It is with great sadness and much consideration that Desiree Alliance announces the cancellation of our July 2019 conference Transcending Borders: Immigration, Migration, and Sex Work. 

Due to FOSTA/SESTA enactments, our leadership made the decision that we cannot put our organization and our attendees at risk.  We hope you understand our grave concerns and continue to resist every law that exists to harm sex workers!  Keep fighting!

Cris Sardina, Director – Desiree Alliance

Scholars! Researchers! Academic-Curious!

Intellectual Renegades! Policy Junkies!

Desiree Alliance 7th national Conference:

Transcending Borders: Immigration, Migration, and Sex Work

July 2019

Academic Track: Call for Papers and Presentations

Scholars! Researchers! Academic-Curious!  Intellectual Renegades! Policy Junkies!

Join us at the Desiree Alliance 2019 Conference for the Academic Track. Network with established and developing scholars who are engaged with research, theory, and working methods that impact the formation of policy and applied  practices concerning sex work and sex workers.

Academics have the opportunity to give back to the communities they study by participating in this diverse, dynamic space of sex work scholarship and sex worker activists.  Share your empirically-based perspective regarding where sex work scholarship has been and where it should be going. The Academic Track encourages sex worker and non-sex worker scholars, and sex worker activists and to dialogue in a supportive environment. Based on Desiree Alliance’s commitment to representation and leadership from diverse and marginalized sectors of sex worker communities, we encourage submissions that contribute to this discourse and further these goals.  

Join us as we come together in a sex-worker-defined space designed to effectively and efficiently move scholarly research toward progressive theories, methods, and practices that promotes social justice and human rights.

Guidelines for Presentations

What is  the significance of academic research and theory when it comes to sex  work practice and policy? Where should academic researchers stand at a time when sex workers are becoming increasingly vocal in both the call and response for social justice?  Sex workers are increasingly challenging the Academy through interrogation, deconstruction, and reconstruction of academic methods, theory, and praxis. What is the relationship between research and activism? What shape do discourses about race, class, gender, etc. take in the context of sex work? As human rights activists across the globe call for decriminalization, how do we develop our goals? How are issues of immigration and migration reflected in contexts of policy-making and in broad academic approaches?  Is academic research (ers) (ing) harming or benefiting sex workers?  How can we reevaluate the ways that we write, think, and apply research among diverse sex work communities, especially where questions of sex work policy are of material concern?    

The 2019 Desiree Alliance Conference will provide a critical space to tackle these scholarly, theoretical, and  political concerns head-on as we examine our academic and public roles in relation to the most pressing problems confronting sex work policies and sex workers today.  An interrogation of our contemporary goals, contributions, and intellectual heritage must critically examine the relationship between social justice and decriminalization in this twilight of hazy anticipation. We hope to generate serious conversation about these issues as we continue to reinvent sex work as a space of  study and activism for this new millennium. Themes we hope to explore include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Global Models and Cross-Cultural Comparison: Global models from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, and the U.S. are examples of places where an array of policies have been implemented to various degrees of success. But success for whom? We encourage papers that offer a critical engagement and cross-cultural comparison to tease out the intricate meanings of policy from macro-level politics to micro-level personal experiences. Furthermore, while decriminalization has been the primary call to action in terms of social justice for sex workers, it has been under direct attack because the rhetoric and realities of global human trafficking remain the most prominent point of discussion in contemporary public discourse. How can we negotiate our investment in decriminalization with an understanding of popular public discourse on trafficking? How might we continue to re-negotiate (and defend) the fundamental call for decriminalization as a basic human right in such a hostile political environment? This theme seeks to illuminate the relationship between policy, practice, and public.

(2) The Interrelations Between Violence Against Sex Workers and Legal Policy: Violence against sex workers and those identified as sex workers by law enforcement authorities, continues to be an area that is under-examined and under-theorized. How do we rethink notions of violence over time, space, and identities as sex workers increasingly articulate experiences with violence from private military contractors, police, military personnel, and other government officials? How do we conceptualize the complex of engagements and negotiations that materialize where legal policy and violence against sex workers meet? How do we develop and disseminate research that effectively addresses such serious concerns? This theme aims to interrogate the interrelationship between violence against sex workers and legal policy.

(3)  Health Education and Outreach: Contemporary sex work research has championed sex workers as active partners rather than static subjects in health education and outreach  projects. However, we continue to struggle to make sense of complex relationships between identity and power. For example, involving sex workers as active partners may often be met with resistance from colleagues. Funding agencies may be reluctant to fund projects that involve sex workers when laws criminalize sex work, or when funding requirements specifically exclude sex worker rights advocacy. How can sex work researchers challenge these obstacles and continue to further develop and deploy research methods and applications that take seriously sex-worker-as-partner paradigms? This theme seeks to explore historic, contemporary, and envisioned projects that holistically address health education and outreach across diverse sex work populations.

(4)  Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression:  What is colorblind racism? What is Hipster racism?  Can communities of color overcome racism within their own communities?  What is the academic correlation between oppression and the language, morality, and policies that surrounds sex work?  What is academia’s role in constructing healthy scholarship in lieu of mandated rhetoric on a topic that has traditionally been thought of as a legal/political necessity rather than a humanistic one?  We invite you to take an active part in reconstructing the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) effect of academic, legal, political, and social discourse concerning race, oppression, and sex work.  The seemingly central themes of race, class, and oppression are not so intricately defined even as 21st century technology has bound the atrocities and the goodness of our global neighbors in such a way that entire cultures are being scrutinized, destroyed and “saved” through U.S. political and moral belief systems.  As our history dictates and solidifies historical imperialism through new forms of recolonization, this theme will address culture, class, race, gender, identity politics, prostitution policies, etc., and the effects of patriarchal systems that institutionalize racism and oppression.  We encourage people of color to present on this powerful subject.   

(5) Immigration and Migration: A firebed of controversy, immigration and migration policies in the U.S. have created global effects that harms sex workers.  The dynamics surrounding these issues extend farther than Visa’s and building Walls. Our current administration, ICE, and Homeland Security have built an empire from hunting people. This agenda is far from cut and dried: How does one survive as an immigrant or migrant sex worker in the U.S. or other global regions? How do academia and their communities respond to policies that literally green light the okay to hunt people for sport under the guise of best practices for the good of the nation?  How are these populations affected? What changes need to be made in order to effectively benefit immigrant and migrant sex workers? We encourage immigrant and migrant communities to present on this important category.  We also encourage communities that have been negatively affected by these policies and laws. 

We encourage submissions from all areas, genders, backgrounds and ethnicities. We also encourage sex workers and other activists outside academia to submit to this track, as we move forward to challenge stratification within our communities.   


A Proposal should include:

  • Title for your presentation
  • Affiliation with an organization or university you’d like to have listed (not required)
  • A short paragraph with your background and experience, or interest, in sex work, the adult entertainment industry, or the sex workers rights’ movement        
  • A bio which will appear in the program and on the website (approx. 200 words)
  • A detailed abstract (the description that will appear in the program and on the website- 500 words or fewer)
  • Technical support needs (e.g., projector, AV, Mac/PC, etc.)


Proposals must be  submitted by March 1st, 2019 to be considered, and all submissions will be notified of acceptance by April 15th, 2019. Please let us know in advance if you need extra time or if you need to be notified of acceptance earlier. In some cases, panels will be suggested if more than one outstanding proposal on a specific topic is accepted.


NOTE: A new Community Policy for researchers, academics, bloggers, interviewers etc. is now required for proposal submissions. Please use the link for explanation


Please submit your proposal to and with the subject line, “Academic Proposal”.  You will receive an auto-reply.  If you don’t receive this, please re-send.