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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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6 Migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean: An economic analysis (Andrea Mario Lavezzi / Eileen Quinn)


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6 Migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean: An economic analysis


In this chapter we provide an analysis of migrant smuggling across the central Mediterranean route. The analysis will be carried out through the lenses of economic analysis and organized crime studies. Our work is based on in-depth interviews conducted with smuggled migrants, and immigration and anti-smuggling operators, with particular focus on land smuggling in West Africa, that is, from Agadez in Niger into Libya. We will extrapolate the stylized facts of smuggling from the demand side for such ‘service’, that is, from the migrants, and put forward an economic interpretation. In particular our main findings are: i) the distinction between smuggling and trafficking is not clear-cut, as African migrant smuggling implies coercion of various types. We will describe instances in which the migrant is exploited both descriptively and in economic terms; ii) this has relevant consequences for the current discussion on policies to contrast smuggling.


Mass migration from Africa to the European Union (EU) is not a recent phenomenon. However, political and economic instability across North Africa and the Sahel following the spark of the Arab Spring in 2011, coupled with a reduction in border controls in Libya, have led to an increase in illegal landings of African migrants in Italy. As noted by the International Organization for Migration, 115,109 migrants and refugees entered Europe ← 159 | 160 → by sea...

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