The conference investigated the intersections of migration and sexuality through scholarly presentations and dialogues with professionals working with migrants on themes of gender, sexuality, and sexual health in Sweden.  It was arranged at Linnaeus University on 7-9 December 2022. Around 60 people participated in the conference’s panels, roundtable and workshop, film screening, and mingling sessions.

The conference was organized by LnuC Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies and the Centre for Cultural Sociology at Linnaeus University, as well as the Centre for Sexology and Sexuality Studies, at Malmö University. It was generously funded by Forte: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Migrant intimacies are becoming increasingly visible in the scholarly and political debate on migration internationally. Echoing Mai and King’s invitation (2009) for an “emotional” and “sexual” turn in migration studies, scholarship has growingly addressed the role that love and desire play in the choice of getting on the move, and in the ways migration and mobility occur. Affects, inevitably interwoven with material needs and aspirations, shape migratory circuits; transactional sex sustains transnational mobilities; the economies of sex trafficking interweave with local moral economies and dreams of social mobility.

At the same time, sexualities are the backdrop to discussing identity and belonging in progressive or - more often - conservative ways in several countries. Migrants’ sexualities are often framed as problematic in the debate on multicultural vs. assimilationist policies: Sweden is a case in point. There is a concern that gender relations and sexual practices and discourses within migrant communities will interfere with so-called integration: self-regulation and pedagogical interventions thus interact in forming the desirable sexuality of the good citizen. Migratory journeys, finally, exert a toll on individuals’ sexual health: migrants may lack information about and access to health services, while the health sector may be unprepared to decenter long-ingrained discourses on the body, gender, and sexuality. 

The conference explored these themes through scholarly presentations. The format has inspired methodological and epistemological cross-fertilization, as well as transdisciplinary dialogue. Moreover, the conference also provided possibilities for dialogue between scholars, practitioners, and professionals on themes of gender, sexuality, and sexual health through a roundtable and workshop oriented towards methods of exploring and working with the central questions of the conference in a creative way.

The keynote was given by Christian Groes, Roskilde University, on the theme Journeys of Intimate Patronage: Re-thinking the Nexus of Migration and Transactional Sex. Finally, we had the privilege of screening Travel (2015), a documentary by Nicola Mai, Leicester University, focusing on the lives of Nigerian women selling sex in Paris, which was introduced by the director; and attending a sneak preview of Home Sweet Home (2023), a documentary on queer migrants by scholar and director Humad Nisar.