Imagining Others: Sex, Race, and Power in Transnational Sex Tourism
AbstractWhile most research into the sex tourism industry focuses on the often stark inequalities that exist between sex tourists and sex workers, there are a plethora of other subjects that are involved in the complicated web of transnational interactions involving travel and sex. This article focuses on the ways in which other subjects who may not actually be present in sex tourism spaces are constructed and put to use in the context of sex tourism. The aim is to explore the ways in which sex tourists and sex workers imagine and invoke two specific groups, Costa Rican men and North American women, in order to make meaning out of their encounters with one another. The article asks how these imagined others are implicated in sex tourism and how they are made present in ways that enable commercial sex between North American tourists and Latin American sex workers in San José, Costa Rica. I argue that understanding sex tourism necessitates looking at the relationships between various social groups rather than only between sex tourists and sex workers, in order to better understand the intense complexities of the encounters of transnational, transactional sex.
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