- Re-making a landscape of prostitution: the Amsterdam Red Light District: introduction
- Volume | Issue number
- 16 | 1-2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
The Amsterdam Red Light District is locally and internationally significant as one of the oldest venues for visible and legal urban prostitution. Internationally it is perceived as a free-for-all zone of entertainment, a kind of ‘theme park’ for adult fun. Locally the Red Light District is a controversial place that stirs debates on Dutch ‘progressive’ policies, the impact of cultural globalization and importantly, whether or not prostitution should be allowed to exist in this kind of visible format in Amsterdam's center. Recent urban planning changes in the area, instigated by City authorities, show the Red Light District is directly implicated in municipal gentrifying efforts, efforts that put at risk historic margins like the Red Light District. The paper introduces themes that will be discussed in depth by the special feature contributors: the red light district as a ‘moral region’, historical and legislative perspectives, political understanding and enactment of ‘liberal’ policies and municipal use of these concepts to self-brand, commercial and aesthetic character of the zone in view of the global sex industry, and the role of artists as cultural producers and marginal gentrifiers. This introductory paper to the special feature on the Red Light District of Amsterdam offers an overview of key perspectives on red light zones and specifically addresses how the Amsterdam Red Light District both fits, and is an exception to visible urban zones of prostitution.
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