SSC Seminar Series: Rob Heynen, Department of Communication Studies, York University

The Anti-Trafficking Assemblage: Surveillance, Sex Work, and the Production of Harm

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

12:30 – 2 pm

Mackintosh Corry Hall D411


Anti-trafficking discourses and policies, especially those targeting sex workers, have become prominent in legitimizing and implementing a range of surveillance practices, both in transnational and domestic contexts. This talk will trace the contours of the anti-trafficking surveillant assemblage, which brings together state security, police, industry, and NGOs. An increasingly elaborate network by those participants is especially evident in border surveillance, online monitoring, and the incorporation of labourers in various industries as agents of surveillance. The anti-trafficking assemblage produces myriad harms, most significantly for sex workers, particularly those who are migrant, racialized, and/or transgender, and serves as a wedge to expand the scope of surveillance more  broadly.

About the speaker:

Rob Heynen is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at York University, Toronto. His current research focuses on historical and contemporary forms of surveillance, especially related to biometrics, eugenics, and anti-trafficking. He is the author of Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany (2015), and co-editor (with Emily van der Meulen) of Expanding the Gaze: Gender and the Politics of Surveillance (2016) and Making Surveillance States: Transnational Histories (2018).


Everyone welcome!