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Tag Archives: Ethnography

Hoefinger, Heidi, Jennifer Musto, PG Macioti, Anne E Fehrenbacher, Nicola Mai, Calum Bennachie, Calogero Giametta (2020) Community-Based Responses to Negative Health Impacts of Sexual Humanitarian Anti-Trafficking Policies and the Criminalization of Sex Work and Migration in the US, Social Sciences, Special Issue: Sex Work, Gender Justice and the Law, 2020, 9(1), 1-30,  https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9010001

Abstract

System‐involvement resulting from anti‐trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in‐depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans‐specific and sex worker–led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti‐trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court‐involvement, court‐mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of the criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community‐based efforts are a survival‐oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer‐to‐peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community‐led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti‐trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system‐ involvement.

Ślęzak, Izabela. 2020. “An Ethnographic Analysis of Escort Services in Poland: An Interactionist Approach.” Qualitative Sociology Review 16(4):122-144. Retrieved 11/2020 (URL: http://www.qualitativesociologyreview.org/ENG/archive_eng.php). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18778/1733-8077.16.4.08

Abstract

Abstract: In the Polish literature on the subject, prostitution is analyzed from various theoretical perspectives, but, first of all, from the perspective of social pathology. This approach makes the researchers focus mainly on the social maladjustment of women providing sex services and the reasons for their violation of the normative order. In my ethnographic research conducted in escort agencies in Poland, I was willing to go beyond this narrow outlook. I have adapted an interactionist perspective to analyze the escort agencies as organizations where intense interactions between employees, as well as employees and clients, take place, the sex work process is organized, and the meanings of prostitution are negotiated. I conducted the analysis according to the procedures of the grounded theory methodology. It allowed me to see and describe such processes as: (re)defining the situation of providing sex services from vice to work, sex work as a collective action, performing sex work, secondary socialization for sex work. The adaption of an interactionist perspective opens some new directions for analysis, which could help to understand the phenomenon of women getting involved in and continuing to provide sex services for a long time.

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Leser, Julia. ‘On the Sensory Policing of Vices:  Morality at Work in a German Vice Squad’. Journal of Extreme Anthropology 4, no. 1 (7 March 2020): 22–44. https://doi.org/10.5617/jea.7358.

Abstract

This paper explores the policing of vices and offers a critical inquiry into the affective politics of policing practices seen through police and state ethnography, political anthropology, and the ‘affective turn’ in social and cultural theory. It shows how the moral worlds of policing sex work and performing raids in the red-light ‘milieu’ are constituted in the making of boundaries through visual, olfactory, somatosensory, and auditory sensations, which can be understood as normative performances in the realm of morality. Police officers do not engage in a neutral gaze but transform the sensuous into sensations that enact these normative distinctions between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ – the morally questionable red-light ‘milieu.’ These practices can be read in regard to a morality that is conveyed in and through the officers’ sensational performances in an observingly affective and somatic manner. Morality not simply is but is being done—and performing affects and sensations plays a significant role in the making of moral worlds in the realm of policing. Raiding the red-light ‘milieu’ is a performance on disorder and order, on what is normal and what is not, and thus a deeply political practice that reveals how order- and boundary-making operates through basic sensations and feelings, of the sensuous, the aesthetic, and the somatic.

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Carrier-Moisan, Marie-Eve. 2019. ‘“A Red Card against Sex Tourism”: Sex Panics, Public Emotions, and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil’. Feminist Formations 31 (2): 125–54. https://doi.org/10.1353/ff.2019.0019.

Abstract
This article examines the campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking that have emerged with the advent of several mega-sporting events in Brazil. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Natal, one of the twelve host cities of the 2014 World Cup, it focuses on the appeal to emotions in mobilization against sex trafficking and sex tourism. Despite the recent turn to emotions in social sciences, including the role of emotions in politics, there is a dearth of study examining the intersections of emotions and moral panics. Yet expressions of disgust, anger, rage, or outrage commonly accompany moral panics issues. This article engages with how campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking associated with the 2014 World Cup materialize through emotional tropes iterated and reiterated in public spaces, or sex panics scripts. More specifically, this article identifies various scripts—the sexually innocent yet violated child, the bad gringo, and the enslaved woman—and points to what gives them their traction. Taken together, these emotional tropes are constitutive of an affective logic that both conflates justice with punishment and repression, and makes certain oppressive interventions and fraught alliances “feel right”—that is, publicly thinkable, possible, and acceptable.

Briggs, Daniel. „Commodifying Intimacy in ‚Hard Times‘: A Hardcore Ethnography of a Luxury Brothel“. Journal of Extreme Anthropology 2, Nr. 1 (26. April 2018): 66–88. https://doi.org/10.5617/jea.5621.
Abstract
This paper is a methodological reflection on an ongoing covert ethnography I have been undertaking in a luxury brothel in Madrid, Spain. By accident, this study became a research project when I was employed by the manager to review porn forums offering feedback on the women that worked there and taught English to him. For 18 months now, I have worked in the brothel a couple of nights a week doing these duties and have come to know the manager’s closest friends and family, the women who work there and the security staff. The context for the work is the expansion of the sex industry in an era of consumer society and self-gratification coupled with austerity politics which has disproportionately affected the opportunities for women in the formal labour market thus catapulting many into precarious situations in which selling sex becomes an option. This has crudely mixed with cultural change in Spain in the wake of increased neoliberal economics which have hollowed out notions of family, tradition and intimacy.

Abstract

The Amsterdam Red-Light district is a globalised mass-entertainment place for sex consumption. But the visitors touring the Red-Light district are far more diverse than sex tourists: men, women, gay, straight, stag or cultural tourists tour this place to feel the thrill of desire and disgust. The paper documents this process of commodification by these visitors, engaging with their lived experiences through ethnographic research and in-depth interviews. The paper shows the diversity of the consumption practices and representations of the spectacle of commodified sex, explaining how the emotions experienced by those touring the sex district draw on intersectional belongings (gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity). Intertwining affective and moral geographies, it concludes by arguing that the symbolic consumption of the Red-Light district cannot necessarily be predicted by virtue of standard categories of belonging, with identity formation and the consumption of sex being shaped by a complex dynamic of looks and gazes.

Lyons, Tara, Andrea Krüsi, Leslie Pierre, Will Small, and Kate Shannon. “The Impact of Construction and Gentrification on an Outdoor Trans Sex Work Environment: Violence, Displacement and Policing.” Sexualities, January 10, 2017, 1363460716676990. doi:10.1177/1363460716676990.

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate how environmental and structural changes to a trans outdoor work environment impacted sex workers in Vancouver, Canada. The issue of changes to the work area arose during qualitative interviews with 33 trans sex workers. In response, ethnographic walks that incorporated photography were undertaken with trans sex workers. Changes to the work environment were found to increase vulnerabilities to client violence, displace trans sex workers, and affect policing practices. Within a criminalized context, construction and gentrification enhanced vulnerabilities to violence and harassment from police and residents.

Lowthers, Megan, “Sexual-Economic Entanglement: A Feminist Ethnography of Migrant Sex Work Spaces in Kenya” (2015). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 3423.

Abstract:

The recent anti-trafficking fervour as well as the moral panic surrounding prostitution has given rise to large gaps within migrant sex work research, especially in Africa. Despite this, sexual commerce remains a viable economic activity for many women in East Africa, a region where variable migration patterns are central to everyday social, cultural, and economic life. Framed by anthropology, feminist geography, and postcolonial theory, this research examines migrant female sex workers’ everyday experiences across time, space, place, and scale from one ethnographic location in Naivasha, Kenya. In order to explore how different migration patterns and types of sexual-economic exchange are entangled, qualitative research was conducted among 110 migrant female sex workers and 15 community representatives. Emphasizing the public relevance of both sexual commerce and everyday migration, African literary tools also frame the migration stories of female sex workers originating from, arriving to, or transiting through Naivasha. This research reveals how street level sex work is reproduced amidst the current global political economy at migrant spaces including an IDP camp, flower farms, along East African highways, and through mobile phone technology. This research also contributes to a better understanding of the often excluded female sex worker – the displaced, migrant, or sex worker in transit – as a complete, engendered person by recognizing her complex lived realities, relationships, and risks. And while migration is predominantly associated with increased vulnerabilities, this research further demonstrates how different types of sexual-economic exchange through different migration patterns variously entangle victimhood and empowerment in complex ways. These findings are especially significant for interdisciplinary academic studies as well as policy and programming addressing sex worker migration in Africa.

Public URL: http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/3423

Abstract
In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, the Brazilian government engaged in a militarized campaign to clean up favelas, blighted areas, and red-light districts so that it could “develop” them. Based on ethnographic work in Rio de Janeiro, London, and Cape Town, this article argues that there is a pattern in host cities of such events in which neoliberal agents, state forces, and nongovernmental organizations use discourses of feminism and human rights—especially unfounded fears about a link between sex trafficking and sports—to enact such changes regardless of the political economic conditions or systems of governance. By destroying safe and legal venues for sex work, these actors have created the very exploitation they purport to prevent. The article also links these actions to US foreign policy mandates and a broader shift in governmentality in Brazil predicated on performing a commitment to sexual diversity, including promoting gay rights and tourism, and advancing liberal notions of sexual progress that, in actuality, marginalize more vulnerable sexual populations.

Edward Snajdr, “Beneath the master narrative: human trafficking, myths of sexual slavery and ethnographic realities” (2013) 37 Dialectical Anthropology 229

Abstract:

This paper explores the disconnections between anti-trafficking discourse and the local experience of responding to human trafficking as indicated in ethnographic data from Bosnia and Kazakhstan. Using the concept of “uptake,” I examine how anti-trafficking discourse operates as a master narrative, drawing on techniques of emotion and logic, as well as a specific type of victim story. I also consider how, despite an emerging counter discourse that questions the data and challenges current policy, human trafficking discourse continues to be retold in media and reproduced in popular culture, often in ways that actually diverge from the current version of the grand narrative. In contrast to these uncritical representations, ethnographic data from Bosnia suggest that the master narrative is selective in how it represents the history of the problem and that it does not “take up” important details about the context that fosters sexual exploitation, despite Bosnia’s compliance with US policy. Conversely, Kazakhstan suffers a liminal status regardless of local efforts to prevent the problem from happening within its borders as well as evidence that the crime is not widespread. While perhaps not mythical, I suggest that the master narrative contains the stuff of legend as it occupies the critical spaces of policy, activism and development, leaving open the question of how to address the nuances and needs of responding to victims of gender violence.

Full text available here.