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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Feminisms, Political Mobilization, and the Transnational Sex Trade: Contestation over Categorizing Social Reproductive Labor

  • Author(s): Lodermeier, Vanessa
  • Advisor(s): Pedersen, David
  • Postero, Nancy
  • et al.

Numerous scholars and activists attempt to define what the transnational sex trade is and what it should or should not be. Each of the groups involved in this struggle to categorize sex labor channel different representations of the category, or discourses. This paper analyses how three feminist scholars, of varying perspectives, define transnational sex labor, and despite their widely different viewpoints, marshal similar conceptual categories. Their discourses rely on notions of or attempts to police women’s “appropriate” labor and/or comportment and human rights and workers’ rights discourses. While the authors do not identify their works as such, I argue they are all part of a wider conversation of defining the realm of social reproductive labor. Throughout these three scholar’s writings, the category of social reproductive labor is silent, but represents another way of understanding and interpreting both transnational sex labor and political mobilization, contextualized within capitalism.

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