Accepted paper:

In search of release: boredom, precarity, and the sex trade

Author:

Bruce O'Neill (Saint Louis University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper enters into the sexual lives of Bucharest’s homeless men in order to reflect ethnographically upon the politics of precarity amidst a global economy in crisis.

Paper long abstract:

In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, tens of thousands of Romanians found themselves out of work, broke, and struggling to make rent. Everyday pleasures and routines became unaffordable, and long held life narratives derailed. Unable to work and with little money to consume, empty hours dragged into endlessly dull days, and an unbearable boredom abounded. In search of release, those cast aside by an economy in crisis did not take to the streets to demand social protections. Instead they headed underground. Inside the public restrooms of a major Metro station proliferated an illicit market for cheap sex, rendering the trade in 'la petite mort' central to fending off a dull but deeply felt sense of 'la mort sociale.' Based upon extensive ethnographic research, this paper enters into the sexual lives of Bucharest's homeless men in order to reflect upon the politics of precarity amidst a neoliberal economy in crisis.

panel P068
Boredom, intimacy and governance in 'normalized' times of crisis