Sarah Amundson

I am a historian of the United States South, interested in issues of race, gender, and sexuality. My dissertation, tentatively titled, “Red Light Relations: Prostitution and Power in Charleston, 1850-1945,” explores relations of Charleston’s sex workers, black and white, with each other as well as with men of diverse social class and status. I argue that uncovering and foregrounding these relations allows historians to explore the lived experiences of sex workers, which highlight sex workers as prominent social actors, intimately tethered to the larger economic, structural, and social life of the city and its citizens. Emphasizing connections between individual lives, my work illustrates how large-scale changes in understandings of gender, race, and class played out on the local level, and centers Charleston within the broader network of the Atlantic world.

I graduated with a B.S. in history (magna cum laude) from Iowa State University in 2015. I received an M.A. from Iowa State University in 2017, where I defended my thesis, “A Woman Lies Bleeding on the Ground: Prostitution and Underground Economy in Nineteenth-Century Charleston.” At Duke, my primary advisor is Dr. Thavolia Glymph, and my committee members include Laura Edwards, Sarah Deutsch, and Pete Sigal.

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