Mobile OrientationsAn Intimate Autoethnography of Migration, Sex Work, and Humanitarian Borders

Mobile OrientationsAn Intimate Autoethnography of Migration, Sex Work, and Humanitarian Borders

Nicola Mai

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226584959

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

The book draws on unique and original research on the experiences of women, men, transgender people, minors and third party agents working in the sex industry in a variety of settings and jobs in the European Union, the Balkans and North Africa. Mobile Orientations addresses a critical issue within the transformation of global societies: the relation between the increase in migration flows, the expansion of the sex industry and the emergence of new forms of agency and exploitation. Moral panics about migrant ‘sex slaves’ being exploited in the global sex industry obfuscate the reality that only a minority is actually trafficked. The original research evidence analysed in Mobile Orientations counters the scenario of hegemonic exploitation presented by such moral panics. It shows that by migrating and working in the global sex industry, young women and men find opportunities to counter the increased precariousness and exploitability they meet in neoliberal times. The book’s autoethnographic writing style expresses the main theoretical contribution Mobile Orientations aims to make: to provide a nuanced and emic analysis of the complex understandings of agency and exploitation of migrants working in the global sex industry. The discussion of the methodological and expressive opportunities (and challenges) offered by ethnography and participatory filmmaking is integral part of the argument made by Mobile Orientations, which ultimately challenges the criteria of scientific and documentary authenticity and the forms of social exclusion engendered by the convergence between sexual humanitarianism and neoliberalism.