Urban Ethics

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Tbilisi: Prostitution in Tbilisi. Marginalization and Empowerment of Prostitutes in moral Discourses und urban Practice in the 20iest und early 21st century (2018-2021)

Since the end of the 1980s, prostitution or sex work has spread rapidly in cities throughout eastern Europe. In this research project, historian Liana Kupreishvili examines processes of marginalization and self-empowerment of prostitutes in the Georgian capital Tbilisi from the 1980s until today. The individual project can thus make a substantial contribution to the general goal of the DFG research group "Urban Ethics", which investigates ethical discourses on the good and right life in cities in local and global contexts.

Liana Kupreishvili's doctoral thesis at the State Ilia University of Tbilisi, which she completed, explored marginal groups in Tbilisi around 1900, including prostitutes. She was able to draw a dense picture of the practice of taxation and licensing of brothels, health controls, multiple experiences of violence, and the social life of prostitutes in the urban space of Tbilisi around 1900. In this respect, the new research project follows on from her previous research and can also place the contemporary historical phenomenon of prostitution in Tbilisi in a larger historical context.

The research project aims to investigate four processes in more detail: on the one hand, discussions and processes of decriminalisation and recriminalisation and legal protection of prostitutes in Tbilisi since the end of the 1980s until today; on the other hand, social and cultural (self-) localisations of prostitutes in the urban order and space of Tbilisi; thirdly, new institutional arrangements as a result of negotiation processes of different local actors such as associations, NGOs, the city of Tbilisi and the Orthodox Church; and fourthly, the interplay between local and global constellations and actors.