Is a Trafficked Woman a Citizen? Survival and Citizenship in Performance

  • Janelle Reinelt
Part of the Contemporary Performance InterActions book series (CPI)


Since the millennium, there has been a growing global awareness about the business of human trafficking and how it has expanded exponentially in relation to the neoliberal economic climate, the vast displacement of people through wars and conflict, and the growth of tourism and e-commerce. The connection between mobility, migration, and trafficking constitutes a transnational phenomenon and complicates efforts to combat and contain it through national channels of policing, border enforcement, and the courts. It also blocks attempts to support trafficking survivors because this aspect of mobility leaves many victims without recourse to rights of citizenship such as national identity, protection under the law, labour relations protections, and access to services and benefits, thus jeopardizing prospects for recovery. The question of citizenship plays out through related networks of state and non-state organisations that work with trafficking survivors. This essay looks at the characteristics of gendered citizenship (since most survivors of human trafficking are women and children), and analyzes the ways these attributes exclude or complicate the lives of survivors. It identifies a number of ‘dramaturgies’ with narratives, characters, and plot devices that serve to mythologize the reality of the trafficking situation for the purposes of conforming to demands of state agencies while limiting and excluding the victims’ access to aid. It will also discuss a number of theatrical representations of trafficking to ask how artists manoeuvre through this contested terrain to intervene in public discourse and policy making on behalf of the survivors. Sites of analysis will include the US, UK, India, and Australia.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK

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