Call for Papers

Call for Papers: AAA Annual Meeting “Anthropology Matters!”
November 29-December 3, 2017
Washington, DC

Session Title: The Politics and Practice of Sex Work Research
Organizer: Megan Lowthers
Discussant: Sealing Cheng

Session Abstract:
Both feminist ideologies and political movements have had a profound impact on sex work research design, implementation, and dissemination. In response to moralistic anti-trafficking campaigns that misrepresent the lived experiences of sex workers as well as the exclusion of sex workers from research processes, many researchers have argued for a shift from research on sex workers to non-exploitative research with sex workers. In the social sciences, sex work researchers have been at the forefront of engaging reflexively with questions surrounding inclusivity, voice, and representation in research, and how their research can be relevant to sex working communities and the sex workers’ rights movement. As a result, critical sex work research has sought to increase ethical practices by employing participatory research methods (Dewey and Zheng 2013), arts-based research (Desyllas 2013), and photovoice projects (Cheng 2017, Oliveira 2016), as well as its impact on policy, advocacy, and activism (van der Meulen, Durisin, and Love 2013).

The goal of this organized session is to engage with questions and debates in the discipline of anthropology and in research that draws from anthropological perspectives surrounding, why, how, and to whom sex work research matters. Within the subject of sex work research individual abstract submissions are not limited; however, topics could include:

– Sex work research design
– Ethics and sex work research
– Researcher and participant relationships
– Sex worker-led research methodology
– Innovative research methods
– Action research
– Policy relevant research
– Sex workers’ rights, activism, and research
– Sex work research challenges

Please submit abstracts of 250 words to Megan Lowthers at no later than Wednesday, April 12th. You will be notified if your abstract is accepted the same day. If your abstract is selected for this session you will be required to register for the AAA conference and submit your individual abstract by Friday, April 14th.

References Cited

Cheng, Sealing. 2017. “The Voice of Images: Photovoice, Sex Workers and Affective Engagement.” In Prostitution Research in Context: Methodology, Representation and Power, edited by Marlene Spanger and May-Len Skilbrei. Oxon: Routledge.
Desyllas, Moshoula Capous. 2013. “Using Photovoice with Sex Workers: The power of Art, Agency, and Resistance.” Qualitative Social Work 13 (4):477-501.
Dewey, Susan, and Tiantian Zheng. 2013. Ethical Research with Sex Workers: Anthropological Approaches. New York: Springer.
Oliveira, Elsa. 2016. “Empowering, Invasive or a Little Bit of Both? A Reflection on the Use of Visual and Narrative Methods in Research with Migrant Sex Workers in South Africa.” Visual Studies 31 (3):260-278.
van der Meulen, Emily, Elya M. Durisin, and Victoria Love, eds. 2013. Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy, and Research on Sex Work in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press.


Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 February 2017
Special Issue Editor
Guest Editor
Prof. Leslie Jeffrey

Department of History & Politics, University of New Brunswick, Saint John, NB E2L 4L5, Canada

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Globally, despite New Zealand’s legal change over 10 years ago, the campaign for national level policy change that recognizes and protects the rights of sex-workers has hit some major roadblocks, and even seen progress rolled-back by anti-trafficking policies and Nordic model re-criminalization. As we prepare for more years of campaigning for change, what positive developments can we build on? Where is future progress likely to take place? Are we seeing positive changes at the local level or on smaller scales that might build toward larger-scale change in the future? This Special Issue looks to explore the positive changes that are happening beyond the big policy level. Are we, for example, seeing any positive developments in relations between the sex-workers’ rights and other social justice movements? Are there examples of improved communication or cooperation between sex workers and municipal governments, police forces, the media or local communities? Are there new forms of political or social organizing by sex-workers or signs of strengthening bonds between groups within the sex-work field including migrant and non-migrant workers? What positive developments are we seeing now that might provide a path forward?

Prof. Leslie Jeffrey
Guest Editor


Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

• Sex-workers’ rights
• Sex work policy
• Local politics and sex-work
• Sex-worker activism