TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION RECONSIDERED: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights

By Brock, Debi | Resources for Feminist Research, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION RECONSIDERED: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights


Brock, Debi, Resources for Feminist Research


TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION RECONSIDERED: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights Kamala Kempadoo, with Jyoti Sanghera and Bandana Pattanaik Boulder/London: Paradigm, 2005.

Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered is Kamala Kempadoo's third edited collection addressing the subject of sex work, and like the collections and single authored text that preceded it, Kempadoo has produced a volume that will play a significant role in re-setting the terms of the debate about prostitution and other forms of sex work. Her first collection, Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance and Redefinition, was co-edited with Jo Doezema in 1998. The collection of essays' careful collaboration between sex workers and their supporters was grounded by Kempadoo's meticulous comparative analysis of the conditions under which women perform sexual labour in many parts of the world. This was followed, in 1999, by the equally influential collection, Sun, Sex and Gold: Tourism and Sex Work in the Caribbean. In 2004 she published the sole authored Sexing the Caribbean: Gender, Race and Sexual Labor, a book that explores how Caribbean sexuality is defined through a combination of non-western cultural traditions and legacies, and colonial and neo-colonial ideas about the region, while querying the impact of colonial discourses on the psyche of the colonized.

Kempadoo's scholarship frames sex work as labour, while exploring the implications for studies of sexuality. She brings to our understanding of sexuality a materiality that contributes to the reproduction of labour, family, and nation; a sexuality that shores up national economies faced with the inequities of global capitalism. Sex work, then, is a malleable and fluid, yet constituent, element of the material reality of people's lives, rather than an aberrant feature of social order. There is much to learn here about the links between local conditions for sex work, about neo-colonial international trade and tourism, and for analyses of the international flow of labour that inevitably accompanies the international flow of capital. It is this last that is the subject of Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered.

This collection is truly a transnational collaborative feminist project. The book developed out of workshops on feminist participatory action research held by Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, in 2000-2001. Like the best of feminist research, it is research initiated "from the ground up" rather than beginning in organizations and institutions disconnected from those who are most directly involved. In taking on this kind of research, Kempadoo and the contributors enter into a highly contentious area for social research, for national governments, and for international governing bodies such as the LTN. …

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