Department of Anthropology

Writing Workshop with April Petillo

"Consumable Sexual Excess": Native “Peculiarity” Signaled Through US Anti-Trafficking Discourse

Mon, April 8, 2019 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM

Writing Workshop with April Petillo

Current trafficking discourse is writ as individual vulnerability exploited by nefarious others. In this framework, communities achieve justice through the power of the state, and sometimes the church, purging the nefarious others and cleansing the previously vulnerable.  However, the US blueprint for this crime predates constitutional marking of the nation-state’s existence—specifically, with the forced and coerced movement of peoples that was purported to be for the protection of the burgeoning government and citizenry.  From a broader perspective, trafficking might be understood as a multi-scalar crime wherein the state benefits rather than protects.

Reliant on Indigenous perspectives and decolonized logics, this paper reconceptualizes the state’s role in trafficking—from civilizing savior to politically invested beneficiary.  Examining African-American women’s early rendering as legally ineligible to leverage charges of rape and contemporary targeted domestic trafficking of Indigenous women and children, I chart state investment in erasure and precarity though temporal comparison across identity, rendered legal invisibility and its residue.  This analysis is squarely focused on the places where coloniality influences current liberal, progressive conversations on trafficking and keeps people in harm’s way.  What results is a call to combat statecraft that renders particular communities peculiar and a consumable benefit of citizenship.


Dr. April Petillo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of American Ethnic Studies and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at Kansas State University.  Her work is inspired by community social justice and she is passionate about creating student-centered learning environments focused on real life applicability.  Dr. Petillo specializes in Native American/Indigenous studies, comparative/critical ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, law and policy (sociolegal studies), Critical Trafficking Studies and queer theories. She interrogates slavery and settler logics and the ways they influence the representation/misrepresentation of people in the law.


Contact Catherine Schreiner for the writing sample that will be discussed.

Sponsored by: LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections

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