Mobile Orientations: An Intimate Autoethnography of Migration, Sex Work, and Humanitarian Borders
by Nicola Mai
University of Chicago Press, 2018
eISBN: 978-0-226-58514-7 | Cloth: 978-0-226-58495-9 | Paper: 978-0-226-58500-0
Library of Congress Classification HQ119.4.E85M35 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.743094

Despite continued public and legislative concern about sex trafficking across international borders, the actual lives of the individuals involved—and, more importantly, the decisions that led them to sex work—are too often obscured or swept away entirely. With Mobile Orientations, Nicola Mai uncovers the dreams, needs, and priorities that motivate migrant sex workers from locales as far flung as the Balkans, the Maghreb, and West Africa.

Mai reveals that, far from being victims of a global system beyond their control, many contemporary sex workers use their profession as a means to try to forge a path toward fulfillment. Using a bold blend of personal narratives and an autoethnographic approach, Mai provides intimate portrayals of sex workers from around the world who decided to sell sex as the means to achieve a better life. Mai explores the contrast between how migrants understand themselves and their work and how humanitarian and governmental agencies unwittingly conceal their stories by addressing all sex workers as helpless victims. The culmination of twenty years of research, Mobile Orientations sheds new light on the desires and ambitions of migrant sex workers across the world.

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