Sex Work, Street Vending and Implications for Mothers and Daughters in the Global Economy: A Feminist Analysis of Political Economy

Erica Lawson, Crystal Gaudet

Abstract


Using a feminist analysis of political economy, this paper discusses the mother-daughter relationship as portrayed in the Jamaican film Dancehall Queen to explicate the complexities of mothering in the global economy. Dancehall Queen can be viewed as a microcosm of how mothering is actually shaped by women’s lived experiences at multiple sites informed by race, class, and gender within hierarchies of global economic structures. We assess the film for its articulation of how neoliberal economic policies often push African Caribbean women towards informal work just to survive and the implications that this has for the mother-daughter relationship. What poor mothers do to make ends meet often challenges normative ideologies about “good mothering.” This paper discusses the protagonist’s work as a street vendor, undercover dancehall participant, and her attitude towards her daughter’s sexuality as a potential source of income, to discern what these may mean for living at the nexus of motherhood and poverty in the global economy.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.