Sex Worker Identity, Citizenship, and Health in Brazil

Tara Rado : Anthropology

Mentor: Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Anthropology

Tara will undertake ethnographic research in downtown Rio de Janeiro, where sex workers earn their livelihoods in extreme economic and social marginalization. They face health problems such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Although their work is decriminalized, they struggle with police brutality and have little legal redress against human rights violations. In response, non-governmental organizations offer professional development predicated on an ideology of community development. Using the term “profissional de sexo”, outreach workers are attempting to disable stereotypes and social stigmatization and empower the citizenship of sex workers. Tara’s project, which will constitute her senior honors thesis in anthropology, will explore the dynamic whereby sex workers and non-governmental organization health outreach workers are engaged in a process to transform social and self-identities. Tara will evaluate and interpret the relationships between sex workers and PIM outreach workers through ethnographic writing that privileges thick description and local narratives.