By Kimberly Kay Hoang
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Extra resources for Dealing in Desire: Asian Ascendancy, Western Decline, and the Hidden Currencies of Global Sex Work
After nine months of this work, which required me to drink alcohol nightly with customers, I decided to scale back. In Naughty Girls, the lowest-status bar, I conducted three to four days of fieldwork each week as an observer rather than as a worker. In all four bars, the first two weeks were dedicated to learning the culture and unspoken rules of each space, the names of my coworkers and regular clients, and recording copious field notes every night. Once I became a fixture in each bar, I began to systematically conduct informal interviews with my research participants.
In short, the historical tensions between Westerners, Viet Kieus, and local Vietnamese elites matter because their relationships are fraught with histories of sexual domination, not merely of sex workers, but also of other men and other nations. The historical context provides a backdrop for the contemporary stratification of HCMC’s sex industry through an exploration of geopolitical and economic power relations. S. dominance (from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s) to Asian ascendancy in a neoliberal, globalized marketplace.
Chapter 2 provides a much more detailed description of the four bars where I conducted research, Introduction | 19 and I reflect on my research methods in depth in the methodological appendix. Between 2006 and 2007, I interviewed 56 sex workers and 27 clients. Later, in 2009–2010, I interviewed 90 clients, 90 sex workers, 8 mommies, and 5 bar owners evenly distributed across four niche markets of HCMC’s sex industry. In total, this book is based on participant observation and in-depth and semistructured interviews with 276 individuals in Vietnam between 2006 and 2010.