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Abstract

The state cannot be conceived as an apparatus of purely rational decision-making, as we argue in this paper using the case of governing human trafficking. We used a state ethnographic approach to reveal the three functions borne by affects in the governing of trafficking prevention projects. First, in affective displays used by police officers to regulate and govern the clients they encounter in their everyday practices. Second, the role of affective displays in boundary-making. And third, we will illuminate the epistemological function of affects in assessing the behaviour and the features of potential victims of trafficking.
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Journal of Political Power
ISSN: 2158-379X (Print) 2158-3803 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rpow21
On the affective governmentality of anti-
trafficking efforts: an ethnographic exploration
Julia Leser & Rebecca Pates
To cite this article: Julia Leser & Rebecca Pates (2019): On the affective governmentality
of anti-trafficking efforts: an ethnographic exploration, Journal of Political Power, DOI:
10.1080/2158379X.2019.1669263
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/2158379X.2019.1669263
Published online: 04 Oct 2019.
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ARTICLE
On the aective governmentality of anti-tracking eorts:
an ethnographic exploration
Julia Leser and Rebecca Pates
Department of Political Science, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany
ABSTRACT
The state cannot be conceived as an apparatus of purely rational
decision-making, as we argue in this paper using the case of
governing human tracking. We used a state ethnographic
approach to reveal the three functions borne by aects in the
governing of tracking prevention projects. First, in aective dis-
plays used by police ocers to regulate and govern the clients
they encounter in their everyday practices. Second, the role of
aective displays in boundary-making. And third, we will illumi-
nate the epistemological function of aects in assessing the beha-
viour and the features of potential victims of tracking.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 20 November 2018
Accepted 1 September 2019
KEYWORDS
Aective governmentality;
state ethnography; policing;
human tracking; sex work
1. Introduction
In many German local governments, vice squad police ocers and social workers from
specialised counselling centres for victims of tracking cooperate closely, in line with
recent anti-tracking policy advice (Gallagher and Holmes 2008). Ocers and social
workers benet from this cooperation: social workers stabilize potential tracking
victims and prepare them for their appearance as victim-witnesses in front of a court
where they have to testify, thereby ensuring they have the cases they need in order to
continue to be funded and police ocers can hand over women who are in need of
emotional and therapeutic support to the social workers. Due to their close cooperation,
both agencies come to understand the logics of each others agencies and working
rationales. Such inter-agential modes of perception, recognition, and comprehension
show how nding tracking victimsworks in practice, or, to be more precise, how
victim epistemologies correlate with regimes of aect. For example, social workers are
occasionally perplexed by the manner in which police ocers treat (potential) victims:
Regarding the police, I think that if a woman really wants to testify, and if shes informed
a little about the process, then in my experience the police will support her. Except if
that woman, in a nutshell, is dicult or inconsistent. Which is normal, though. I mean, the
questions they ask her are questions that you cant answer just like that. A lot of these
women have been through horrible things, and its just comprehensible that they are not
nice, friendly, young women, but sometimes aggressive, and sometimes dicult to deal
with. I think thats hard sometimes.
CONTACT Julia Leser julia.leser@uni-leipzig.de Department of Political Science, Leipzig University, Leipzig,
Germany
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER
https://doi.org/10.1080/2158379X.2019.1669263
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
(interview #2, social worker, 3 December 2014)
Thus, whilst whether a sex worker displays the rightaects or not, does not aect her
status as a victim of tracking, it does aect whether she will be recognised and treated
as one, as Gwénaëlle Mainsant has shown for France (Mainsant 2010) and as we are
showing here. Such methods of recognition were at the core of our research question in
the research project Institutionalizing Human Tracking(20142017) funded by the
German Research Council (DFG) and the French National Agency for Research (ANR).
Why is it, we asked, that the French institutions were so much more successful in terms
of nding tracking victims than the German ones how are victims found? The
short answer has much to do with incentives. French courts which come to successful
convictions of trackers can oer leave to stay and access to welfare to victims of
tracking within the French system (Jakšić2013). German courts can oer no such
incentives, and none are envisaged: The German inquisitorial court system, as a matter
of principle, relies on oral victim statements in its truth-nding, which much of the
French court system tries to avoid, as the injection of anger, fear and shame into the
court proceedings might hinder impartiality (Vogler and Huber 2008).
Thus, the logics of institutional structures and how they allow for, facilitate or
demand the display of aects have epistemological and governmental eects. In this
paper, we shall focus on the aective governmentalityof tracking in human beings
for the purposes of sexual exploitation in the German context, as observed by us in the
course of our research project.
2. On method and the project
As part of this project, we carried out ethnographic research within a vice squad
department in a German city for six months where we were able to participate in the
raids of the red-light district. Besides observing the police, we interviewed municipal
administrators, social workers, anti-tracking lobbyists and public prosecutors specia-
lised in pursuing tracking cases.
1
The approach of our research is state ethnographic,
and thus, we are interested in how the state is donein everyday practices (Passoth and
Rowland 2010) and performances of state agents who deal directly with the public and
are therefore characterized as street-level bureaucrats(Lipsky 1980). As has been
shown, victims of tracking as social objects are consistently gendered both in the
standard narratives and in the practices of law enforcement (Pates et al.2016)and the
aects and beliefs of state agents inform the identication processes and the manage-
ment of tracking victims (Leser et al.2017). In eect, the practices of police ocers in
particular revolve around dierent and rather contrasting forms of subjectivities,
namely the absent victim and the problematic sex worker (Leser et al.2017).
Such recalcitrant, perhaps even undeserving victims, play an important role in the
everyday frustrations of those specialised in nding victims. Rising international
concerns about human tracking for sexual exploitation in the course of the past
three decades has increased the pressure on law enforcement agents to become more
eective and to increase the number of rescue eorts and of successful prosecutions.
Such pressures aect everyday logics, including the traditional policing of local red-
light districts.
2
Sex workers as moralised subjects’–have become the target of
2J. LESERR AND R. PATES
extensive moral regulation exercised by the state (Hunt 1999,p.8)
3
and a central
focus of the police endeavours is to maintain a particular moral order. Thus, the
subject status of sex workers has gained a new and conict-riddled dimension when
it became governed by the over-arching fears concerning sex tracking. If sex
workers are potential victims of tracking, they cannot be treated as conventional
deviant subjects. They have to be listened to, cared for, looked after, saved, and
protected because they are especially vulnerable to reprisals, and because their
cooperation is usually essential for prosecutions(Gallagher and Holmes 2008,
p. 320). This implies not only a new framing of the everyday work of the vice
squad, but also the emergence of a new subject. The sex worker was regulated and
repressed, the tracking victims needs saving. The modes of governance thus have
moved from restricting the recalcitrant subject to saving the innocently enslaved.
According to Jane Scoular, the assumed victimhoodof women selling sex no longer
corresponds with technologies of repression and moral regulation, but rather with a
system of welfare and therapeutic interventions(Scoular 2010,p.323). The low
numbers of reported human tracking cases in Germany suggest that such ther-
apeutic interventions are rather ineective, as David A. Feingold has argued for the
Mekong region (Feingold 2010).
There are a number of hypotheses in the literature to explain this failureof the
police: Empirical studies have shown that, in some cases, police ocers have ignored
tracking within their jurisdiction (Clawson et al.2006, Farrell et al.2012), or have
failed to nd victims as those people they did nd did not t the stereotyped ideal
victimmode (Christie 1986, Walklate 2007, Haynes 2007). Christie had argued that an
ideal victimis a person or category of individuals who when hit by crime most readily
is given the complete and legitimate status of being a victimwhich is a sort of public
status of the same type and level of abstraction as that of a heroor a traitor”’
(Christie 1986,p. 18). Such victims have six attributes: (S)he is: (i) weak; (ii) carrying
out a respectable project; and (iii) not to be blamed. (S)he should furthermore be
victimized by a (iv) big and bad oender who is (v) unknown. And nally, (vi) she can
communicate this victim status eectively to us. But of course, if she is weak, this sixth
requirement is not easy to full. And if she has embarked in a practice of sex work, she
likely would be perceived as not respectable. As Jacobsen and Skilbrei (2010) have
shown in the case of Norway, such paradoxical subjects are in fact at fault, reproach-
able victims, rather than real victims of tracking. Others have shown that police
ocers regard tracking cases as too complicated and time-consuming and try to avoid
them in principle (Farrell et al.2008, Oude Breuil et al.2011, McCarthy 2015). For
tracking is a very dicult crime to prosecute: it requires a reliable and credible victim
witness who is willing to and capable of serving as proof in a court of law. However,
witnesses who do not conform to idealised notions of victimhood are often dismissed as
non-credible (Haynes 2004, Constantinou 2013, McCarthy 2015, Pates et al.2016). All
of these diculties have led scholars like Gallagher and Holmes (2008) to recommend
closer cooperation between agencies of prosecution and of victim protection. In recog-
nition of this problem, legally binding cooperation agreements have been set up in
many German regions and cities to capture the modalities of cooperation between local
police departments and the relevant NGOs, in particular, counselling centres for victims
of tracking. But while agreements such as these are often framed as a mutual
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 3
advantage for both protection and prosecution, in reality both goals may suer. As has
been shown in the case of Norway, it leads in many cases to the creation of unequal
access to support and assistance measures, depending on the victims willingness to
testify (Brunovskis and Skilbrei 2016).
In addition, looking for a victim in red light districts creates a paradox for law
enforcement agents. In a tragic version of the Wittgensteinian rabbit-duck illusion,
women sex workers are seen as either victims or as professional sex workers, but never
both (Aradau 2004). And men or trans people are never victims at all (Pates et al.2016).
Consequently, [d]epending on sex workersbehaviour when rescued, their similarity
to the ideal-typical tracking victim and the degree to which they were active partici-
pants in entering the country, they are categorized as victim or agent and treated
accordingly(McCarthy 2014, p. 235). And the reason men and trans people are not
victims of tracking is based on the melodramatic requirements of the discourse,as
Kaye (2018) has argued:
[d]epending upon the gender of the victim, mainstream representations of sex track-
ing tap into two entirely dierent structures of feeling(Williams 1977), generating pity
for women and girls but discomfort and disgust in relation to men and boys. The
incompatibility between these two emotional structures, more than a strictly conceptual
invisibility (or any disparity in actual circumstance), renders it dicult to frame boys or
men as victims within conventional accounts. [. . .] Thus, speaking of men and boys as
victims of sex tracking simply does not feel right.
(Kaye 2018, p. 181, emphasis in original)
For the master narrative of human tracking(Snajdr 2013) structures the feeling
rules(Hochschild 1979) concerning victims, i.e. it creates a particular reality that
renders the existence of prototypical victims logical while it leaves key experiences of
tracking [. . .] out of the ocial account(Snajdr 2013, p. 231) and dictates what we
should feel towards her: pity, compassion and an elevation, as she has been rescued.
The emotiveness of the melodramatic narrative operates as a resource to mobilize
activities of state actors. This is a general feature of modern governmentality: the
stirring of moral sentiments such as compassion have been a crucial force in contem-
porary governmental strategies, as e.g. Fassin (2012) and Ticktin (2011) have shown.
But it is also a mode of modern governmentality. That is, the display of certain aects
(irrespective of whether they are in fact felt), are not only subject to rules of feeling, but
also part of a mode of governance. In particular, they have become part of what Sauer
and Penz have termed aective governmentality.
Aective governmentality describes the governance of subjects using aective tech-
nologies (Penz and Sauer 2016, Sauer and Penz 2017). This does not mean that aects
are statically imposed on the subject, but rather, that feeling rules link the individual
subjects display of aects to the institutional structures of anticipation and response.
4
Social knowledge of appropriate behaviour concerning social roles (such as the deva-
stated victim we just described, but also the sneering police ocer, the calm and
impartial judge, the empathetic social worker and so on) structure the expectations
and experiences of our interactions with the state. State agents, then, expect of their
clients and of themselves that they conduct themselves in keeping with these feeling
rules, if, that is, they want to be seen as behaving appropriately. The concept of aective
4J. LESERR AND R. PATES
governmentalityhelps to focus on the functional dimensions of aects in encounters
between the state and its clients.
We shall argue that aects operate in three distinguishable ways. First, aective
displays are used by police ocers to regulate and govern the clients they encounter
in their daily routines. Second, police ocers use aective displays to engage in
boundary-making practices (for other examples of this see Kyed and Albrecht 2015,
Barker et al.2016, Beek 2016): aects are a mode of distancing and marking a deviant
other in contrast to the normalcies that the ocers enact in their practices. And third,
we shall draw on the cooperative policing strategies between police ocers and social
workers to illuminate the epistemological function of aects in assessing the behaviour
and the features of potential victims of tracking. In sum, we will analyse the opera-
tional capacities of aect in everyday governing and elaborate on the use of aects to
regulate and modify, to create and maintain order, and to produce and assess knowl-
edge. Our ethnographic data will simultaneously show that the procedural and situa-
tional exercising of aective governmentalityis not necessarily unambiguous. Yet we
argue that a closer look into the functions of aects, the situations in which they are
applied, and the problems they are intended to solve, can shed new light onto technol-
ogies of governmental practices.
3. Regulating aectively
As street-level bureaucrats, vice squad police ocers interact directly with the popula-
tion they intend to control, that is, sex workers who perform their jobs in brothels and
apartments that are known to the police. The raids vice squad ocers conduct upon
these sites are rst and foremost standard procedures guided by a bureaucratic ratio-
nale: the raid revolves around the identication of the people encountered with the help
of their ID documents. With the reform of the law governing prostitution in 2002, sex
work was deregulated in Germany in an eort to destigmatise sex work and give the
workers more life chance and access to welfare provisions. This law was never imple-
mented the way it was intended (Pates 2012), but it did leave ocers in a limbo. They
were no longer allowed to control sex workers as such, by interrupting their work and
controlling their clients, yet they were expected to nd and rescue victims of tracking
for sexual exploitation. The legitimation of the raid of establishments in the red light
districts and other venues was no longer to control sex work as a vice, but to nd
victims of tracking.
Such policing techniques have lost their original purpose, but have a long tradition,
and the legal reform just changed the rationale for the traditional practice. As Vincent
Dubois (2010) has shown, a basic mode of interaction between state institutions and
citizens who apply for dierent types of welfare is the classication of the applicant into
deserving and undeserving. These classifying processes occur in the course of face-to
face interactions in which unwritten norms concerning the appropriate (aective)
behaviour of a deserving applicant contributes to shaping the success of the supplicants
application. In the case of tracking, police ocers look for victims during raids in
brothels and sex workersapartments. And in interacting with their clientele, police
ocers tend to classify, as Dubois has led us to expect, the sex workers into deserving
and undeserving victims. In practice, this means that they decide who is worthy of
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 5
being rescued a classication that depends on the identication of realvictims. Here,
too, the melodramatic master narrative,i.e. its simple binaristic themes and easily
interpretable symbols of morality and immorality, murky, malevolent characters, and
unsuspecting and ultimately helpless protagonists(Snajdr 2013, p. 239) shapes and
structures the practices of the police and their encounters with inhabitants of the red-
light district alongside aective dimensions (Leser et al.2017). As we shall show in what
follows, this leads to confusing, frustrating and annoying situations between police
ocers and sex workers in so far as they might be potential tracking victims, as we
shall argue in this contribution.
In practice, the raidsare prepared for weeks in advance. Many police ocers in the
vice squad look forward to them. They dress up in body armour and come out in full
force. The researcher was also given a stab-proof vest and warned to be careful. Several
police cars travel to the venues in an order only known to the leading ocer. The
ocers in full armour and uniform loudly enter but their martial appearance belie
their actual activities once they have entered the premises. All they do in the course of
the raid is ask for everyones ID, and enter this data laboriously and slowly, by hand,
into prepared data sheets, whilst the residents the sex workers stand around,
bantering, eating, doing their nails, or taking calls from clients.
The attempt to nd deserving victims thus begins with asking all those present in
the brothel for their ID, and copying the ID details in a pre-printed control sheet. In
this way, the ocer produces an outcome of the raid: a list of people present, their
names, dates and places of birth, nationality, ID card number, visa status. At the end
of the day, the ocers will feed this information into a database that is exclusively
designed for keeping track of the residents and clients of the local red-light milieu.
Seen from this perspective, the only thing that will disrupt this routine information
gathering procedure is a person who will not provide proper ID documents, either
because they do not have any or because they do not want to show them. In these
situations, the ocer will have to make a decision about how to proceed. From
Lipskys analysis of street-level bureaucrats, we know that such decisions are made
on the spotand focused entirely on the individual(Lipsky 1980, p. 8). In their daily
work, police ocers have room for discretion, and sometimes nd themselves in
interactions that require responses to the human dimensions of situations. They have
discretion because the accepted denitions of their tasks call for sensitive observation
and judgements, which are not reducible to programmed formats(ibid., p. 15).
Discretionary decisions are always situated and contextualised. But interestingly, the
interactions and their dynamics shape the outcomes of these decisions, i.e. what is an
acceptable decision is part of a continuous negotiation process. Thus, dierent inter-
actions lead to dierent discretionary decisions.
A second important feature of the working environment of the police ocer as
street-level bureaucrat is the cooperative nature of the interaction between state
agent and client.
5
The kind of clients whom police ocers deal with during their
raids are nonvoluntary clients(Lipsky 1980,p.57),i.e.theydonotseekthehelpor
support of the police ocers themselves, but they are actively made clients by the
ocers in the moment they knock on their doors, enter their apartments, and check
theirIDdocuments.Inthisway,policeocers depend on the compliance and
cooperation of these nonvoluntary clients in order for the raid to function as
6J. LESERR AND R. PATES
bureaucratic procedure.
For the most part, [. . .] clients give their consent because (sometimes in combination) they
accept the legitimacy of the street-level bureaucratsposition and decision, anticipate that
dissent would not be productive, or consider themselves favored by the decision or action
taken. Most encounters with bureaucracy appear to be characterized by the consent of
clients, but the structure of choices available to clients limits the range of alternative
behaviors that they consider realistically available. In short, clientsconsent is continuously
being managed by public agencies.
(ibid.)
If clients do not cooperate, Lipsky argues, street-level bureaucrats occasionally have to
apply measures to make them cooperate. This, of course, is a form of active regulation
that, as we will demonstrate, includes aective displays by the ocers themselves.
The observations during the four raids we observed in 2016 to a large extent
substantiate Lipskys claims. Most interactions between sex workers and police ocers
are of a cooperative nature: most sex workers have proper ID documents and hand
them over to the police ocer who wants to inspect them and copy the details into his
form sheet. As long as sex workers cooperate, the ocers continue with their proce-
dure, slightly bored, but, overall, satised. But as one might imagine, a series of ideally
cooperative interactions never lasts for long. Every once in a while, the ocers
encounter a person without proper ID documents and thus have to decide what to
do about them. In the following, we describe two such situations in order to show the
discretionary dynamics of these interactions and illuminate the aective displays of the
ocers as an attempt to regulate and perform control upon the situation.
3.1. Interaction #1: Samantha
6
The ocers are in an apartment building, going from door to door to check upon the
sex workers who rent the apartments to work in them. They ascend the stairs to get to
the rst oor. A woman walking down at the same time is stopped immediately by
ocer King: Stop! Police! Your passport, please.The woman replies that she has
recently lost her passport. King asks her when that was, and she replies Yesterday.
What a coincidence!, King sneers. He tells her that he and the ocers will come with
her to her apartment. The woman rolls her eyes and stomps audibly back up the stairs
in her high heeled shoes. In her apartment, Samantha tells ocer King that she was just
on her way downtown to report her lost passport. King seems to disbelieve her. Ocer
Brown snorts with laughter. Samantha remains unimpressed and, ignoring them,
answers her ringing mobile phone. As she nishes the call, King approaches her
brusquely: Name?Samantha: Yes, Ill give you my name.King, irritated: No, any
document that has your name on it!Samanthas mobile phone rings again and she
takes the call. King is clearly annoyed and tells Samantha to turn oher phone. She just
ignores him. Meanwhile, ocer Brown laughs at the situation. Samantha is also laugh-
ing into her phone, and as she hangs up, King tells her: We have to come up with
something that we can do now. Do you have anything? Anything with your name on
it?, and Samantha replies: My name?, as if she wanted to drive ocer King completely
mad. They keep talking. Samantha pretends that King is too illiterate to be able to spell
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 7
her name, so suggests writing it down for him. He all the while wants to corroborate her
claim with the help of further documents. An ID document? A transfer voucher?
Samantha looks at King, makes big eyes, remains completely nonplussed. King con-
tinues: Dont you send your money to Bulgaria? You must have a transfer voucher! No?
Youre not sending money?Samantha replies: No.King: What happens to your
money then?Samantha: Gambling.King turns away with a gesture that implies that
the time for joking is now over. He snarls at her: Were going to take you to the station
and gure out what to do with you there.
(Field notes, 2015)
Ocer King and his colleagues, when raiding brothels and apartments, come to meet
a multiplicity of dierent people whom they have to identify, as their task and the
control sheets they carry with them are demanding them to do. Most of these people,
from the ocersperspective, are easy,that is, as explained above, they cooperate
willingly with the police, let the ocers into their apartments, hand over their ID
documents, say helloand good-byeand thus just get the situation over with. That is
because the raid is rather a nuisance and disruption of the work day for the sex workers,
and for the ocers a mixture of a boring routine, annoying situations, uncertainties,
shameful experiences, and sometimes even occasions that demand drastic measures.
During the raids, they meet sex workers who are usually not German (and as the
ocers only speak German this sometimes proves to be dicult), they meet the sex
workersclients, boyfriends, and husbands, their families, and sometimes, even their
children. In the raids we observed, they never met a victim of tracking. After a few
months of observing their raids, ocer King told us in an interview that they in fact
never have been successful in nding a victim during a raid (Interview vice squad #11,
11 May 2015).
7
So, the ocers do not meet victims during their raids, but they meet, as stated,
a professionalized population of sex workers who are working legally in Germany,
and all they are doing here is checking their ID documents the purpose of this
legal measure might be debatable to which most of the encountered sex workers
consent and comply, but some, as Samantha in the example above, do not. Samantha
poses a problem that interrupts the order of the ocersroutine procedure. Not only
issheunabletoprovideaproperidentication document, but she does not seem to
take the raid seriously. Instead, she light-heartedly talks on the phone, answers the
ocers questions in a manner that does not satisfy them, and behaves in way that
can be characterised as recalcitrant and disrespectful to the ocers. Now,
a performance of respect and humility in the presence of police ocers is crucially
constitutive, we would argue, for the successfuloutcome of the ocer-client inter-
action. For police ocers, respect is a measure of [a principally shared cultural]
understandingand of a shared trust in a fundamentally prevailing social order
(Bierschenk et al.2016,p.168).Thepowerofthepolicecanthereforeonlybe
eective if the encountered person subjects herself to them. If the person, like
Samantha in the example above, shows a lack of respect towards the ocers,
especially harsh reactionsmight ensue (ibid., cf. Ericson 1982,p.18).Thus,inthe
interaction with Samantha, a harshreaction can be observed, but we have to take
a closer look into what the harshness in this situation might entail. First, it is clear
that, in a mere legal sense, Samantha has not broken any laws. As a Bulgarian
8J. LESERR AND R. PATES
citizen, she is free to move within the European Union and thus welcome to stay and
work in Germany. In theory, it would have been necessary for her to own a valid ID
upon entering Germany. Now, if she loses her passport, she has to obtain a new
document in the consulate or embassy of her home country. It is not the ocers
business to ensure she has an ID. Rather, they could have told her to inform the
embassy and obtain a replacement. But they do not pursue either of these options.
Just at the beginning of the interaction between Samantha and the ocers (which
would last for another hour at the police station and include a considerable amount of
discussions), a curious dynamic develops. Upon hearing Samanthas excuse that she is
not able to produce proper identication documents because she has lost them, ocer
King sneers with an ironic remark and ocer Brown bursts out in laughter. Her
behaviour is deemed disrespectful, implying that she in return cannot be awarded
a respectful reaction that includes performing belief in her account as trustworthy or
credible. Quite in contrast, the corporeal and aective displays of the ocers in this
situation, that is, the laughing in disbelief, the abrasiveness, and the snarling command-
like instructions, seem to be intended as a demonstration of who is the boss in this
situation, who is in control, and the nal decision of taking her to the station can be
read as the peak of this power negotiation. But the ocers do not necessarily succeed in
being in control, for the negotiation goes both ways: Samantha is trying to be in control,
too. She plays the ocers through means of aective displays just as the ocers are
trying to play her: the rolling of her eyes, her ignoring and circumnavigating the
ocersquestions, her overall refusal to be impressed, and the way that she repeats
their questions contribute to subverting this situation as overall absurd. Her behaviour
only fosters the ocersintentions of putting her into her place. At the end of the day,
ocer King tells me that the police ocers present wanted to teach her a lesson(eld
notes, 2015).
Another raid starts similarly with a seemingly non-compliant client. Cora is unable
to produce a proper document. The one she shows to the ocers has expired and is
therefore illegitimate. But the outcome is dierent than in Samanthas case:
3.2. Interaction #2: Cora
The ocers enter the apartment, shouting: Police! Raid! Passports!Cora approaches
them calmly: Everything is ne. We all speak German here.Ocer Smith is looking
through all of the rooms, explaining: We just have to make sure if there is anyone else
in the apartments, because you never know.Cora makes a fuss to put on some clothes.
Ocer King says to her, jokingly: But its 25 degrees outside!Cora replies: I know, but
Ive got a cold.Cora has a Kenyan passport. Ocer King and Ocer Smith complain
about the state of her passport: Her photo looks like it has been ripped out and then
glued back on it. Attached to the passport is a visa, a residence title with a serial number
that ocer King writes down on his note pad. He is looking for the expiry date and
nds 2014.’‘Miss, could you come here for a moment, please?, he asks Cora.
Ocer King: The residence title has expired.
Cora: Yes, but no, no, this isnt the actual document. I have a separate one, but to be
honest, I lost it. I need to replace it.
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 9
Ocer King: Where, in your home town?
Cora: Yes, exactly. That is because I wanted to return to Kenya and I needed a visa. But
I am still waiting on a decision concerning my residence title, to become a German.
Ocer Smith: But the document was . . . ?
Cora: A probationary visa. But I am working, as well.
Ocer Smith: A probationary visa . . .
Cora: Exactly. And to be completely honest, Ive lost it. Its a very important document,
Im aware of that.
Ocer King: And where do you live?
Cora tells the ocers her address.
Ocer King: And your nationality is still Kenyan?
Cora: Exactly, but its going to change soon.
Ocer Smith: But youve been living here for ages, havent you?
Cora: Yes, I would say. Ive been living here for 23 years.
Ocer Smith: Because I cant hear anything.[referring to her accent]
Cora continuously and humbly reassures that she will make arrangements for obtaining
a proper residence title with her embassy. Ocer Smith tells her that they will just accept
that. They continue with some small talk about Coras cold and ocer King expresses
jokingly: I hope its not contagious!She repeats that she will obtain new ID documents as
soon as possible. The ocers seem persuaded. After nishing his routine, ocer King
concludes that Everythingsne here, but just go get a new passport, to which Cora
replies: Yes, denitely, thank you! Immediately, as soon as I will be in my home town, Ill
do it! Thank you, bye!The ocers leave the apartment.
(Field notes, 2015)
The initial situation of the lost passport is, in some respects, similar to the example with
Samantha, but paired with a completely dierent behaviour on behalf of the sex worker
in question. Cora acts humbly, respectfully, and is therefore rewarded with an aective
display that mirrors her attitude. The ocers show interest in the account she gives of
the lost document, and they believe her. They also seem to be fascinated with her ability
to speak German perfectly. It also seems to help that she is on course to become
a German citizen. The way the ocers act towards Cora arms that she is behaving
well and that there is no need to punish her. Her performance as a humble, respectful,
and apologizing subject and aspiring citizen, persuaded the ocers. They did not then
take her to the station, laugh at her incredulously and belittle her. Rather, they bantered
and joked letting the minor oence of her expired passport slide.
In comparing these two situations, we argue that the modalities of how the dynamics
of these decisions unfold are embedded in a continuous interplay of the aective
displays of all those involved. The ocers display ironic laughter and an abrasive
demeanour to enact symbolic power, or accommodating displays of interest and
empathy to reward appropriate and compliant behaviour to regulate the encountered
person and to (attempt to) manage the situation. But it has also been shown that this
10 J. LESERR AND R. PATES
aective regulation is neither monolithic nor one-directional. It unfolds in subtle
dynamics where it is often not clear who is aecting whom and who is the one being
aected. Both Samanthas and Corasaective behaviour is doing something to the
ocers as well. Most importantly, it is people like Samantha and Cora who the ocers
interact with on their raids in the red-light district, that is, persons who do not t the
standard victim narrative(Leser et al.2017, p. 24). Either the submissive or the
recalcitrant client is treated as an autonomous subject, which ipso facto eliminates the
possibility of the ocers perceiving her as a passive and vulnerable victim. Encounters
with realvictims, as the ocial statistics of tracking prosecutions as well as the
accounts of the ocersexperiences imply, are the exception.
4. Boundary-making through disgust
Raids on brothels and sex workersapartments constitute a conglomerate of police
practices and techniques, including rst and foremost technologies of identication
and classication of problematic sex workers(Leser 2018), and not necessarily
victims of tracking(Farrell and Pfeer 2014). As police handbooks and training
manuals suggest, the practice of raiding, especially in relation to sex work, has been
a part of the vice squads practice portfolio throughout the last century (see for
example Moll 1926, Holle 1964,Bauer1980). Farrell and Pfeer (2014,p.55)
characterize the raid as one of the traditional vice investigation strategies.But in
the last two decades, the legal framework for policing the red-light milieu has
changed: sex work, in Germany, is now legal. The terms vice squadand raid
arenolongerpartoftheocial nomenclature. They are now called department for
sexual oencesand control operations,but are still used colloquially among the
ocers. The traditional logics and practices are still in place, in a certain inertia so
to say, which is important in the context that police ocers are not only enforcers
of the law, but enforcers of morality too (Johnson 2010,2012). Johnson (2010,
p. 404) has argued that ocers as street-level bureaucrats use their discretion to
determine the moral standards of ordinarypeople, and decide which practices can
be classied as disgusting.This can be analysed as a form of boundary-making,
constituting a core function of policing (Kyed and Albrecht 2015,Barkeret al.2016,
Beek 2016). As Kyed and Albrecht explain,
[p]olicing actors are continuously preoccupied with enacting and negotiating bound-
aries, not only of particular territorial spaces and populations, but also between order
and disorder, right and wrong, [. . .]. The boundary-work of policing does not always
explicitly challenge any one particular order or body of rules, but it is integral to
continuous ways of making and unmaking rules and categories [and] to how policing
actors dene and position themselves in relation to each other and to those who
support or contest them.
(Kyed and Albrecht 2015, pp. 1516)
The relationality of policing practices suggest that boundaries in this case, moral
boundaries between what is right and what is wrong are neither stable nor given,
but have to be made and negotiated in practice. We argue that disgust, as
a performance of the ocers, contributes to making and doing the boundaries
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 11
between the unique repositories of virtue(Herbert 1996, p. 800) the virtuous
knights whom the police ocers represent, and their counterpart, i.e. the sex
workersmilieu as the world of vices. The boundary-making through disgust can be
illustrated with a third vignette from the eld.
4.1. Interaction #3: the brothel women
The Bar 29 is a typical meeting point for sex workers and their clients. At the other end of
the bar, stairs lead up and down to separate bedrooms. The police ocers take the stairs
down into the basement. There are two bedrooms down here, one of them occupied by
a woman. Ocer Brown shouts at her: Police! Passport! And turn othat heater, thats
dangerous. And let some fresh air in!Ocer King starts copying the details of her
passport into his control sheet. Ocer Brown and ocer Davis take the stairs back up
again, where they meet a man accompanied by a small barking dog. Ocer Davis asks
him: Police. Do you have your passport? Who are you? Do you live here? Dont you speak
German?Ocer Brown looks down upon the dog and says: The dog doesnt have
a license tag.It keeps barking. A woman from the bar joins them and is asked by ocer
Davis to translate for the man with the dog. She does. It turns out that he is the boyfriend
of one of the women, and visiting from Bulgaria. The women gather around the two
ocers questioning the dog-owning boyfriend. They seem unimpressed, they talk to each
other in Bulgarian, laughing out loud from time to time. Ocer King joins the scene and
asks the women if he could take a picture: Photos okay?’–‘No.He asks for their phone
numbers. The women discuss it and tell King: Dont want to.King shouts: Stubborn!
and then, to the women: Police. We are the good ones.The women are laughing. King:
Whom do you call when something is bad?The women are still laughing, but denitely
do not want to give King their phone numbers. Ocer King turns away and says, mocking:
Too bad. No discussion.The women go back to talking with each other in Bulgarian,
seemingly amused. Ocer Brown goes up the stairs to the second oor while talking to
me: This is annoying, referring to the women being uncooperative. On this oor ve or
six rooms have to be searched, and Brown inspects them all. Re-emerging from one of the
rooms, he says to ocer Davis, wrinkling his nose: Woah, this is so nasty.
(Field notes, 2015)
The ocersreactions to the working women and their surroundings often include
expressions of disgust and revolt. These take the form of nose-wrinkling, a tightening of
faces, and comments like nastyor shabby.In another apartment, an ocer talks
about bedbugs, warning his colleagues not to touch anything he had read about
bedbugs in the paper, he says. At the beginning of yet another raid, an ocer reminds
the others not to forget their rubber gloves, making everyone laugh knowingly (eld
notes, 2015). Their expressions are directed at views of disorder and dirt, and as we
know from anthropologist Mary Douglas, dirt is essentially disorder(Douglas 2001
[1966], p. 2). References to pollution generally function as analogies for expressing
a general view of the social order(ibid., p. 3). When the ocers hint at something dirty
and disgusting via corporeal, performative expressions they emphasize that this
something is transgressing the social and moral order. And this somethingis what they
call milieu:a topos that contains the obscene, the deviant, the indecent, the totality of
behaviours that contrast the normalcy the ocers are supposed to represent and
defend, including normative ideas about sexuality. It is through simple aective displays
of disgust, performed regularly and continuously throughout the raids, that the
12 J. LESERR AND R. PATES
boundaries between the ocers as unique repositories of virtueand the milieu as the
world of vice are being made.
5. Epistemologies of feelings
Victims of tracking remain absent during the vice squads raids in the red-light
milieu. And with absencewe do not imply that victims of tracking do not exist,
but rather, that the vice squad ocers fail to see, perceive, notice, nd, and identify
victims of tracking during their raids. In empirical studies in the US context, Farrell
and Pfeer (2014) and Haynes (2007) made similar observations, thus assessing that
traditional vice squad strategies, such as raids, prove to be ineective for identifying
tracking victims in the eld, explaining:
Government ocials appear to subscribe to several myths and imperfect syllogistic reason-
ing which prevent them from seeing a victim when he or she is standing in front of them.
The myths are that tracking victims can only be those people who are rescuedfrom an
actively and visibly abusive environment; that only those who are rescued are really
victims; that if a person is not visibly a victim, she is probably a criminal; and that
someone who has broken the law cannot also be a victim of tracking.
(Haynes 2007,p.7)
We nd that the culture of local police agencies and the perceptions held by police
ocials about human tracking prevent the police from seeing a broad range of human
tracking cases (Farrell and Pfeer 2014, p. 47).
As these scholars explain, police ocers dealing with the issue of tracking are (like
everyone else) focused on the mythsand perceptionsof what tracking victims
should look like. In practice, the ocers are confronted with an active and professional
population of sex workers who virtually by denition cannot be victims at the same
time. The three vignettes above have illustrated how the ocers make sense of the social
world they are entering during their raids in the red-light milieu: neither Samantha, nor
Cora, nor the brothel girls have been seen as potentially aected by an abusive
environment. The way they behaved and interacted with the ocers inuenced the
ocersdecision about how to classify them, practically, in order to treat them accord-
ingly. In this understanding, Samantha became the recalcitrant subject in need of being
taught a lesson; Cora was made the deferent subject, deserving of the ocersfriendly
manners; and the brothel girls have been rendered proxies of disgust that is cast upon
the milieuin general. None of them, however, was classied as in need of being
rescued. This matches, as we have mentioned at the beginning of this contribution, the
logics governing the aective governmentality of tracking more generally, as diag-
nosed by the social worker, when she argued that victims are often identied by their
displaying the right type of aect:
Right, if the woman was clearly a victim, that is, if she cried a lot and was really helpless,
the ocers cared a lot for her. But if she would sometimes lose it, or call someone
amotherfucker,it was a wholly dierent thing.
(interview #2, social worker, 3 December 2014)
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 13
This social worker, being experienced with clients who nd themselves in dicult
and abusive environments, demonstrates her empathy with what it must feel like to be
in the situation of her client. To be angry, or even aggressive, is, to her, just a normal
reaction to certain life events. And, in the same breath, she problematizes the fact that
police ocers only see women as victims if they behave in a particular way, i.e. if they
cry and act helpless. An angry woman, on the other hand, is a wholly dierent thing.
The social worker further emphasizes that she thinks the case would be dismissed in
a court of law.
[. . .] well, if a woman, like I said, sits in a court and cries and cries and cries, it stirs the
judgesaection. But if she screams,its a whole dierent thing, and if she starts to insult
the perpetrator on top of that, then its totally clear, such a woman cannot possibly be
a victim of tracking.
(ibid.)
Here, aects manifest their epistemological function. As the social worker sees it, police
ocers will know a victim in assessing her aective display. And there seems to be
a scale of expressing certain aects, with anger and rage decreasing the victims
credibility, while grief and despair seems to increase it. And in the end, the victims
credibility is crucial for the outcome of the trial. As summed up by Brunovskis and
Skilbrei, it is necessary for victims to live up to the standard of an ideal,”“iconicor
culturally approvedvictimhood to appear credible in court(2016, p. 19). But these
notions of victimhood seem to be mediated aectively and imply an informal require-
ment of particular aective performances. In addition to grief and despair, a social
worker from another agency emphasizes the signicance of fear in this regard:
If a woman comes to us and tells us her story, [. . .] one of our colleagues will listen to that
story and then she will have a look, is that a credible statement, is it coherent what she tells
her. Can she modify her account or does it sound overall schematic, for example. And
other indicators could be, is the woman afraid, is she ashamed, and what is her exterior
appearance, how does she behave.
(interview #18, social worker, 28 July 2015)
The display of fear and shame is innately connected to the social workersdescrip-
tions of tracking victims in the interview accounts. Another social worker explained:
The problem with many women is that they are full of shame and often, theyre trauma-
tized, too, and full of fear [. . .]
(interview #15, social worker, 19 June 2015).
Showing fear, in addition to grief and despair, is necessary to be recognized as a credible
victim. The epistemologies that guide those agents dealing with the issue of tracking
in their everyday work are to a large extent mediated by these aective displays. To turn
back to the question of how a police ocers knows a victim of tracking, the following
conversation reveals the epistemic strategy that most ocers working in this area
rely on:
Q: How do you dene tracking in your everyday work?
14 J. LESERR AND R. PATES
A: Well, I use the legal paragraph, §232 [of the German] Criminal Code. That provides me
with the tools that I need in order to assess certain situations. Well, I have to look at these
women, the situation they live in, and I have to draw conclusions if they are victims of
a crime or not. And to do that, there are certain subjective indicators and objective ones,
too. [. . .]
Q: What kind of subjective indicators are there, in your experience?
A: Well, a subjective . . ., a so-called gut feeling. If a woman isnt observably injured, and
I still have the feeling somethings not right here, this might be due to the fact that shes
really young, or maybe she appears to be afraid, and that always blends in with the
objective indicators.
(interview #11, vice squad ocer, 11 May 2015)
As the ocer explains, there are dierent approaches to knowing a victim as
a victim, but one of them is a womans display of fear. And he further stresses how
signicant his gut feelingsare to assess a situation as being not quite right. He explains
that, within his discretionary powers, he comes to conclusions and he gains knowledge
by aective means. Thus, the street-level bureaucratsaects and beliefs actually inform
the identication process and the management of tracking victims(Leser et al.2017,
p. 21). And while the display of being afraid aects the ocersassessment of an
encountered persons credibility as a potential victim, as stated, the display of grief
and despair play a crucial role as credibility-increasing devices in court procedures
(Pates et al.2016). Summing up, the epistemologies that guide and provide an orienta-
tion for agents working within the area of anti-tracking measures be it in agencies
designed for prosecution or protection are utterly complex and ridden with prere-
quisites. The lines between dierent knowledge formats, aects, and gut feelings are
blurred. We can indeed observe the presence of mythsand particular perceptions
(Farrell and Pfeer 2014, Haynes 2007), and further, the inuence of the master
narrative of trackingon the agentspractices (Leser et al.2017), but these are, in
the end, aectively mediated, and victims are known aectively.
6. Conclusion
Using aect as an analytical tool to comprehend the modalities of particular governing
projects in practice, as Penz and Sauer (2016) suggested with their concept of aective
governmentalities, does not only demystify the state as an apparatus of rational deci-
sion-making, but further reveals that aects bear particular functionalities within the
realm of state practices. State ethnographic approaches in particular can reveal how
aects operate as part of the states and the state agentsrationalities. In drawing on
ethnographic material conducted with a German vice squad as well as on interviews
with agents working within the eld of anti-tracking, we used the case of the
governance of the tracking victim to exemplify the contemporary modalities of how
the state operates in an aective manner. As we have illustrated, the role of aects in
governing the issue of tracking is threefold. First, police ocers use aective displays
to regulate and govern their clients in their everyday practices, and they use their
discretionary powers to decide whom to punish, regulate, or reward by making use of
corresponding aective performances. Aective displays structure the dynamics of
discretionary decisions in policing practices and are used, on the one hand, to regulate,
JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 15
and on the other hand, sex workers utilize aective displays strategically in trying to
inuence their interaction with ocers. Second, police ocers use aective displays to
engage in practices of boundary-making, and to dene a deviant other in contrast to the
normalcies that the ocers enact in their practices. Here, the performance of disgust is
used to create and maintain the symbolic boundaries between the police and the
milieu.In this perspective, the ocers enact themselves as enforcers of morality.
And third, we elaborated the epistemological functions of aects and demonstrated,
in accordance with the analyses of Kaye (2018) and Snajdr (2013), how the master
narrative of trackingstructures the way we feel about tracking, including those who
actually work within the area of anti-tracking enterprises. Notions of the ideal victim
(Christie 1986) are mediated, in practice, through aects, and the aective displays of
potential victims in interacting with agents in both prosecution and protection have to
be adequate in order for that potential victim to be a credible victim. Aects, as we have
shown, are used to regulate and modify, to create and maintain order, and to produce
and assess knowledge, and therefore, aects must be understood as intrinsically linked
to the rationalities of governing and intertwined with the exercise of power.
Notes
1. We collected 25 interviews in Germany with state agents and non-state service providers
working in the eld of anti-tracking over a 2-year period. We also conducted ethno-
graphic eldwork in the form of participant observation in courts of law, at public round
tables on sex work, and spent six months at a police department informally called vice
squad, an obsolete term in ocial nomenclature. Four raids (lasting 712 hours each) in
the red-light district were observed. A comparison with the French case is published
elsewhere.
2. The term milieuis often used by vice squad police ocers for these districts that might
not be geographically easy to pinpoint, but refers to a space that is outsidepolice ocers
private world, a sphere the vice squad must engage with only ex ocio. The milieu’‘needs
police forces and measures of control, because it carries with it connotations of disorderli-
ness and criminality (Löw and Ruhne 2011).
3. Hunt species that sex, sexuality and sexual conduct have rarely been far from the centre
of attention to such an extent that for at least the last 200 years sex and morals have been
virtually synonymous. This fusion of sex and morals has resulted in its being taken for
granted that sex is paramountly a moral question so much so that it seems to be
important to ask the seemingly naive question: why is sex so important? This issue
constitutes an important element in one of the signicant developments in the recent
past, namely, the discovery that sex and sexuality have a social history. Spearheaded by
Foucault, this realisation has stimulated an outpouring of historical scholarship and
a deepening of political debate(Hunt 1999, p. 21). Drawing on FoucaultsThe history
of sexuality (Foucault 1978 [1976]), Judith Walkwowitz has traced the origins of moral
regulation projects of prostitution to the 19
th
century, when medical and police super-
vision [. . .] created an outcast class of sexually deviantfemales(Walkowitz 1991, p. 5).
Since then, the relation between police and sex work has been shaped in a particular
manner. For contemporary analyses on the subject, see Scoular (2010) and Sanders and
Laing (2018).
4. We here talk of aectsbecause we focus on the social display of emotions, rather than on
what is actually felt by the individuals there might or might not be a congruence between
the two.
5. Client here refers to persons who are being processed by street-level bureaucrats.
16 J. LESERR AND R. PATES
6. The names of all participants have been changed in order to respect their anonymity.
7. This nding is, in comparison to similar empirical studies on the topic, not surpris-
ing. Inquiries into the eectiveness of the raid as a policing strategy in regard to the
identication of tracking victims in countries other than Germany come to the
same conclusion, among them Farrell and Pfeer (2014,p.478): These investigators
employ routine vice tactics to identify human tracking cases that are not particu-
larly successful at identifying victims and make labor tracking seem largely
nonexistent.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Funding
This work was supported by the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft,
DFG) and the French National Agency for Research (Agence nationale de la recherche, ANR)
under Grant 246481356, Institutionalizing Human Tracking. A French-German Comparison
(20142017).
Notes on contributors
Julia Leser holds a PhD in Political Science from Leipzig University and currently works as
a researcher in the BMBF-funded project Strangers in their own land?. In her PhD thesis, she
examined aect management techniques in policing agencies. Her research and teaching focus
lies on the politics of policing, the politics of aects, national security and migration control,
nationalism, populism, political ethnography, and state theory.
Rebecca Pates is a professor in Political Theory at Leipzig University. She holds a BA Honours in
Philosophy and Modern Languages from Oxford University and a PhD in Philosophy from
McGill University. Her research and teaching focus is on political anthropology, theories of state
and the organisation of gender. She is the author of several monographs, among them The
Regulation of Prostitution (in German: Die Verwaltung der Prostitution, Transcript, 2009), and
coordinator of the German National Research Council funded project PROSCRIM:
Institutionalizing Human Tracking.
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JOURNAL OF POLITICAL POWER 19
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Feminist research has illustrated how ideas of the family have been central to projects of border and immigration enforcement, including practices of detention, separation, resettlement, and reunification. This work considers how discourses of family are used to categorize immigrants and refugees, determining access to or exclusion from national territory. Drawing on a comparative study of government-led public information campaigns (PICs) in the United States and Australia, we expand on this research to explore how the family is framed and mobilized in PICs to produce emotional and affective attachments intended to influence migration-related decisions. We argue that PICs function as a form of affective governmentality, working to tether potential migrants to place and render them immobile through the strategic circulation of family-based narratives and images grounded in grief, guilt, shame, and familial responsibility. In doing so, PICs obscure the geopolitical and geoeconomic complexities undergirding transnational migration by rendering migration-related decisions as individual and familial. In tracing how the family is framed and mobilized in PICs, we contribute to existing research on the family in border and immigration enforcement and theories of emotional and affective governance.
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Bahnhofsviertel, Straßenstrich, Sperrbezirk – hören wir das Wort »Prostitution«, denken wir auch in topographischen Kategorien. Das Feld ist insofern ein vorzüglicher Forschungsgegenstand der Raumsoziologie. Martina Löw und Renate Ruhne haben über Jahre hinweg das Frankfurter Bahnhofsviertel untersucht. In Interviews mit Prostituierten und Freiern, mit Anwohnern und Sozialarbeitern haben sie danach gefragt, welche Emotionen mit bestimmten Räumen verbunden sind und über welche subtilen sozialen Mechanismen das Gewerbe immer wieder neu als Feld des »Anderen«, des »Anormalen« konstruiert wird.
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