Beyond the matrix of oppression: Reframing human Smuggling through instersectionality- informed approaches
What are the challenges and the advantages of using an intersectionality-informed approach in criminological research? In this essay I raise that question via an analysis of human Smuggling discourses. Tragic events involving the deaths of irregular migrants and Asylum seekers in transit are most often attributed to the actions of the human smuggler— constructed as the violent, greed-driven, predator racialized, and Gendered as a male from the global South. Most academic engagements with Smuggling often failing to notice the discursive fields they enter, have focused on documenting in detail the victimization and violence processes faced by those in transit, in the process reinscribing often problematic narratives of irregular Migration, like those reducing migrants to naïve and powerless creatures and smugglers as inherently male, foreign and criminal bodies. I argue that essentialized notions of Identity prevalent in neoliberal discourses have permeated engagements with Migration, allowing for human Smuggling’s framing solely as an inherently exploitative and violent practice performed by explicitly racialized, Gendered Others. In what follows I start to articulate the possibility of reframing human Smuggling, shifting the focus from the mythified smugglers to the series of social interactions and sensorial experiences that often facilitated as demonstrations of care and solidarity ultimately lead to the Mobility, albeit precarious, of irregular migrants. Through a critical engagement with the concept of intersectionality I explore how Smuggling—as one of multiple irregular Migration strategies—can be unpacked as constituting much more than the quintessential predatory practice of late modernity performed by criminal smugglers preying on powerless victims, to be instead acknowledged as an alternative, contradictory, highly complex if often precarious path to Mobility and safety in and from the margins.