European University at St. Petersburg, Russia
16 - 23 April 2016
This short scientific mission supported by ProsPol (European Commission COST Action IS1209) aimed to expand theoretical perspectives on regulation of sex work through work in socio-legal library of the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (IISL) in Oňati. My overall project looks at how sex industry is organized in Russia and in what way enforcement of law shapes its current form. The library contains more than 20 000 pieces of socio-legal literature, including 250 entries on ‘sex work’ and 464 entries on ‘prostitution.’ The update of the theoretical review helped to stress the idea of spatial justice so long as the major argument of my analysis deals with urban space and legal regulations of sex work in the city of St. Petersburg, Russia.
Some urban spaces are made available to a variety of communities who might be willing to use it in their own way. So long as the interests of these communities may contradict to one another, they engage in power relations. This argument deals with redistribution of power between forces. In this sense, I track that specific configuration of power relations which has made possible the city of Petersburg to look in a sexually expressive manner.
The analysis suggests that two major circumstances are crucial in this regard: (1) participation of the police in covering sex business through navigation between administrative and criminal law; (2) vulnerable position of sex workers reinforced by greater power of the police. In discursive analysis terms, the stories collected during peer-to-peer interviews demonstrate that once a talk comes to violence, cohesion and application of force, sex workers speak of police officers. Hence, the police is associated with the major source of power.
This makes the police responsible for the way in which spatial justice takes shape as exemplified by the city landscape of Petersburg. So long as there is only one considerable force which defines power relations, the city displays a very uniform surface without distinctions to a variety of sex zones: it becomes one big sex zone as a whole.
These findings were discussed during the workshop ‘Sex Work in the Early 21st Century – Law, Policy and Reality’ which took place in IISL on 21-22 of April 2016 (coordinated by Jacek Kurczewski, University of Warsaw; Urszula Anna Szczepankowska, University of Warsaw; and Gabriela Farinha, State University of Milan).
It was such a great pleasure to come back to the Alma-Mater!!!!!