Feminizing White Slavery in the United States


Book Section

© 2011 by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Between 1890 and 1910, a dramatic shift occurred in cultural perceptions of public policies toward "white slavery" in North America, with stories about trafficked female prostitutes displacing stories about working-class victims of monopoly capitalism-a "feminization" also seen in contemporary debates about human trafficking. This chapter asks why stories about sexual traffic and sexual violence have so effectively displaced stories about workingclass labor in the past as well as the present. Focusing on the work and discoveries of undercover U.S. immigration agent Marcus Braun in North America and Europe, it argues that feminization was bound up with the intrinsic challenge of seeing "slavery" within the transnational business of human trafficking, a challenge that set the stage for both policy failure and bureaucratic expansion simultaneously. That bureaucratic mischief was fueled not only by the systematic disengagement of working-class organizations from antislavery rhetoric at the turn of the 20th century but also by the conflicted efforts of border authorities and investigators like Braun to foment and control a traffic in ideas about human trafficking.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Peck, G

Published Date

  • May 1, 2011

Book Title

  • Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780199731633

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199731633.003.0017

Citation Source

  • Scopus