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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: 17 May 2022

Intimate Autoethnography

Intimate Autoethnography

(p.20) One Intimate Autoethnography
Mobile Orientations

Nicola Mai

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 1 further explores the author's subjective positioning and presents in more detail the methodological implications of his intimate, autoethnographic approach. It focuses on the strategic nature of this approach for understanding the emergence of the mobile orientations encompassing the subjectivities and mobilities of migrants, 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. The chapter presents the notion of intimate autoethnography, which acknowledges the nature of knowledge production as co-constructed by intersubjective and affective relations between observing and observed subjects. It also presents the ways in which the complex conditions of agency of migrant sex workers can be obfuscated by sexual humanitarian, homophobic and other stigmatizing discourses emphasizing their vulnerability. Throughout the chapter the author provides examples of the ways in which he was able to engage affectively and intersubjectively with the preferred selfrepresentations offered by research participants. The chapter also reviews the data presented in the book as well as existing ethnographic research showing that the neo-abolitionist equation of migrant (and nonmigrant) sex work with trafficking does not match reality.

Keywords:   autoethnography, affect, intersubjectivity, ethnography, positionality, methodology

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