Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox
Chapter 26: World Cities of Sex
Phil Hubbard Conventionally, the literature on world cities describes them as the global hubs that organize ever-more complex flows of information, money and people. Within this literature, it is advanced producer services that are considered of crucial importance in articulating this space of flows, often to the neglect of other cultural and social practices that give world cities their distinctive character. This chapter redresses this balance by focusing on sex as one of the drivers of the global economy, arguing that world cities are not merely major markets for sexual consumption, pornography and prostitution but are the hubs of a global network of sexual commerce around which images, bodies and desires circulate voraciously. As such, this chapter brings the body into discussions of globalization not merely as a vector of disease transmission, an agent of cultural diffusion or a repository of tacit business knowledge, but as a sexualized and desiring body whose intimate geographies are integral to the reproduction of global economic systems which thrive on the commodification of desire. WORLD CITIES AS SITES OF SEDUCTION While world city rosters and league tables can reveal the most powerful world cities – rather than those which merely boast a large population – we need to be mindful of the basis on which these are constructed given that most prioritize particular types of work and ignore the embodied dimensions of urban life. Little attention has been paid to those ‘whose paid work involves the care, pleasure, adornment, discipline and cure of others’ bodies’, such...
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