Sex Worker Resistance in the Neoliberal Creative City: An auto/ethnography
Keywords:sex work, criminalisation, neoliberalism, creative space, Nuit Blanche
Sex workers are subjects of intrigue in urban and creative economies. Tours of active, deteriorating, or defunct red-light districts draw thousands of tourists every year in multiple municipalities around the world. When cities celebrate significant anniversaries in their histories, local sex worker narratives are often included in arts-based public offerings. When sex workers take up urban space in their day-to-day lives, however, they are criminalised. Urban developers often view sex workers as existing serviceably only as legend. A history of sex work will add allure to an up-and-coming neighbourhood, lending purpose to its reformation into a more appropriately productive space, but the material presence of sex workers in these neighbourhoods is seen as a threat to community wellbeing and property values. This paper considers how sex workers, continuously displaced from environments they have carved out as workspaces, may use the arts to draw attention to these ongoing contradictions. It investigates how sex workers may make visible the idiosyncratic state of providing vitality to a city’s history while simultaneously being excluded from its living present. Most critically, it suggests ways in which sex workers may encourage those involved as producers and consumers of neoliberal urban revitalisation projects to connect these often fatal paradoxes to the laws that criminalise their labour.
How to Cite
The Anti-Trafficking Review has a policy of licensing under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Under the CC-BY license, the public is free to share, adapt, and make commercial use of the work. To protect our work and that of our authors, however, users must always give proper attribution to the author(s) and the Anti-Trafficking Review (i.e. with a complete bibliographic citation and link to the Anti-Trafficking Review website and/or DOI).
The Anti-Trafficking Review promotes the sharing of information, and we therefore encourage the reproduction and onward dissemination of articles published with us.