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Willett, Gudrun A.

Grant Type: 
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Iowa, U. of
Status: 
Completed Grant
Approve Date: 
May 16, 2002
Project Title: 
Putz, Gudrun A., U. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - To aid research on 'Migration, Power, and Community: Former Soviet Migrant Sex Workers in the Netherlands and Latvia,' supervised by Dr. Florence E. Babb

GUDRUN A. PUTZ, while a student at University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, was awarded a grant in May 2002 to aid research on 'Migration, Power, and Community: Former Soviet Migrant Sex Workers in the Netherlands and Latvia,' supervised by Dr. Florence E. Babb. The research conducted for this project resulted in quite fruitful, if unexpected, material. Legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands in 1999, international calls for the eradication of trafficking, expansion of the European Union into Eastern Europe, a worsening Dutch economy, and intensification of anti-immigration sentiments all resulted in Dutch government crackdowns on 'Eastern-European' sex workers and their subsequent movement underground. This environment and the disappearance of one of the two main populations of the research -- the Russian-speaking sex workers -- then became project's new focus. Interviews were conducted with Amsterdam government officials, police, and business-owners around the Red Light District. Newspaper articles and scholarly writing about Eastern-European sex workers and Eastern Europeans in general were collected. In addition, interviews and participant observation were conducted with non-governmental organizations working with migrants and sex workers. Consequently, the second research population of former-soviet street sellers featured more significantly within the general study of Russian speakers in Amsterdam, who were all concerned in one way or another with views about them as 'foreigners' and their relationship with Dutch society. Interviews and participant observation were conducted with former-Soviets on the streets, in their homes, and also during a month spent in Latvia and Lithuania with four of them. The researcher approached other Russian speakers for interviews in the main Amsterdam Russian Orthodox church, Russian stores, and on Russian-migrant websites. The result is an examination of the continuing importance of Cold-War ideas and stereotypes, European social and economic consolidation, and the effect this has had (both positive and negative) on former-Soviet migrants.