During this Fellowship, I will expand my PhD research on the politics and practice of anti- human trafficking policy in Benin, by conducting a comparative study of Benin and Italy. I aim to examine whether the trends I found in Benin apply to the anti-trafficking field more generally, and my hypothesis is that they do. Specifically, I wish to investigate the way anti-trafficking policy and related discourse de-politicise human migration, fail to reflect or respond to empirics, and work to reinforce institutional status quos more than to protect or aid ‘victims’ and ‘the vulnerable’. The comparative nature of the study and my proposed methodology –combining political-economic analysis, interviews and participant observation with migrant sending and receiving communities, and interviews and discourse analysis with policy actors at all levels of the policy chain– make it unique in its field. Carrying it to fruition and developing the methodological, organisational and advocacy skills necessary to do so will cement my transition from promising PhD to pioneering researcher and field leader in my own right. Moreover, by enabling me to conduct comparative work, the Fellowship removes me from the silos of ‘African studies’ and ‘Trafficking’ and establishes me as a scholar of migration studies more broadly. The intended outputs of the project are various, including 3 referred journal articles, an intersectoral academic/policy-maker conference, the creation of advocacy links between institutions involved in the field, and widespread public dissemination of findings. I believe this will ultimately contribute towards establishing the EU as a world leader in anti-trafficking policy and strategy, addressing and offering remedies for the significant problems that exist internally (in the example of Italy) and externally (through donor relations in Benin). Critically, I believe that this will in turn benefit the individuals who so often suffer as a result of misguided EU policy.
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