Sexual Economies and Identities in Contemporary Cambodia

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Wednesday, February 3
12:00 Noon
203 Luce Hall

Focusing on Cambodia, and on a subculture of young women employed in the tourist bar scene, Heidi Hoefinger’s work analyzes the ways in which sexual economies, identities and intimacies intersect in the everyday lives of “professional girlfriends”.  In dealing with the complex and discomforting ‘grey’ area where sex, love and money collide, she demonstrates that the resulting transnational partnerships between Cambodian women and their foreign partners are complex and multi-layered, and argues that the sex-for-cash prostitution framework is no longer an appropriate model of analysis. Join us as she explores a new theoretical framework for understanding transactional sex and the ways in which gender, desire, and power are embedded in globalized and commodified relationships. The work is useful for students and scholars of anthropology, sociology, South East Asian studies, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies.


Heidi Hoefinger is a professor of Science at Berkeley College in NYC, an adjunct lecturer at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, and a scholar of international gender and sexuality studies. She has spent over a decade researching the sex and entertainment sectors in Cambodia, which culminated in her book Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia – Professional Girlfriends and Transactional Relationships (Routledge 2013). The book was shortlisted for the BBC and British Sociological Association’s “Thinking Allowed – Ethnography of the Year Award” in 2014, and the PhD research, which the book is based, won the “Groundbreaking Subject Matter Accolade in the Social Sciences” granted by the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) in 2013. Her work has been featured in the  Phnom Penh Post, South East Asia Globe Magazine, Huffington Post, Asia Life, BBC 4, and Voice of America.