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

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226584959

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226585147.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022



(p.1) Introduction
Mobile Orientations

Nicola Mai

University of Chicago Press

Overall, the chapter presents the main aim of the book, which is to bring migrants’ own experiences to the center of academic and public debate. It introduces the concept of sexual humanitarianism to analyze how fixed and sexuality-related notions of vulnerability operate as migration-control mechanisms. The concept analyzes how groups of migrants are strategically problematized, supported, and intervened upon by humanitarian institutions and NGOs according to vulnerabilities that are supposedly associated with their sexual orientation and behavior. The current global focus on trafficking and slavery as the key concepts to understand the relation between migration and sex work reflects the sexual-humanitarian hegemony of neo-abolitionism in policymaking, which obfuscates that only a minority of migrant sex workers are trafficked and legitimizes repressive interventions. The chapter also introduces the main concepts and the auto ethnographic, participative and creative methodological approach adopted by the author to analyse and explain the complex understandings and conditions of agency of migrant sex workers, most of whom decide to sell sex in the short term in order to avoid being exploited in other labour sectors and to afford a better life for themselves and their families in the future.

Keywords:   migration, sex work, trafficking, sexual humanitarianism, agency

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