The Politics of Silence: Dynamics of Stability and Stabilisation

BUT. But it is not, nor can it all be, quite so simple. Certainly, for many anti-traffickers, the experience of life inside the anti-trafficking field looks exactly like what we’ve seen earlier. And certainly it is conditioned by systems of knowledge transmission that limit or prevent many potential challenges to pre-existing subject positions. Yet not everyone internalises, and not all anti-traffickers relate uncritically to the ideational forces around them. Some are exposed to difference, and others already bring it with them. What then? How does the system navigate dissonance or dissent? And how do those inside it inhabit contradiction or contestation? What do people do with the subjectivity that erupts in the gaps between their subject positions? In this section and the following, I will reflect in more detail on these questions and on the dynamics through which i believe discourse, policy (and, by extension, our three structuring ideologies), to be maintained and reproduced in relative stability over time. We will see that even if no overarching puppetmaster exists, there are still very real exercises of power that combine in what I call the politics of silence and the politics of representation. Some anti-traffickers submit to these exercises of power, while others, like the communities upon which they act, ‘play the game’ in a bad faith expression of accommodation. In the end, little of substance actually changes, since the rules of the game require this to be the case.

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