Anthropology Roundtable Symposium: Sarah Luna

“Love in the Drug War: Gendered Obligation and Vulnerability in a Mexican Border City Prostitution Zone”

Join us for a presentation from Sarah Luna as part of the Anthropology Roundtable Symposium Series! Refreshments will be served. Free and open to the public.

Based upon 12 months of ethnographic research, this talk conceptualizes gendered obligation to explain intimacies and vulnerabilities in la zona, a prostitution zone in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. Gendered notions of love and obligation shaped the desires, fears, and migrations of Mexican and Central American sex workers and white American and South African missionaries who hoped to love them. Luna shows how sex workers’ maternal obligations and their spatial location in la zona intersected in their scrutiny by drug organizations, state actors, and foreign missionaries. As the city became increasingly militarized, drug organizations co-opted the state apparatus for the moral and biopolitical surveillance of sex workers, increasing their vulnerability.

Sarah Luna is the Kathryn A. McCarthy Assistant Professor in Women’s Studies in the Department of Anthropology and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Tufts University.  Her first book, Love in the Drug War: Selling Sex and Finding Jesus on the Mexico-US Border, will be published by the University of Texas Press in April 2020.

Monday, February 10, 2020 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Vollum College Center, 116
3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

Event Type



Faculty, Students, Open to the Public, Staff


Anthropology Symposium

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