CFP #AAG2017 – (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance

Call for Papers for the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting (#AAG2017)

Boston, USA, 5-10 April 2017

 

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Image taken from: http://www.nswp.org/event/3rd-annual-red-umbrella-march-sex-work-solidarity

 

(De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance (#Geosex17)

The socio-spatial, cultural and legal contours that surround sex, sexualities and sex work have long interested geographers, sociologists and criminologists.  Similarly, stigmatisation and social exclusion of marginalised sexual communities and sexual dissidents have also been at the forefront of academic thought, alongside how varying regulatory approaches contribute to perpetuating or diluting such effects on these communities.

In simple binary terms, political and policy attitudes towards commercial sex premises (e.g. sex shops, strip clubs, brothels) and sexual dissidents (e.g. sex workers, porn performers, LGBTI communities, consumers of commodified/commercialised forms of sex) veer between the (i) pragmatic and progressive and (ii) regressive and punitive.  Recent changes to sex work regulation, for example, have included: (i) the introduction of the ‘Nordic regime’ in France and Northern Ireland; (ii) the establishment of mandatory health counselling prior to and as a condition for registration for sex workers in Germany; and (iii) the introduction of Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs) in the State of New York. In the US, where sex work remains criminalised (except in parts of Nevada), federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have been at the forefront of a series of ‘sting operations’ on street-based sex workers and the closure of online escort agencies often on the premise of tackling human trafficking and money laundering. In 2016 the international human rights group, Amnesty International, confirmed its support for the decriminalisation of sex work, joining a host of other international organisations who support this policy stance. Interestingly, the policy agenda on sex work in the UK took an unexpected turn recently when the Home Affairs Committee on Prostitution indicated that a more pragmatic regulatory approach to sex work was required.

Pornography has also witnessed shifting socio-legal landscapes, with governments calling for and/or enacting varying forms of internet filtering and censorship of certain sexual acts (e.g face-sitting and female ejaculation).  Such moves have been argued to be highly gender biased. These are paralleled by other regulatory changes (e.g. mandatory condom use for adult performers) being introduced/advocated, but vehemently opposed within the adult performer community in the USA.  The state government in Utah recently declared that pornography was a public health hazard and consumption was at epidemic levels. Annual data from Pornhub, one of the world’s largest providers of online pornography, does indeed show that there is global mass consumption of porn. However, systematic research on the supposed deleterious effects of porn consumption remain seriously underdeveloped.

Relatedly, the ways in which sex, sexualities and sex work are performed, produced and consumed have also experienced changes in recent years, largely due to advances in mobile technology and the Internet. This raises interesting questions about the nature and dynamism within different sexscapes: (i) at a variety of scales, from the body and digital avatars to commercial sex work premises (e.g. pornography studios, brothels, camming spaces, BDSM venues, and the street); (ii) the wellbeing and safety of sex workers; and, (iii) the nature of community and mobility within and across different sectors of the sex industry.  Such shifts in technological advances have paved new ways and created new spaces for sexual dissidents engaged in consensual commercial forms of sex to communicate, mobilise and, ultimately, oppose stigmatisation and challenge policy and legislation.

This special session therefore seeks papers that focus on the broad themes of politics, policy and performance in/of sex, sexualities and sex work/the sex industry and how the concepts of labelling, stigmatisation and stereotyping are operationalised/resisted from above and below.  Papers can be theoretical, methodological and/or empirical and should speak to, but are by no means limited to, the following broad topics:

  • The social/economic/cultural geographies of adult retailing, queerness, sex work and pornography;
  • Stigma and social exclusion of/within sex work and the sex industry;
  • Liminal spaces and liminal stigmatisation of sexuality, sex work and the sex industry;
  • Community, diversity and mobility within sex work;
  • Kink/fetish spaces/communities involving bondage and discipline (BD), dominance and submission (DS), sadism and masochism (SM) (BDSM);
  • Performing sex work/sex worker identities via professional and/or protest/advocacy spaces;
  • Peer-education and advocacy within sex worker communities;
  • Sex, sexuality, sex work and disabilities;
  • Customers/clients and the sex industry;
  • Policing and criminal justice approaches to regulating the sex industry; and
  • Sex trafficking/exploitation and consensual commercial sex.

We welcome abstracts/papers by scholars, sex worker-academics, research-minded sex workers/sex work activists, adult entertainment performers/activists, and government/policy researchers from all theoretical, ideological, political, methodological, and empirical standpoints.

Please send your abstract (max 250 words) including title, 5 key words, author(s), institutional affiliation and contact details (including email) to the session convenors by no later than 14th October 2016.

Details about the AAG 2017 Conference and how to register/submit an abstract are available here – http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/call_for_papers

 

Session Convenors:

Assoc. Prof. Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia, paul.maginn@uwa.edu.au. (@planographer)

Dr. Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire, ecooper2@uclan.ac.uk. (@liminographer)

Dr. Erin Sanders-Mcdonagh, University of Kent, E.Sanders-McDonagh@kent.ac.uk  (@erinsandersmcd)