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Prostitution in Cardiff, 1900-1959

Jenkins, Simon 2017. Prostitution in Cardiff, 1900-1959. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines prostitution in Cardiff from 1900 until the ratification of the 1959 Street Offences Act. Drawing from geographical theories, the opening chapters detail how the spaces of prostitution were products of interrelations: commercial sex intertwined with everyday spaces and spatial uses, while representations of ‘place’ embedded prostitution within a temporal moral geography of wider ‘problem’ behaviours. The thesis then demonstrates the limits to what can be revealed about prostitutes’ lives, reading against stereotypes to reveal patterns of migration and poverty. However, we are faced with significant obstacles to uncovering who sold sex in the interwar years, as debates over prostitution became embroiled in racial anxieties over Butetown. While emerging in response to the First World War and concerns over immigration, this connection was drawn from broader imperial hierarchies of race through which sexual behaviour represented a marker of ‘difference’. Notions of racial difference were (re)produced within particular contexts, and fears over the involvement of black and Maltese men in Cardiff’s prostitution predated the emergence of similar concerns in London. The final third of the thesis explores regulation from three angles: policing, governmentality, and materiality. It reveals how regulation was exercised through a more complex configuration of actor-networks than the police and the law, being driven by temporal discourses linked to the shifting priorities of Nonconformist politics, wartime concerns, and interwar social hygiene and immigration controls. Urban planning also shaped the spatial regulation of prostitution, particularly in the 1950s as part of wider attempts at urban regeneration and zoning. Building on insights into materiality in urban history, this study demonstrates how material environments also functioned as a diffuse form of agency, being an element of a recursive relationship between urban development and policing that shaped both the spatial uses of prostitutes and the ways in which their behaviours were regulated.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 May 2017
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 10:59

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