Home    Number 3, 2023

Prostitution in Sicily: A Look into the Past

[Prostitutsiia v Sitsilii: vzgliad v proshloe]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523030065


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 01.03.2023

Accepted: 07.04.2023

About author(s)

Oxana Fais-Leutskaia | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2757-2434 | oxana-fais@yandex.ru | Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences (32-a Leninsky prospect, Moscow, 119991, Russia)


Sicily, prostitution, closed houses, local prostitutes, cultural dialogue


The article makes a novel contribution to anthropological research by attempting an analysis of the phenomenon of urban prostitution within a specific historical period of the 1930–80s in the region of Sicily which has been culturally conservative and still maintains today a high degree of traditionalism. The study is drawn on an extensive range of field data that I have obtained in the course of long-term surveys, working with a vast array of respondents. I take a special approach to the topic, addressing the historical past, past experiences and reflections of people, as well as information preserved in the memory of ancestors. These sources together make it possible to explore and recreate the appearance of the “traditional” prostitution that is seen today by the majority of the population of Sicily as “ideal” and contrasted with its modern (“alien”, “criminal”, “dirty”) forms. The study not only highlights an important sociocultural phenomenon that has gone into oblivion but also lets us identify the reasons for its popularity in the region and its perception as an organic element of the local culture, closely related to the ethnic and cultural identity of Sicilians.


Fais-Leutskaia, O.D. 2023. Prostitutsiia v Sitsilii: vzgliad v proshloe [Prostitution in Sicily: A Look into the Past]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 104–124. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523030065 EDN: CPCYYX

Full text is distributed by eLIBRARY.ru