Research Group Transnationalism Working Paper
Practised imagination. Tracing transnational networks in Crete and beyond
- The imagination has become a major site for studying transnational cultural flows. Yet it is mainly the mass media that are explored as channels directing the imagination from "the West" towards "the rest". And there is still little empirical "testing" of this field. How do such ‐ and other ‐ imaginary sources work into social practice? And what does such "practised imagination" imply for the practice of transnational anthropology? This article attempts to address these questions from the perspective of fieldwork in progress. In and between Crete and Germany I traced transnational networks based on the reciprocal mobilities of migration, remigration, and tourism. Here, multiple domains of imagination are drawn upon by various audiences, thus effectively contributing to the creation of these relations and the places in which they localise. Anthropological research on tourism and migration has tended to separate the imagination ‐ as being an external impact ‐ from local practice. Yet, transnational ethnography needs to challenge this opposition and is in itself a strategy to do so, in that it perceives the imagination as a practice of transcending physical and cultural distance.
Freedom of choice or force of circumstance? : Eastern European sex-workers in the Republic of Cyprus
- This paper focuses on Eastern European migrants who, since the beginning of the 1990s, are entering the Republic Cyprus as “artistes”. This is a visa permit status as well as an euphemism for short-term work permits in the local sex industry. In addition to exploring the migrational experiences of these women and their living and working conditions in the Republic of Cyprus, the paper reconstructs, empirically and analyt ically, the connection between immigration and the local sex industry. Here, several categories of social actors and institutions in Cyprus are actively involved. The rhetoric of government representatives, entrepreneurs and clients in the sex business on the one hand is contrasted with the discourse of local NGO representatives concerned with immigrants’ rights on the other hand. The paper comes to the conclusion that all of these discursive positions ultimately do not do justice to the complex process of decisionmaking that women undergo who migrate into the sex industry. Either, freedom of choice is emphasized – such as by entrepreneurs and the government – or the domination of women – as in the public statements of the NGO. In order to analyze the ambivalent tension between freedom of choice and submission to force by which the women’s decision is characterized, the author employs Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality, which describes forms of political regulation that use the individual’s freedom of action as an instrument to exercise power.