A talk by Nicola Mai, London Metropolitan University
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
6 PM
Barnard 409

How can we represent the complexity of migrants' trajectories within the global sex industry? How can we give voice to migrants while protecting their identities? How can we interrogate the politics of victimhood in representations of all migrant sex workers as either victims or villains within hegemonic fictions and documentaries on sex trafficking?

These issues and questions are at the core of Normal, a 48-minute creative documentary that brings the life stories of male, female and transgender migrants working in the sex industry to the screen. Drawing on original interviews with people working in the sex industry in Albania, Italy and the UK, documentary director and ethnographer Nicola Mai reveals their unheard stories. The viewer is continually challenged by their words, their dreams and the lives that they lead. Actors portray all the characters in order to guarantee the anonymity and safety of the original interviewees; this approach also challenges the criteria of authenticity underpinning research, humanitarianism and documentary film-making.

View the trailer:

About the Speaker:

Professor Nicola Mai is an Italian ethnographer and filmmaker working as Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies at the Working Lives Research Institute of London Metropolitan University and at LAMES - the Mediterranean Laboratory of Sociology of Aix-Marseille University. His academic writing and films focus on the experiences and perspectives of migrants selling sex and love in the globalized sex industry in order to live their lives. Through experimental ethno-fictions and original research findings Nicola Mai challenges the humanitarian politics of representation of the nexus between migration and sex work in terms of trafficking, while focusing on the ambivalent dynamics of exploitation and self-affirmation that are implicated.

Apr. 8, 2014 - 6:00 PM