Research Seminar - Dr Katie Cruz, University of Bristol
Title: “Beyond Consent: Labour Unfreedom, Hyper Precarity and 'Trafficking' in London's Sexual Labour Market”
Abstract: 'This article critically engages with recent empirical insights into how immigration law and anti-trafficking law and policy affect the lives of migrant sex workers in London, UK, which, I argue, normalises the large-scale precarity in migrant sex work and in so doing raises the following question: Is it possible to conceptualise trafficking for sexual exploitation within a framework that makes visible the precarity of migrant sex workers in general? Focusing on migrations into, and conditions within, London's sexual labour market, from a political economy perspective, I articulate how intersecting capitalist, legal, gender and racial relations (re)produce hyper-precarity and labour unfreedom for migrant sex workers, a process that in turn produces a need for labour intermediaries. Second, I argue that given the malleable definition of trafficking found in the UN Protocol, all or few migrant sex workers that rely on labour intermediaries in conditions of unfreedom could be considered 'trafficked'. This observation raises a second question: What role should trafficking play in progressive struggles against hyperprecarity and unfreedom? I outline two responses and my preference for decentring 'trafficking' to focus on politicizing labour unfreedom and struggles for 'freedoms' in and from migrant sex work'