Troubling Terms and the Sex Trades, A Call for Proposals from the Radical History Review

Thomas Harbison's picture
Call for Papers
February 1, 2022
New Jersey, United States
Subject Fields: 
Labor History / Studies, Linguistics, Sexuality Studies, Social History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Troubling Terms and the Sex Trades

A Call for Proposals from the Radical History Review
Issue number 149
Abstract Deadline: February 1, 2022
Co-Edited by Julia Laite, Rachel Schreiber, and Judith Walkowitz

The Radical History Review seeks contributions to a special issue to be titled “Troubling Terms and the Sex Trades.”

Prostitution, sex work, trafficking, and decriminalization are not only contentious feminist issues, but contentious words that have important and complex histories and cultural contexts. This special issue of the Radical History Review will explore the “troubling terms” associated with sexual labor and exploitation.

This call for papers solicits a range of different submissions.  It seeks article-length, historically-grounded pieces as well as shorter reflective pieces, both from historians and those who have worked with sex workers or as sex workers, about what these terms mean, and how their meaning and application have changed over time. We are soliciting submissions that focus on the history of keywords, such as: decriminalization, sex work, trafficking, sex slavery, harm reduction, demand, violence against women, and exiting. Each essay should address the history and politics of a “troubling term,” as well as how and why it enables, distorts, or challenges efforts to write the histories of sexual labor and sexual exploitation. Submissions are especially encouraged that address the racial implication of these topics as well as transnational, global majority, and multilingual perspectives.

While numerous anthologies and encyclopedias of terms on sex work have been published, this issue does not assume these are static or neutral terms, but rather will emphasize their intellectual genealogy and their evolving political effects. Rather than positing definitive definitions, this issue will emphasize the ways in which these terms are troubled by competing histories; the political and linguistic cultures of translation; and their differing situation within contexts such as academic research, activist strategies, or praxes such as healthcare, legal frameworks, policy making, or advocacy.

By January 1, 2022, please submit a 1-2 page abstract summarizing the essay or article you wish to contribute as an attachment to with “Issue 149 Abstract Submission” in the subject line. If you wish to contribute an essay on visual materials, please send any images as low-resolution digital files embedded in a Word document along with the text. If chosen for publication, you will later need to send high-resolution image files and secure permission to reprint all images.

By March 1, 2022 authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their manuscript for peer review. The due date for completed manuscripts will be November 1, 2022. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in Issue 149 of the Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in May 2024.

Abstract Deadline: January 1, 2022


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