Les contours mouvants de la prostitution coloniale (Fort-de-France, 1940-1947)

TitleLes contours mouvants de la prostitution coloniale (Fort-de-France, 1940-1947)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSéquin, Caroline
JournalClio: Femmes, Genre, Histoire
Date Published06/2019

The Second World War marked a turning point in the management of prostitution in Martinique. The presence of thousands of sailors from the French metropole, stuck in Fort-de-France following a blockade that isolated the island for three years, ushered the adoption of new prostitution policies in the port city. These measures aspired to control intimate relations across racial boundaries, in a colonial setting where French citizenship had been extended to all individuals after the abolition of slavery. Their adaptation to local sexual practices, however, burdened a great number of mainly nonwhite, working-class women, regardless of their involvement in the sex industry—thus revealing the elasticity of the category “prostitute” during the war. Many of these women nonetheless managed to evade attempts to control their body; their actions pointed to the limits of the established system. [author]

Translated TitleThe Shifting Contours of Colonial Prostitution (Fort-de-France, Martinique, 1940-1947)
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