Book

I've Got to Make My Livin'

Cynthia M. Blair

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780226055985
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226056005 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226056005.001.0001
I've Got to Make My Livin'

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For many years, the interrelated histories of prostitution and cities have perked the ears of urban scholars, but until now the history of urban sex work has dealt only in passing with questions of race. This book urban explores African American women's sex work in Chicago during the decades of some of the city's most explosive growth, expanding not just our view of prostitution, but also of black women's labor, the Great Migration, black and white reform movements, and the emergence of modern sexuality. Focusing on the notorious sex districts of the city's south side, the book paints a complex portrait of black prostitutes as conscious actors and historical agents; prostitution, it argues here, was both an arena of exploitation and abuse, as well as a means of resisting middle-class sexual and economic norms. The book ultimately illustrates just how powerful these norms were, offering stories about the struggles that emerged among black and white urbanites in response to black women's increasing visibility in the city's sex economy.

Keywords: urban sex work; race; African American women; Chicago; black women's labor; Great Migration; black prostitutes

Book.  312 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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