Spring quarter will look a bit different at UChicago, with students learning remotely as coursework shifts online. However, our course offerings remain as vibrant and diverse as ever, featuring classes that traverse national borders and time periods and explore a variety of analytic approaches.

One such course is "Prostitution in Global Perspective" (HIST 29424/GNSE 23124), which examines the history of sex work from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The seminar, taught by Zoya Sameen, looks at the impact of a broad range of phenomena—especially migration, colonization, and nation-building—on the norms and regulations surrounding prostitution.

The course's syllabus draws on comparative, transnational, and area studies from Latin America to East Asia. Sameen is especially excited about discussing cases related to migration and movement, including Japanese prostitution in the North American West and sex workers’ mobility in the interwar Middle East. Students in the course will interrogate both the archival evidence and analytical categories involved in writing histories of sex work. They will learn how a global history of prostitution can inform the conversation about sex work today.

"Prostitution in Global Perspective" is designed as an advanced seminar for undergraduates. Students interested in History, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Global Studies may find it an especially good fit, though the course will appeal to anyone interested in topics like colonialism, militarism, migration, and sovereignty. The seminar meets remotely on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:50 AM. 

Students can sign up for the class through course enrollment. More information about HIST 29424 and other course offerings are available on our department’s webpage.


The image above is a calling card titled "Brasserie des Belles Japonaises" ("Brasserie of the beautiful Japanese") from interwar Paris. It invites male clients to "drink, laugh, be entertained, and dance," suggesting an informal space for exchanging sex. Courtesy of Sameen's research in the League of Nations Secretariat Records (S168/23/3).