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Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry Paperback – August 7, 2007
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"In restoring those living on the fringes of western societies to their full humanity, this invigorating book undermines our stereotypes and provides a challenging but unforgettable picture." -- Jeffrey Weeks, London South Bank University
""Sex at the Margins" elegantly demonstrates that what happens to poor immigrant working women from the Global South when they 'leave home for sex' is neither a tragedy nor the panacea of finding the promised land. Above all, Agustin shows that the moralizing bent of most government and NGO programs have little to do with these women's experiences and wishes. This book questions some of our most cherished modern assumptions, and shows that a different ethics of concern is possible." -- Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the wave of the future, when it comes to discussing "prositution," which already seems like quaint terminology. If you're someone who's interested in progressive sexual politics and how the world works, you are going to EAT THIS UP.
The author does write like a scientific observer, an academic. I appreciated her style and perspective. I would almost say it's not beach reading but actually I read it lying under a mosquito net under one of the most beautiful beachside locations in California. Everyone kept passing me food and tabloid gossip magazines, and I refused them until I got to the last page.
Oh and it illuminates the weird affinity between some "fundamentalist feminists" and the religious right, not an attractive alliance.
Though the book is mostly about sex workers who travel from their homelands to ply their trade, the book also helps us think about the whole issue of migration, and our contemporary paranoia about immigrants. The whole notion of "migrants" is deeply class biased; no one ever called an Indian bond trader working in New York a migrant. But he or she has travelled for the same reasons as dishwashers, nannies, and strippers - to make money, for sure, but also to see the world, or escape suffocating origins.
Agustín's work has become a classic in the fields of sex work and immigration studies. It is safe to say that no book has irritated or inspired more people in the anti-trafficking field than this one.
And because Laura has snarked about "classic" in her comments below, let me define that word.
1) When someone comes up to me and says "I am interested in learning about trafficking. Where should I start reading?", this book is the first thing that springs to mind.
2) It goes against the grain of the received wisdom of the times and yet hits its subject matter square on, in such a way that you'll never be able to hear someone say "trafficking" again without thinking of it, whether or not you agree with Agustin.
3) Because so much of the subject matter is absolutely contaminated by moral panic and bulls*** in other books -- even well-meaning academic books -- but is not contaminated HERE, people are still going to be reading this a century from now and saying "Yes!" when 99.9% of what is now written about so-called trafficking will read like Victorian screeds against masturbation do today.
They best comparison I can make is with Emma Goldman's classic (I do not use this term lightly or ironically) 1910 dissection of that generation's anti-trafficking panic.Read more ›
Augustin does a great job in punching through the thick accretion of myth that has built up around the subject through a combination of ethnographic interviews and reviews of literature. Her discussion of the "rescue industry" is devastating, showing that much of its statistical basis is either created from whole cloth or interpolated from inadequate or biased samples.
This is social science with a very welcome edge.
Professor Agustin's book is actually very readable for an academic tome and I applaud her for that also.
So, if you want to know the real deal about sex work and "human trafficking" you need to buy Professor Agustin's book "Sex At The Margins".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bringing around more humanity when it comes to the reality (emphasis on real) of people's lives.Published 12 months ago by Janine Ewen
Agustin presents a clear, concise criticism of what she terms as the "rescue industry". This book is amazing. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Richard Stringfellow
I quoted this book about 50 times in my thesis. It really is a classic.
It's not just boring academics, either. Read more
This is one if the most cited works in critical anti-human trafficking studies, and is one of those books that are not only influential, but also life changing. Read morePublished 19 months ago by KittyHime
it is a must read for anyone involved in anti trafficking work. the author deals factually with a very difficult subjectPublished on June 14, 2014 by chris frazer