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Author ORCID Identifier
Campus-Only Access for One (1) Year
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Leda Cooks and Laura Briggs
Asian American Studies | Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | International and Intercultural Communication | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Social Media
My research project examines how Asian and migrant massage and sex workers transform lived experiences into visceral knowledge to dismantle discourses of anti-sex work and human trafficking, promote human dignity in sex work, and create transnational social justice across physical and digital spaces. The case study is Red Canary Song, a grassroots collective for Asian and migrant massage/sex workers based in Flushing NY, where I have participated as an outreach member for 30 months. I deploy digital performance ethnography incorporating a researcher’s self-reflection into community members’ actions. I also conducted in-depth interviews with RCS members, witnessed a digital rally with transnational sex worker collectives across the Pacific Ocean, and visited sex worker collectives, La Brigada Callejera in Mexico and the Scarlet Chacha in South Korea, with which RCS has built inter-communal coalitions.
The major findings show that Asian and migrant massage/sex workers’ own sexuality and eros are not objects of social scientific and legal analysis but are embodied powers that can be exerted as labor practices for economic survival as well as political and cultural practices for decriminalization of sex work and transnational social justice. By doing so, the research builds a theoretical framework, ‘Transnational Erotic Activism,’ to argue that Asian and migrant massage/sex workers’ spiritualities and imaginations borne out of sexuality and eros become visceral knowledge for decolonizing Western colonial systems and achieving social justice.
This work contributes to unfolding complicated views of the lives of Asian and migrant massage/sex workers by focusing on their voices and actions against colonial and imperial views of anti-sex work and human trafficking. In addition, the project explicates decolonizing knowledge production in ways that appreciate the knowledge produced by community members who deserve to own their knowledge and show agency in sharing it with people.
Lee, Eunbi, "Performing Transnational Erotic Activism: Survival, Thriving, and Solidarity in Asian and Migrant Massage/Sex Workers" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations. 3010.
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