Defining human smuggling in migration research : an appraisal and critique
Title: Defining human smuggling in migration research : an appraisal and critique
Editor(s): BAIRD, Theodore
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2016/30; Migration Policy Centre
The terms migrant smuggling and human trafficking are often used synonymously in public discussions and the media, but are distinct categories in international law and academic research. This article provides a critical discussion of the representation of human smuggling in academic research, by demonstrating that the current definition of human smuggling has been un-critically applied from international law in the formulation and implementation of research designs. It traces the development of the concept of human smuggling in academic research through an evaluation of three periods: 1) Pre-Palermo and early Palermo days: 1990s-2003, 2) post-Palermo: 2001-present, and 3) conceptual re-visions: 2007-present. It demonstrates that although the definition of human smuggling has gone through shifting categorizations, much of the research on human smuggling has been conducted within the categories defined by law and policy, rather than critically attending to how these categories have arisen as forms of social control. Based on this evaluation, the article argues for a critique of the category of human smuggling through innovative research designs and improved criticism of the causes, effects, and use of the concept. The article concludes with notes towards a research agenda for critical human smuggling studies, for research beyond the legal categories in order to understand 'human smuggling' as a category of social control in diverse contexts.
Subject: Migrant smuggling; Human trafficking; Definition; Palermo Protocols; International law
Type of Access: openAccess