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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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The master’s house (Tahar Lamri)

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TAHAR LAMRI

The master’s house1

Today I’m going to put on my wedding gown. White. A wide skirt and delicate veils. Chantilly lace, Flanders lace. I’m still beautiful. Valencienne lace. Embroidery. Today I’m going to wear my wedding gown and I will look even more beautiful. I look at myself in the mirror.

‘Dem na giaca o un giacòn, Helena!’ [Get a jacket or a coat, Helena!].

My mistress’s voice awakens me from my sweet dream. I look at the mirror and realize I have wasted too much time dreaming. My master is stuck in a wheelchair. Today, he isn’t crying, he’s subdued. My mistress dresses her husband. It’s time to go for a walk. I move around the wheelchair and as usual my master stretches his hand out and touches my butt. ‘Canai’a!’ [You scoundrel!] I shout jokingly. I’ve become used to these harmless sexual gestures.

My mistress dresses her husband, she puts a jacket and sunglasses on him. I push his wheelchair. The air outside is crisp and clear, but I can’t take pleasure in it by myself. I never go for a walk in the sun. I don’t have the time. Sometimes I watch the sunny days from the window.

On Sundays I have two hours off, but it isn’t always sunny. Every now and then I see my friends at the park, we talk about back home, we...

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