This book explores ‘sex work’ in Nepal as a social and analytical category. Narrating stories of those subsumed under such definition, it examines changes as well as continuities characterising socio-cultural norms and perceptions through an analysis of sexual consumption. It also highlights the ways in which the development sector, media, and local community discourses frame ‘sex work’ as a distinct category.
How does the work of development aid projects affect the understanding of the sex worker category? How are visual and media images employed to mark spaces of perdition in the Nepalese urban setting and what forms of imagination do they trigger? How are intimate practices and relations transformed by imported notions of love, and how do standards of propriety related to such interactions shift? This book attempts to answer some of these questions.
An in-depth and intimate ethnography, the book deconstructs the sex worker category against the backdrop of global influences within local urban surroundings and points to the contradictions therein. Furthermore, through thorough descriptions of the experiences, agency, decision-making processes, and lives of those labelled as sex workers, the book challenges concepts such as deviance and victimhood. It proposes a counternarrative by rethinking ideas of gender, objectification, marginality, symbolic violence, and discrimination. This book will greatly interest researchers and scholars in women and gender studies, sociology and social anthropology, South Asian studies and social sciences, as well as NGOs and those involved in the development sector.
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables. Preface. Acknowledgements. Abbreviations 1. Drawing Boundaries: An Introduction 2. An Incomplete Feminist Ethnography 3. The 'Sex Worker' as Category 4. Representations of Sex Work in Nepal: Othering Cycles 5. Space and Women in Urban Nepal 6. Exchanging Intimacy 7. Transnational Movements and the 'Body' as Capital Investment 8. Towards A Conclusion: Negotiating Selves Between Categories. Epilogue: Sex work, an Unpacked Category. Appendix 1. Appendix 2. References. Index
Lisa Caviglia is Lecturer and Researcher at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany and Coordinator of its Global and Area Studies programme. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Medical Biochemistry from King’s College London, UK, and a master of science in International Health from Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Previously, she was based in Eastern Nepal, working on development projects in a remote rural area followed by a period of research in Mongolia that focused on women engaging in sex work in the capital, Ulan Bator, a study conducted in collaboration with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). She was awarded a PhD scholarship as part of the Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ at Heidelberg University. She currently works on women’s labour migration from Nepal to the Southern European fringe and South East Asia, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Gender Equality Section of Humboldt University.