240992 Collected Recollections of Human Trafficking

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:30 AM

Jennifer Musto, PhD Candidate , Department of Women's Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Anti-trafficking and human rights organizations have been at the fore of producing outreach, campaign, and training materials which focus on the stories of individual trafficked persons. Developed as a technique to educate government officials, service providers, community members and consumers about the violence to which trafficked persons have been subjected, such tactics have evolved and led to the transnational circulation of trafficked persons' stories. The promotion of trafficked persons' individual stories of suffering has become a commonplace fixture and indeed canonical characteristic of the trafficking studies genre. Far from benign, these stories serve teleological, as well as financial and pedagogical ends.

Yet it remains unclear what these widely circulated visual representations and stories of trafficked persons' suffering seek to accomplish. For whom are these tales of suffering intended and what kinds of state and nongovernmental health interventions do these representations invite? What are the potential health effects of publicly recounting stories of trauma and exploitation? Finally, what is lost or gained when stories of physical and sexual violence are represented more readily than stories highlighting the economic, racial, and gender suffering and vulnerability that many trafficked persons experience before, during and after they have left their trafficking situations?

These questions punctuate the scholar-activist leanings that led to the development of a short film I produced and will screen during my presentation. This documentary, entitled “Collected Recollections of Human Trafficking” is based on 20 in-depth interviews with women trafficked into the United States and the social workers, NGO advocates, and police officers charged with their protection. To view the work, visit: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azUGu-QDLSU). The project visually maps the ideological, emotional and experiential itineraries of trafficked persons and the professionals with whom they work. It strives to offer both a “counter-archive” of representation and provoke survivor-driven and professional responses to migrant exploitation.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Explain 2-3 reasons for the proliferation of individual stories of human trafficking among health and human rights organizations. Describe the economic, gender, and racial suffering experienced by trafficked persons. Describe the health effects of recounting personal stories of suffering. Identify alternative methods for sharing trafficked persons’ stories that limit re-traumatization through multimedia and art.

Keywords: Immigrants, Research Ethics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over six years of experience researching human trafficking for my dissertation. I also produced the action research documentary that will be screened during my presentation based on in-depth interviews conducted with trafficked persons, social workers, and law enforcement. Additionally, I am the co-founder of the UCLA Anti-Trafficking and Human Rights Coalition, a student group that hosts scholarly discussions and conferences on trafficking and migrant exploitation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.