Eastern Boys and the Western Gaze: Representations of Trafficking in Film

Often Hollywood, the commercial film industry, and directors will explicitly take up the issue of human trafficking/sex trafficking in their works. Many of are likely very familiar with works like the Taken series. Others familiar with representations of sex trafficking may have heard of Lilya 4 Ever and Sestre (Sisters), while still others may know Take Out in a human smuggling/labor trafficking context.

To add to add to the “representations of human trafficking” canon I would submit for your consideration a work of commercial European cinema that, despite some of its pitfalls, excels in portraying the complexity of the issue. Robin Campillo’s 2013 film Eastern Boys (whether or not it intends to) disrupts highly gendered and heteronormative narratives of sex-trafficking, draws connections between sex- and labor-trafficking, and complicates the boundary between human smuggling and human trafficking.

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The Sochi Olympics and Migrant Labor in Russia

Bird’s-eye view of the Pyeongchang stadium from Bloomberg.com

Sochi Olympics fail 34 from Wonderful Engineering

February 25th marked the end of the recent 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games. With general feelings of success, the world’s participating nations are now left to bask in their accomplishments, praise the achievements of their heroic olympians, and prepare for the coming Tokyo Olympic Summer Games to be held in 2020. In the wake of the heady days of competition with both the Olympic and Paralympic Games coming to a close, organizers in South Korea are planning to demolish several of their new buildings, according to npr and vox news outlets. This type of news stands in stark contrast to the events of only four years ago, with the international scandal that was the Sochi Winter Olympic Village. The internet was flooded with vines, tweets, and articles (like “Epic Construction Fails at Sochi Winter Olympics in Pictures” from the website Wonderful Engineering) documenting the perceived hilarity and “fail-“ure of Russia’s olympic construction project. However, these jesting images obfuscate the dark truths about the Sochi construction project. Specifically, the Sochi Olympic Village was built on the backs and often lives of migrant workers from Russia itself as well as the Balkans and Central asia who were unwittingly trafficked into construction jobs. This specific context is important to explore as an instance of human trafficking because it changes the image of the victim and draws attention to a different economy, one less empathetically charged more complexly integrated into institutions.

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