Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Demystifying the Sensationalism of Human Trafficking: an Anthropological Study on the Systemic Exploitation of Migrant Labor in Tuscany, Italy Public Deposited

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  • In the last twenty years, human trafficking has gained attention in government agendas and media coverage, while anti-trafficking projects have burgeoned worldwide. Anti-trafficking efforts, however, have almost exclusively addressed the issue of sex trafficking with a focus on rescuing women, while overlooking other types of exploitation. This is noteworthy, given that international policies on anti-trafficking specifically include diverse forms of exploitation, and migrants are known to be exploited in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction. Focusing on the ongoing neglect of non-sexual labor exploitation by anti-trafficking operations in Tuscany (Italy), this research examines a) what determines migrants’ deservingness of anti-trafficking assistance by the anti-trafficking system; b) what kind of labor exploitation is experienced by migrant workers, and how that resembles or contradicts the notion of trafficking; and c) how migration measures implemented during the “migrant crisis” in Italy and Europe are affecting migrants’ vulnerability to labor exploitation.. Situated at the crossroads of European and Italian legislations, humanitarian and institutional practices, and migrant workers’ experiences, the study took place across the Tuscan anti-trafficking apparatus and organizations addressing migrants. Italy is a pivotal site for such research being a lead country on both the early adoption of international policy against trafficking and the making of national laws supporting victims. Italy was also the 2017 leading European country in immigrant reception, hosting 80% of the continuous arrivals of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe. Adopting an ethnographic approach, this research investigates the barriers to extending anti-trafficking support to migrants subjected to non-sexual labor exploitation. In doing so, it reveals the interconnections between the emergence of anti-trafficking in the particular contexts of neoliberal, unprotected labor regimes and stringent migration measures. Data collection was undertaken in 2018, utilizing semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and archival research. The use of the ethnographic extended case method (ECM) highlighted the discrepancies between normative prescriptions and everyday practices, while shining light on internal contradictions and structural forces. 
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