Norberg, Kathryn. 2017. „The History of Prostitution Now“. Journal of Women’s History 29 (1): 188–96.
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. 
Varnava, Andrekos. „The Origins and Prevalence of and Campaigns to Eradicate Venereal Diseases in British Colonial Cyprus, 1916–1939“. Social History of Medicine. Zugegriffen 1. Mai 2018.

This article aims to contribute to the growing literature on the treatment of venereal disease in the British Empire. In 1926 the British Social Hygiene Council reported for the Cypriot government on the prevalence of venereal diseases and many of its recommendations were adopted since Cyprus, the report claimed, had a significant problem with venereal diseases. The report discussed the prevalence of venereal diseases and did not explore the origins of the problem. This article has two aims. The first is to trace the origins of the perceived prevalence of venereal diseases in the 1920 s to the wartime formation of the Cypriot Mule Corps, and the wartime actions to resolve venereal diseases amongst muleteers. This action solved the problem from a military perspective, but spread the problem throughout the island, hence the prevalence underscored in the report. The second aim is to compare how the second campaign, in the aftermath of the recommendations of the British Social Hygiene Council, differed to the first and how effective these measures were. The article argues that the two approaches were very different, yet both were grounded in a social conservatism, especially the wartime campaign.


Paradoxically, in the 19th century, an era very concerned with public virtue, prostitutes were increasing being represented in Western European cultural expressions. Prostitution was a prevalent social phenomenon due to the rapid urbanization of Western Europe. People were on the move as both urban and rural areas underwent considerable material and normative change; the majority of Western European cities grew rapidly and were marked by harsh working and living conditions, as well as unemployment and poverty. A seeming rise in prostitution was one of the results of these developments, but its centrality in culture cannot be explained by this fact alone. Prostitution also came to epitomize broader social ills associated with industrialization and urbanization: “the prostitute” became the discursive embodiment of the discontent of modernity.

The surge in cultural representation of prostitutes may also be seen as an expression of changing norms and a driver for change in the public perception of prostitution. In particular, artists came to employ the prostitute as a motif, revealing contemporary hypocrisy about gender and class.

Kramm, R. “Haunted by Defeat: Imperial Sexualities, Prostitution, and the Emergence of Postwar Japan.” Journal of World History, vol. 28 no. 3, 2017, pp. 587-614.  doi:10.1353/jwh.2017.0043
This article addresses sexuality and prostitution as key elements in the emergence of postwar Japanese nationalism. It analyzes discursive practices, which Japan’s authorities used to conceptualize the recreational facilities aimed at “comforting” the Allied occupiers during the still imaginary encounter of occupier and occupied in the immediate post-surrender period. The conceptualization of prostitution at the end of WWII is a pivotal example for the clash of competing empires, the disintegration of Japan’s empire, and postwar imagination of the Japanese nation-state. Since the early twentieth century Japan’s aggressive war and colonial rule in Asia exported sex workers as well as specific notions of sexuality—often mediated through further global entanglements with the West and its colonies—that had shaped the understanding of Japan’s empire and Japanese imperial subjectivity. With defeat in 1945, Japan’s imperial dreams shattered, but imperial experiences of sexuality and prostitution continued to shape ideas of Japanese belonging.

This article focuses on sex work relations in the Mangue, one of Rio de Janeiro’s red light districts in the 1920s. It follows multiple simultaneous trajectories that converge in Rio’s changing urban landscape: League of Nation’s investigators (some of them undercover), local Brazilian authorities, particularly the police, and Fanny Galper, a former prostitute and madam. It argues that the spatial mobility of the persons involved in sex work is part of broader debates: On the one hand, these experiences of mobility are closely connected to the variegated attempts at surveillance of sex work that characterized Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s and the specific racialized organization of the women’s work as prostitutes. On the other hand, the actors analysed in this article also participated, in different ways, in the production of meanings in broader debates on the international circulation of policies intended to regulate and surveil prostitution. These encounters offer the opportunity to explore some of the intersections between this international circulation of policies, local social dynamics of European immigration, and the racialized history of labor relations in Brazil.

Full article available via

Siobhán Hearne (2017) Sex on the Front: Prostitution and Venereal
Disease in Russia’s First World War, Revolutionary Russia, 30:1, 102-122, DOI:


Prostitution flourished during Russia’s First World War. Mass mobilisation and the displacement of millions of the empire’s population challenged the tsarist state’s ability to control both the movement and bodies of those buying and selling sex. In light of this, military and medical authorities shifted their attention more directly onto regulating men’s bodies. Wartime social turmoil also increased the visibility of prostitution, which saw many enlisted men lament the apparent ‘moral decline’ that they witnessed on the front. This article examines how the tsarist authorities grappled to control the bodies of its populace on Russia’s western front, and how the conflict had an impact upon ideas of morality and sexuality.

Antonio Carvelli and Alexander di Nicotera came to London via Liverpool in April 1910, travelling first class on the steamer SS Frisia from Buenos Aires, and accompanied by five young women. The pair took flats in north Soho, and showed the women the route they were to walk to solicit sex. After installing these women on the West End streets, they travelled to Paris, where they found three more young women and returned with them to London, sending them out to Piccadilly as well. Dressed in nice suits and collars, with pistols tucked into their coats, they followed the women at a distance, and regularly took money from them. They frequented the cafes and pubs of Soho and dined late into the night at popular West End restaurants. The pair were finally arrested three months later, in July 1910, after a month-long police observation, and were charged with ‘procuring or attempting to procure’ four women to become ‘common prostitutes’.1 It was a stereotypical case of what was known as white slavery.  Read more here…