Laura Aguirre Hernández

Image Credit: © Laura Aguirre

International Research Training Group "Between Spaces"

Movements, Actors and Representations of Globalisation

Associated PhD student

Field of Activity

Project: "Power and Resistance in Sex Markets at the Mexican Southern Border"


since 01/2010

Associated scholarship holder of the International Research Training Group "Between Spaces"

01 - 12/2009

Full time researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO – El Salvador) in the case of El Salvador for the regional study on Structural Inequalities in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala); assistant researcher in the regional study on experiences of community police in Central America; consultant for different institutions like GTZ – Honduras and  Plan Internacional El Salvador

09/2007 - 12/2008

Coordination of two research projects: 1.) The environment as a generator of social disadvantages for children. The case of the Conacaste community in the Municipality of Mejicanos, and 2.) Prevention of juvenile violence: a long term plan (Asociación Cinde para el desarrollo infantil y promoción humana)

09/2005 - 08/2007

Masters Degree in Regional Studies at the Institute of Social Research “José Maria Luis Mora” in Mexico City (Graduated with Honor) with a scholarship of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR North-South)

08/2003 - 08/2005

Assistant researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO – El Salvador) in different research projects

08/1998 - 10/2004

Bachelor in Journalism and Social Communication at the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas" (UCA)

"Construction of Spaces of Transnational Life on the Southern Border of Mexico"


Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Sérgio Costa (FU Berlin), PD Dr. Martha Zapata Galindo (FU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Marisa Belausteguigoitia (UNAM)

This research is motivated by the concern that ‘prostitution’ exists and persists as a space of extreme marginalization, discrimination and violation of women human rights. In Mexico and Central America. ‘Prostitution’ is usually represented as a homogeneous space formed by victims of human trafficking (migrants women) and victimizers (networks of male traffickers).

My research questions this statement and seeks to understand ‘prostitution’ at the southern border of Mexico as a complex phenomenon, based on sex workers’ perspectives. In this way, my argument challenges the dichotomy victim vs. agents. I suggest that women working in ‘prostitution’ should be understood as women who experience multiple relations of power (domination) but still have the capacity of resistance and individual agency.

The experience of these women can be understood within a specific sexual market conditioned by structural forces (specific historical, economic and political processes, in which social constructs of gender, race, sexuality and nationality intersect), but also by micro social factors. The latter are expressed in the way sex workers organize and understand their everyday practice. In this context, agency is a permanent negotiation and renegotiation between individuals and specific relations of power.

The question to ask, therefore, is: How is the "prostitute" produced at the Mexican southern border? And how do sex workers understand and organize their everyday practices from this subjectivity?

My research proposes to analyse narratives in life-stories of women involved in the sex trade at the Mexican Southern Border. This methodological approach follows feminist methodological strategies that aimed to work with the experiences of muted groups and developed conceptual and theoretical categories on the basis of women’s perspective. In addition, I will carry out an analysis of legal frame (convictions for the crime of human trafficking). This material will be complemented by interviews with governmental officials.



  • (2013), ‘Trata de mujeres: las trampas de un discurso dominante’, in: Identidades, No. 4.

  • (2013), ‘Repensando la asociación entre trata y prostitución de mujeres: una crítica desde el feminismo transnacional al discurso dominante’, in: Entre lo global y lo local. Estudios sobre globalización en América Latina.

  • (2010), ‘Capacidad de mercardo y la (in)tolerancia hacia la desigualdad social : los casos de trabajadoras de maquila y pequeños empresarios del sector turístico en El Salvador’, in: Pérez Sainz, Juan Pablo (Coord.): ‘… Te das hasta donde aguantes’. Desigualdades de Excedente en Centroamérica: Tolerancia y Ciudadanía Social: El Caso El Salvador. FLACSO Costa Rica, p. 117-164.