Explaining the Paradigm: Inside the Anti-trafficking Field
How, exactly, can we account for the state of affairs depicted earlier? Why, beyond their blind adherence to one particular version of childhood, do anti-traffickers construct not just ‘child trafficking’ but much of the social world so differently to the people who fall foul of their labelling? In this chapter, we will seek to answer these questions and, in doing so, provide a thicker, more nuanced account of how and why anti-traffickers see, think and do as they do.
Certainly, as was argued in Chapter 2, the power of the ideologies of Western Childhood, Neoliberalism and the Ideal State is crucial. Many anti-traffickers internalise and inhabit these ideologies, and our discussion in this chapter will begin with a look at them doing so. It will look also at the systems of knowledge production and transmission that keep them doing so and in many ways limit their ability to do otherwise. For these people, there is a near-perfect correspondence between subject position and discourse or ideology.
But this is not the whole story. Not all anti-traffickers unthinkingly accept, at least not all of the time. And in this regard, Chapter 2 can be seen as somewhat of an ideal-type abstraction. Many anti-traffickers find themselves troubled either by these three ideologies or by the child trafficking discourse into which they coalesce. What then? This is where the chapter will seek to pull the curtain back on the anti-trafficking field’s inner workings, to lay bare the material and symbolic power dynamics © The Author(s) 2017
N. Howard, Child Trafficking, Youth Labour Mobility and the Politics of Protection, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-47818-4_4
governing ideological transmission, stabilisation, challenge and resistance. Here we will discuss the practical politics of silence and representation, how money flows and symbolic capital govern what can be said and how, and what difference can exist between what is done and how that is portrayed. Ultimately, we will see the way systems manage the moment of subjectivity when a subject’s subject position breaks down, and we will see what people do with that management.
Finally, the chapter will reflect on an illustrative attempt by a number of mid-level players to resist the dominant child trafficking discourse, if not its core ideologies. This was the academic-practitioner effort that began in around 2007 and ran until 2014 to reframe child trafficking as ‘children on the move.’ For years and in many parts of the world, more ethnographically minded observers sought to advance the narratives of Chapter 3 over the images of Chapter 2, and they sought to do so by carefully deploying their cultural and symbolic capital. Although, in part, they succeeded, they were able neither to displace trafficking from its discursive pedestal, nor to make any inroads whatsoever into its governing ideologies. Hegemony simply would not allow it.