The Brothel Phone Number

Infrastructures of Transnational Pimping in Eastern Romania

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
View More View Less
  • 1 Stanford University trine.korsby@anthro.ku.dk
Restricted access

Abstract

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.

Contributor Notes

Trine Mygind Korsby is a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, where she works on a project on transnational crime and criminal livelihoods in Romania. She completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen. Her recent publications include Moments in Collaboration: Experiments in Concept Work, co-authored with A. Stavrianakis (Ethnos, 2016), and ‘In the Workshop: Anthropology in a Collaborative Zone of Inquiry’, co-authored with A. Stavrianakis and P. Rabinow (Routledge, 2017, in Nielsen and Rapport [eds], The Composition of Anthropology).

  • Andrijasevic, R. 2010. Migration, Agency and Citizenship in Sex Trafficking. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Anghel, R. G. 2013. Romanians in Western Europe: Migration, Status Dilemmas, and Transnational Connections. Plymouth: Lexington Books.

  • Deletant, D. 1995. Ceausescu and the Securitate: Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965–1989. London: M. E. Sharpe.

  • Harvey, P., C. B. Jensen and A. Morita. 2017. ‘Introduction: Infrastructural Complications’. In P. Harvey, C. B. Jensen and A. Morita (eds), Infrastructures and Social Complexity: A Companion. London: Routledge, 122.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, C. 2005. ‘Ideology in Infrastructure: Architecture and Soviet Imagination’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11: 3958.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kempadoo, K. and J. Doezema. 1998. Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance, and Redefinition. New York: Routledge.

  • Kideckel, D. 2008. Getting By in Postsocialist Romania: Labor, the Body and Working-Class Culture. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kligman, G. and S. Limoncelli. 2005. ‘Trafficking Women after Socialism: From, to and through Eastern Europe’. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society 12 (1): 118140.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kligman, G. and K. Verdery. 2011. Peasants under Siege: The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949–1962. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Korsby, T. M. 2013. ‘Hemmeligheder, distance og kontrol af viden: Menneskehandel i Italien og Rumænien’. In K. F. Olwig and H. Mogensen (eds.), Familie og Slægtskab: Antropologiske Perspektiver. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur, 131146.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Korsby, T. M. 2015. ‘Hustlers of Desire: Transnational Pimping and Body Economies in Eastern Romania’. Ph.D. diss., University of Copenhagen.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Korsby, T. M., S. Plambech, V. Skvirskaja, M. Spanger, C. Groes-Green and A. Lisborg. 2013. ‘Udvid indsatsen mod menneskehandel’. Politiken.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Larkin, B. 2013. ‘The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure’. Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 327343.

  • Lisborg, A. 2014. ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: In the Name of Victim Protection’. In S. Yea (ed.), Human Trafficking in Asia: Forcing Issues. New York: Routledge, 1934.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mauss, M. [1934] 1992. ‘Techniques of the Body’. In J. Crary and S. Kwinter (eds), Incorporations. New York: Zone Books, 455477.

  • Maxim, J. 2009. ‘Mass Housing and Collective Experience: On the Notion of Microraion in Romania in the 1950s and 1960s’. The Journal of Architecture 14 (1): 726.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Milner, R. B. and C. A. Milner. [1972] 2010. Black Players: The Secret World of Black Pimps. Los Angeles, CA: King Flex Publishing.

  • Pedersen, M. A. 2012. ‘A Day in the Cadillac: The Work of Hope in Urban Mongolia’. Social Analysis 56 (2): 136151.

  • Plambech, S. 2014. ‘Points of Departure: Migration Control and Anti-Trafficking in the Lives of Nigerian Sex Worker Migrants after Deportation from Europe’. Ph.D. diss., University of Copenhagen.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ries, N. 2002. ‘“Honest Bandits” and “Warped People”: Russian Narratives about Money, Corruption, and Moral Decay’. In C. J. Greenhouse, E. Mertz and K. B. Warren (eds), Ethnography in Unstable Places: Everyday Lives in Contexts of Dramatic Political Change. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 276315.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robbins, J. and A. Rumsey. 2008. ‘Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology and the Opacity of Other Minds’. Anthropological Quarterly 81 (2): 407420.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roitman, J. 2006. ‘The Ethics of Illegality in the Chad Basin’. In J. Comaroff and J. Comaroff (eds), Law and Disorder in the Postcolony. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 247272.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sneath, D., M. Holbraad and M. A. Pedersen. 2009. ‘Technologies of the Imagination: An Introduction’. Ethnos 74 (1): 126.

  • Star, S. L. 1999. ‘The Ethnography of Infrastructure’. American Behavioral Scientist 43 (3): 377391.

  • Stavrianakis, A., P. Rabinow and T. M. Korsby. 2017. ‘In the Workshop: Anthropology in a Collaborative Zone of Inquiry’. In M. Nielsen and N. Rapport (eds), The Composition of Anthropology: How Anthropological Texts are Written. Oxford: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Turnock, D. 1974. An Economic Geography of Romania. London: G. Bell & Sons Ltd.

  • Turnock, D. 1986. The Romanian Economy in the Twentieth Century. London: Croom Helm.

  • Van Schendel, W. and I. Abraham. 2005. Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders, and the Other Side of Globalization. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, K. 1996. What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • White, P. M. 1979. ‘Planning of Urban Transport Systems in the Soviet Union: A Policy Analysis’. Transportation Research 13 (4): 231240.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 533 447 20
Full Text Views 55 17 2
PDF Downloads 33 6 2