Livelihoods as relational im/mobilities: exploring the everyday practices of young female sex workers in Ethiopia

Lorraine van Blerk (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    15 Citations (Scopus)
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    Age is now considered alongside other differentiating categories for exploring mobility experiences, yet little work has emerged conceptualising the im/mobilites of marginalized young people living in particularly difficult circumstances. This article therefore, explores the relational im/mobilities of young female sex workers in Ethiopia aged between 14 and 18 years in order to understand how their livelihoods are shaped by the connections between
    their relations with others, im/mobilities and survival in everyday life. The article draws on detailed narratives and participatory ‘mobility’ mapping with 60 young sex workers in two locations in Ethiopia. Conceptually this article moves beyond sedentary and nomadic conceptions of mobility to what Jensen (2009) terms ‘critical mobility thinking’, where lives do not just happen in static enclaves or nomadic wanderings but are connected through multiple communities of interest and across time and space. Through these processes, ‘everyday’ livelihoods are shaped and experienced. Further, drawing on Massey’s (2005) relational geographical theory, where socio-temporal practices constitute places in a complex web of flows, the article reveals that young sex workers critical im/mobilities are relational: their livelihoods and identities shaped within and between places based on their ability to move, or not. The article reveals that these relational im/mobilities are important for securing work, protection and accessing services, both within and between places and across a variety of sex work livelihoods. The article concludes by demonstrating that consideration of livelihoods as relational and mobile is central for the development of appropriate interventions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)413-421
    Number of pages9
    JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
    Issue number2
    Early online date19 Jan 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


    • Africa
    • Im/mobilities
    • Livelihoods
    • Sex worker
    • Young people


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