GRIDLOCK: Labor, Migration, and Human Trafficking in Dubai

Article excerpt

GRIDLOCK

Labor, Migration, and Human Trafficking in Dubai

PARDIS MAHDAVI

Stanford University Press

REVIEW BY KATIE PALMER

Public interest in human trafficking is at an all-time high. Books, movies, magazines and documentaries on the topic abound. As someone familiar with most of them, I can assure you that anthropologist Pardis Madhavi's most recent book. Gridlock: Labor, Migration, and Human Trafficking in Dubai, offers new insights, relevant to both academic and policy circles, in an accessible language.

Her most significant contribution with the book is that she dispels the narrow and highly gendered representation that human trafficking involves only women and youth who are kidnapped and sold into the sex industry. Madhavi's empirical research, undertaken in Dubai, shows that victims of trafficking include a range of both women and men, including those forced into prostitution as well as agricultural labourers, construction workers and domestic workers.

Not only does she widen our understanding of who is trafficked, she also lays out how this narrow representation of trafficking problematically informs public policies, namely the Ameri-centric Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). …