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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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8 Necropolitics at Sea (Jill H. Casid)

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JILL H. CASID

8 Necropolitics at Sea

ABSTRACT

In the current situation of everyday emergency in the maritime cemetery that is the contemporary Mediterranean, as the refugee death toll continues to mount, death has become the primary medium through which to contest the necropolitical conditions of ‘migrant crisis’. With the circulation of necrometrical data and post-mortem photographs, the witnessing to death is recurrently enlisted to make life matter by the alchemy of a habeas corpus that converts the de-humanizations of the terror-figure of the migrant as threat into a countable and grievable loss. Confronting the limits of such devices of death calculation and exposure, this chapter considers alternative necrotactics that reckon with the unaccountable at the limits of refuge.

Introduction

It’s important, she says, for bodies to be exhumed – in doing so you return dignity to the dead. What is the word for bringing bodies back from water? From a ‘liquid grave’? Months later I do an Internet search […]. I find words like resurrect and subaquatic but not ‘exaqua’.

— PHILLIP (2008: 201)

While Triton has usurped Mare Nostrum, razor-wire has punctured the ‘open borders’ policy of the EU and activists have renamed the Mediterranean Sea the maritime cemetery, death has become the primary medium through which to contest the necropolitical conditions of ‘migrant ← 193 | 194 → crisis’.1 In 2015 Al Jazeera announced the editorial decision to refuse the term ‘migrant’ as an umbrella term...

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