On the Sensory Policing of Vices
Morality at Work in a German Vice Squad
This paper explores the policing of vices and offers a critical inquiry into the affective politics of policing practices seen through police and state ethnography, political anthropology, and the ‘affective turn’ in social and cultural theory. It shows how the moral worlds of policing sex work and performing raids in the red-light ‘milieu’ are constituted in the making of boundaries through visual, olfactory, somatosensory, and auditory sensations, which can be understood as normative performances in the realm of morality. Police officers do not engage in a neutral gaze but transform the sensuous into sensations that enact these normative distinctions between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ – the morally questionable red-light ‘milieu.’ These practices can be read in regard to a morality that is conveyed in and through the officers’ sensational performances in an observingly affective and somatic manner. Morality not simply is but is being done—and performing affects and sensations plays a significant role in the making of moral worlds in the realm of policing. Raiding the red-light ‘milieu’ is a performance on disorder and order, on what is normal and what is not, and thus a deeply political practice that reveals how order- and boundary-making operates through basic sensations and feelings, of the sensuous, the aesthetic, and the somatic.
Copyright (c) 2020 Julia Leser
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal, for non-commercial purpose, no derivatives are permitted. (Please not that this license has been used since 1.10.2018 and will be used in the future. Articles published between 1.1.2017-and 30.9.2018 are licensed under CC BY license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).