This is the final publisher edited version of the paper published as Soundings, 2008, 40, pp. 135-145. This version was first published at http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/soundings/contents.html.“Bonded labourers”, “sex slaves”, “victims of organized crime”. Identified as victims of trafficking, these are the terms commonly used to describe migrant women and men in abusive labour relations/conditions in the UK. In this text we argue that the lack of definitional clarity and the constant slippage between “illegal immigration”, “forced prostitution”, and “trafficking” diverts attention from the role of the state in constructing poor work and vulnerable workers. In discussing trafficking in relation to the politics of sex, the politics of labour, and the politics of citizenship, we bring the state back into the analysis of trafficking, and show that the language of trafficking needs to be recognised as part of a more general attempt to depoliticise migration and struggles over citizenship
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