From Panic to Pity: Circuits and Circulations of the Contemporary Anti-Trafficking Crusade

Juliana Ramirez, Georgia State University


The creation, implementation, and ratification of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), as well as the growth of parallel private initiatives against human trafficking, have emerged from a neoliberal political agenda that focuses on redefinitions of labor, sexuality, securitization of humanitarian campaigns, and immigration policies. In this thesis, I explore some of the meanings and effects of those redefinitions by focusing on the affective registers of pity and panic in their ability to mobilize publics toward restrictive forms of assistance to real and imaginary victims of the so-called phenomenon of “modern-day slavery.”