The Brothel Phone Number

Infrastructures of Transnational Pimping in Eastern Romania

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
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Taking a point of departure in negotiations for access to a phone number for a brothel abroad, the article demonstrates how a group of pimps in Eastern Romania attempt to extend their local business into the rest of the EU. The article shows how the phone number works as a micro-infrastructure in its own right, providing an entry point into the wider infrastructure of transnational pimping. The pimps’ embodied certainty of how to operate successfully in their neighbourhood in Romania is produced in resonance with the local, urban materiality. This interplay generates body techniques, which in turn cultivate and maximize uncertainty about themselves in others. When making the move to go abroad into unknown terrains, accessing the infrastructure generated by the phone number can provide certainty and consolidate one’s position within criminal networks abroad. However, at the same time, mishandling the phone number can be dangerous and in that sense produce new doubts and uncertainties.