European Citizenship Unbound: Sex Work, Mobility, Mobilisation

Andrijasevic, Rutvica; Aradau, Claudia; Huysmans, Jef and Squire, Vicki (2012). European Citizenship Unbound: Sex Work, Mobility, Mobilisation. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(3) pp. 497–514.



In October 2005 200 delegates from twenty-eight countries in Europe gathered in Brussels to take part in an event for sex workers' rights, which involved a three-day conference, the presentation of a Declaration on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe in the European Parliament, the drafting of a Manifesto, recommendations for policy makers, a party, and a demonstration. The sex workers' mobilisation appears, at first sight, to be an exemplary form of active citizenship. Nevertheless, despite engaging European institutions, being active participants, and making use of the language of rights, we argue that the sex workers' mobilisation challenges the conception of active European Union (EU) citizenship. In particular, we show how sex workers activists question territorially and culturally bounded practices of EU citizenship by enacting mobilities that exceed the instituted forms of free movement and that bring to bear a mode of sociality that is enacted through exchange relations between strangers. Specifically, we suggest that the concept of ‘acts of citizenship’ is better equipped than juridical or practice-orientated accounts of citizenship to engage a critical analysis of the ways that European citizenship is made and remade by the sex workers. Furthermore, we claim that the case of the sex workers demands attention be paid to the complex ways in which ‘mobilisations of mobility’ entails the disruption and enactment of European citizenship ‘on the ground’, rather than a simple extension of European citizenship beyond its existing bounds.

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