Not Too Old Yet: Labour Trajectories of Chinese Women Involved in the Sex Industry in Italy by Ms Martina Bristot
Date : 20 Nov 2017
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Dr Chiu Tuen Yi Jenny, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore


In the construction of knowledge about the sex industry, and particularly about how people enter it, age is often believed to act as a boundary line for those who can or cannot get access to it. In this sense, young people are perceived as the solely marketable bodies that can join the sex industry, while older people are either addressed as ageing bodies of once-younger generations or else totally neglected as active part of the sex industry. This paper offers an attempt to deconstruct such approach by illustrating how sex work can eventually become a viable occupation for people who are already in their middle-aged stage of life, by specifically looking at different labour trajectories undertaken by Chinese migrant women in Italy. Based on data collected between 2014 and 2016 in few Italian cities, the paper will shed light on the narratives of twenty-one Chinese migrant women who joined the sex industry after long working experiences in manufacture and domestic service in Italy. By tracing similarities and differences among their labour experiences as migrants, Chinese women reveal how the sex industry is the only sector in which their ‘old and fat bodies’ are accepted. The paper will aim to expand the understanding of ageing bodies in the sex trade, as well as to provide an alternative reading to the interrelation of migration and prostitution which may go beyond sex trafficking and migration for sex work.


Martina Bristot is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. Currently, she is hosted by the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore for a Visiting Scholarship. Her research interests are migration, prostitution and cosmopolitanism. Martina is working on her doctoral dissertation on the life trajectories of Chinese female migrants in Italy by focusing on the lived experiences of those who are involved in the local sex industry.


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Minghua TAY