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The World of Prostitution in Late Imperial Austria$
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Nancy M. Wingfield

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198801658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198801658.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
The World of Prostitution in Late Imperial Austria
Author(s):

Nancy M. Wingfield

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198801658.003.0008

This study of prostitution addresses female agency and experience, contemporary fears about sexual coercion and the forced movement of girls/women, and police surveillance. Rather than treating prostitutes solely as victims or problems to be solved, it seeks to find the historical subjects behind fin-de-siècle constructions of prostitutes, to restore agency to the women who participated in commercial sex, illuminate their quotidian experiences, and to place these women, some of whom made a rational economic decision to sell their bodies, in a larger social context. It investigates their interactions with police and other supervisory agents, as well as with other inhabitants of their world, rather than focusing top-down on the state-constructed apparatus of surveillance. Close reading of the sources shows that some prostitutes in late imperial Austria took control over their own fates, at least as much as other working-class women, in the decades before the end of the Monarchy.

Keywords:   abolition, Habsburg Monarchy, clandestine prostitution, tolerated prostitution, regulation, venereal disease

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