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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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15 The circle of ‘I am us’: The dreams of Mandiaye N’Diaye, griot by vocation (Marco Martinelli)


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15 The circle of ‘I am us’: The dreams of Mandiaye N’Diaye, griot by vocation1


This chapter presents the work of playwright and actor Mandiaye N’Diaye with innovation theatre and Teatro delle Albe. Since the 1980s, when the presence of migrants had not yet been perceived in Italy, playwrights Marco Martinelli and Mandiaye N’Diaye produced a pioneering series of hybrid plays which drew on Greek classical tradition, on the Mali epic of Sundiata and on the rural traditions of Ravenna (Italy) and Diol Kadd (Senegal) in order to construct polyphonic and dialogic plays that spoke of the movements and encounters that were taking place in Italy. N’Diaye’s knowledge of Senegalese oral tradition and his proficiency in narration well adapted to the political and social concerns that animated the production of Teatro delle Albe. The two flourishing dramatic forms that constitute the dreams of intercultural dialogue and human welcoming are: the art of the griot which flows from the individual-artist towards the public-chorus, and the circle of sàbar which flows from the chorus to the women, who individually take turns in the centre of the circle. Both types of performance are expressions of communion and sharing, of ‘I am us’.

Shifting cultures: Albe afro-romagnole2

I luoghi comuni non valgono sempre.3 [Communal places are not always ‘reliable’.]

Valgono spesso. [They often are.] ← 347 | 348 →

I luoghi comuni mi piacciono. [I like...

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