Italy and the Euro-Mediterranean Migrant Crisis

Panel of Experts at Columbia University

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
(Faculty House, Presidential Room 1) NYC 6-8pm
For directions to Faculty House, please click here

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This panel is the first of a two-days event linked to the project Italy and the Euro-Mediterranean Migrant Crisis.

  • Introductory Remarks by Ernest Ialongo (Hostos Community College, CUNY; Chair, Columbia University Seminar in Modern Italian Studies) and José Moya (Barnard College)
  • Speakers:
    Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, Montclair State University, USA): Italy as a Laboratory of Migration: A Cultural Perspective on Inbound and Outbound Flows
    Nando Sigona (University of Birmingham, UK): Leaving the ‘Crisis’ Behind: Sea Arrivals, Reception Regime and the Normalisation of the Emergency in Italy
    Giuseppe Campesi (Università di Bari, Italy): Crisis, Migration and the Re-bordering of the European Space
    Enrica Rigo (Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy): Beyond the Spectacle of Borders: Governing Public Order and Negotiating Rights in Times of Crisis
  • Q&A will follow

Introductory Remarks by Ernest Ialongo (Hostos Community College, CUNY; Chair, Columbia University Seminar in Modern Italian Studies) and Jose Moya (Barnard College)
The Columbia University Seminar in Modern Italian Studies hosts monthly talks by scholars of modern Italy. Additionally, the seminar organizes panel discussions aimed at the general public to focus on an issue of contemporary relevance. In the past few years such events have corresponded to major art exhibitions in New York City featuring modern Italian artists or movements. However, for this upcoming panel, the plight of the migrants in Europe, and most especially in Italy, demanded our attention. Such a focus becomes ever more necessary because of the increasingly polarizing rhetoric dealing with immigration both in Europe and here in America.

Ernest Ialongo is Associate Professor of History at Hostos Community College in The City University of New York, and Chair of the Columbia University Seminar in Modern Italian Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: The Artist and his Politics with Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (2015) and co-editor of New Directions in Italian and Italian American History: Selected Essays from the Conference in Honor of Philip Cannistraro (2013). Additionally, he has co-edited two special sections of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies— “Reconsidering Futurism” (September 2013), and “Multi/Interdisciplinary Investigations into Italy and World War I” (March 2016)—and has authored various articles dealing with Futurism, politics, and culture in Liberal and Fascist Italy. His most recent publication is the edited volume Il processo e l’assoluzione di “Mafarka il Futurista” by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Luigi Capuana with Bel-Ami Edizioni in Rome, which is forthcoming.

José Moya Professor of History, joined the Barnard faculty in 2005 after teaching at UCLA for 17 years. In addition to his teaching duties for Barnard’s Department of History, Moya is affiliated with the Human Rights Studies Program. He teaches courses in Latin American History, Latin American Civilization, and World Migration. He has written extensively on global migration, gender, and labor. Moya has received three Fulbright Fellowships, a Burkhardt Fellowship, and a Del Amo Fellowship. His research and scholarship have also been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. His book, Cousins and Strangers: Spanish Immigrants in Buenos Aires, 1850-1930, received five awards. The journal Historical Methods devoted a forum to its theoretical and methodological contributions to migration studies. Moya is currently editing Latin American Historiography for Oxford University Press, as well as working on the socio-cultural history of anarchism in belle-époque Buenos Aires and the Atlantic world. He is the Director of the Barnard Forum on Migration.
“Italy as a Laboratory of Migration: A Cultural Perspective on Inbound and Outbound Flows” – Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, Montclair State University, USA)

This presentation will illustrate the general data on immigration to Italy (number of arrivals, documented and undocumented immigrants, asylum applicants and approvals, detention centers) in order to provide a working background for the other panelists’ talks. At the same time, it will enrich the quantification of the immigration phenomenon by accompanying it with human stories. Through these stories, recounted in attentive news reports, scholarly projects and cultural texts by and about immigrants in Italy, the overall Euro-Mediterranean immigrant scenario reveals a high level of complexity and diversity beyond the predictable images and commentaries often proposed by the media. In works such as Andrea Segre’s film project Come il peso dell’acqua about political refugees and exploited economic migrants, Stefano Liberti’s video series Welcome to Italy on detention centers, and the Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino and Erri De Luca’s musical and poetry project Solo Andata about the Mediterranean crossings, immigrants go from anonymous faces on the screen to protagonists of fascinating and chilling experiences that shed light on the countries of departure as much as those of arrival. In subtle and incisive ways these experiences also hint at Italy’s long history of emigration and the current phenomenon of exodus of its youth, a unique condition compared to other European countries, also taking into account the fact that immigration into Italy is not mainly post-colonial as is the case for England and France. The presentation thus posits Italy as a unique laboratory to rethink national belonging at large in our era of massive demographic mobility; it also identifies traces of globalization in a past that may hold interesting lessons about inclusiveness for the present.

Teresa Fiore is the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA. The recipient of several fellowships (De Bosis, Rockefeller, and Fulbright), she was Visiting Assistant Professor at Harvard University, NYU, and Rutgers University. She is the editor of the 2006 issue of Quaderni del ‘900, devoted to John Fante. Her numerous articles on migration to/from Italy linked to 20th- and 21st-century Italian literature and cinema have been published in Italian, English and Spanish in both journals (as of recent Studi italiani in Florence and El hilo de la fabula in Argentina) and edited collections (Postcolonial Italy). Her book Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legacies is due out with Fordham University Press in May 2017. In the same year two articles on the new migration flows from Italy to the U.S. (edited volumes by Routledge and the University of Illinois Press), and one on immigrant detention centers in Italy (Journal of Italian Media and Cinema Studies) are also due out. She coordinates a regular program of cultural events and educational initiatives on campus that focus on the circulation of people, ideas, products from/to Italy.
“Leaving the ‘Crisis’ Behind: Sea Arrivals, Reception Regime and the Normalisation of the Emergency in Italy” – Nando Sigona (University of Birmingham, UK)

Drawing from 205 interviews with refugees and migrants arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean in 2015 and 50 interviews with stakeholders, this paper explores how changes occurred in the governance of irregular sea crossings in Italy resulting from the EU’s refugee crisis.

Nando Sigona is a social scientist with over fifteen years research and teaching experience in migration, refugee, citizenship and ethnic studies. He joined the School of Social Policy in February 2013 as a Birmingham Fellow. Dr. Sigona’s work investigates the interplay between forms and modes of contemporary membership, governance, and the politics of belonging. This is achieved through in-depth examinations of a range of experiences of membership including, but not limited to, those of: refugees, Roma, undocumented migrant families, ethnic minorities, unaccompanied minors, children of undocumented migrant parents, dual citizens, ‘failed’ asylum seekers, and stateless people. Dr. Sigona is one of the founding editors of Migration Studies, an international academic journal published by Oxford University Press. He is one of the editors of The Oxford Handbook on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (Oxford University Press, 2014) and author (with Alice Bloch and Roger Zetter) of Sans Papiers: The Social and Economic Lives of Undocumented Migrants (Pluto Press, 2014).
“Crisis, Migration and the Re-bordering of the European Space” – Giuseppe Campesi (Università di Bari, Italy)

The presentation will focus on the impact the EU Agenda on Migration is having on border control practices in frontline Member States, showing how its main aim was to re-border the EU by strengthening the powers for the surveillance and detention of incoming migrants and asylum seekers. I will explore the Italian case, analyzing how the so-called hotspot approach has been concretely implemented and the influence it is having in pushing the Italian reception system from a policy model driven, albeit with a certain degree of ambiguity, by humanitarian orientations, to a model where security and border control priorities prevail. The discussion of the Italian case will allow me to draw some conclusions on the broader political project envisaged by the EU Commission’s political steps in response of the refugee crisis. A project which is clearly pointing at the evolution of the concept of Integrated Border Management (IBM), which was the policy framework for the management of common external borders during the previous decade, into a truly post-national border control strategy. While this project may be seen as a response to the steps taken by many Member States that by reactivating controls at their internal borders were casting doubts on the future of the EU free-passport area, I propose not to read it under the vexed dichotomy between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. The development of a post-national border control strategy is part of a design for the hegemonic reshaping of the EU space, where frontline Member States will be more and more forced to play a role as guardians of a buffer frontier zone protecting the prosperous heart of Europe.

Giuseppe Campesi received his B.A. in Law at the University of Bologna, Italy (2003); an MA in Sociology of Law at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (2005); and a Ph.D. in Legal Philosophy and Sociology of Law at the University of Milan (2008). From 2008 to 2010 he worked as Research Fellow in the Department of Theory and History of Law at the University of Florence. During the academic year 2010-11 he was Jean Monnet Post-Doctoral Fellow at the European University Institute. In 2011 he joined the Department of Political Sciences at the “Aldo Moro” University in Bari, Italy where he’s currently Senior Lecturer and Aggregate Professor (tenured) in Law and Society. His research cuts across different disciplines with a main focus on contemporary social theory, critical legal studies, critical security studies, border controls and migration policies.
“Beyond the Spectacle of Borders: Governing Public Order and Negotiating Rights in Times of Crisi” – Enrica Rigo (Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy)
During recent years multiple crises have affected the government of migration in Italy: from the 2008 economic crisis – which led to a reduction in work visas and the harshening of security measures targeted at migrants – to the so-called ‘North African Emergency’ – which followed in the wake of the Arab Spring and the Libyan civil war – to the current ‘refugee crisis’. Understandably, public discourse has focused on the humanitarian emergencies linked to the arrivals of refugees. Far less attention has been dedicated to the consequences of these crises on the daily management of public order and on migrants’ strategies to adapt to the changing circumstances. This presentation will address the main events that have had an impact upon public opinion in order to trace chronologically the rhetoric of migration crisis and, at the same time, will identify the less evident aspects that have affected migrants’ daily lives. The presentation will draw on research conducted over the last few years around the transformation of migrant labor, the feminization of migration and migrants’ access to justice.

Enrica Rigo is Associate Professor at the University of Roma Tre where she holds the chair in Philosophy of Law and coordinates a legal clinic program on migration and asylum. She earned her Ph.D. in “Philosophy of Law, Social and Political Theory” at the University of Naples and was formerly Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. Her research interests include critical legal theory, theories of citizenship and border studies. She is the author of numerous articles on migration, borders, and justice, including a monograph on European citizenship in the enlargement context, Europa di Confine. Trasformazioni della cittadinanza nell’Unione Allargata (Meltemi, 2007).