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Review on The Fieldwork on Prostitution in The Era of Aids.docx

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McMaster University
Antonio Sorge

Review on The Fieldwork on Prostitution in The Era of Aids Sterk took a huge risk when she left her life of simple luxuries to wander the streets of New York andAtlanta for ten years, with the intent to “present the [prostitutes’] thoughts, feelings and actions in their own words” (Sterk, 2000: pg.35). In order, for her to understand these women that she was going to interview, she needed to perceive how they began to live this type of lifestyle (Sterk, 2000: pg.35).As a result, she needed to become part of the group; in her book, she described her struggle to fit in. Many were suspicious about her intentions, since she stated that she was not an undercover law enforcer, nor was she interested in becoming a prostitute. This lead her to be in constant danger from many pimps who were not fond of outsiders, “one of [her] scariest experience occurred before [she] knew to work through the pimps, and one such man had some of his friends follow [her] on [her] way home one night...[She] was able to survive with only a few bruises” (Sterk, 2000: pg39). However, it was not only physical abuse she had to deal with, she also had to emotionally detach herself from the people she finally bonded with. It is hard to mentally be an outsider looking in on a person's life when you have a strong connection with them.Although Sterk initially had to struggle to gain connections, she was finally able to interview these women and gain a whole new insight on their lives. In her book, Sterk not only gives a surprising insight on the lifestyle of prostitutes, but she also bestowed critical information for aspiring ethnographers. She mentions that, “to implement ethnographic research, anthropologist must often become part of the world they seek to understand” (Sterk, 2000: pg. 33). It is extremely difficult to write accurately about a person’s culture if one does not possess the first-hand knowledge about that culture. Furthermore, by not becoming part of the culture, one allows themselves to be influenced by stereotypes. Stereotype can have a negative influence on ethnographers because it can lead to the ethnog
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