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  • Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States

    Author(s): Denise Brennan
    Published: 2014
    Pages: 304
    Illustrations: 18 photographs
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  • Acknowledgments  ix
    Introduction. Starting Over  1
    Part I. The Assault on Workers  35
    1. Dangerous Labor: Migrant Workers and Sex Workers  37
    2. Chains of Fear: The Subjectivity of Coercion  75
    Part II. Life after Forced Labor  113
    3. Imagining the Possible: Creating Home  115
    4. Living the Possible: Settling into Home  145
    5. Laboring after Forced Labor  163
    Closing Comments  185
    Appendix. Ideas and Resources for Action  193
    Notes  199
    References  243
    Index  273
  • "Whereas the term “trafficking” is often assumed to mean sex trafficking, Brennan is concerned with the larger picture of trafficking into forced labor of all kinds—e.g., domestic, construction, agriculture or other low-wage jobs. She writes not of headline-making dramatic rescues but of the day-to-day lives of the formerly trafficked, those trying to rebuild their lives in the U.S. and make it their home. . . . A tough-to-read exposé of trafficking and its effects and an urgent call for changes in federal immigration policy and ineffectual labor laws."
    Kirkus Reviews

    “Steering clear of lurid depictions of sexual slavery, Brennan has written a serious yet readable account of trafficking in the United States.” — Karunesh Tuli, Foreword Reviews

    Life Interrupted is a must-read for those seeking to understand why immigration policies, US and otherwise, can prolong human misery. Bluntly confronting the risks and dangers all immigrants face when they must leave their homes in search of better lives, this admirable book is a major contribution to productive ways to rethink global immigration.” — Lee Maril, Times Higher Education Supplement

    Reviews

  • "Whereas the term “trafficking” is often assumed to mean sex trafficking, Brennan is concerned with the larger picture of trafficking into forced labor of all kinds—e.g., domestic, construction, agriculture or other low-wage jobs. She writes not of headline-making dramatic rescues but of the day-to-day lives of the formerly trafficked, those trying to rebuild their lives in the U.S. and make it their home. . . . A tough-to-read exposé of trafficking and its effects and an urgent call for changes in federal immigration policy and ineffectual labor laws."
    Kirkus Reviews

    “Steering clear of lurid depictions of sexual slavery, Brennan has written a serious yet readable account of trafficking in the United States.” — Karunesh Tuli, Foreword Reviews

    Life Interrupted is a must-read for those seeking to understand why immigration policies, US and otherwise, can prolong human misery. Bluntly confronting the risks and dangers all immigrants face when they must leave their homes in search of better lives, this admirable book is a major contribution to productive ways to rethink global immigration.” — Lee Maril, Times Higher Education Supplement

  • "The sharpest analysis I have read about the problems with many do-good efforts on behalf of the working women in the sex sector. The author's position will generate debate. But that is good if it calls attention to the needs of the workers themselves rather than the moralities mobilized by well-intentioned rescuers. This book is a daring invitation to rethink easy charity."
    — Saskia Sassen, author of Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy

    "Life Interrupted is a powerful investigation of the often invisible exploitation of migrants—whether on farms, in factories, or in domestic work. The first-hand accounts of trafficking paint a vivid and painful picture of the trauma and cruelty of forced labor and the struggle of these migrants to rebuild their lives afterward. These very personal histories shed light on lives in the shadows of our globalized economy. Life Interrupted is a must-read for anyone who cares about fairness and justice for workers." — Filmmaker, Activist Morgan Spurlock (Director of Super Size Me, Executive Producer/Host CNN�s Inside Man).

    "Life Interrupted is a wonderful synthesis of analysis and empathy. Based on extensive fieldwork, Denise Brennan's valuable book is part of a new wave of scholarship into the darkest side of the world's political economy, an important corrective to celebratory odes to 'globalization' and 'cosmopolitanism' that pass for critical thinking." — Greg Grandin, author of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City

    "Denise Brennan's intimate conversations with survivors of forced labor in the US puts the human back into 'human trafficking.' Introducing us to the trafficking survivors next door, Brennan steers us away from the sensationalism of sex trafficking and toward the real—and much bigger—story of how the ordinary exploitation of all kinds of migrant workers leads to abuse, violence, and forced labor. Readable, personal, and authoritative, Life Interrupted takes us into the legal limbo where 'trafficked persons' linger after their escape from bondage. No one knows more about this urgent issue than Denise Brennan." — Cindy Hahamovitch, author of No Man's Land: Jamaican Guestworkers in America and the Global History of Deportable Labor

    "Denise Brennan makes it crystal clear that forced labor isn't 'over there.' It is right here. One of the many strengths of this fine ethnography is its letting us see how those women and men who have managed to escape such acute exploitation go about rebuilding their lives, step-by-difficult-step." — Cynthia Enloe, author of Seriously! Investigating Crashes and Crises as if Women Mattered

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  • Description

    Life Interrupted introduces us to survivors of human trafficking who are struggling to get by and make homes for themselves in the United States. Having spent nearly a decade following the lives of formerly trafficked men and women, Denise Brennan recounts in close detail their flight from their abusers and their courageous efforts to rebuild their lives. At once scholarly and accessible, her book links these firsthand accounts to global economic inequities and under-regulated and unprotected workplaces that routinely exploit migrant laborers in the United States. Brennan contends that today's punitive immigration policies undermine efforts to fight trafficking. While many believe trafficking happens only in the sex trade, Brennan shows that across low-wage labor sectors—in fields, in factories, and on construction sites—widespread exploitation can lead to and conceal forced labor. Life Interrupted is a riveting account of life in and after trafficking and a forceful call for meaningful immigration and labor reform.

    All royalties from this book will be donated to the nonprofit Survivor Leadership Training Fund administered through the Freedom Network.
     

    About The Author(s)

    Denise Brennan is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University. She is the author of What's Love Got to Do with It? Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic, also published by Duke University Press.