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Prostitution and sex work

The recurring debates about sex work and prostitution concern the relation between prostitution and the state or the question of individual freedom and sexual self-determination. The forms and effects of political regulation are particularly controversial, not least because the subject matter is very heterogeneous and sex workers are affected by regulations in various ways. Likewise, the question is how sexuality as such can be explored scientifically and how it is culturally represented. What is the specific normative content of ‘emancipation’ both historically and currently and how can it be socially and politically implemented? The way society handles the problem of sexual labour and the intended as well as unintended effects of regulation deserve a closer look.
Currently, questions about the forms and principles of differentiating between commercial and non-commercial sexuality are receiving increased attention. Recent demands in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic for a permanent ‘ban on prostitution’ reveal that prostitution and sex work are (still) highly controversial issues. The distinction between heterosexual, queer, and trans identities as well as the significance of normative notions of relationships, sexuality, and intimacy are under discussion.
Sex work/prostitution is therefore a highly diversified subject of research. This plurality encompasses the diversity of disciplinary perspectives as well as thematic contents, which often have to be dealt with primarily on an interdisciplinary basis, since different aspects such as governmental regulations, social structures, (cultural) forms of representation and the constitution of identities intertwine. This issue aims to shed light on these different perspectives and specific disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.
Empirical as well as theoretically based contributions are welcome, which make visible intersectional and postcolonial perspectives on prostitution and sex work (e.g. against the background of work/poverty, migration, citizenship and gender).

  • Representations of ‘the’ prostitute or ‘the’ sex-buyer in music, art, literature, film and theatre
  • Historical and social changes in the understanding of sex work/prostitution and how they are reflected in legal regulations
  • The theory of prostitution, the economy of sex work and the particular form of exchange in prostitution
  • Controversies about (international) regulations of prostitution and sex work and/or its effects
  • The correlation between prostitution and gender (dis)order
  • Sex work and feminist solidarity in the age of #MeToo
  • Debates about ‘carceral’ and ‘anti-carceral’ feminism

Please submit a one- to two-page abstract by 15 November 2020. Non-German speakers are welcome to submit their articles in English.