Nicola Mai

Nicola Mai
Résidents Labex RFIEA+
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

01/03/2012 - 31/07/2012
01/03/2013 - 31/07/2013


Arts et études des arts
Anthropologie et ethnologie

Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Institute for the Study of European Transformations (ISET) – London Metropolitan University (Royaume-Uni)

Fonction actuelle


Institution actuelle

Kingston University London (Royaume-Uni)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Embodied cosmopolitisms: migration, gender and sexuality in the global sex trade

While at IMéRA, I will engage in two main tasks. Firstly, I will work on my book on ‘Moving Orientations: gender, sexuality and migration in neoliberal times’. The book will bring together and further develop the findings of my research on issues such as: independent child migration; the involvement of migrants in the global sex industry; the relation between migration, sex work and trafficking; and the interplay between tourism and the sex industry. Secondly, I will make an experimental documentary film about the humanitarian governance of migrants who are potentially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in relation to the sexual domain. The film will be based on original ethnographic and participative research, which I will undertake in Marseille during my residential fellowship. It will draw on interviews with migrants working in the sex industry and with ‘homosexual’ (non-heteronormative) migrants living and working in Marseille, Paris and London. Alongside these two main activities, while at IMeRA I will continue to co-operate with Cedric Parizot in the context of the project ‘The Transformation of Borders in the 21th Century’. I will also organize a one-day interdisciplinary art/science workshop on humanitarian forms of governance of migrants in relation to the sexual domain.


Nicola Mai is a sociologist, an ethnographer and a filmmaker whose writing and films focus on the experiences and representations of migrants working in the sex industry. Through participative ethnographic films and original research findings he challenges prevailing representation of the encounter between migration and sex work in terms of trafficking, while focusing on the ambivalent dynamics of exploitation and agency that are implicated. An expert in the area of migration, gender, sexuality, trafficking, vulnerability and social intervention, Nick Mai has on-going collaborations with several universities, NGOs and EU institutions and worked as research consultant with key international non-governmental (Save the Children) and inter-governmental (International Organisation for Migration – IOM) organisations. The findings of his research informed public debates and both academic peer-reviewed and policy-relevant national and international publications. They have inspired participative methodological approaches to research the nexus between independent child migration, vulnerability and social interventions ( and have impacted on policymaking addressing migration, social cohesion and sex work in the UK, in other EU countries (France, Italy) and internationally (Albania, Australia). In 2016 he was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant (Sexual Humanitarianism: Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking - 2016-2020) to study impact of anti-trafficking legislation and initiatives on the governance of migration and on the sex industry in the global North by analysing migrant's own understandings and experiences of agency and exploitation in Australia, France, New Zealand and the US. In 2014 and 2015 he was based at the Mediterranean Laboratory of Sociology - LAMES (MMSH/Aix -Marseille University) in order to direct the 'Emborders' project, comparing the impact of humanitarian interventions targeting migrant sex workers and sexual minority asylum seekers in the UK (London) and France (Marseille/Paris) through ethnographic research and experimental filmmaking.


Bourse ERC Consolidator Grant (Humanitarisme sexuel: migration, travail du sexe et trafic - 2016-2020) pour analyser l'impact des lois et initiatives anti-traite sur la gouvernance des migrations et l'industrie du sexe dans le Nord.


26/01/2012 - 14:30 - 27/01/2012 - 18:00
13/06/2013 - 13:30 - 14/06/2013 - 18:00
22/03/2012 - 10:00 - 23/03/2012 - 10:00
07/06/2012 - 14:00 - 08/06/2012 - 18:00