“After Trafficking: Working Girls In West Africa”

This talk offers an alternative explanation for why people “traffic” their children from Togo into Nigeria. Rather than explain parents’ motivations for sending their children to work as domestic servants as an escape from poverty (per the human rights discourse) or a rite of passage into adulthood (as described by informants), I argue that it is rooted in a future-oriented strategy of survival in an age of economic decline for post- Cold War Togolese.

This presentation is part of a larger book project entitled Girl Take Trip: Child Trafficking and the Politics of Protection in West Africa. By tracing a rural community’s engagement with West African market rule that demands flexible and mobile laborers, Girl Take Trip lays out the specificity of “unfreedom” for Togolese girls who are traversing social and geographic boundaries to engage in a ritualized practice that shapes their material and affective lives. Rather than focus to their lives as unpaid laborers—as the human rights campaign does—I track the entire arc of the girls’ transitions from children to married mothers, attending to their lives “after trafficking.” This book contributes to a growing body of literature on African futures that is critical of the teleological certainty inherent in concepts of “progress” and “development,” and focuses on young people’s everyday practices of experimentation and self-actualization in contemporary African cities.



NOVEMBER 28, 2022 12:00PM – 1:30PM


https://usc.zoom.us/j/93009968273? pwd=UFR5emRjZ2Q1UDE5UGM1N0hGYlovZz09


Department of Anthropology

The Center of Science, Technology and Public Life

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