Producing the ‘Trafficked Woman’: Canadian Newspaper Reporting on Eastern European Exotic Dancers During the 1990s


  • Elya M Durisin York University
  • Rob Heynen York University


Eastern Europe, Exotic dancer, Temporary work permit, Immigration, Canada, Human Trafficking



This article explores the emergence of discourses of “human trafficking” in Canadian newspapers during the 1990s, focusing on the depiction of Central and East European migrant women. The period saw much debate over a work permit exemption in federal immigration policy that allowed for the migration of workers into the exotic dance sector. We argue that debates over the exemption were often framed through an ethnosexualizing discourse that enabled narratives of victimization and legitimated repressive border security and policing practices.



Cet article explore l’émergence des discours sur la « traite des personnes » dans les journaux canadiens durant les années 90, et se penche sur la représentation des femmes migrantes d’Europe de l’Est. Cette période a connu de nombreux débats au sujet d’une exemption de permis de travail dans la politique fédérale sur l’immigration, qui permettait la migration des travailleuses dans le secteur de la danse exotique. Nous affirmons que les débats sur l’exemption étaient souvent imprégnés d’un discours de sexualisation ethnique qui permettait des récits de victimisation et légitimait des pratiques répressives de sécurité frontalière et de maintien de l’ordre.


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