Distant Suffering, Proper Distance: Cosmopolitan Ethics in the Film Portrayal of Trafficked Women

  • Jane Arthurs
Part of the Global Cinema book series (GLOBALCINE)


This chapter addresses the ethical and political issues raised by anti-trafficking films and campaigns through a focus on two films, Lilya 4-ever (Lukas Moodysson 2002) and Sex Traffic (David Yates 2004). It evaluates whether these films meet the criteria for ‘proper distance’ required for a ‘cosmopolitan aesthetics of spectatorship’ as proposed by Chouliarki (2006) in which philanthropic compassion for ‘distant suffering’ incorporates an engagement with political questions about causes and solutions. It also proposes a ‘proper distance’ for film analysis, including how texts are circulated and interpreted within the discursive context of anti-trafficking campaigns in the UK and Sweden. Shifting the discursive frame highlights alternative conceptions of our ethical relation to migrant labour using Braidotti’s (2006) critique of humanist conceptions of cosmopolitanism. It argues for a ‘nomadic ethics’, that takes into account the women’s agency and right to mobility rather than imposing our own, more powerful, perspective.


Distant Suffering Traffic Women Anti-trafficking Campaigns Nomadic Ethics Distant Others 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Arthurs
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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