Professor Nick Mai
Professor of Sociology
School of Humanities and Social Science
The truth about migration
Professor Nick Mai is a sociologist and filmmaker whose work highlights the complexity of migrant life through his ethnographic films.
At the core of Professor Nick Mai’s research is a desire to understand the displacement, agency and exploitation of stigmatised and marginalised migrant groups. As a sociologist and filmmaker Nick’s work highlights their experiences and brings them into academic, public and political debates.
Through experimental documentaries and original research findings, Nick challenges prevailing humanitarian representations of the relationship between migration and sex work in terms of trafficking, while analysing sex workers' complex experiences and understandings of exploitation and agency.
His films complement his academic writing and emerge through the collaboration with migrants and sex workers and by expressing their perspectives, priorities and needs.
“With my work I aim to make a positive impact on policies addressing migration and sex work by critiquing them on the basis of the experiences of people directly concerned in the hope of making their lives more liveable in their own terms. I believe collaborative filmmaking is a way to create knowledge together with people who are directly concerned and to make sure that they own the terms of their representations,” Nick said.
Nick’s ambition is that the films and publications that result from his work will reach out further from the academic world into public and political debates and that they will contribute to changing policies according to the priorities and needs of their protagonists.
“It’s a tough call in a world where facts, evidence and truth seem to matter increasingly less in the eyes of politics, but I think it is our responsibility as social scientists to keep on speaking truth to power by using well the little power we have and sharing it with the people who are directly concerned.”
Many migrant and sex worker rights organisations across the world use his films and publications when they advocate for their rights.
“I think this is one of the most important result of my work and certainly the most important for me.”
As migration flows have increased and diversified over the past 30 years, Nick says that neoliberal policies have polarised world societies and included gender and sexuality amongst the criteria of eligibility for humanitarian protection, while restricting access to the labour market in the global north.
“In this context humanitarian protection and asylum became strategic borders allowing (and more often denying) people access to rights and work opportunities,” Nick said. “In order to get their rights recognised and avoid deportation, migrants need to represent their biographies and experiences according to stereotypical canons of victimhood and suffering, which often act as humanitarian borders excluding vulnerable migrants from protection and asylum.”
This was the subject of Nick’s last book Mobile Orientations: An Intimate Autoethnography of Migration, Sex Work, and Humanitarian Borders, which analyses and challenges sexual humanitarian and affective modes of migration control. It is also the topic of his latest films, which examine the relationship between gender, sexuality and migration in the context of the global sex industry, where migrants find both self-realisation and exploitation.
“Most migrants decide to work in the sex industry in order to have a better life and to escape the forms of exploitation they meet in other jobs. Humanitarian and governmental rhetoric often obscure this complex mix of opportunities and constraints by addressing all migrant sex workers as victims of trafficking and by enforcing restrictive and criminalising measures that ultimately worsen their vulnerability to exploitation,” he said. “My writing and films aim at breaking this vicious circle by bringing the understandings and experiences of migrants and their complex decisions and trajectories at the centre of academic and public debates.”
Before coming to Newcastle in 2020 Nick worked as Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies at Kingston University London, where he taught graduate and postgraduate courses in criminology and sociology. His main task at Kingston was the delivery of SEXHUM (Sexual Humanitarianism: Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking – 2016-2020) an ERC Consolidator Grant studying the impact of anti-trafficking legislation and interventions on the lives and rights of migrant sex workers by analysing their own understandings and experiences of agency and exploitation in Australia, France, New Zealand and the US.
“The project addressed critically the ways in which the humanitarian fight against trafficking in the sex industry often becomes involved in the enforcement of increasingly restrictive migration laws and controls, which often exacerbate sex workers’ vulnerability to being exploited and trafficked.”
One of the most important early achievements of the project, which ended in September 2020, was the undertaking of a targeted research on the impact of the 2016 neo-abolitionist Nordic Model (criminalising clients as a way to abolish prostitution) in France together with the Doctors of the World/Médecins du Monde organisation. The research and the ‘What do Sex Workers think about the French Prostitution Act?’ report resulting from it were done in collaboration with sex worker rights and support associations in France and highlighted that the criminalisation of clients had made sex workers more economically precarious and vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The report impacted French and global public and political debates by including the experiences and analyses of the people directly concerned.
Having moved to Newcastle, Nick will continue his work on migration but change his research focus slightly to examine the relationship with climate change, the transition to green societies and the displacements and mobilities that are emerging in the process.
“I would like to explore these topics in relation to the relationship between economic development, environmental sustainability and migration in strategic contexts in the global north and south, with particular reference to the Asia Pacific region,” he said.
“Newcastle is a perfect research site for this programme because of the historical presence of the mining industry and of its impact on local and global livelihoods, the environment and its future sustainability. Producing evidence-based suggestions for policymakers and using collaborative filmmaking will be key aspects of my future research plans, as was the case with my current and previous projects.”
I am a sociologist, an ethnographer and a filmmaker. My academic publications and films focus on the experiences and representations of marginalized and stigmatised migrant groups.
Before coming to Newcastle in 2020, I worked as Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies at Kingston University London, where I taught graduate and postgraduate courses in criminology and sociology. My main task at Kingston was the delivery of SEXHUM (Sexual Humanitarianism: Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking – 2016-2020) an ERC Consolidator Grant studying the impact of anti-trafficking legislation and interventions on the lives and rights of migrant sex workers by analysing their own understandings and experiences of agency and exploitation in Australia, France, New Zealand and the US.
While at Kingston I also finalized the publication of my last book Mobile Orientations: An Intimate Autoethnography of Migration, Sex Work, and Humanitarian Borders (Chicago University Press, 2018).
Before then I worked for ten years for London Metropolitan University, where I delivered several research projects, as well as teaching graduate and post-graduate courses. Between 2008 and 2010, I directed a two-year 'Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry' ESRC project which produced 100 qualitative interviews and found that only a minority of people were trafficked. Between 2006 and 2008 I delivered, together with the other members of the research team, the ‘Rhythms and Realities of Everyday Life' flagship project of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Immigration and Inclusion programme, focusing on the relationship between long-term residents and new arrivals in six sites across the UK. The results of this project were written up in a co-authored book: Hickman, M., Mai, N. and Crowley, H. (2012) Migration and Social Cohesion in the UK, Palgrave Macmillan.
During 2014 and 2015, I was based at the Mediterranean Laboratory of Sociology - LAMES (MMSH/Aix -Marseille University) 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.
At London Metropolitan University I also obtained and MA in Audio Visual Production, thanks to which I learnt how to edit the ethnographic audiovisual material I gathered in my research into documentaries and also how to incorporate audiovisual technologies into the research process, both in terms of data gathering and of findings dissemination.
Between 2003 and 2005 I was Morris Ginsberg Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology of the London School of Economics and Political Science. In the two years I spent at the LSE I worked on the relation between the introduction of new forms of communication/media, consumption and mobility and the emergence of migratory projects and youth identities with reference to the Italo-Albanian and two other transnational migratory spaces: Morocco-Spain and Cuba-USA.
Between 2001 and 2003 I was Research Fellow at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research of the University of Sussex. This postdoctoral fellowship was a two-year position within a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It aimed at examining the social and economic inclusion and exclusion of Albanians in Greece and Italy by looking at their migration processes, experiences of employment and housing and community structures and networks.
I obtained my PhD in Media and Cultural Studies in 2002 from the University of Sussex, under the supervision of Prof Russell King and Dr Nancy Wood. My research examined the role of media and of material culture in the process of re-construction of ethnic and political identities at a transcultural level and the extent to which they can foster social change, with particular reference to the emergence of youth culture and migration. Through long-term ethnographic research based on participant observation and semi-structured interviewing I studied a particular case, that of the relation between Albanian young people’s consumption of Italian television, the Albanian post-communist transformation, and the migration of young Albanians to Italy.
In 1995 I obtained a BA in Italian and Latin Literature at the University of Bologna where I focused on social and communication theory and film studies.
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of Sussex - UK
- Masters in Audio Visual Production, University of London
- collaborative filmmaking
- French (Fluent)
- English (Fluent)
- Italian (Mother)
- Spanish (Working)
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Dates||Title||Organisation / Department|
|1/9/2015 - 30/9/2020||Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies||Kingston University
|1/2/2005 - 31/8/2015||Professor of Sociology and Migration Studies||London Metropolitan University
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Book (3 outputs)
|2018||Mai N, Mobile Orientations An Intimate Autoethnography of Migration, Sex Work, and Humanitarian Borders, University of Chicago Press, 256 (2018)|
|2012||Hickman M, Mai N, Crowley H, Migration and Social Cohesion in the UK, Springer, 232 (2012)|
King R, Mai N, Out of Albania: From crisis migration to social inclusion in Italy (2008)
© 2008 Russell King and Nicola Mai. All rights reserved. Analysing the dynamics of the post-1990 Albanian migration to Italy, this book is the first major study of one of Europe&a... [more]
© 2008 Russell King and Nicola Mai. All rights reserved. Analysing the dynamics of the post-1990 Albanian migration to Italy, this book is the first major study of one of Europe's newest, most dramatic yet least understood migrations. It takes a close look at migrants' employment, housing and social exclusion in Italy, as well as the process of return migration to Albania. The research described in the book challenges the pervasive stereotype of the "bad Albanian" and, through in-depth fieldwork on Albanian communities in Italy and back in Albania, provides rich insights into the Albanian experience of migration, settlement and return in both their positive and their negative aspects.
Chapter (3 outputs)
Mai N, ' Italy is beautiful : The role of Italian television in Albanian migration to Italy', Media and Migration: Constructions of Mobility and Difference 95-109 (2013)
© 2001 Russell King and Nancy Wood for editorial matter and selection; contributors for individual chapters. Between 7 and 10 March 1991, some 25,700 Albanians crossed the Otranto... [more]
© 2001 Russell King and Nancy Wood for editorial matter and selection; contributors for individual chapters. Between 7 and 10 March 1991, some 25,700 Albanians crossed the Otranto Channel between Albania and Italy; in August 1991 another 20,000 arrived. At the end of 1997, 83,807 Albanian immigrants were legally present in Italy (Caritas di Roma 1998: 79), although it is estimated that the actual figure, including so-called irregular immigrants, may be as high as 150,000 people (UNDP 1998: 36).
Mai N, 'Albanian masculinities, Sex-Work and migration: Homosexuality, AIDS and other moral threats', National Healths: Gender, Sexuality and Health in a Crosscultural Context 45-58 (2013)
|2011||Mai N, 'Albania', A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures - Continental Europe and its Empires 270-271 (2011)|
Journal article (24 outputs)
Fehrenbacher AE, Musto J, Hoefinger H, Mai N, Macioti PG, Giametta C, Bennachie C, 'Transgender People and Human Trafficking: Intersectional Exclusion of Transgender Migrants and People of Color from Anti-trafficking Protection in the United States', Journal of Human Trafficking, 6 182-194 (2020)
© 2020, © 2020 Taylor & Francis. Transgender (hereafter: trans) people are rarely included in human trafficking research. This empirical study presents narratives of trans i... [more]
© 2020, © 2020 Taylor & Francis. Transgender (hereafter: trans) people are rarely included in human trafficking research. This empirical study presents narratives of trans individuals who report experiences consistent with the Palermo Protocol¿s definition of trafficking, access to anti-trafficking services for trans individuals, and attitudes of anti-trafficking advocates and law enforcement toward trans people. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted for 30¿months between March 2017 and August 2019 in Los Angeles and New York City included in-depth interviews with sex workers and trafficked persons (n¿=¿50), of whom 26 were trans, and key informants (n¿=¿17) from law enforcement and social services. Most trans participants who reported exploitation did not self-identify as victims of trafficking nor were they identified by police or anti-trafficking organizations as victims. Law enforcement gatekeeping was identified by anti-trafficking advocates as a barrier to meeting the needs of trans clients because they were viewed as ¿less exploitable¿ than cisgender women. Discriminatory law enforcement practices resulted in the exclusion and hyper-criminalization of trans migrants and people of color who were profiled not only by gender, but also race/ethnicity and immigration status.
Hoefinger H, Musto J, Macioti PG, Fehrenbacher AE, Mai N, Bennachie C, Giametta C, 'Community-based responses to negative health impacts of sexual humanitarian anti-trafficking policies and the criminalization of sex work and migration in the US', Social Sciences, 9 (2020)
© 2019 by the authors. System-involvement resulting from anti-trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex... [more]
© 2019 by the authors. System-involvement resulting from anti-trafficking interventions and the criminalization of sex work and migration results in negative health impacts on sex workers, migrants, and people with trafficking experiences. Due to their stigmatized status, sex workers and people with trafficking experiences often struggle to access affordable, unbiased, and supportive health care. This paper will use thematic analysis of qualitative data from in-depth interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 50 migrant sex workers and trafficked persons, as well as 20 key informants from legal and social services, in New York and Los Angeles. It will highlight the work of trans-specific and sex worker-led initiatives that are internally addressing gaps in health care and the negative health consequences that result from sexual humanitarian anti-trafficking interventions that include policing, arrest, court-involvement, court-mandated social services, incarceration, and immigration detention. Our analysis focuses on the impact of criminalization on sex workers and their experiences with sexual humanitarian efforts intended to protect and control them. We argue that these grassroots community-based efforts are a survival-oriented reaction to the harms of criminalization and a response to vulnerabilities left unattended by mainstream sexual humanitarian approaches to protection and service provision that frame sex work itself as the problem. Peer-to-peer interventions such as these create solidarity and resiliency within marginalized communities, which act as protective buffers against institutionalized systemic violence and the resulting negative health outcomes. Our results suggest that broader public health support and funding for community-led health initiatives are needed to reduce barriers to health care resulting from stigma, criminalization, and ineffective anti-trafficking and humanitarian efforts. We conclude that the decriminalization of sex work and the reform of institutional practices in the US are urgently needed to reduce the overall negative health outcomes of system-involvement.
Macioti PG, Aroney E, Bennachie C, Fehrenbacher AE, Giametta C, Hoefinger H, et al., 'Framing the mother tac: The racialised, sexualised and gendered politics of modern slavery in Australia', Social Sciences, 9 1-19 (2020)
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Centred on the slavery trial ¿Crown vs. Rungnapha Kanbut¿ heard in Sydney, New South Wales, between 10 April and 15 May 2... [more]
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Centred on the slavery trial ¿Crown vs. Rungnapha Kanbut¿ heard in Sydney, New South Wales, between 10 April and 15 May 2019, this article seeks to frame the figure of the ¿Mother Tac¿ or the ¿mother of contract¿, also called ¿mama tac¿ or ¿mae tac¿¿a term used amongst Thai migrants to describe a woman who hosts, collects debts from, and organises work for Thai migrant sex workers in their destination country. It proposes that this largely unexplored figure has come to assume a disproportionate role in the ¿modern slavery¿ approach to human trafficking, with its emphasis on absolute victims and individual offenders. The harms suffered by Kanbut¿s victims are put into context by referring to existing literature on women accused of trafficking; interviews with Thai migrant sex workers, including Kanbut¿s primary victim, and with members from the Australian Federal Police Human Trafficking Unit; and ethnographic field notes. The article unveils how constructions of both victim and offender, as well as definitions of slavery, are racialised, gendered, and sexualised and rely on the victims¿ subjective accounts of bounded exploitation. By documenting these and other limitations involved in a criminal justice approach, the authors reveal its shortfalls. For instance, while harsh sentences are meant as a deterrence to others, the complex and structural roots of migrant labour exploitation remain unaffected. This research finds that improved legal migration pathways, the decriminalisation of the sex industry, and improved access to information and support for migrant sex workers are key to reducing heavier forms of labour exploitation, including human trafficking, in the Australian sex industry.
Mai N, 'Travel (vol 24, pg 837, 2018)', JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, 25 428-428 (2019)
Mai N, 'Mobile orientations: An autoethnography of Tunisian professional boyfriends', SEXUALITIES, 20 482-496 (2017)
Mai N, 'Too Much Suffering': Understanding the Interplay Between Migration, Bounded Exploitation and Trafficking Through Nigerian Sex Workers' Experiences', SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ONLINE, 21 (2016)
Hickman MJ, Mai N, 'Migration and Social Cohesion: Appraising the Resilience of Place in London', POPULATION SPACE AND PLACE, 21 421-432 (2015)
Mai N, 'sex, love and money in Cambodia: professional girlfriends and transactional relationships', FEMINIST REVIEW, E25-E27 (2015)
Parizot C, Szary ALA, Popescu G, Arvers I, Cantens T, Cristofol J, et al., ' The antiAtlas of Borders, A Manifesto ', Journal of Borderlands Studies, 29 503-512 (2014)
© 2014, © 2014 Association for Borderlands Studies. Abstract: The antiAtlas of Borders is an experimentation at the crossroads of research, art and practice. It was launched in 20... [more]
© 2014, © 2014 Association for Borderlands Studies. Abstract: The antiAtlas of Borders is an experimentation at the crossroads of research, art and practice. It was launched in 2011 at the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (Aix Marseille University), and has been co-produced by the Higher School of Art (Aix en Provence), PACTE laboratory (University of Grenoble-CNRS), Isabelle Arvers and La compagnie. Since then, it has gathered researchers (social and hard scientists), artists (web artists, tactical geographers, hackers, filmmakers, etc.) and professionals (customs, industry, military, etc.). The encounter of people coming from these different fields of knowledge and practice aims to create a radical shift of perspective in the way we apprehend both 21st century borders and the boundaries separating fields of knowledge, art and practice.
Mai N, 'Embodied cosmopolitanisms: the subjective mobility of migrants working in the global sex industry', GENDER PLACE AND CULTURE, 20 107-124 (2013)
Mai N, 'The fractal queerness of non-heteronormative migrants working in the UK sex industry', SEXUALITIES, 15 570-585 (2012)
Mai N, 'Tampering with the Sex of 'Angels': Migrant Male Minors and Young Adults Selling Sex in the EU', JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES, 37 1237-1252 (2011)
Mai N, 'The politicisation of migrant minors: Italo-Romanian geopolitics and EU integration', AREA, 42 181-189 (2010)
King R, Mai N, 'Italophilia meets Albanophobia: Paradoxes of asymmetric assimilation and identity processes among Albanian immigrants in Italy', Ethnic and Racial Studies, 32 117-138 (2009)
This paper discusses what we call the 'Albanian assimilation paradox'. Since arrival in 1991, Albanians have become one of the most 'integrated' of all non-EU ... [more]
This paper discusses what we call the 'Albanian assimilation paradox'. Since arrival in 1991, Albanians have become one of the most 'integrated' of all non-EU immigrant groups in Italy, based on their knowledge of Italian, geographical dispersion, balanced demography, employment progress and desire to remain in Italy. Yet they are the nationality most rejected and stigmatized by Italians - stereotyped as criminals, prostitutes and uncivilized people. Based on ninety-seven interviews with Albanians in three cities in Italy, we explore the multifaceted dimensions of their patchy assimilation. Although the hegemonic negative framing of Albanians by Italian media and public discourse plays a major role, other elements of the picture relate to Albanians' complexly shifting identities, framed both against and within this discourse (and hence both resisting and internalizing it) and against changing concepts of Albanian national and diasporic identities derived from ambiguous perceptions of the national homeland.
Mai N, King R, 'Love, Sexuality and Migration: Mapping the Issue(s)', MOBILITIES, 4 295-307 (2009)
Mai N, 'Between Minor and Errant Mobility: The Relation Between Psychological Dynamics and Migration Patterns of Young Men Selling Sex in the EU', MOBILITIES, 4 349-366 (2009)
King R, Thomson M, Mai N, Keles Y, ''Turks' in the UK: Problems of definition and the partial relevance of policy', Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, 6 423-434 (2008)
This paper unpacks the problematic designation of 'Turks' as a migrant group within the context of migration, integration and policy-making in the UK, especially London.... [more]
This paper unpacks the problematic designation of 'Turks' as a migrant group within the context of migration, integration and policy-making in the UK, especially London. Three groups are identified-Turkish Cypriots, Turks from mainland Turkey, and Kurds from Turkey. Their variable experiences of arrival, settlement and socio-economic and cultural integration are documented through a small-scale qualitative study based on in-depth interviews with members of each community. Policy has often had limited relevance to these groups, except at the local level. © 2008 by The Haworth Press. All rights reserved.
King R, Dalipaj M, Mai N, 'Gendering migration and remittances: Evidence from London and northern Albania', Population, Space and Place, 12 409-434 (2006)
Within the broad and interlinked fields of gender, migration and development, the gendering of remittances has received very little attention. Yet remittances and their use lie at... [more]
Within the broad and interlinked fields of gender, migration and development, the gendering of remittances has received very little attention. Yet remittances and their use lie at the heart of the migration-development nexus. This paper develops a gender analysis of Albanian migration to the United Kingdom and its impact on source areas, which are mainly in northern Albania. Based on interviews with 26 Albanian migrants in the London area and with 46 migrant households in northern Albania and in the Tirana area (where many northern households have recently internally migrated), the paper traces gender dynamics in migration and in decisions about the sending, receipt and deployment of remittances, and their potential for poverty alleviation and development in Albania. Despite the potentially 'modernising' effects of migration and remittances, 'traditional' Albanian gender roles are generally maintained throughout the migration cycle, with only tokenistic changes. Intra-household modifications of the patriarchal power structures of Albanian families through migration and the deployment of remittances are more likely to be generational - father to sons - rather than gender-related. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Mai N, 'The Albanian diaspora-in-the-making: Media, migration and social exclusion', JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES, 31 543-561 (2005)
King R, Mai N, 'Albanian immigrants in Lecce and Modena: Narratives of rejection, survival and integration', Population, Space and Place, 10 455-477 (2004)
The Albanian exodus to Italy was one of the most dramatic European migration events of the 1990s. Initially welcomed, by the summer of 1991 an intensely negative sociocultural ste... [more]
The Albanian exodus to Italy was one of the most dramatic European migration events of the 1990s. Initially welcomed, by the summer of 1991 an intensely negative sociocultural stereotype of Albanian migrants had been installed by certain politicians and the media in Italy. They were condemned as disorganised and prone to criminality; and this stigmatisation became more entrenched as the decade passed. Based on in-depth interviews and other field observations, this paper examines how Albanian migrants in two contrasting places in Italy have fared in terms of negotiating their way around these stereotypes, and of integrating within the local social and economic environments, specifically in relation to work, housing and social space. Lecce in the southern region of Apulia is the principal area of migrant arrival and a zone of passage as well as of settlement; however, it is one of Italy's poorest provinces. Modena, in the north of Italy, is one of the country's richest cities. The broad picture is that Albanian migrants are economically better integrated in Modena, but do not participate much in the social and cultural life of the city; whereas in Lecce, social contact with local people is more intense, but labour market success is more limited, above all because of the narrow range of employment on offer. Three key factors conditioning the process of differential integration of the migrants are their legal status, their access to network-based support, and the socioeconomic and institutional settings encountered in each local context of immigration. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Mai N, 'The cultural construction of Italy in Albania and vice versa: Migration dynamics, strategies of resistance and politics of mutual self-definition across colonialism and post-colonialism', Modern Italy, 8 77-93 (2003)
This article analyses the shifting ways in which Italy has been strategically represented in Albania during the different key passages of the latter's relatively recent histo... [more]
This article analyses the shifting ways in which Italy has been strategically represented in Albania during the different key passages of the latter's relatively recent history as a sovereign independent state. As a parallel narrative, the article also examines the way Albania has been equally strategically represented in Italy before and during the two periods in which Italy has been militarily involved in Albania, and the way this has been consistent with an attempt to elaborate and sustain a politically strategic definition of Italian identity and culture. The history of the asymmetrical relationship between Albania and Italy is deeply embedded in the social, cultural and political environments that are on the two shores of the Adriatic Sea. The cultural construction of Albania in Italy and vice versa of Italy in Albania should be linked to seemingly independent instances of domestic reforms. The dynamics of projective identification or dis-identification stemming from these instances should be seen as intertwined within two parallel processes of mutual definition encompassing both the colonial and the postcolonial relations between and within the two countries. © 2003, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Mai N, Schwandner-Sievers S, 'Albanian migration and new transnationalisms', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 29 939-948 (2003)
This brief paper introduces the special issue of JEMS on Albanian migration, which collects together revised versions of a selection of papers first presented at a conference held... [more]
This brief paper introduces the special issue of JEMS on Albanian migration, which collects together revised versions of a selection of papers first presented at a conference held at the University of Sussex in September 2002. The uniqueness and complexity of Albanian migration are first spelled out. Although the main focus is on post-1990 migration, some interesting historical precedents are noted. Attention then turns to the two main contexts of reception, Italy and Greece, where host-society reaction has been characterised above all by stereotypes and the stigmatisation of Albanians. The remainder of the paper introduces each of the subsequent articles under a series of thematic headings - historicity, agency and identity.
King R, Mai N, 'Of myths and mirrors: Interpretations of Albanian migration to Italy', Studi Emigrazione, 161-199 (2002)
Emigration from Albania since 1990 has been the most dramatic instance of post-Cold War East-West migration. Now, more than one in five Albanians lives abroad, mainly in Italy and... [more]
Emigration from Albania since 1990 has been the most dramatic instance of post-Cold War East-West migration. Now, more than one in five Albanians lives abroad, mainly in Italy and Greece, and the first part of the paper presents statistical documentation on the evolution of the Albanian migration to Italy, including migrants' regional distribution within the country. Eschewing simplistic mono-causal geographic, political or economic explanations of the Albanian mass migration, the remainder of the paper essays a more rounded analysis by setting the exodus to Italy within the nexus of political, economic, social and cultural events that were happening in each of the countries, and whose timing and interconnections are crucial in understanding the dynamics of this migration and its reception and interpretation. We focus particularly on the role of the Italian media in constructing a series of myths- about Italy (projected as the "promised land" by Italian television to Albania both before and after the demise of the communist regime), about Albania (constructed as a backward, exotic, chaotic country), and about Albanian immigrants (represented as "undesirables", deviants and potential criminals). Above all, we analyse how Albania and Albanian immigrants in Italy have evolved as a pervasive "myth of the other", against which Italy's own self-identity as a modern, efficient European nation has been reconstructed. However, in a final ironic twist, it is also the case that Albanian immigrants are seen as present-day mirrors to Italy's own developmental and migratory past.
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