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Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo Paperback – September 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

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"Illicit Flirtations is an excellent book that is well written and thoroughly researched. Parreñas untagles an incredibly complex system of migration, middlemen, and international laws to reveal the golbal implications of the US morality on international policies and migrant workers. Parreñas should be commended for making a sensitvie and cogent argument that avoids sweeping claims."—Cristina Firpo, International Review of Modern Sociology


"By now, Rhacel Parreñas's depth of knowledge about the migrations of Filipinas allows her to mark distinctions, unsettle commonplace understandings, and make legible that which is shrouded. Out of this depth also comes the possibility of genuine theorizing. This is an extraordinary book whose audience will go well beyond the specialists of the subject."—Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of A Sociology of Globalization


"Unflinching in its stark descriptions of day-to-day activities that transpire inside an entertainment club, the author detailed all the mundane and gritty matters of working as an entertainer in Japan . . . [T]his book contributes to the literature on Filipinos in Japan as it enriches our knowledge of what particularly goes on in the life an entertainer."—Cherry Amor Dugtong-Yap, Southeast Asian Studies


"Parrenas did an excellent job in combining field interviews with participant observation to obtain rich and reliable data from her research subjects. The result is a highly readable and informative book with firsthand accounts of the work and lives of Filipina hostesses in Tokyo. Parrennas' book is based not only on rich, empirical data, but also on theoretical framework. This book undoubtedly makes a major contribution to our understanding of the relationship between hostessing, prostitution, and sex trafficking."—Ko-lin Chin, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books


"With chapters exploring how Filipina female and transgender hostesses manage love, flirtation, and morality in Japan, Parreñas deepens the reader's understanding of the socially constructed nature of these phenomena. Comparing the situations of female and transgender hostesses also provides an excellent intersectional analysis of hostessing as, for example, transgender hostesses reported much more satisfaction with their work conditions than did female hostesses overall."— Bernadette Barton, American Journal of Sociology
"With insight, brio, and compelling empirical evidence, Rhacel Parreñas offers a novel interpretation of Filipino hostesses working in Japan. Boldly departing from standard accounts that treat all migrant hostesses as equal victims of sexual trafficking, Illicit Flirtations presents a nuanced portrayal of the women's multiple labor and sentimental experiences. Scholars and policy-makers should take note."—Viviana A. Zelizer, Princeton University, author of Purchase of Intimacy and Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy
"In this superb new study, Parreñas takes her rapt readers into the lives of scantily clad Filipina hostesses in Tokyo nightclubs and into the work of the professional flirter. Caught between money-gouging middlemen, club owners, and anti-trafficking laws, these women live in a labile moral world. They mix business, body, and heart in complex ways, each making peace with her own mix in her own way. A brilliant work, a must-read."—Arlie Hochschild, author of Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work
"Illicit Flirtations brings together riveting ethnography, conceptual innovation, and significant policy implications. Parreñas breathes new life into gender and labor migration scholarship with an analytic focus on sexuality, morality, and money to challenge simplistic notions of trafficked victims. This book prompts us to rethink what we thought we knew about citizenship, intimacy, and work in transnational contexts."—Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, University of Southern California, author of Doméstica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence
"This book is a triumph from a leading scholar of migrant-female labor. In this work of daring ethnography and thinking, Rhacel Parreñas challenges conventional views about sex work and sex trafficking, revealing sex work as not solely prostitution but a continuum of practices, along which issues of volition, morality, and law collide and converge in complex dynamics."—Mae Ngai, Columbia University, author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America
"Illicit Flirtations draws on ethnographic immersion to illuminate the little understood reality of Filipina hostesses in Japan. Rhacel Salazar Parreñas's courageous, nuanced ethnography and provocative analysis of 'indentured mobility' make vital contributions to our understanding of the social realities of migration and to the debate on the policies that regulate it."—Robert C. Smith, Baruch College, CUNY, author of Mexican New York: Transnational Worlds of New Immigrants
"Avoiding broad-brushstroke mischaracterizations of sex-work, Rhacel Parreñas makes an important contribution to transnational feminist scholarship by productively reworking multiple binaries—motion and stasis, fixity and freedom, opportunity and risk—through her concept of 'indentured mobility.' She refuses to view her subjects as victims in need of rescue by Euro-American feminists, while simultaneously enables a useful analysis of the vulnerability to human rights violations all these women experience."—Susan Stryker, Indiana University-Bloomington, editor of The Transgender Studies Reader
"Illicit Flirtations is a daring rethinking of the conditions of trafficking, the nature of sex work, the meaning of citizenship, and the moral classifications given by the worker

About the Author

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas is Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work (Stanford University Press, 2001) and Children of Global Migration: Transnational Families and Gendered Woes (Stanford University Press, 2005).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (September 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804777128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804777124
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Nawyn on September 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Parrenas' well researched book on Filipina hostesses working in Tokyo provides much needed insight into the lives of these migrant workers, and the great harms that anti-trafficking policies have on their lives. An important read for anyone interested in gender, labor, and migration. A critical read for people designing counter-trafficking interventions, be they government or NGO.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Intrasombat on October 26, 2012
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Wonderful research, Great scale of content & rarely to find the similar ones. This books make me know about the error of Human Trafficking's norm. Rhacel Parreñas invited us to discuss and set the controversy debate about justice and order in the world politic.
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Purchased for a university class. The author successfully traces the links between immigration, nationality, sexuality, gender, beauty ideals, prostitution, trafficking, and employment abroad. She also keeps things fresh, entertaining, and insightful. I would easily read this book for leisure even if it weren't required. Never an alarmist, Parrenas explains how the concept of these women as trafficked sex workers not only feeds into the West's puritanical savior complex, but actually opens up these Filipina hostesses to worse exploitation than before.
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