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Migration and the Contemporary Mediterranean

Shifting Cultures in Twenty-First-Century Italy and Beyond


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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2 Lampedusa as a hotspot: Channels of (forced) mobility and preventive illegalization beyond the island (Martina Tazzioli)


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2 Lampedusa as a hotspot: Channels of (forced) mobility and preventive illegalization beyond the island


The hotspot system was first implemented in Lampedusa in September 2015. The European Union presented it not as a physical space but as a new approach for governing and partitioning migrants in the fastest possible way. This chapter shows that the hotspot in Lampedusa works as a machine of migrant illegalization and as a preventative humanitarian frontier by denying most of the migrants who are detained there the possibility of claiming asylum. Based on ethnographic research conducted in Lampedusa, this chapter explores the criteria according to which migrants are preventively rejected from claiming asylum, and investigates how processes of racialization operate in the mechanism of illegalization. This involves questioning the system according to which migrants are grouped, and observing how criteria based on nationality are adopted together with forms of partition and discrimination. The chapter also analyses the temporality that sustains the hotspot system in Lampedusa, arguing that it functions at two different speeds: on the one hand, it contributes to the acceleration of the procedures for selecting migrants; on the other hand, it slows down and becomes indefinite detention for those who refuse to give their fingerprints.


In the book Frictions: An Ethnography of Global Connections, the anthropologist Anna Tsing defines the frontier as ‘an edge of space and time: a zone of not-yet, not yet mapped,...

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