Economies of Violence

Transnational Feminism, Postsocialism, and the Politics of Sex Trafficking

Economies of Violence

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 5 illustrations Published: August 2015

European Studies > Eastern Europe and Russia, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Law > Human Rights

Recent human rights campaigns against sex trafficking have focused on individual victims, treating trafficking as a criminal aberration in an otherwise just economic order. In Economies of Violence Jennifer Suchland directly critiques these explanations and approaches, as they obscure the reality that trafficking is symptomatic of complex economic and social dynamics and the economies of violence that sustain them. Examining United Nations proceedings on women's rights issues, government and NGO anti-trafficking policies, and campaigns by feminist activists, Suchland contends that trafficking must be understood not solely as a criminal, gendered, and sexualized phenomenon, but as operating within global systems of precarious labor, neoliberalism, and the transition from socialist to capitalist economies in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. In shifting the focus away from individual victims, and by underscoring trafficking's economic and social causes, Suchland provides a foundation for building more robust methods for combatting human trafficking.


"Economies of Violence's exploration of trafficking's economic and social causes is . . . useful not only for decoding the genealogy of sex trafficking discourse, but also as an appeal to governments and societies and to develop more robust methods for combatting not only human trafficking but also precarious labor together with the social exclusion and legal inferiority it ensues." — Shulamit Almog, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

"Suchland is to be commended for producing a fine analysis that sets new research agendas for several different groups of colleagues and students. She draws the attention of area specialists to the sex trafficking narrative neoliberal elites have used and the unintended but highly negative effects it has had for local NGOs in Russia and the ex-USSR." — Alexandra Hrycak, Russian Review

"Economies of Violence provides an important corrective to the dominant narratives of human trafficking which tend to focus on individual actors (victim, perpetrator) at the expense of the structural factors that make people vulnerable to trafficking in the first place." — Lauren A. McCarthy, Canadian Slavonic Papers

"Suchland’s attention to the erasure of capitalism’s violence provides a refreshing way to rethink the role of law, order, and the police in the context of human betterment. . . . Suchland’s book offers an innovative contribution to the emerging field of critical feminist trafficking studies." — Julietta Hua, Law, Culture and the Humanities

"Economies of Violence untangles dense discursive webs around sex trafficking by showing precarious labor as the lynchpin of sex trafficking and the U.S.S.R.’s postsocialist transition. . . . Importantly centering the neglected postsocialist world, Suchland allows readers to imagine and contemplate the structural economic inequities of global capitalism that produce precarious labor and undergird global violence." — Jennifer A. Zenovich, Women's Studies in Communication

"[Economies of Violence] offers a timely, wide-ranging and provocative reconceptualization of trafficking discourses, especially of the ways in which the prohibitionist position has come to inform global anti-trafficking policy. . . . [Suchland's] excellent book not only provides an important challenge to prohibitionist arguments, but also offers sex workers and advocates many profound and important analytical resources." — Robert Heynen, International Feminist Journal of Politics

"Suchland makes great strides for our understanding of counter-trafficking with her genealogical analysis. . . . This book is a deep well from which to draw multiple and complex discussions." — Leyla J. Keough, Slavic Review

"Lively and thought-provoking, Suchland’s book challenges us to consider the alternative interpretations of sex trafficking that have been displaced by contemporary notions of human rights, bodily autonomy and victimhood." — Celia Donert, Slavonic and East European Review

"An important work, because it explicitly discusses a blurry distinction between the losers and victims of globalized economic activity." — Galina Belokurova, Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society

"Economies of Violence is a refreshing intervention into the global anti-trafficking discourse. Smart, timely, politically relevant, and convincingly argued, it will appeal to audiences both inside and outside of academia. Jennifer Suchland's book is a clarion call to academics, activists, and policy makers to radically rethink the way we talk about trafficking."
— Kristen Ghodsee, author of The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe

"Jennifer Suchland's reframing of the sex trafficking debate in the context of precarious labor is powerful, and has important academic and political implications. Offering an original perspective on the feminist debate about sex trafficking, Suchland explains how and why the sex trafficking debate acquired its rhetorical tropes. Economies of Violence is a significant and important contribution to feminist studies."
— Kristin Bumiller, author of In an Abusive State: How Neoliberalism Appropriated the Feminist Movement Against Sexual Violence


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jennifer Suchland is Associate Professor of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction. Trafficking as Aberration: The Making of Globalization's Victims  1

Part I. Global  25

1. Sex Trafficking and the Making of a Feminist Subject of Analysis  29

2. The Natasha Trade and the Post-Cold War Reframing of Precarity  53

Part II. Postsocialist  85

3. Second World/Second Sex: Alternative Genealogies in Feminist Homogenous Empty Time  89

4. Lost in Transition: Postsocialist Trafficking and the Erasure of Systemic Violence  121

Part III. Economies of Violence  159

5. Freedom as Choice and the Neoliberal Economism of Trafficking Discourse  163

Conclusion. Antitrafficking beyond the Carceral State  187

Notes  195

References  219

Index  247
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Honorable Mention, 2016 AWSS Heldt Prize Committee for the Best Book in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Women's Studies

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5961-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5941-8
Publicity material