chapter  7
28 Pages

World cities of sex

In previous chapters, the focus has primarily been on what happens within cities. In contrast, this chapter considers what moves between cities: the global flows that bequeath them their increasingly international character and out - look. Recognizing that some cities are more global than others, and seeking to understand the nature of global connectivity, has been a key characteristic of a specific strand of urban research in recent decades. Conventionally, such research identifies world cities as the global hubs that organize ever more complex flows of information, money and people. Yet it is the role of advanced producer services, transnational corporations and financial institu - tions that tends to be considered as of crucial importance in shaping these flows, often to the neglect of the other cultural and social practices that give world cities their distinctive character. This chapter hence redresses this balance by focusing on sex as one of the drivers of the global economy, arguing that world cities are not merely major markets for sexual consumption, pornography and prostitution but are the hubs of a global network of sexual commerce around which images, bodies and desires circulate voraciously. As such, this chapter answers Short’s (2004) call to bring the body into discussions of globalization not merely as a vector of disease transmission, an agent of cultural diffusion or a repository of tacit business knowledges, but as a sexualized body whose intimate geographies are integral to the

reproduction of global economic systems which thrive on the commodification of desire.