Sex Work, Migration and Trafficking

negotiating agency and exploitation in the global sex industry.

  • Thu 18 Feb 21

    16:00 - 17:00

  • Online

    Join this webinar

  • Event speaker

    Professor Nick Mai

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Centre for Criminology

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Dr Anna Di-Ronco

Join the Centre for Criminology for an insightful online seminar with Professor Mai on Sex Work, Migration and Trafficking

Professor Nick Mai is a sociologist, an ethnographer and a filmmaker, whose work focuses on the experiences and representations of migrants working in the sex industry. Drawing on their experiences and understandings of exploitation and agency, Professor Mai challenges prevailing humanitarian representation of the relationship between migration and sex work as trafficking through collaborative ethnographic films and academic publications.

The paper presents the findings of the ERC-funded project SEXHUM (Sexual Humanitarianism: migration, sex work and trafficking) studying the impact of policies and interventions targeting migrant sex workers in four national settings (Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States) characterised by different legal frameworks (criminalisation, regulation, decriminalisation) addressing sex work. It will draw on Professor Mai’s concept of ‘sexual humanitarianism’, referring to the specific role that neoliberal constructions of vulnerability associated to sexual behaviour and identities play in the onset of humanitarian forms of governance of migrant populations. Drawing on 245 interviews with migrant cis and trans research participants working in the sex industry in SEXHUM’s four national settings, we will examine and compare the different and similar ways in which by migrating and engaging in sex work they both challenge and respond to the sexual humanitarian rules constraining people's social mobilities and life projects in neoliberal times. In doing so, we will focus on the complex and contextual experiences of agency and exploitation of migrant groups who are constructed and targeted as vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse in relation to racialised and cis-centric sexual humanitarian canons of victimhood, as well as exploring the impact the related social interventions have on their lives and rights. 

This webinar will be chaired by Dr Isabel Crowhurst.

Join this webinar

This webinar is part of an online open seminar series, hosted by the Centre for Criminology.

To find out more about the Centre for Criminology follow us on Twitter.