Irene Peano

Opaque loves: Governance and escape in the intimate sphere of Nigerian sex workers

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Intimacy, governance, transparency, sex work, escape

In this paper, I consider the economic-affective exchanges between migrant Nigerian sex workers and a variety of subjects, including their clients, lovers or husbands, but also the governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in programs of trafficking prevention and protection for recognised victims. Whilst these may appear to be disparate relationships with different rationales, I argue that subtending all of them lie several kinds of interrelated ambiguities that are defining of the exchanges. On the one hand, a preoccupation with transparency, clear-cut definitions and «truth» is belied by constantly erupting dissonances and the active manipulation of relationships. On the other hand, this also points to the ambiguity between the economic and the affective domain, between the instrumental and the selfless, between love and money. These, in turn, highlight the ways in which processes of subjectification are ever-incomplete and indicate escape as defining what exceeds them. The analysis is based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, corroborated by shorter research trips and the collection and analysis of secondary material.

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