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Caribbean Pleasure Industry: Tourism, Sexuality, and AIDS in the Dominican Republic

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher
Caribbean Pleasure Industry: Tourism, Sexuality, and AIDS in the Dominican Republic cover image

Padilla, Mark. 2007. Caribbean Pleasure Industry: Tourism, Sexuality, and AIDS in the Dominican Republic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

In recent years, the economy of the Caribbean has become almost completely dependent on international tourism. And today one of the chief ways that foreign visitors there seek pleasure is through prostitution. While much has been written on the female sex workers who service these tourists, Caribbean Pleasure Industry shifts the focus onto the men. Drawing on his groundbreaking ethnographic research in the Dominican Republic, Mark Padilla discovers a complex world where the global political and economic impact of tourism has led to shifting sexual identities, growing economic pressures, and new challenges for HIV prevention. In fluid prose, Padilla analyzes men who have sex with male tourists, yet identify themselves as “normal” heterosexual men and struggle to maintain this status within their relationships with wives and girlfriends. Padilla’s exceptional ability to describe the experiences of these men will interest anthropologists, but his examination of bisexuality and tourism as much-neglected factors in the HIV/AIDS epidemic makes this book essential to anyone concerned with health and sexuality in the Caribbean or beyond.

“Caribbean Pleasure Industry is a major new work on the political economy of gender and sexuality. Mark Padilla’s detailed ethnographic study of male sex work in the Dominican Republic opens up new insights in relation to masculinity and male sexuality more generally. Few studies have so carefully documented the impact of changing social and economic forces on intimate experience—or the ways in which this intersection shapes the evolving HIV epidemic.” Richard Parker, Columbia University

"Mark Padilla’s Caribbean Pleasure Industry is a first-rate analysis of the ways local constructions of identity and lifestyles of male sex workers in the Dominican Republic are influenced by the ideas and practices of their foreign male clients who live in far-away places. This wonderfully nuanced study challenges readers to think simultaneously about the cultural and structural aspects of cross-cultural sexual interactions across international borders, and how those interactions impact local and global constructions of sexuality." Héctor Carrillo, San Francisco State University

“Padilla’s thorough, nuanced research gives an up-close account of male hustling in the Dominican Republic. In delving into straight-identified sex workers’ lives, motivations, and relationships, it also throws new light on old questions about gender norms, sexual identities, and, of course, how these relate to a globally-connected political economy. A very useful antidote to the current rage for one-sided denunciations of sex work as exploitation, trafficking, and slavery.” Roger Lancaster, George Mason University

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