Archive

History

Hurren, Elizabeth. ‘Dissecting Jack-the-Ripper: An Anatomy of Murder in the Metropolis’. Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies 20, no. 2 (2016): 5–30 (URL: https://journals.openedition.org/chs/1667).

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Jack-the-Ripper has been an historical prism for international studies of crime, history and societies. This article re-examines the infamous violent homicides from a new medical perspective. In a cold case review, original evidence of a secret trade in the dead poor is presented, neglected in crime historiography. Trafficking in bodies and body parts to teach human anatomy to medical students was the norm in the East End of London in 1888. The business of anatomy – peopled by body dealers and their accomplices – had the medical infrastructure to provide a deadly disguise for the serial killings. Those that fell from relative to absolute poverty, in death, supplied dissection tables in major teaching hospitals across London. Its social wallpaper could conceivably have camouflaged homicide in the Metropolis.

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Yarfitz, Mir. ‘Marriage as Ruse or Migration Route: Jewish Women’s Mobility and Sex Trafficking to Argentina, 1890s-1930s’. Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary e-Journal 17, no. 1 (15 October 2020). https://doi.org/10.33137/wij.v17i1.34964.

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The victim narrative of the international anti-white slavery movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century highlighted the suffering of prostituted women entrapped by violent men. Due to both antisemitic exaggeration and the reality of Ashkenazi Jewish networks of international sex work management in this period, Jews faced particular scrutiny as traffickers, and organized internationally with non-Jewish reformers against the phenomenon. Reformers often decried the shtile khupe, a Jewish religious marriage ceremony without a civil component, as a key trafficking technique. Drawing on League of Nations archives, court records, and the Yiddish, Spanish, and English press, this essay provides a granular social history of marriage and associated relational strategies for cross-border migration and structuring Jewish sex work on the ground in early-twentieth-century Buenos Aires. Evidence from sex workers and their managers pushes against these victimization narratives, reframing marriage as a method to achieve transnational mobility and improve labor and living conditions. Historical and contemporary feminist responses to trafficking share rhetorical strategies and critiques – in both past and present, transnational sex work can be analyzed in a migratory rather than coercive context, centering individuals making difficult choices from among limited options.

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Hock, Stefan. 2019. ‘To Bring About a “Moral of Renewal”: The Deportation of Sex Workers in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 28 (3): 457–82.

In January 1915 European consuls in Istanbul gave the city’s police commissioner, Osman Bedri Bey, a list of names of known procurers. The accused traffickers included Russian, Argentinian, Romanian, American, Austrian, French, British, and Greek citizens. All but one of them were deported; 151 were banished from the country, 11 were sent to Sivas, and 5 were sent to Kayseri, cities in the interior of Anatolia that were far removed from the capital.1 Bedri quickly rose through the ranks of Ottoman civil officialdom as he was a close friend of Talaat, the powerful interior minister who became grand vizier in 1917. Read more…

Connell, Kieran. ‘PROS: The Programme for the Reform of the Law on Soliciting, 1976–1982’. Twentieth Century British History. November 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwz032.

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In the late 1970s, a campaign was mounted to reform the legal landscape faced by sex workers, which had remained unaltered since a series of recommendations made in the Wolfenden Report were implemented by the government two decades earlier. While Wolfenden is commonly associated with the arrival of Britain’s ‘permissive’ 1960s, when it came to the issue of prostitution, it helped usher in even more restrictive conditions for sex workers. This article looks at attempts to challenge this status quo by focusing on the Programme for the Reform of the Law on Soliciting (PROS), which was founded in Birmingham in 1976 and became one of the most visible groups advocating for a change in the law. Its activities culminated with the 1982 Criminal Justice Act, which ostensibly abandoned the policy of imprisoning prostitutes on soliciting offences. The case of PROS, I argue, offers a further reminder of the afterlife of the liberalizing ethos associated with the 1960s. Moreover, it provides a different way of engaging with a historical conjuncture more commonly associated with themes such as rising individualism, the fragmentation of left-wing activism, and the arrival of Thatcherism.

Hearne, Siobhán. n.d. ‘Prosecuting Procurement in the Russian Empire’. Journal of Social History. Accessed 17 August 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shz040.
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Concern about the issue of forced prostitution reached its height in the Russian empire (as elsewhere in Europe and the Americas) at the turn of the twentieth century, as part of the wider international “white slave” panic. In 1909, new antiprocurement statutes were incorporated into the Russian empire’s Criminal Code to ensure that those who forced, coerced, or encouraged young women to enter the commercial sex industry felt the full force of the law. This article uses a case study of the Russian empire’s Estonian provinces (Estliand and Lifliand) to highlight the regional nature of Russian imperial experience. Prosecuting procurement was aligned with the priorities of local government, and the authorities in Revel’ (Tallinn) and Iu’rev (Tartu) used the issue of procurement to bolster their revenue. Here, the statutes gave the authorities additional tools for targeting individuals, such as managers of unlicensed brothels, who deprived the government of the income it generated from regulating the commercial sex industry. Drawing on court cases from the early 1910s, this article also examines the interaction of lower-class people with the state, their engagement with the legal system, their knowledge of the law, and the rhetorical strategies they employed to in their attempts to secure specific outcomes.

Wallis, Alexandra. 2019. ‘The Disorderly Female: Alcohol, Prostitution and Moral Insanity in 19th-Century Fremantle’. Journal of Australian Studies 0 (0): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/14443058.2019.1638815.
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Mary Jane Hayes was a “deviant” woman—a “drunken prostitute” who was in and out of both the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Fremantle Prison from 1871 to 1898. One of twelve women in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum records to have been referred to as a prostitute, Mary Jane was particularly reviled: her alcohol consumption and unsavoury lifestyle were often blamed as the cause of her violent behaviour and insanity. Prison and asylum records reveal several arrests for drunkenness and vagrancy, with an estimated 67 convictions; newspaper articles also depict her numerous convictions for indecent behaviour, obscene language and larceny. Mary Jane Hayes’s contact with both the asylum and prison, as well as her mentions in newspapers, allows for an archival and media content examination of late 19th-century Fremantle society and its treatment of deviant women who fell into the category of moral insanity: madness caused by a moral failing, especially alcohol and sex. This article will make a wider contribution to colonial Australian history, particularly the history of Fremantle, by developing a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of women and moral insanity in the late 19th century.

Fischer, Anne Gray. „“Land of the White Hunter”: Legal Liberalism and the Racial Politics of Morals Enforcement in Midcentury Los Angeles“. Journal of American History 105, Nr. 4 (2019): 868–84. https://doi.org/10.1093/jahist/jaz003.

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Late one night in October 1961, Los Angeles police officers V. C. Dossey and C. H. Watson thought they had made a legitimate arrest when they charged Betty, a white woman, with disorderly conduct. The officers were in their radio car, patrolling a predominantly black neighborhood in South Los Angeles—an area, according to police, “plagued by females” engaging in suspect sexual practices—when they observed Betty “cruis[ing] in a manner designed to attract” the attention of men….

Hansen, Christian Sandbjerg. „Learning the streets: ‘prostitutes’ in inner-city Copenhagen, 1930s“. History of Education 47, 6 (2018): 806–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/0046760X.2018.1485971.
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In this paper, police files and court cases from the Copenhagen City Court from the late 1930s are used as a window into the ways in which the living conditions and everyday life on the street unfolded among ‘prostitute’ women in poor inner-city neighbourhoods. Bourdieu’s notion of habitus is employed to analyse the social conditions under which the women became ‘prostitutes’, and the tricks of the trade that it was necessary to learn in order to ‘work the streets’ in poor inner-city neighbourhoods in a transforming Copenhagen in the 1930s.

Swedberg, Gregory. 2018. „Moralizing Public Space: Prostitution, Disease, and Social Disorder in Orizaba, Mexico, 1910–1945“. Journal of Social History 52 (1): 54–73. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsh/shx083.
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This article explores how women working as prostitutes in Orizaba, Mexico, laid claim to a more revolutionary vision of women’s citizenship. Prostitutes pushed the state to realize the promises of the Mexican Revolution, even as officials and many local residents—rich and poor—retained outmoded notions of gender and citizenship. This research indicates that “respectable” poor and working-class individuals gravitated toward traditional gender values so as to position themselves as respectable in the eyes of state agents charged with policing morality and public health. State officials’ rhetoric of egalitarianism that followed the Mexican Revolution fell flat for the public women whose pecuniary position persisted long after the guns fell silent.

Norberg, Kathryn. 2017. „The History of Prostitution Now“. Journal of Women’s History 29 (1): 188–96. https://doi.org/10.1353/jowh.2017.0014.
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Fifteen years ago, Timothy Gilfoyle published a lengthy essay devoted to the history of prostitution in the American Historical Review. He observed that in the last quarter of the twentieth century, historians complicated the history of prostitution “in ways unanticipated a generation ago.”1 As the six books reviewed here demonstrate, innovation in the history of sex work continues. Historians are now studying “up” rather than “down,” concentrating on brothel madams and luxury establishments rather than streetwalkers and street solicitation. Scholars today point to changing patterns of consumption and leisure (including tourism), rather than altered labor relations (like industrialization) to explain changes in the sex trade. Historians now importantly address previously neglected issues like colonialism, state building, and race to produce a more complex picture of the sex worker of the past and her business.