This first report explores how understandings of human trafficking have progressed within population Geography. Migration studies have been intensified within human geography by the so-called ‘migration crisis’ sparking countless recent discussions of smuggling, asylum seeking, refugees, and precarious and insecure movements, as international migration per se is firmly thrust into international political, policy, media and academic spotlights. Trafficking provides a potentially fruitful terrain for population geography to deliver impactful research on a leading global challenge, and to engage with cutting-edge debates in a multi-disciplinary arena. It is imperative that population geography continues to build upon some recent implicit contributions to the study of trafficking. There is also an opportunity to deliver a more robust evidence base of trafficking, urgently needed to shape national and international policies to counter, prevent and mitigate the negative effects of trafficking.
This first report explores how understandings of human trafficking have progressed within population geography. Exemplified by studies of exploitative labour migration, population geography has made implicit contributions by stressing the value of a geographic perspective on the webs of interconnections and links between different places and trafficking. In addition, dominant ideas of linear trafficking processes have been disrupted, via evidencing the informal involvement of families in the phases of recruitment, transportation, and control. I argue that a more encompassing, interdisciplinary tenet could be woven into population studies of trafficking, by more explicitly engaging with social science debates. Embedding the legal, global definition of trafficking into wider studies of migration is paramount for this direction of travel. There is also merit in population geography advancing understandings by adopting holistic lenses of enquiry, connecting-up with (sub-)disciplinary geographic studies of migration and trafficking in the Global South and Global North. Studies of trafficking provide a potentially fruitful terrain for population geography to deliver multidisciplinary, impactful research of a key global challenge, to inform policies to prevent and mitigate the ills of trafficking, and progress conceptual and theoretical understandings of trafficking.
Population geography I Human trafficking
Darren P. Smith
Progress in Human Geography, vol. 37, 6: