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Foreign Female Sex Workers in an Atlantic Port City: Elite Prostitution in Late Nineteenth-Century Antwerp

Book Contribution - Chapter

This chapter uses personal information from police files on immigration and prostitution as well as population records to reconstruct migration and residential trajectories of registered foreign sex workers in the Atlantic port city of Antwerp, Belgium, in the year 1880. It elucidates how their highly transitory patterns of mobility and clustered patterns of residence formed part of professional international migration circuits connecting brothels in various European cities, catering to the upmarket segments of Antwerp’s lively prostitution sector. By comparing their distinctive patterns of migration, residence, and work with other female migrants on the one hand and more ‘irregular’ forms of prostitution on the other hand, the chapter highlights the ways in which the presence of this particular migrant group—dominated by French women—shaped the bohemian reputation of the port’s notorious entertainment district in the late nineteenth century.
Book: Migrants and the Making of the Urban-Maritime World: Agency and Mobility in Port Cities, c. 1570–1940
Series: Routledge Advances in Urban History
Pages: 195-221
Number of pages: 26
ISBN:978-0-367-54361-7
Publication year:2020
Keywords:Urban history, migration history, Prostitution