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Title: 'It's easier if we stop them moving' : a critical analysis of anti-child trafficking discourse, policy and practice : the case of southern Benin
Author: Neil, Howard
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis offers a critical assessment of anti- child trafficking discourse, policy and practice, using a case study of the situation in Southern Benin. It seeks to achieve two main goals. First, to transcend the reductiveness of the dominant paradigm around child trafficking, including dominant representations of it and prevailing policy approaches to dealing with it. Second, to complicate the simplistic nature of much of the academic literature that explains the existence and persistence of this dominant paradigm. Based on 14 months of multi-sited fieldwork, the thesis demonstrates, first, that the institutional narrative of ‘child trafficking’ misrepresents what would be better understood as adolescent labour migration in Benin, and second, that mainstream policy approaches to tackling this fail to account for the sociocultural or political-economic conditions that underpin it. The thesis suggests that this can be interpreted as a result of the power of three framing orders of discourse – ‘Apollonian Childhood’, Neoliberalism and that of the Westphalian State – which structure both what ‘trafficking’ can mean and what can be done about it. The thesis suggests that the material and power structures of the anti-trafficking discourse- and policy-making field are such that, even where individuals within it reject both the dominant paradigm and its (and the field’s) framing orders of discourse, little space exists for them to construct meaningful alternatives. The result is a degree of formal and representational stability, hiding practical hybridity. The conclusion is offered that, while anti-trafficking discourse is presumed to be accurate and while antitrafficking policy is justified in terms of its contribution to ‘beneficiaries’, theprinciple achievement of both is the depoliticised reproduction of the institutions, orders of discourse and political-economic context within which they are constructed.
Supervisor: Boyden, Jo; Anderson, Bridget Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology of policy ; Governance in Africa ; International studies ; Social policy & social work ; Children and youth ; Human smuggling and trafficking ; Migration ; Political economy of markets and states ; Criminology ; child trafficking ; trafficking discourse ; anti-trafficking policy ; Benin