Bothered by a brothel? How sex work can improve neighbourhoods

Posted on 15th November 2016

Dr Emily Cooper from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) comes to talk to us about her recent research "Sensing the Urban Illicit: Sex work, sensory urbanism and aesthetic criminology" with Dr Ian R. Cook and Dr Charlotte Bilby (Northumbria University) into the impacts of brothels on residential communities in Blackpool (UK).

Historically, sex work has largely been constructed as a deviant and disorderly presence in the city. Much of the research on sex work has therefore centred on its marginalisation to ‘dark corners’ (Hubbard 2004) of the city, and the multi-faceted stigmatisation that sex workers face. However, as this presentation will argue, there is a need to consider other roles of the sex industry in everyday urban worlds; a need for exploration of its intersections with art, aesthetics and affect, rather than the purely legal or moral concerns which have dominated discussions to date (Agustin 2007).


Drawing on a case study on the impacts of brothels on residential communities in Blackpool (UK), this talk advocates that there is value in bringing together ideas from the urban studies literature on sensory urbanism with those from the visual criminology literature. The presentation focuses on the physical appearance of the brothels and how they are perceived by members of the local community. Key aspects highlighted in resident narratives were the appearance and transparency of the windows and doors of the brothels, the visibility of their security measures, and the role of colour and light in their appearance. The case study demonstrates that, in order to holistically understand illicit places in the city - and the multiple roles they play in everyday urban worlds - it is vital to relate the visual to other senses; and, furthermore, to capture the relationship between the senses and emotion.


Wednesday 30th November 2016, 4.30-6pm



Everyone welcome.