Girls on Film: Affective Politics and the Creation of an Intimate Anti-Trafficking Public in Singapore through Film Screenings

Abstract

The interstices between film and politics occupy a prominent place in recent scholarship in political geography and cognate disciplines, focusing on the ways film establishes relations between viewers and characters. Such processes often utilise affective referents to create ‘intimate publics’. This paper focuses on the relations human trafficking films establish between ‘victims’, viewers and anti-trafficking stakeholders in creating an intimate anti-trafficking public in Singapore. I argue that the third world girl is rendered a moral object of sympathy both through trafficking film and performances by anti-trafficking stakeholders in the cinema. However, in comparison to both film viewers and anti-trafficking stakeholders she is cast as muted and lacking agency. Intimate anti-trafficking publics can emerge through the harnessing of negative emotions that, in this case, privilege the plight- but not the agency – of the female child trafficking victim and are inculcated through film storylines and cinematic performances.

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