse of victims in the margins of law from the perspective of work.

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