Accepted paper:

The dark side of migration from North Africa: ethnic coordinates influencing migration strategies from southern Tunisia (the case of the 'Abid Ghbonton)


Marta Scaglioni (University of Bayreuth/Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

While migration has come to the fore in public and academic debates, little scholarly attention has been paid to its under-visible aspects, such as ethnic coordinates shaping migrants' horizon, as in the case of Tunisia's racially hierarchized peripheries.

Paper long abstract:

Transnational migratory perspectives have been well grounded in the academic debate for at least two decades (Glick Schiller, Basch, and Blanc 1995; Freitag and Von Oppen 2010). However, little scholarly attention has been paid to how migrants' society, their perspective and experiences change at large. Along with the focus on the actors who actually migrate, it is important to analyze the horizon of those who have not migrated yet or never will (Graw and Schielke, 2012). This paper argues that migration from Tunisia has received deep academic attention as regards to various aspects (return migration from Italy, Binci, 2010), but little one is devoted to ethnic coordinates which open different migratory paths to Tunisian actors in the periphery. Since migratory opportunities in Tunisia are often ethnicity- and region-specific, I wish to further deepen the experiences and imaginaries of Southern Black Tunisians facing migration, focusing on Europe and North America as the most common destinations. Tunisia's static hierarchical post-slavery social structure create profound cleavages between Black and White Tunisians, who occupy different social, educational, and occupational ladders. This asymmetry has an impact on migratory strategies, as well. Nonetheless, Southern Black Tunisians negotiated specific migratory niches, mainly profiting from the bourgeoning performances of the touristic sector, acquiring economic and social capital which would partially emancipate them from their servile past. Resting on ethnographical data collected among the 'Abid Ghbonton, a Black community dwelling the deep South-East of Tunisia, I intend to sketch out briefly Southern Blacks Tunisians' specific migratory trajectories.

panel P127
Migrants in the provinces: the adaptive potential of the province compared to the megapolis