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    Traffickers and pimps in the era of white slavery

    Laite, Julia (2017) Traffickers and pimps in the era of white slavery. Past & Present 237 (1), pp. 237-269. ISSN 0031-2746.

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    In the early twentieth century, the idea of pimping and trafficking was being codified in most Western countries, and was deployed to rearticulate prostitution as part of a criminally organized underworld that stood firmly apart from the normal world of work, migration, and licit relationships. Pimps and traffickers were caricatured, demonized, and racialized, and increasingly seen as the chief cause of prostitution, in contrast to older feminist critiques which articulated prostitution as part of a wider system of gender exploitation underpinned by the uncontrolled sexual appetites of all men. This article looks at two pimps and traffickers, Antonio Carvelli and Alexander Di Nicotera, who were arrested in London in 1910, as a way to challenge and complicate these understandings of pimps and traffickers in the era of ‘white slavery’. It deploys the techniques of microhistory and ‘intimate’ history to uncover these elusive historical actors and to place them in a wider global and personal context. Examining the lives, work, and movements of Carvelli and de Nicotera, and others like them, reveals men who were indeed part of a mobile, cosmopolitan world of commercial sex, but it also shows the ways in which this supposed ‘underworld’ was deeply entangled with the licit economies of global capitalism. It allows us to see how these intermediaries in the sex industry were themselves often exploited and marginalized, even if their response to these experiences was to exploit others. Finally, it reveals that these men were in complex interpersonal relationships with women who sold sex in these local and global markets. When viewed in this way, Carvelli and de Nicotera slip in and out of the categories we might assign to them, and offer new ways of thinking about third parties and about the globalizing commercial sex industry in this important period.


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Research Centres and Institutes: Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for
    Depositing User: Julia Laite
    Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2017 14:49
    Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 06:18


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