Dr. Sharron A. FitzGerald, a Visiting Scholar at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, is visiting the department this week as part of the Geography Speaker Series. She will be speaking about "Securitisation through vulnerability: Human trafficking, sexuality and extraterritoriality’" on Friday, November 30 at 3:00 p.m. in SN-2025. Her abstract is below.
Dr. FitzGerald received her BA and MA from University College, Cork in the Republic of Ireland, and her PhD in critical feminist geographies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. Her main areas of research sit at the intersection of issues around human trafficking, illegal migration, vulnerability, state regulation of female sexuality and these combine in a form of biopolitical governmentality to enhance securitisation in European Union.
In this paper, I provide a feminist critique of the relationship between gender, human trafficking and securitisation. Human trafficking and the attendant issue of transborder sex work are issues that divide feminists. Ideological differences about prostitution as ‘labour’ or as ‘exploitation’ define this political landscape. This schism has impeded feminists devising anti-trafficking policy that can transcend these polarised positions. Importantly, it has stopped us engaging with the complexity of the problem beyond prostitution. Thus, while feminists persisted in circular argumentation, the neoliberal state seized the issue in the service of issues of higher political importance. In this presentation, I limit my comments to how the UK context. Specifically, I will interrogate how it has instrumentalised the idiom of the vulnerable female, trafficked migrant within its security agenda. To do this, I focus on how the state frames and them manipulates instrumentalise trafficked women’s embodied experiences to respatialise its border and immigration control capacity domestically and internationally? I will explore this issue on two interconnected scales, namely the UK’s attempts to enhance its border and immigration control capacity domestically and internationally. On the domestic front, I examine how successive UK governments have aligned their plans to tackle human trafficking with a domestic programme of ‘civic renewal’. I argue that this comprises an embodied bordering process that determines what and who is ‘in place’ in the UK. These domestic plans lay the groundwork for the UK’s extraterritorial ambitions. To be precise, the UK’s plans to protect geospecific populations of trafficked women ‘at source’ is aligned with other geopolitical plans at key points. In short, the desire to eradicate human trafficking by dealing with it extraterritorially provides the state with a pathway to respatialise its securitisation capacity.