Reflecting on COST Action ProsPol Conference – Displacing Sex For Sale
Last week I visited Copenhagen to attend the Displacing Sex For Sale conference organised by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)’s funded Action Comparing European Prostitution Policies: Understanding Scales and Cultures of Governance (ProsPol). It took place from the 29th to the 31st of March 2017 at Aalborg University Campus in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Before the conference, on the evening of the 28th there was a screening of Prof. Nicola Mai‘s film titled Travel
The conference was an interestingly cross-disciplinary space that allowed for discussion and debate of sex work policy, as well as methodologies and ethics of sex work research. It was a melting pot of sex worker rights activists, PhD students, early career researchers, Professors, and everything in between. It was an incredibly welcoming and friendly place to present in, and comments and questions that came after presentations were often supportive and encouraging. Having said that, people were also not afraid to challenge the views of controversial presentations – which was nice to see!
It was great to see that technologies were part of so many presentations, and that two of the parallel panel sessions were actually titled ‘Sex Work in the Digital Age’. The papers in each of these sessions were very varied addressing issues of social media, dating apps, big data, and my own presentation on support services.
— Alexandra Oliveira (@AlexOliveira_Pt) March 31, 2017
It’s nice to see that there’s an interest in digital technologies in traditionally non-digital disciplines, and it’s great to see sex work research become more interdisciplinary; it’s nice to see that in the panels on sex work and digital technologies there was a nice mix of social science, humanities, economics, and HCI. What was interesting however was that it seemed like very few people had engaged with HCI (or computer science) literature. While it seems like Science and Technology Studies (STS) would perhaps be more accessible to people from non-technological disciplines, I’m curious to see their thoughts on existing HCI literature on sex, sexuality, and sex work. Perhaps that’s something for another post and/or something to keep thinking about…
Anyway, if you’re at all interested in this conference head over to Twitter and search for #displacingsex4sale or go to the conference website for more info on the programme, as well as the abstracts of the papers that were presented.