Locating Sex Work in Conversations on Care Symposium

27th May 2022 at the London School of Economics
This event was part of The Sociological Review Seminar Series  


Links to the recordings of the panels can be found below.

Join us in rethinking care in relation to sex work. This symposium explores the boundaries between “care” and “control” in the dominant political thinking on sex work and probes interventions that centre a framework of care. It is interested in care as a potentially transformative and disruptive practice and examines how sex workers can point to new ways of arranging social relations that provide alternatives to our current understandings of solidarity and care. It asks how an ethics of care might be formulated in research practice. Throughout these conversations, we also reflect on the ways in which we talk about sex work and care, including grappling with and navigating the risks of framing sex work as caring labour and social reproduction, and the multiple scales and registers of these conversations.

This event is part of The Sociological Review Seminar Series. Co-hosted by the Department of Gender Studies and the European Institute

Conveners: Dr. Sharmila Parmanand (LSE Department of Gender Studies) and Dr. Niina Vuolajärvi (LSE European Institute) 

Keynote Panel - Watch the recording on YouTube
Dr. Julia N O'Connell Davidson, Professor in Social Research, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol
Dr. Prabha Kotiswaran, Professor of Law and Social Justice, King’s College London
Niki Adams and Charlotte LeeEnglish Collective of Prostitutes
Chaired by Dr. Simanti DasguptaProfessor of Anthropology, University of Dayton and Fellow, International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University

Panel 1: Care, control, and carcerality  - Watch the recording on YouTube
Dr. Jennifer MustoCarceral Care Creep and Trauma-(Mis)informed Entanglements
Dr. Mirna GuhaChoice, care, and coercion: Insights from fictive kin relations between madams and sex workers in India
Dr. Pankhuri AgarwalWhy does rescue make anti-trafficking worse? Situating stories of mutual care and resistance against raids in G.B. Road, Delhi (the late 1990s-2019)
Chaired by Victoria Holt, PhD research student at the University of Roehampton, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Centre for Equality, Justice and Social Change.

Panel 2: Sex work activism, organising, and practices of care  - Watch the recording on YouTube
Dr. Heather Berg: “If You’re Going to Be Beautiful, You Better Be Dangerous”: Sex Worker Self Defense as Community Care
Dr. Inga Thiemann: ‘Fragmented sisterhood – have the debates around sex work and trafficking hindered sex worker solidarity? [not featured on the recording]
Tess Herrman: The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on inter-sectoral relationships between sex workers [not featured on the recording]
Chaired by Camille Barbagallo, a feminist activist and researcher.

Panel 3: Alternative readings of care, coercion, pleasure, and labour  - Watch the recording on YouTube
Dr. Niina VuolajärviLooking for a different kind of abolitionism: sex work, migration and the politics of care
Dr. Pushpesh KumarWe Distribute Pleasure: Sex Workers’ (De)construction of Popular understanding of Sex Work in a Sex-positive/ Care-giving Framework.
Chanelle Gallant: Thinking Sex Work and Domestic Work Together
Dr. Tania Garcia Sedano: Attention policies in initiatives against trafficking and sex work.
Chaired by Dr Maayan Niezna, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Modern Slavery and Human Rights, University of Oxford; Lecturer in Law, Kent Law School.

Panel 4: Ethics of care in sex work research  - Watch the recording on YouTube
Dr. Katie Hail-JaresControlling the narrative: Sex work, research ethics and data sovereignty 
Doris Murphy: From FECkless to “care-full” – a Feminist Ethic of Care in sex work research.
Michael Pastor: Ethnographic Reflections on Male Sex Work Research in the Philippines
Chaired by Dr Sharmila Parmanand, ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Gender Studies, LSE.

Panel 5: Sex work and the world of work  - Watch the recording on YouTube
Tanya Burman and Abhilasha Jain: Sex Work Through the Lens of ‘Care’: A South Asian Perspective
Priya Sharma: Sex Workers as Epistemic Agents: A Care Ethics Perspective on sex work
Dr. Sharmila Parmanand: "Would you rather our kids starve?": Sex workers, motherhood, and the politics of "virtuous" labour.
Chaired by Dr Niina Vuolajärvi, Assistant Professor of Migration, European Institute, LSE.