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Migration, Empire, and Liminality

Sex Trade in the Borderlands of Europe

Tracie L. Wilson

In this article I analyze accounts from police and women’s activist documents from the turn of the twentieth century, which present narratives of sex trafficking in and from Galicia, an eastern borderland region of the Habsburg Empire. Both police and activist accounts underscore the image of innocent women forced into prostitution, although police accounts provide more variety and nuance regarding degrees of coercion and agency demonstrated by women. I examine what such narratives reveal about the role of crossing boundaries—an act central to both sex trafficking and efforts to maintain empire. In this context, I consider how the Habsburg authorities coped with and attempted to manage populations whose mobility appeared especially problematic. Although this research draws extensively from historical archives, my analysis is guided by perspectives from folklore studies and the anthropological concept of liminality.

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Introduction

Sexual encounters, migration and desire in post-socialist context(s)

Judy Whitehead and Hülya Demirdirek

This introduction explores the contested issue of 'prostitution' and the transnational flow of sex labor. Drawing on the experiences of female migrants described in this issue, we rethink the impact of socialist transition and examine larger themes such as the role of discursive practices in the establishment of national boundaries and in various forms of international intervention. We problematize the 'traffic in women' as well as the conceptualization of and dichotomies surrounding sex labor. Key points in the current debates on transnational sex work are highlighted and an approach is suggested which conceives of agency and structure not in oppositional terms, but as a continuum. Considering the structural conditions imposed by neoliberal policies, we argue that ethnographic accounts can help explain how transnational openings in the market for sex work are internalized as opportunities for young women in post-socialist contexts and how economic liberalization becomes accepted as 'natural' and 'inevitable'.

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Trafficking

What is that?

Elisabeth Schober

Kamala Kempadoo, Trafficking and prostitution reconsidered: New perspectives on migration, sex work, and human rights. London and Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2005, 247 pp., ISBN 1-59451-096-2 (paperback).

Kathryn Farr, Sex trafficking: The global market in women and children. New York: Worth Publishers, 2005, 262 pp., ISBN 0-71675-548-3 (paperback).