Malaria urbana : Om Anna Johannesdotter och prostitutionen i Stockholm kring 1900
Sammanfattning: This dissertation deals with regulated prostitution in Stockholm around 1900. The regulation forced women who were regarded as loose to submit to medical examinations twice a weak, and to obey a separate set of rules. The prinicipal and outspoken purpose of this regulation was to restrain the spread of contagious venereal diseases. The aim of this dissertation, however, is to show how these processes also contributed to an institutionalisation of sex-work, which could in fact be said to have brought forth modern prostitution. How did it happen that prostitution, at this historical moment, was defined as "the great social evil"? Why had it become so important to define, disentangle and gain knowledge about a group of people that society decided to call prostitutes? The question is thus not so much why these women became prostitutes, but more how they came to be defined as such. Adopting a constructivist perspective, I analyse different representations of the prostitute through a wide range of materials: from medical examinations and literature, governmental investigations and the archive of the Prostitution Bureau to newspapers, ficition and pornography.These questions are also combined with an ambition to make history that acknowledges a will and a power of thought to the subjects, and an endeavour to give voice to subordinated human beings of the past. The printed biography of Anna Johannesdotter has been a main source, and the story of her life runs as a thread through the dissertation. Together with letters from the Prostitution Bureau from regulated women, her biography gives us a glimpse of their conditions and possibilities of cope with an ascribed and stigmatising social identity. This dissertation, thus, does not only tell a story of the forcible means of the authorities and their way of classifying and controlling women. It also looks into the experiences of the objects of knowledge and control, analysing their strategies to evade the panoptic eye and to create space for themselves. Regulated women managed to avoid the controlling gaze in the labyrinthine city. They constantly challenged the class- and gender-related borders of the urban landscape, making it unsafe and unpredictable by both playing on and defying the gendered organisation of movement and gaze. Their aversion to obey the regulations caused anxieties and disturbed the order of the bourgeois society.
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