The relationships between female sex workers and their noncommercial male partners are often assumed to be coercive and anchored in risk, dismissed as “pimp-prostitute” arrangements by researchers and the general public alike. Yet, these stereotypes unjustly erase the complexity of lives we imagine to be consumed by social suffering. Dangerous Love centers a framework of love to rethink sex workers’ intimate relationships as commitments to collective solidarity and survival in contexts of oppression. Combining epidemiological research and ethnographic fieldwork in Tijuana, Mexico, Jennifer Leigh Syvertsen examines how individuals try to find love and meaning in lives marked by structural violence, social marginalization, drug addiction, and HIV/AIDS. Linking the political economy of inequalities along the border with emotional lived experience, this book explores how intimate relationships become dangerous safe havens that fundamentally shape both partners’ well-being. Through these stories, we are urged to reimagine the socially transformative power of love to carve new pathways to health equity.
“Jennifer Leigh Syvertsen has done everything right in Dangerous Love. Too often, social and behavioral scientists studying drug use avoid describing the affective aspects of drug-using behavior. Syvertsen, rather than averting her eyes, seeks to understand these lives and help the reader to understand.” — J. BRYAN PAGE, Professor of Anthropology, University of Miami
“Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews in Tijuana, Dangerous Love includes intimate partners, an element that is usually missing in the qualitative study of drug use—and rare in the study of sex work. By examining female-male partnerships and relational repertoires, Syvertsen makes novel and important contributions.” — LISA MAHER, author of Sexed Work: Gender, Race, and Resistance in a Brooklyn Drug Market
JENNIFER LEIGH SYVERTSEN is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.
Syvertsen, J. 2022. Dangerous Love: Sex Work, Drug Use, and the Pursuit of Intimacy in Tijuana, Mexico. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.133
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