“Stick them to the cross”: human trafficking and ignorance production in online spaces

Organised by The Crime and Justice Research Group based at the University of Stirling 


Speakers: Dr Jonathan Mendel (University of Dundee) and Dr Kiril Sharapov (Edinburgh Napier University)

The Crime and Justice Research Group, based within the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling, invite you to attend the above research seminar. The seminar is free to attend and refreshments will be available on arrival. Register via Eventbrite

Media imagery and narratives play a significant role in constructing both knowledge and ignorance of trafficking. We will reflect on how this takes place online by analysing anti-trafficking docufictions and phone apps using an agnotological approach: focusing on how ignorance is produced and productive, rather than seeing ignorance as just a lack of knowledge. We draw on Goffman’s (1974) work on frames to analyse how docufictions present a simplified interpretation of reality, where certain constructed aspects of trafficking and exploitation are represented by video-makers as illustrating the general, and thus highlight how anti-trafficking docufictions help efface everyday exploitation.

We also investigate how anti-trafficking apps are used to manipulate (mis)understandings of and responses to trafficking: both through ‘awareness raising’ and through encouraging public participation while collecting information. We thus argue that anti-trafficking apps are enabling new types of user participation and ignorance production. The spread of ignorance that apps and online docufictions allow – and the integration of this ignorance into new aspects of life – will be shown to illustrate de Goede’s (2012) warning that “the network is problematic as a security technique…because, ultimately, it has no outside.”