Massimiliano (Mao) Mollona is a writer, filmmaker and anthropologist. He has a multidisciplinary background in economics and anthropology and his work focuses on the relationships between art and political economy. He conducted extensive fieldworks in Italy, UK, Norway and Brazil, mainly in economic institutions, looking at the relationships between economic development and political identity through participatory and experimental film projects. His practice is situated at the intersection of pedagogy, art and activism.
- 2003 PhD in Social Anthropology, London School of Economics
- 1998 MSc (Master of Science) in Social Anthropology, London School of Economics.
- 1996 Laurea in Business Economics with First Class Honours in Organisational Behaviour. Universita’ Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Milan
- 1992 Visiting Semester in Finance, Harvard University.
Lecturer and Convenor of the course: Political and Economic Anthropology (B.A. and M.A.); Lecturer in the courses: Art and Anthropology and Visual Anthropology.
Areas of supervision
Art and Anthropology; Class and Social movements; Economic Anthropology, Film, Political Economy.
Dr Massimiliano Mollona's fieldworks are critical engagements with narratives of development, modernity and industrialisation in relationship to theories of political economy and in people’s everyday livelihood. In Sheffield, he 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.
His most recent fieldwork in Brazil took place in the biggest steel plant in Latin America where he looked at the impact on the formal and informal working class and various social movements of Brazil becoming a world-leading economic power. He structures his fieldworks as performative research interventions, combining anthropology, visual art and critical pedagogy and reflecting on the power relations entangled in the ethnographic encounter.
In Sheffield, he wrote and directed Steel Lives (1999) a film about the work and lives of some steelworker, which he edited collectively and screened in various local and international political venues. His 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 he 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. His last project ‘Oiler’ (2016) made with Anne-Marthe Dyvi, documents the construction of an oil platform on an island in the west coast of Norway. Shot over a period of seven months the film follows the worsening of labour relations in the context of the global collapse of the prices of crude oil and its impact on the so-called Norwegian social democratic model. Oiler is part of the project ‘The End of Oil” that he has developed for this edition of Bergen Assembly and which also involves also a collaboration with visual artist Phil Collins.
He is the programme director of the Athens Biennale (2015-17); one of the artistic directors of the Bergen Assembly; a member of the collective Freethought, editor the Focaal Art and Visual Anthropology (AVA) Blog and one of the editors of Focaal Journal.
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2009. Industrial Work and Life: An Anthropological Reader. london: berg. ISBN 978-1847880741
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2009. Made in Sheffield. An Ethnography of Industrial Work and Politics. oxford: Berghahn. ISBN 978-1-84545-551-4
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2015. Anthropology and class. A view from a Brazilian barrio (9. Working-class politics in a Brazilian steel town). In: James Carrier and Don Kalb, eds. Anthropologies of Class: Power, Practice, and Inequality. Cambridge: CUP. ISBN 978-1107087415
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2013. Factory Labour or the end of Labour? Anthropological reflections on labour value. In: Maurizio Atzeni, ed. Workers and Labour in a Globalised Capitalism: Contemporary Themes and Theoretical Issues’. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0230303171
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2014. ‘Seen the invisible: Maya Deren’s experiments in cinematic trance’. October, 149(Summer), pp. 159-180. ISSN 0162-2870
Mollona, Massimiliano and Santana, Marco Aurélio. 2013. ‘Trabalho e ação coletiva: memória, espaço e identidades sociais na cidade do aço’. Horizontes Antropologicos, 19(39), pp. 125-148. ISSN 0104-7183
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2013. Observation, performance and revolution: exploring “the political” in visual art and anthropology. Visual Anthropology, 26(1), pp. 34-50. ISSN 0894-9468
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2009. Community Unionism, Business Unionism: Two Strategies, the Same Phoenix. American Ethnologist, 36(4), pp. 651-666. ISSN 0094-0496
Ahrens, Thomas and Mollona, Massimiliano. 2007. Organisational control as cultural practice: a shop floor ethnography of a Sheffield steel mill. Accounting Organizations and Society, 32(4-5), pp. 305-331. ISSN 03613682
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2005. Factory, family and neighbourhood. The political economy of informal labour in Sheffield. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 11(3), pp. 527-548. ISSN 13590987
Mollona, Massimiliano. 2005. Gifts of Labour: Steel Production and Technological Imagination in an Area of Urban Deprivation, Sheffield, UK. Critique of Anthropology, 25(2), pp. 177-198. ISSN 0308275X