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Migration and the Contemporary Mediterranean

Shifting Cultures in Twenty-First-Century Italy and Beyond

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Edited By Claudia Gualtieri

This collection of essays presents a study of migration cultures in the contemporary Mediterranean with a particular focus on Italy as a point of migratory convergence and pressure. It investigates different experiences of, and responses to, sea crossings, borders and checkpoints, cultural proximity and distance, race, ethnicity and memory, along with creative responses to the same. In dialogic and complementary interaction, the essays explore violence centring on race as the major determining factor. The book further submits that the interrogation of racialized categories represents different kinds of critical response and resistance, which involve both political struggle and day-to-day survival and coexistence. Following the praxis of cultural and postcolonial studies, the essays focus on the present but draw indispensable insight from past connections and heritage as well as offering prognoses for the future. The ambitious aim of this collection is to identify some useful lines of thought and action that could help us to think outside intricacy, isolation and defensiveness, which characterize most of the public official reactions to migration today.

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Cultures in movement across the postcolonial middle sea (Claudia Gualtieri)

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CLAUDIA GUALTIERI

Cultures in movement across the postcolonial middle sea

ABSTRACT

Responding to four eternally fascinating literary quotations that span from classic Greek epics to the contemporary Italian cultural scene, this introductory chapter to Migration and the contemporary Mediterranean: Shifting cultures in twenty-first-century Italy and beyond constructs a narrative of migrant travelling and travelling cultures through consecutive frames – the sea, pilgrimage, migration and a common memory – that foreground the key themes of this collection. This chapter uses the idea of connectivity and adopts the theoretical standpoints and methodological approaches of postcolonial studies and cultural studies in order to present cultures in movement across the Mediterranean by focusing on the condition of the migrant and on neo-imperial practices of racialization. Examples of resistance or political struggle, and day-to-day survival or coexistence round off the theoretical frame of my argument.

Introduction: Theoretical and methodological frame

Then to her maids – Why, why, ye coward / train, / These fears, this flight? ye fear, and fly in vain. / Dread ye a foe? dismiss that idle dread, / ’Tis death with hostile step these shores to tread: / Safe in the love of heav’n, an ocean flows / Around our realm, / a barrier from the foes; / ’Tis ours this son of sorrow to relieve, / Chear the sad heart, nor let affliction grieve. / By Jove the stranger and the poor are sent, / And what to those we...

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