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    Threat or opportunity? Sexuality, gender and the ebb and flow of trafficking as discourse.

    Saunders P; Soderlund G

    Canadian Woman Studies / Les Cahiers de la Femme. 2003 Spring-Summer; 22(3-4):16-24.

    Levels of public concern in the U.S. over trafficking in women and children have peaked twice in the last century: between 1907 and 1913 during the controversy over “white slavery” and again in the 1990s with the rising concern over global sex trafficking. It is not surprising that trafficking—-a phenomenon so closely linked to notions of movement and mobility—-would emerge as a major social issue during these two periods. The first and last decades of the twentieth century both witnessed seismic demographic shifts. Nearly 1,000,000 people immigrated to the U.S. per year between 1905 and 1914. After World War I immigration declined sharply, partly due to restrictive new citizenship laws. The U.S. would not see similar levels of immigration until 1989, the inaugural year of an eleven-year wave of heightened migration (Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services). The two periods under scrutiny share additional features in common: facilitated by the introduction of new technologies—-railroad and new communications technologies respectively—-capital expanded during both periods, seeking out inexpensive labour and new markets for its products and services. Not surprisingly, informal and illicit markets flourished as well, including the gun, drug, and sex trades. Increased migration led to domestic anxieties over immigration during both periods. Early twentieth-century reform movements were largely a middle-class response to the dramatic expansion of the U.S. urban population. Many of the new immigrants arriving on U.S. shores hailed from eastern and southern Europe and were largely Catholic, Jewish, and atheist, precipitating a wave of xenophobia among the slightly-more-rooted Protestant populations. Likewise, the collapse of communism in Eastern-bloc countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s intensified the movement of people on a global scale. This global shift coupled with increased migration to the U.S. from the south resulted in a resurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. and abroad. (excerpt)
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