Representations of prostitution, sex work and sex trafficking between the 19th and 21st centuries
The Women’s Library, London, 9th-10th September, 2010
Provisional Keynote Speakers:
Jane Arthurs, University of the West of England
Marianne Hester, University of Bristol
Russell Campbell, University of Victoria
Kirsten Pullen, Texas A&M University
The figure of the prostitute is a malleable cultural symbol, used to address social fears and desires (Matlock, 1994; O’Neill, 2001). Representations of prostitutes enable us to understand attitudes towards female mobility, sexuality, ethnicity, and emancipation that cross national divides and affect all gender identities. The global centrality of such representations is growing, as debates about sex work, tourism and trafficking recur in a variety of border-crossing forms.
When considered from a global and historical perspective, portrayals of prostitution are many and varied, intersecting with different cultural and historical moments, in different forms and for different audiences, and functioning in dramatically different ways. Studies of the narratives of the prostitute, sex worker and sex trafficking within specific representational and key national contexts point to a need for further collaboration to understand the extent of their transnational nature, and the way in which representational forms may differ. This conference aims therefore to bring together studies of the representation of prostitution from a range of cultures, including Europe, North Africa, the US, Latin America, China, Japan, Korea, and India. In this transnational context we will examine how various representational forms inflect the figure differently since little attention has been paid to the evolution of the prostitute’s representation over the past two centuries from the novel and stage towards the globalized modes of film, television and the internet.
We would welcome proposals on any aspect of the conference theme, particularly in the light of the following questions:
1) Which features of the representation of prostitution cross a selection of different media and national contexts, and which do not?
2) How have new representational forms affected portrayals of prostitution? To what extent is there continuity between nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century approaches?
3) What are the contentious issues around the representation of prostitution, and what strategies might one devise to negotiate them? How do different understandings of feminism inflect the way we interpret images of prostitution?
4) How do representations of prostitution overlap with other discourses about gender?
5) How can we develop a transdisciplinary methodological approach to the study of gender representation, in particular to the representation of prostitutes, by bringing medical history, philosophy, sociology, politics, and geography together with more traditional studies of representation?
Please send abstracts of 500 words to the organizers Danielle Hipkins and Kate Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org by February 28th, 2010
Dr Kate Taylor and Dr Danielle Hipkins
entre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Sexuality and Gender in Europe at the University of Exeter and the School of Creative Studies and Media at the University of Bangor
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