Girls on Film: Framing Human Trafficking Through Film and the Cinema

  • Sallie YeaEmail author


This chapter discusses the relationship between film, anti-trafficking activism, and affect/emotion. In Singapore the filmic production and cinematic performance of the girl trafficking victim in the realm of human trafficking activism is the principal mobilising device of anti-trafficking solidarity and intervention. This mobilisation is very deliberately cultivated by its non-governmental organisation (NGO) orchestrators to create an intimate anti-trafficking public [cf. Berlant, The female complaint: The unfinished business of sentimentality in American culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press (2008)] amongst the predominantly female viewers. The chapter therefore engages with scholarship on the geographies of justice and activism, especially its recent forays with emotion and affect and the political potential of affect more broadly (Mackenzie & Dalby, Antipode, 35(2), 309–333 (2003); Thrift, Geografiska Annalar, 86(B), 57–78 (2004); Thrift, Understanding the affective spaces of political performance. In M. Smith, J. Davidson, & L. Bondi (Eds.), Emotion, place and culture (pp. 75–95). Aldershot Hants, UK: Ashgate (2009)]. These interventions explore how affect and emotion are often invoked to realise collective political goals, including forming and sustaining social movements. The chapter argues that there is nonetheless sometimes a paradox of (dis)empowerment to (anti-trafficking) activism where the girl victim is politicised through relations established between her and her saviours (NGOs, rescuers, and so on) in the storylines of the films, and between her and the film viewers-cum-volunteers/activists. The content of anti-trafficking films and the collective viewing by the audience at the cinema thus offer a further site for the consideration of the linkages between affect and activism, specifically in relation to film.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social InquiryLa Trobe UniversityAlbury-WodongaAustralia

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