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Eine Begleiterin der Menschheit / A Companion of Mankind

Edited By Frank Jacob

Prostitution ist scheinbar genauso alt wie die Menschheit selbst und gilt nicht von ungefähr als das «älteste Gewerbe» überhaupt. Dieser Band versteht sich als interdisziplinäre, chronologisch sowie global umfassende Analyse des Phänomens und bietet dem Fachpublikum und dem interessierten Leser gleichermaßen eine breite Darstellung der Prostitution aus historischer, soziologischer, genderorientierter sowie kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive. Untersucht werden dabei die Rolle von Prostituierten in der Gesellschaft, die Rezeption des Gewerbes per se sowie die Rahmenbedingungen, unter denen sich ein solches etablieren kann.
Prostitution seems to be as old as humanity itself and is consequently not described as the «oldest profession» without cause. This anthology is an interdisciplinary, chronological and regional extensive approach to analyze the phenomenon. It provides a broad historical, sociological, cultural, and gender perspective on prostitution for the academic as well as the interested reader alike. It examines the role of prostitutes in society, the reception of the profession per se and the conditions due to which it is established.
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The Ambivalences of Sex. Commercial Sex, Rhetoric and Policies in Italy (from Merlin to Berlusconi)


Introduction: Sex and Vice as an Allegory of the Social

In a distinctive work, Buci-Glucksmann1 observes, on the traces of Walter Benjamin, that the “urban development of prostitution as a mass phenomenon leading to legislation, along with the visible ‘massification’ of feminine bodies, expresses a historical change even more typical of the middle of the twentieth century-expressed in new relations between the visible and the invisible, the representable and unrepresentable, and their consequent practices and discourses”. In this perspective, women’s bodies as well as prostitution, are two allegories of the modern city, and as many collections of fragments, tantamount to the complexity of social life. In dealing with them, both legislators and society are not simply concerned with actual bodies and sex, but with the changes occurring in different realms of society. More bluntly, in such a perspective, discourse and regulations regarding commercial sex reflect, more often than not, a concern with changes in the economy, demography and the activities present in countries and cities, or in the international organization of labor division.

In this perspective, e.g., the killing of Mary Rogers – one of the most famous cases in the American history of sexual crimes – takes place in the changing New York of 1841. Over the course of the previous decade, in fact, the city had gone through significant transformations: the sudden industrialization of the area, the emergence of a politicized working-class, the growth of immigration, and the increasing polarization of the economic condition...

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