Susan Dewey, Ph.D., is an applied feminist anthropologist with over a decade of research and consulting experience on sex work, violence against women, and feminized labor. Since receiving her Ph.D. in 2004, Dr. Dewey has published widely in these areas, including seven books, several dozen articles and book chapters, substantial technical reports for UN Women and the U.S. Census Bureau, and has presented her research findings at almost 40 conferences and universities around the world. Her work has received critical acclaim in high impact journals such as Contemporary Sociology, Anthropological Quarterly, and American Ethnologist, and has featured in national media outlets such as The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Dr. Dewey’s scholarly investigations into sex work commenced with her Fulbright Hays-funded dissertation research in India, where she explored young women’s use of intimate labors as a social mobility strategy, and which resulted in her first book, Making Miss India Miss World: Constructing Gender, Power, and the Nation in Postliberalization India (Syracuse University Press, 2008). Her second book, Hollow Bodies: Institutional Responses to Sex Trafficking in Armenia, Bosnia, and India (Kumarian Press, 2008), was based upon her postdoctoral work in Armenia (and later Bosnia-Herzegovina), where she explored how anti-trafficking initiatives impacted individuals involved in a complex amalgamation of international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and activist groups. Her third book, Neon Wasteland: On Love, Motherhood, and Sex Work in a Rust Belt Town (University of California Press, 2011), explores how sex workers in upstate New York negotiate their lives as parents, family members, and employees while working in a profession widely regarded as incompatible with motherhood and fidelity.
Engaging in sex work research over the course of nearly a decade prompted the publication of her most recent book, co-authored with anthropologist Dr. Tiantian Zheng, Ethical Research with Sex Workers: Anthropological Approaches (Springer, 2013). Her current sex work-related research focuses upon harm reduction and help-seeking strategies amongst street-based sex workers in Denver, Colorado.
In the Life is about the complex set of behaviors, beliefs, and lifestyle practices involved in the exchange of sex for money or something of value. This series, inspired by my feminist anthropological research with women working in the sex industry, attempts to humanize and demystify some of the least well-understood elements of a hotly debated topic. Law, public policy, and punitive social norms dramatically intersect in sex workers’ everyday lives, raising serious social justice questions that we will explore here.