[TimorLesteStudies] New article: Governing sex workers in Timor Leste

Bu Wilson bu.wilson at anu.edu.au
Mon May 9 13:29:23 EST 2011

Harrington, C. (2011), Governing sex workers in Timor Leste. Asia  Pacific Viewpoint, 52: 29–41. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8373.2011.01440.x

This paper argues that  international security forces in Timor Leste depend upon civilian  partners in HIV/AIDs ‘knowledge networks’ to monitor prostitutes'  disease status. These networks produce mobile expertise, techniques of  government and forms of personhood that facilitate international  government of distant populations without overt coercion. HIV/AIDs  experts promote techniques of peer education, empowerment and community  mobilisation to construct women who sell sex as health conscious sex  workers. Such techniques make impoverished women responsible for their  disease status, obscuring the political and economic contexts that  produced that status. In the militarised context of Timor Leste,  knowledge of the sexual conduct of sub-populations labelled high risk  circulates among global HIV/AIDs knowledge networks, confirming their  expert status while obscuring the sexual harm produced by military  intervention. HIV/AIDs knowledge networks have recently begun to build  Timorese sex worker organisations by contracting an Australian sex  worker NGO to train a Timorese NGO tasked with building sex worker  identity and community. Such efforts fail to address the needs and  priorities of the women supposedly empowered. The paper engages theories  of global knowledge networks, mobile technologies of government, and  governmentality to analyse policy documents, reports, programmes,  official statements, speeches, and journalistic accounts regarding  prostitution in Timor Leste.

Dr Bu V.E. Wilson
T: Australia +61  0  407 087 086
T: Timor-Leste + 670 744 0011
E: buvewilson at gmail.com

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