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Human Trafficking and Online Networks: Policy, Analysis, and Ignorance

Mendel, Jonathan; Sharapov, Kiril


Jonathan Mendel


Dominant anti-trafficking policy discourses represent trafficking as an issue of crime, “illegal” migration, victimhood and humanitarianism. Such a narrow focus is not an adequate response to the interplay between technology, trafficking and anti-trafficking. This article explores different levels of analysis and the interplay between human trafficking and technology. We argue for a shift from policy discourses with a very limited focus on crime and victimisation to more systemic understandings of trafficking and more robust micro-analyses of trafficking and everyday life. The article calls for an agnotological understanding of policy responses to trafficking and technology: these depend upon the production of ignorance. We critique limitations in policy understandings of trafficking-related aspects of online spaces, and argue for better engagement with online networks. We conclude that there is a need to move beyond a focus on “new” technology and exceptionalist claims about “modern slavery” towards greater attention to everyday exploitation within neoliberalism.


Mendel, J., & Sharapov, K. (2016). Human Trafficking and Online Networks: Policy, Analysis, and Ignorance. Antipode, 48(3), 665-684.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 10, 2015
Online Publication Date Jan 6, 2016
Publication Date May 10, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 26, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 7, 2018
Journal Antipode
Print ISSN 0066-4812
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 3
Pages 665-684
Keywords agnotology; ignorance; internet; networks; neoliberalism; technology; trafficking in human beings
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Human trafficking and online networks: policy, analysis and ignorance (<nobr>229 Kb</nobr>)

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