Sexual Harassment or Volunteer Work? Affordances of Differentiated Whiteness

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Abstract

This article applies the notion of affordance to analyse affective, intersectional emergence of differentiated whiteness in the context of East to West migration after the enlargement of the European Union in 2004. I draw on autoethnography and memory work, juxtaposing encounters with two elderly, white, single and physically impaired Danish men in their homes in 2004 and 2014. Cleaning Ole’s apartment in 2004, I was invited to provide sexual services, passing as a sexualized, too young, unemployable female Eastern European love migrant of limited social value. In contrast, interviewing Carsten for my PhD in 2014, I came across as able-bodied, middle-class researcher, progressively feminine and fluent in, perhaps even, Danish. I heard no sexual undertones in Carsten’s invitation to ‘visit again’, instead perceiving it as a suggestion to become a voluntary visitor. Analyzing the affective flows in these encounters, I trace how markers of difference intersect to afford different whitenesses. I discuss how whiteness functions as an affordance, accumulated over time, emerging in situated, affective encounters and constraining bodies’ possibilities for interactions, movement and becoming. The article contributes to research on whiteness and intersectionality and to scholarship that explores emergence of ‘Europe’ by examining relations between centre/periphery and racial formations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics
Volume6
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)97-115
ISSN2416-089X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • whiteness
  • intersectionality
  • affect
  • Europe
  • Autoethnography
  • affordance

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