French women working in brothels were a common sight in colonial Senegal. During the interwar period, dozens of women left their homeland to pursue sex work in the French colony. What motivated them to join a colonial brothel? Did they choose to do so or were they the victims of sex trafficking? How did French colonial authorities respond to the presence of white prostitutes, in a context where maintaining the illusion of white superiority was crucial to the success of the colonial project? This talk explores the articulation between transactional sex, race, and colonial rule in twentieth-century Senegal. Through their presence and attempts to resist colonial efforts to control their bodies and sexuality, white French prostitutes at once bolstered and challenged French colonial dominance.
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