Part or chapter of a book
Sweeping the Streets, Cleaning Morals: Chinese Sex Workers in Paris Claiming Their Belonging to the Cosmopolitan City
Migration, Urbanity and Cosmopolitanism in a Globalized World
Cham : Springer
127 - 138 p.
Chinese sex workers, Paris (France), cosmopolitanism
Since 2016, hundreds of Chinese migrants selling sexual services in Paris have been the target of systematic control operations by the police, whose clear objective is to “sweep” prostitution out of some neighbourhoods. In reaction to these measures, a group of Chinese women organized their own collective, The Steel Roses (Les Roses d’Acier) , and asked the local government to better prevent violence against sex workers, rather than fight sex workers themselves. By doing so, they tried to embody political agency, and asked for the local government to include them as part of the “local diversity” and as legitimate city users. In a context of local gentrification, where diversity is presented as an important characteristic of these multicultural neighborhoods, such a mobilization by migrant sex workers underlines the ongoing controversy around the definition of diversity, as well as controversy in terms of who is legitimate to embody urban imaging. This chapter proposes to describe the controversy launched by the Chinese sex workers in some districts of Paris as another case study of the ways political power relations contribute to the definition of what is diversity and who belongs to a city defined in terms of cosmopolitanism.