'I am helping them': 'Traffickers', 'anti-traffickers' and economies of bad faith

Sverre Molland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


For several years, aid programs in the Mekong region have taken an increasing interest in cross-border mobility and human trafficking and its relationship with development. More recently, there has been an increasing interest in the identification of trafficked victims and the investigation, arrest and prosecution of traffickers. Whereas anti-trafficking programs ubiquitously define themselves as being in a battle with traffickers, this article argues that although they are not homologous social actors, both engage in acts of bad faith. The article elaborates this argument by drawing attention to the recruitment process within the Lao sex industry as well as to the way in which aid programs attempt to identify trafficked victims. It concludes that imaginary aspects of development underpin a simultaneous disjuncture yet enable the social reproduction of the life worlds of 'traffickers' and 'anti-traffickers' alike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-254
Number of pages19
JournalThe Australian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of ''I am helping them': 'Traffickers', 'anti-traffickers' and economies of bad faith'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this