Cover of Migrant Crossings by Annie Isabel Fukushima
Migrant Crossings
Witnessing Human Trafficking in the U.S.
Annie Isabel Fukushima


272 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503609075
Paperback ISBN: 9781503609495
Ebook ISBN: 9781503609501

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Winner of the 2020 Asia and Asian America Section Book Award: Asian America, sponsored by the American Sociological Association (ASA) - Asia and Asian America Section.

Migrant Crossings examines the experiences and representations of Asian and Latina/o migrants trafficked in the United States into informal economies and service industries. Through sociolegal and media analysis of court records, press releases, law enforcement campaigns, film representations, theatre performances, and the law, Annie Isabel Fukushima questions how we understand victimhood, criminality, citizenship, and legality.

Fukushima examines how migrants legally cross into visibility, through frames of citizenship, and narratives of victimhood. She explores the interdisciplinary framing of the role of the law and the legal system, the notion of "perfect victimhood", and iconic victims, and how trafficking subjects are resurrected for contemporary movements as illustrated in visuals, discourse, court records, and policy. Migrant Crossings deeply interrogates what it means to bear witness to migration in these migratory times—and what such migrant crossings mean for subjects who experience violence during or after their crossing.

About the author

Annie Isabel Fukushima is Assistant Professor in the Ethnic Studies Division in the School for Cultural and Social Transformation at the University of Utah.

"Migrant Crossings brilliantly dissects our understandings of the plight of Latina and Asian women trafficked into informal economies of sex and service. Combining original analysis of court cases, news accounts, and police reports with the author's experience as a volunteer counselor, Fukushima reveals a legal system that requires a survivor's story to fit the model of 'perfect victimhood' in order to cross into visibility and be deemed worthy of asylum."

—Evelyn Nakano Glenn, University of California, Berkeley

"Migrant Crossings critically examines the framing and impact of the U.S. anti-human trafficking movement. Annie Fukushima explores how our work in the movement is often at odds with our stated objectives and reveals how an individual's experiences are shaped by a racist, misogynistic, and colonialist history. A deeply important read for all of us working to realize the promise of human rights."

—Jean Bruggeman, Executive Director, Freedom Network USA

"Migrant Crossings offers a deeply insightful analysis of the structures of human trafficking. It illustrates linkages between labor migration and human trafficking while convincing readers that vulnerability to human trafficking belongs in a historical continuum of U.S. racial exclusion."

—Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, author of Servants of Globalization: Migration and Domestic Work

"For policymakers, [Migrant Crossings] raises important considerations of how implicit theories & assumptions translate into discriminatory practices, even as we set out to liberate those we have identified as victims."

—Hugo Seron-Anaya, Humanity & Society

"In the literal sense, this work crosses through an impressive range of disciplines, including women's and feminist studies, critical race and ethnic studies, sexuality studies, labor studies, legal studies, and sociology. In the figurative sense, Fukushima has the reader cross from this world into the spooky, abstract world through her 'unsettled witnessing' of 'ghosts' to her discussions of the 'living dead.'... Fukushima's work should be celebrated for the wealth of knowledge and information it has managed to contain in less than 300 pages." –Verjine Adanalian, Human Rights Quarterly

"In challenging the notion that human trafficking today is 'new,' Fukushima also shows readers how many of today's policies and discourses related to (im)migration and human trafficking are deeply haunted by the past."

—Samantha Majic, Contemporary Sociology

"Weaving in frameworks bridging media studies, transnational feminist theory, and ethnic studies, the work brings a broadly interdisciplinary and analytically contemplative inquiry into critical antitrafficking studies. Pairing creatively wide-ranging empirical data extending from first and secondary court data to films and various media, Fukushima creates a pastiche that offers viewers a sense of how antitrafficking has created victims and saviors along racist and imperialist logics."

—Elena Shih, American Journal of Sociology