Sex, Mobility, Morality. Spatial Practices and Perceptions of the "Traffic in Women" between Germany, France and North Africa (1900-60)

The project is about the history of transnational mobility and commercial sexuality between Germany, France, and North Africa from the beginning of the twentieth century until the 1960s. It focuses on the idea of the so-called "traffic in women", "Mädchenhandel" or "traite des blanches", a phenomenon that has, since the end of the nineteenth century, preoccupied women's and morality associations as well as police institutions on a global scale. Since the 1920s the League of Nations was also concerned with the combat against "Traffic in Women and Children". Firstly, the project is about the perception of space and morality, such as the public assumptions about extensive criminal networks and the cross-border moral panics associated with it. Secondly, it sheds light on international political cooperation and police control. Thirdly, the project analyses the practices, experiences, and mobilities of the actors involved in transnational prostitution, their spatial references, networks, and routes.

The imaginary of "Mädchenhandel" on the one hand and the actual mobility of actors between Germany, France, and North Africa on the other hand will be examined: this includes not only women, but also men such as tourists or soldiers and a mobility not only from Europe to North Africa, but also in the opposite direction: Therefore the project includes e.g. brothels in the French-occupied Rhineland and German Foreign Legionnaires and their connection with colonial prostitution. Its goal is a transnational and imperial history of mobility and globality from below in the context of (post)colonial political, gendered, and social (spatial) orders.

Image: La Rue Bouterie à Marseille, Postcard 1919, L. L., Louis Lévy, Paris © Wikimedia Commons


Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin des VolkswagenStiftung-Freigeist Projekts "The Other Global Germany: Transnational Criminality and Deviant Globalization in the 20th Century"
(Historisches Seminar)
Lehrgebäude 4 / Raum 115