Alison Clancey, Kelly Go, Lily Wong, and Yuri DoolanApr 6, 2021
Roundtable on Asian Migrant Sex Work
New Books Network 2021
This episode features three interviews with organizers and scholars concerned with Asian migrant sex work: SWAN Vancouver (Alison Clancey and Kelly Go), Dr. Lily Wong, and Dr. Yuri Doolan.
On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long targeted three Atlanta-area spas and massage parlors and killed eight people: Delania Ashley Yuan González, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue. Six of these victims were Asian women. Within the days following the shooting, many groups representing women, Asian Americans, sex workers, and migrants, have collectively mourned and sent strength and solidarity to the eight victims and their families.
This podcast episode seeks to express solidarity with these groups by highlighting the work of scholars and organizers who have been studying the racially encoded figures and the broader histories of Asian migrant sex work. We hope to give space here to understand how the violence that occurred on March 16 was imbricated within a racial capitalist structure that views Asian and Asian American women as disposable objects, a view that has been historically continuous with the histories of Chinese exclusion (initiated by fears of Chinese sex workers and yellow peril), and with over one hundred and fifty years of US imperialism in Asia, from the colonial theft of Hawai’i and the Philippine-American War to Japanese Incarceration, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and the growth of over eight-hundred military bases across the world.
As the organizers and scholars interviewed here stress, it is crucial now to join groups local and international that stand for the decriminalization of migration and sex work, and to reject calls for hate-crime laws or anti-sex trafficking laws, or any legislation that would bring more policing, all of which would only make migrants and sex workers more vulnerable and stigmatized.
Christopher B. Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia.