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Mir Yarfitz

Jan 28, 2022

Impure Migration

Jews and Sex Work in Golden Age Argentina

Rutgers University Press 2019

Impure Migration: Jews and Sex Work in Golden Age Argentina (Rutgers UP, 2019) investigates the period from the 1890s until the 1930s, when prostitution was a legal institution in Argentina and the international community knew its capital city Buenos Aires as the center of the sex industry. At the same time, pogroms and anti-Semitic discrimination left thousands of Eastern European Jews displaced, without the resources required to immigrate. For many Jewish women, participation in prostitution was one of very few ways they could escape the limited options in their home countries, and Jewish men facilitated their transit and the organization of their work and social lives. Instead of marginalizing this story or reading it as a degrading chapter in Latin American Jewish history, Impure Migration interrogates a complicated social landscape to reveal that sex work is in fact a critical part of the histories of migration, labor, race, and sexuality.

Mir Yarfitz has lived in each of the four corners of the country as well as South and Central America. His enthusiasm for Latin America grew from his college study abroad experience in Nicaragua; his time as a Fulbright School in Argentina; and his work with migrant farmworker labor unions in Washington, Oregon, and Georgia. Teaching and research interests include US-Latin American relations, cultural production, social movements, dictatorship and resistance, racial hierarchies, migration, gender, sexuality, masculinity, and transgender studies. 

Makena Mezistrano is the Assistant Director of the Sephardic Studies Program in the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. She holds an MA in Biblical and Talmudic studies from Yeshiva University.

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