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Accepted Paper:

“The Law Knotted Everything”: Migration, Paperwork, and Absurdity in Milan, Italy  
Stefano Pontiggia (Politecnico di Milano)

Paper short abstract:

The paper aims to describe the effects of the Italian migration procedures as the production of absurdity. It will do it by looking at the story of an undocumented Nigerian citizen and the paperwork affecting his living conditions.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will describe the migratory experience of Merule (fictional name), an undocumented Nigerian citizen who has been living in Italy since 2009. His condition is heavily affected by his status as an undocumented migrant and the documents the state institutions have produced about him over time. The paper will describe some of those documents to highlight how the Italian migration laws produce long waiting times and precarity, but also absurd situations such as having three different tax codes.

Merule lies at the center of two different but complementary rules regulating migration to Italy. He entered the country legally through the so-called decreto flussi (a measure by which the Italian government determines how many foreign workers may enter the country each year and for what work placements) but fell into irregularity three years later. In 2020, he enrolled in one of the recurring regularization programs that have punctuated the last thirty years of migration management.

The intertwining of these two legal and administrative procedures has produced a situation that can be defined as absurd but not meaningless. Paperwork and confusing, contradictory, and exclusionary norms regulating one’s legal status as a foreigner made him feel “stuck” in a prolonged condition of waiting for something to happen and have the paradoxical effect of putting him into a “not-not” situation. Incapable of obtaining all the rights he can aspire as a foreigner regularly residing in Italy, he cannot enjoy the relative freedom irregularity brings with it.

Panel P063a
States of the absurd I
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -