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The Devil's Chain: Prostitution and Social Control in Partitioned Poland (Hardback)
  • The Devil's Chain: Prostitution and Social Control in Partitioned Poland (Hardback)
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The Devil's Chain: Prostitution and Social Control in Partitioned Poland (Hardback)

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£32.00
Hardback 392 Pages / Published: 21/12/2015
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In the half-century before Poland's long-awaited political independence in 1918, anxiety surrounding the country's burgeoning sex industry fueled nearly constant public debate. The Devil's Chain is the first book to examine the world of commercial sex throughout the partitioned Polish territories, uncovering a previously hidden conversation about sexuality, gender propriety, and social class. Keely Stauter-Halsted situates the preoccupation with prostitution in the context of Poland's struggle for political independence and its difficult transition to modernity. She traces the Poles' growing anxiety about white slavery, venereal disease, and eugenics by examining the regulation of the female body, the rise of medical authority, and the role of social reformers in addressing the problem of paid sex.Stauter-Halsted argues that the sale of sex was positioned at the juncture of mass and elite cultures, affecting nearly every aspect of urban life and bringing together sharply divergent social classes in what had long been a radically stratified society. She captures the experiences of the impoverished women who turned to the streets and draws a vivid picture of the social milieu that shaped their choices. The Devil's Chain demonstrates that discussions of prostitution and its attendant disorders-sexual deviancy, alcoholism, child abuse, vagrancy, and other related problems-reflected differing visions for the future of the Polish nation.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801454196
Number of pages: 392
Weight: 765 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 30 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Stauter-Halsted's careful attention to the complexities of this relationship, along with her sophisticated analysis of reactions to home-grown prostitution in the Polish lands before and after independence constitutes a tour de force The Devil's Chain is essential reading for students and scholars of Poland, the late Habsburg empire, migration, women's studies, human trafficking, and urbanization."

-- Nathaniel Wood * University of Kansas, Austrian History Yearbook 48 *

"Keely Stauter-Halsted's new book makes a convincing case for moving prostitution to the center of our analysis of the long nineteenth century of Polish history.... The Devil's Chain is an impressive achievement, not only the best and most comprehensive English-language account available on prostitution in the Polish lands in the nineteenth century but also a thought-provoking reexamination of how Polish society as a whole was scrutinized, reimagined, and reshaped during this era. It will thus be required reading not only for students of the history of sexuality but for a wide range of scholars of Poland, Eastern Europe, and Europe as a whole."

-- James Bjork, King's College London * Journal of Modern History *

"Analyzing an extensive array of archival and published sources, [Stauter-Halsted] brings to light the voices and experiences of the prostitutes themselves while simultaneously assessing the perceptions and anxieties surrounding prostitution that emanated from professionals and the upper classes.... She convincingly integrates the Polish issues into the broader literature on prostitution, class, urbanization, migration, and professionalization. The unique aspects of the Polish experience, for instance the complex regulation system and the Polish application of class-based eugenics, make this an important contribution to our understanding of the modernization process. This volume will be of interest to scholars of partitioned Poland, but also to those exploring issues of migration, gender, and national identity."

-- Sharon A. Kowalsky, Texas A&M University-Commerce * Slavic Review *

"The Devil's Chain is a fascinating study of prostitution on Polish land during this period; a problem until now little known in our Polish historiography. Above all however-above the social processes, above the cultural conditions and the conditioned, social behaviors-a deep and immense empathy with the women's drama is shown by Keely Stauter-Halsted, who presents women from different ethnic backgrounds, professing various religions. These women are engaged in the oldest practice in the world out of poverty and force, bought and sold, sent to various corners of the world. This is also a history of their social surroundings and a change in the social reaction of the rapid development of prostitution on the Polish lands at the turn of the twentieth century. Years of archival and library work, conducted primarily in Poland, allowed Stauter-Halsted to write this important book with professional mastery."

-- Krzysztof Zamorski, Jagiellonian University, Krakow

"No study of prostitution in fin-de-siecle Poland has the depth or breadth of The Devil's Chain. Keely Stauter-Halsted does an excellent job of demonstrating agency among practitioners and mediators of sex work in Poland, allowing readers to view the 'victims' and 'villains' of contemporary public discourse as economic and social actors. This superbly contextualized book draws from the large international literature on prostitution and effectively deconstructs the new conversation, which emerged at the end of the nineteenth century, about sexuality, gender propriety, and social class that was conducted through the idiom of commercialized sex."

-- Robert Blobaum, Eberly Professor of History, West Virginia University, editor of Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland

"This important and pathbreaking book investigates prostitution and trafficking in women in the Polish lands in the nineteenth century. It convincingly demonstrates how these phenomena provoked a moral panic and were used as metaphors to illustrate the traumas endured by the country since the partitions and, in particular, since the onset of industrialization and urbanization and shows how attempts were made to alleviate the problem. It is essential reading for all those interested in the social and political history of Europe in the nineteenth century."

-- Antony Polonsky, Chief Historian, Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw

"Impressive analysis reveals how discourse on the prostitute and her mileau evolved in response to a variety of factors.... Carefully researched and eloquently articulated, The Devil's Chain is an exemplary study on the complex relationship between the prostitute and the many intermediaries who studied her. Given its breadth and depth of the subject matter, The Devil's Chain will be of interest to a wide range of scholars of the history of sexuality, gender relations, and medicine."

* SLAVIC & EAST EUROPEAN JOURNAL *

"The Devil's Chain is a superlative reminder of the capaciousness of gender as an ideological language that infused (and infuses) widespread understandings of state, empire and nation in the modern era. It should be required reading for scholars of gender, sexuality, migration, labour and nationalism in Poland, East-Central Europe and beyond."

* SLAVONIC AND EAST EUROPEAN REVIEW *

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