Accepted Paper:

Fantasy and vulnerability: women histories of forced migration  


Barbara Pinelli (Università di Milano-Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the theme of forced migration, focusing on the histories of some women asylum seekers in Italy. I will argue how fantasy, intended as an imagined world better than the one experienced in the present, becomes a social practice performed by these women to remove their marginality.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I will discuss the theme of forced migration as lived and witnessed experience of women asking for asylum in Italy. Going over their life histories, I will investigate the construction of a new daily world after the breaking down of other systems of relationship. With the aim to explore the drama and the continuity of violence experienced by these women before and after migration, I will turn to the notion of vulnerability, intended as a result of the exile trajectory and of assistance policies. This perspective allows to show how their identity becomes fragile due to the diverse forms of social exclusion faced in the host country. However, they are far from perceiving themselves as victims. Intended as what one would like to be or become, as an imagined future better than the present life, I will use the concept of fantasy to explore the desires these women express about their future and the ways in which they try to realise them. In this perspective, fantasy becomes a social practice performed by these women to remove their marginality. Vulnerability and fantasy represent two almost juxtaposed aspects of forced migrations: I will argue how fantasy creates a breach in marginality, thus enhancing action and turning into a survival strategy to face the suffering of forced migration. Moreover, the notion of fantasy introduces a new dimension, that of future, which the research on migration - especially that on forced migration - does not usually consider.

Panel W028
Being human, being migrant: dealing with memory, dreams and hopes in everyday life