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Through hailing different configurations of women as objects and subjects of surveillance, the long history of efforts to uncover and combat the “traffic in women” offers an instructive case for feminist surveillance studies at this important moment of field formation. The history of anti-trafficking compels attention to a long, jagged history of both diverse surveillance rationales and tactics but also foregrounds multiple surveillance failures and impossibilities. Even as the invocation of a generic “traffic in women and girls” in the early twentieth expanded the reach of the problem and the corresponding modalities of vigilance, state and civil surveillance over women have always been differentially entrained on female bodies as vulnerable or dangerous. Through a critical focus on the work of anti-trafficking in the League of Nations, this essay argues that a persistent racialist and racist preoccupation with the fate of white women demarcates one such fault-line.

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