Intersections of Gender, Nation and Class: The Regulation of Prostitution in Luxembourg (1900-1939) as Governmentality
My paper will put forward the thesis that the political and social regulation of prostitution in Luxembourg during the first half of the century should be understood as a specific intersectional form of governmentality. In reconstructing the discourses pertaining to matters of prostitution and debauchery, as found in parliamentary debates, executive correspondences and police reports, as well as within civil society (i.e. women's organizations, interest groups), I will argue that these discourses and actions can be interpreted as parts of a permanent state formation. To underline this thesis, my paper will draw on Foucault's “History of Governmentality” (2006a; 2006b), where he argues for the reconstruction of the formation of the state as an analysis of government, which he opposed to an essentialist “theory of the state”. Theoretically, I aim to further develop Foucault's concept of governmentality by drawing on gender studies' recent discussions on intersectionality. I will argue for the necessity to expand his analytical framework of governmentality, so as to include more explicit notions of gender, nation and class. An intersectional approach – by now buzzword for the request to reshape gender studies as a discipline and to transform the analysis of core categories like identity, inequalitiy and difference as well as of social structures (see Davis 2008) – argues that gender relations cannot be theorized and understood by itself, but only in their intersections with other lines of differences or categorizations such as gender, race and class (see Crenshaw 1989) for the introduction of the term). Whilst Foucault suggests that sexuality is the link between two distinct forms of power – discipline and biopower - and that both aim “to make live and to let die”, he does not fully develop the function of sexuality neither in gendered nor in intersectional terms. Therefore, the paper will draw links between Foucault's understanding of sexuality with his conception of racism as a way to govern and “enhance” a population by means of eugenics and “racial wars”. My paper will then exemplify these links empirically by presenting the regulation of prostitution in Luxembourg during the first half of the 20th century from three different angles: Gender, Nation and Class. I will point to shifts in gender relations with respect to the public/private distinction as a result of the prosecution of prostitutes. At the same time, bourgeois women inscribed themselves into the national community in their efforts to rally for the deportation of foreign prostitutes and to protect the morally and physically well-being of Luxembourgian girls and families. Finally, class differences can be traced as an influential factor in the public dealings with the supportive milieu of prostitution like innkeepers and customers. Following the development of the empirical material from the different angles, the paper will conclude that relations of gender, nation and class are inextricably intertwined in the regulation of prostitution in Luxembourg as a specific form of intersectional governmentality.