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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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Ethnofictional Counter-Representations

Ethnofictional Counter-Representations

(p.167) Nine Ethnofictional Counter-Representations
Mobile Orientations

Nicola Mai

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 9 discusses the methodological implications of the author’s filmmaking practice, with particular reference to experimental ethnofictions as strategic, political/artistic interventions within the sexual-humanitarian onto-epistemology. The chapter shows how his films Normal, Samira, and Travel seek to reproduce the socio-anthropological truth of the people and dynamics they portray, and the intersubjective relations and affects through which knowledge emerges. At the same time, the three films’ ethnofictional approach challenges the criteria of authenticity and credibility that characterize sexual-humanitarian research, documentary filmmaking and interventions. In the chapter, the author defends the socio-anthropological ‘truth’ of the ethnofictional characters and situations he portrays on two grounds. Firstly, because they are accurate reproduction of real research interviews and ethnographic dynamics. Secondly, because they resonate affectively and sensuously with the real dynamics, relationships, and circumstances through which knowledge emerged during fieldwork. The chapter argues that creative and participative documentaries have the potential to affectively and cognitively challenge, on the basis of research evidence, the sexual-humanitarian “post-truth” simplification of migrant sex workers’ mobile orientations, which conceals the real responsibility of neoliberal policies for the socioeconomic constraints that limit their agency.

Keywords:   documentary, ethnography, filmmaking, sexual humanitarianism, post-truth, sex work, migration, agency

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