Trafficking in God: Exploring the Intersection of Race and Sexuality in Evangelical Commercial Sex Trade Interventions

“The work of saving women from a life of sex exploitation must move beyond the good intentions of whiteness to bear down on the cultural particularities of women whose bodies have been broken. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Nicole Symmonds Emory University Contact Me

About this dissertation fellowship

Through comparative historical analysis and qualitative research, this dissertation explores the less examined issue of racialized sexuality in white Evangelical anti-trafficking interventions. I argue that anti-vice work of the 18th and 19th centuries combined with the contemporary work of white Evangelicals promotes a raced sexuality in which women of color in commercial sex work are exposed and have imposed upon them, sexual mores and values that are steeped in the practices and politics of whiteness. The qualitative research centers the accounts of those who do anti-trafficking work, particularly white Evangelical Christians, by exploring the racial perceptions and perspectives that inform and influence them as well as by studying their bodily habitus while engaging women in the commercial sex trade. Combined, the historical analysis and qualitative foreground the construction of a Black feminist and womanist Christian ethic that responds to the holistic needs of women of color who are impacted by the often-unacknowledged racialized work of Evangelical anti-trafficking programs. This ethic focuses on interacting with the holistic body of Black women and bridges the gap between the Protestant moralistic centering of the word of the Gospel and the Catholic centering of the Eucharist to clarify the sacrificial nature of missional work.