Sex at the Margins: holiday gift or way to escape the celebrations

zedcoversharpandbrightSex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry was published by Zed Books in London in 2007 and is distributed in the US through Palgrave Macmillan. I blog often about issues covered in the book, and many of my published articles are available on this website, but to get the full picture, to see how the different topics join up, you need to read the book. As I said in Dear Students of Sex Work and Trafficking, my ideas can’t easily be boiled down to bullet points or a FAQ.

This book is not out of date. Listening to recent arguments against allowing women to sell sex in France it struck me I would be making the same analysis as the one I made ten years ago if I were doing the research now in Europe. Abolitionists and other Rescue Industry folks fail to comprehend what motivates migrants just as hard-headedly as they did 20 years ago, when my attention was first caught by them. It would seem that middle-class Rescuers are blind to the lack of options available to so many migrants and refuse to believe they have learned about life through experience, instead projecting their own feelings without even a pretense of listening to them.

What study after study has found all over the world is that migrants often prefer to take up riskier, better-paying jobs when the alternatives also offer low prestige and much less money. In the course of my wanderings to try to understand, before it could be called research, I learned that many women not migrating look at the world and their places in it in the same way, and that has not changed either. The margins in this book are occupied not only by migrants but lots of people who haven’t travelled anywhere.

Although Sex at the Margins sells steadily without getting any real promotion and is on many university reading lists, you are unlikely to find it in bookstores. But it is easily available to buy online in several formats:

Happy reading or listening!

–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

4 thoughts on “Sex at the Margins: holiday gift or way to escape the celebrations

  1. Cameron

    I’m reading your book at the moment and I’m impressed.

    Coming to reading your book my intuitive ideology was greatly contrasted to your own; it still is. Yet, whenever I take my pencil, underlining a statement which, it seems to me professes ignorance, a logical mis-step, or ideological fanaticism, after having read just a little more I find that you have filled in the gaps, answered my questions and cut off my criticism.

    It’s really great to read something so thoroughly researched, nuanced and qualified.

    So far at least… I haven’t got into any real criticism of “middle-class Rescuers” yet.

    1. Laura Agustín

      Thank you for this holiday gift to me. Whatever you may not agree with at least I can assure you it doesn’t arise from ideology or fanaticism as I was a single untutored person without theory or group affiliation or anything else but life experience when I set out to answer my questions and during the writing of the book.

  2. Cameron

    Perhaps not overtly ideological but ideological in another sense. As you said yourself recently, you were of the 60s (not to imply that you aren’t also of the 2010s and between).

    But despite this I still find your canvassing of the issues (expression of viewpoints, concessions and data counter to what I consider the general thrust of your project) to be extremely laudable. Too often people tend to paint without the shades, especially on emotional issues.

    I wish there were more who wrote as you do.

    You might be interested to know that I am considering writing a thesis this year on related issues. I was somewhat motivated through reading your blog.

    1. Laura Agustín

      Ideological in another sense – for sure. I still hear dogma in the term ideology but know not everyone does. I was a player during a certain zeitgeist, yes. But when I happened into a context in which people were selling sex and migrating, I viewed it all through life experiences from the 60s through into the 90s – not because of the 60s – not because of any set of beliefs that had not changed since my youth. My way of thinking was fashioned by decades. Good luck doing a thesis if you decide to!


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