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Bodies, Borders, and Sex Tourism in a Globalized World: A Tale of Two Cities—Amsterdam and Havana

Nancy A. Wonders, Raymond Michalowski
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/sp.2001.48.4.545 545-571 First published online: 1 November 2001


Globalization has stimulated an increase in the movement of bodies across borders as the poor migrate in search of work or safety, and the rich travel the globe as tourists in ever-larger numbers. This article explores how these global forces shape the production and consumption of sex tourism in two very different cities, Amsterdam and Havana. By combining political-economic, feminist, and postmodern theoretical perspectives with global ethnographic methods and data, we examine how abstract global forces find concrete expression within the practice of sex tourism in very different cities. We analyze four institutions that mediate between the global and the local in these sites: the tourism industry, labor markets, the sex industry, and law and policy. We argue that patterns of sex tourism in each locale are increasingly over-determined by global economic forces, connecting the practice of sex work in both cities with the broader phenomenon of globalized sex tourism.

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