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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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4 Sometimes I feel like a motherless child: Nigerian migration, race memories and the decolonization of motherhood (Simona Taliani)

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SIMONA TALIANI

4 Sometimes I feel like a motherless child: Nigerian migration, race memories and the decolonization of motherhood

ABSTRACT

The aim of the chapter is to analyse a ‘postcolonial archive’ concerning the social production of adoptable migrant children inside western institutions. Even if anthropology has belatedly taken children into account, today these small subjects have finally been put in their proper place: at the crossroads between the public and the private, between the State and the ‘maternal instinct’.

Many Nigerian women who arrive in Italy are qualified as victims of human trafficking when they report their pimps, and are subsequently protected by the state through its social institutions. When they become mothers, something changes in the relationship between them and the institutions offering care and assistance: no longer perceived as vulnerable women to protect, they became potentially dangerous and harmful mothers to their children. The author would like to stress how this scientific and bureaucratic construction of African immigrant babies introduces ruptures and challenges in the relationship between African immigrant mothers, their relatives and the state. ‘I’m not dead, yet’, shouts a Nigerian mother in court. Many of them never see their children again: children that magically become products of Italy, new citizens.

A new kind of (barren) woman

A girl declares: ‘What kind a ’oman she is? Yellow Mary ain’t no family ’oman. She a scary ’oman.’

Myown replies: ‘She a...

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