I have a mixed disciplinary background in anthropology, film and economics. I graduated in Economics at Bocconi University, Milan, with major in Organizational Behavior and then I did a MSc and a PhD in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics. My interests lie in film and visual anthropology, the anthropology of work and organizations and political anthropology especially of class and social movements.
My fieldworks are critical engagements with narratives of development, modernity and industrialisation in political economy and in people’s everyday livelihood. In Sheffield I lived for one year in a dilapidated neighbourhood and worked in two local steel plants, looking at how the British working class coped with deindustrialization in the post-Thatcher/New Labour era.
My most recent fieldwork in Brazil took place in the biggest steel plant in Latin America where I looked at the impact on the formal and informal working class and various social movements of Brazil becoming a world-leading economic power. I structure my fieldworks as performative research interventions, combining anthropology, filmmaking and critical pedagogy, and exploring the power relations and patterns of exchange entangled in the ethnographic encounter.
In Sheffield I wrote and directed Steel Lives (1999) a film about the work and lives of some steelworker, which I edited collectively and screened in various local and international political venues. My more recent film Steel Town (2013), in collaboration with artist Daria Martin and a Brazilian director from Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, interrogates contemporary Brazilian political economy through the language of melodrama and telenovelas in the context of the urban favela where I conducted fieldwork. The project invites some working-class families and favela residents of Volta Redonda to reflect critically on Brazil’s ‘modernity’ through a collaborative film project.
Dr. Mollona is one of the founders of 'Freethought' and is the editor of the Focaal Art and Visual Antrhopology (AVA) Blog.
He teaches the following courses:
- Politics, Economics and Social Change
- Economic and Political Anthropology
- Ethnographic Film and Cinema Studies
Areas of supervision
Current PhD students supervised:
- Claudia Giannetto - "An investigation of film practice and shared anthropology in the process of building the ethnic identity among a Mexican Mayan community of Eastern Yucatan"
- Matteo Saltalippi
- Anna Wilson - "What are the economic effects of the global copper commodity chain on communities local to the Las Bambas mine in Peru"
‘Seen the invisible: Maya Deren’s experiments in cinematic trance’
‘Trabalho e ação coletiva: memória, espaço e identidades sociais na cidade do aço’
Observation, performance and revolution: exploring “the political” in visual art and anthropology
Community Unionism, Business Unionism: Two Strategies, the Same Phoenix
Organisational control as cultural practice: a shop floor ethnography of a Sheffield steel mill
Ahrens, Thomas and Mollona, Massimiliano
Factory, family and neighbourhood. The political economy of informal labour in Sheffield
Gifts of Labour: Steel Production and Technological Imagination in an Area of Urban Deprivation, Sheffield, UK
Made in Sheffield. An Ethnography of Industrial Work and Politics.
Industrial Work and Life: An Anthropological Reader.
Anthropology and class. A view from a Brazilian barrio (9. Working-class politics in a Brazilian steel town)
Factory Labour or the end of Labour? Anthropological reflections on labour value
The Morning Star Re-branded
I conducted fieldwork in Italy, Britain and Brazil mainly in ‘steel towns’, where I explored local patterns of work and politics associated with trajectories of industrialisation and de-industrialisation.
I am currently working on Brazilian economy and politics and doing research in Volta Redonda, a steel-town funded by Vargas in the 1940s, and in the Brazilian National Reconstruction Bank (BNDES) based in Rio de Janeiro.
I teach film on the MA in Visual Anthropology (MAVIS) and for the MA course Representing Reality, jointly taught with the Media and Communications Department.
As a visual anthropologist I am interested in the politics of realism, performative and avant-garde cinema and experimental ethnography.
My interest in the visual landscapes of industrialisation/de-industrialisation led me to write and direct a film, 'Steel Lives', on the lives of some Sheffield steelworkers. In Brazil, I have just completed the short film Arigo’ based on a collaboration with a UK-based visual artist, a theatre director the CTO (Centro de Teatro do Oprimido), Rio de Janeiro and the community of Volta Redonda.