chapter  4
21 Pages

The production and transformation of prostitution spaces

The red-light district of Catania
WithPatrizia Testaí

This chapter focuses on the connections between the political and economic processes linked to the creation of a sex trade area and the meaning of prostitution, taking as an example the case of the red light district of Catania (Sicily). Using the analytical tools offered by urban studies and space theories, it will expose how this specific prostitution space has been produced, shaped, transformed and contested by different actors through a time period from the late 1950s to the present day. In doing so the chapter will highlight how prostitution connects with issues of urban governance, capital investments in poor urban areas, and with what Neil Smith (1996) refers to as ‘the revanchist city’. This concept refers to gentrification as a reconquest of the inner city as it becomes a neoliberal frontier for consumer lifestyle at the expense of marginal groups, such as migrants, the poor and prostitutes. In applying the concept of revanchism to the red light district of Catania my aim is to bring prostitution and sex work into a space dimension which reconnects the exchange of sex for money to the political, economic and historical contexts within which they take place and are given meaning.