Accepted Paper:

Affective politics and the problem of 'sex tourism' in Natal during the 2014 World Cup in Natal, Brazil   


Marie-Eve Carrier-Moisan (Carleton University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Natal during the 2014 World Cup, I examine the ways in which the Brazilian state has tackled the problem of sex tourism through affective politics and punitive logics that provide public legitimacy to repressive interventions against local sex workers.

Paper long abstract:

In Brazil, the advent of several mega-sporting events - most notably the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics - has led to various state practices of city-staging and image-making, as the host cities market themselves to a global audience. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Natal during the 2014 World Cup, I examine the ways in which the problem of 'sex tourism' became especially prominent for Natal's image, leading to various interventions to tackle it. I suggest that mega-events crystalize already existing patterns, rather than radically departing from them. Thus, while sex tourism has constituted an image-problem for the city of Natal for more than a decade, the World Cup has crystallized state interventions long in the making, including prior cleansing practices and state practices of gentrification, surveillance, and policing that have resulted in patterns of urban exclusion and inequality. In the critical scholarship on mega-sporting events, the focus is commonly on the state as a unified, disembodied institution, but here I trace how state practices are produced through everyday practices and enacted by variously located state and non-state actors. I thus examine the ways in which the interests of faith-based organizations, feminist movements, and leftist activists colluded with the state in the opposition to sex tourism during the World Cup in Natal, giving public legitimacy to punitive logics of securitization and criminalization. Under the guise of tackling the problem of 'sex tourism', campaigns and interventions materialized in ways that severely curtailed the labour and mobility of local sex workers.

Panel RM-SPK06
Policy and power in Latin America and the Caribbean