EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P072)
Hospitality and its reverse: migration and xenophobia in Southern Europe and beyond [MedNet Mediterraneanist Network]
Location Aula Magna-Mimer
Date and Start Time 15 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Jutta Lauth Bacas (University of Malta) email
  • Carlo Capello (University of Torino) email

Mail All Convenors

Short abstract

The massive arrival of boat migrants and refugees in Mediterranean countries has given way to hospitality and to growing xenophobia. What are causes and consequences of such increasing xenophobic feelings? And how are grassroots hospitality and the official migration apparatuses locally organised?

Long abstract

Hospitality has often been described as one of the cultural diacritics of the Mediterranean region. Be it or not, the esteem of guests in this area has never meant the absence of feelings of suspicion and the refusal of the stranger. Nowadays, we are witnessing an intensification of this contradiction in Southern European societies and beyond. On one side, the massive arrivals of boat migrants and refugees in Mediterranean countries have given way to formal and informal practices of hospitality organised by governments, local authorities and NGOs. On the other side, we also observe a diffusion and recrudescence of xenophobic feelings and practice often linked to the growth of right-wing movements. The Stranger is ever more a symbol of the many contradictions of our perplexing present.

From an anthropological point of view we ask: Which developments do we observe in this respect in Mediterranean countries and beyond? What are the causes and consequences of the widespread growing xenophobic structure of feelings? What the stranger as menacing Other is a symptom of? And, on the other side, how are grassroots hospitality and the official migration apparatuses locally organised or not organised?

In short: hospitality and xenophobia are at the core of our panel. The convenors invite contributions that investigate, by means of an ethnographic or theoretical lens, the conundrum of hospitality and refusal of the stranger in the wake of mass migration in Southern European countries and beyond. Contributions referring to other than Mediterranean countries are explicitly invited, too.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Visions and practices of hospitality at the French-Spanish Mediterranean border.

Author: Eliseu Carbonell (University of Girona) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper deals with the immigrants welcoming practices at the French-Spanish border in northern Catalonia. Despite the permeability of the border and the cultural and territorial continuity, the different migration policies by the two States have a strong impact on local practices of hospitality.

Long abstract

This paper is based on a comparative study on the immigrants welcoming practices in the "Département des Pyrénées-Orientales" and the "Comarca de l'Alt Empordà" at the Franco-Spanish border that divides the northern area of Catalonia. In spite of being a territory with a cultural and historical continuity, the presence of two States gives a distinctive character to the practices of hospitality organized by NGOs and local authorities.

The research was carried out during 2017 and consisted on an ethnographic fieldwork on both sides of the border, participant observation in NGOs, and in-depth interviews with 26 people (volunteers and employees) in 18 organizations. The emphasis of the research was put in the critical reflections about the practices of hospitality by the local NGOs themselves.

This research had three main objectives about the hospitality: 1. To know the main characteristics of the organizations dedicated to the reception of immigrants (employees and volunteers, access to services, internal organization, etc.); 2. To identify the demands they attend (legal support, assistance services, education, etc.); 3. To discover which models of welcome are activated (what is meant by the concepts of welcoming, integration, inclusion, etc.).

The comparative study reveals that in a close territory inside EU, divided by a border but culturally and historically united, with people, immigrants or not, who constantly pass through it, the different national legislations and the more or less direct presence of the State on the regions determine in a decisive way the visions and practices of hospitality.

Hospitality, new identity nationalism and ethnicity negotiation in anti-migrant movements in Italy

Author: Rosa Parisi (University of Foggia) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Starting from the analysis of the conflict between pro and anti immigrants movements, the paper aims to explore the Italian new forms of ethnicity included in the rhetoric on identity nationalism produced since the "diferentialis inclusion" of migrants.

Long abstract

Nowaday international migration regime characterized by war, by European policies of rebordering and refoulement, by economic crisis, by resurgence of nationalism, has transformed Italy from "transit land" to "imprisonment land". The emergence of a new Identity nationalism produced by protest movements headed by right parties redesign a new idea of ethnicity linked with both economic crisis and to the so-called European refugees crisis. Therefore, the ethnic dimension of new nationalism is negotiated and renegotiated start from the process of migrant inclusion and exclusion. In fact, the social conflict are specially expressed into identity nationalism rhetoric linked with movements of anti-migrant protests.

In Italy, protesting against the spontaneous settlements of migrants in big and small cities and protests objected the national deployment plans of displaced in transit migrants into local communities produce an increase of violence against immigrants. At the same time, have arisen a "local movements" engaged in the reception of migrants and in the contrast to the decisions of the government on the militarization of the city and the governance of migration.

Starting from the analysis of the conflict between pro and anti immigrants movements, the paper aims to explore the Italian new forms of ethnicity included in the rhetoric on identity nationalism produced since the "diferentialis inclusion" of migrants. Finally, the paper would reflect on the process of negotiation, contestation and renegotiation of ethnicity dimension of nationalism in a situation of great social turbulence where fear and the demand for security undermine the forms of democracy.

Xenophobia, racism, and attachment to homeland in the experience of Santomean migrants in Portugal

Author: José Sobral (Universidade de Lisboa) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

In spite of the Portuguese common-sense rhetoric that depicts the Portuguese as non-racist, the experience of Santomean migrants in Portugal has been marked by xenophobia and racism. We argue that this experience is a main factor in keeping alive the feelings of belonging that bind them to homeland.

Long abstract

After the end of the Portuguese colonial empire in 1974, Portugal became a destination for the emigration of the former colonized, who came to in search of a better living in a Western European country. The historical relationship between colonizers and colonized, and the fact that both former settlers and former colonialists are part of a political organization linking Portuguese-speaking countries contributed to this migration. As they spoke Portuguese, many of these migrants were able to acquire Portuguese citizenship, and with it the possibility of access to occupations such as the civil service, a monopoly of the nationals. In this paper, we deal with the Santomean who have migrated to Portugal in the last three decades. In spite of the widespread Portuguese common-sense rhetoric that represents the Portuguese as non-racist, their experience has been marked not by hospitality and inclusion, but by xenophobia and racism. Based on ethnographical fieldwork and interviews with Santomean migrants in Lisbon, we analyze their experience of living in Portugal showing how it leads to the maintenance of the segregation between them and the Portuguese, even when they have Portuguese citizenship acquired by birth. Then we purport to show how this experience of exclusion is a main contributing factor to keeping alive and reproducing the feelings of belonging that bind them to homeland.

"A great variety of morbid symptoms appear." An ethnographic approach to economic crisis and xenophobia in Italy

Author: Carlo Capello (University of Torino) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

In the last years we have seen, also in Italy, a surge and a recrudescence in xenophobic discourses. The aim of my paper is to offer an interpretation of this phenomenon through the case-study of unemployed people in Turin, among whom xenophobic and nationalistic feelings are quite widespread.

Long abstract

As Gramsci (1975) once wrote: "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born, in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear". Xenophobia is one of these symptoms. Xenophobia is anything but new in Italy, but in the last years we have seen a surge and a recrudescence in xenophobic discourses and discriminatory practices. The aim of my paper is to offer an interpretation of this dramatic phenomenon through the case-study of unemployed people in Turin, among whom xenophobic and nationalistic feelings are quite widespread.

The ethnographic data show that this phenomenon has to be put in relation with the economic crisis and, more generally, with the neoliberal transformation which brought about the expulsion of work-force that so much affected late industrial cities like Turin. In this context, xenophobia is the deformed expression of the feelings of exclusion and insecurity experienced by the working class. In the first place, it is linked to the perceived competition between local subaltern classes and the immigrants for the vanishing economic and public resources, affected both by the global crisis and by austerity policies. Moreover, xenophobia is the expression of the bewilderment felt by the working class in front of the current neoliberal predicament. The situation of unemployed people in Turin, then, tells us that we have to look at the "subtexts of class" (Kalb 2011), if we want to decipher the xenophobic discourse so that we can better contrast it.

Ethnic encounters in the urban space: Evidence from two working class districts in Istanbul

Author: Aysen Ustubici (Koc University) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

The paper focuses on Syrians' experiences of incorporation in the urban context of Istanbul, on their encounters with service providers and local residents. The findings are based on fieldwork conducted in two districts of Istanbul where the presence of newly arrived Syrian population prevails.

Long abstract

Several recent reports and research underscored inhospitable attitudes towards Syrian refugees in Turkey. Existing findings mostly rely on surveys measuring how local residents perceive Syrian as "the other". However, surveys fall short to reveal how Syrians experience such encounters and respond to stigmatization and exclusion. Using neighborhoods as units of observation, the paper focuses on Syrians' experiences of incorporation in the urban context of Istanbul, with a particular focus on their encounters with service providers, local residents from Turkish as well as other immigrant backgrounds. Looking at both sides of the coin, the paper also explores how local immobile/ settled residents and mobile / displaced newcomers locate themselves within the wider discussions of integration, deservingness, social cohesion and how they re-draw ethnic boundaries during daily exchanges.The findings are based on fieldwork conducted in two districts of Istanbul where the presence of newly arrived Syrian population prevails. The data collection process included focus groups and semi-structured interviews with Syrians, local inhabitants as well as with service providers to reveal how urban dwellers describe the social word and recent changes in their immediate urban space. The analysis is also informed by observations in various social spaces such as local cafés, hometown associations, shops, medical clinics, community centers.

"Lost in hospitality": reflections on Italian social services and social workers welcoming immigrant families.

Authors: Paola Sacchi (University of Turin) email
Carlotta Saletti Salza email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

We propose to consider a set of meanings shared by a group of Italian social workers and related to the strategies they enact to host and support immigrant families as signs of discomfort and bewilderment in managing cultural differences between xenophilia and xenophobia.

Long abstract

The considerations we intend to propose stem from a research we have carried out along with a group of social workers in the territorial social services of Turin. The goal was to pinpoint their images and representations of the families labelled as "Muslim" and "Rom", which constitute a large part of the people they are expected to host and support in the various quarters and local services, in order to better understand the obstacles to communication and the misunderstandings lurking in the intervention strategies enacted by these social workers.

The material we have collected prompts reflections on a set of meanings that appear to be shared by social workers and are not the expression of an openly xenophobic attitude but rather seem to manifest a strong feeling of unease and disorientation vis-à-vis real or alleged cultural diversity. In a context marked by a substantial reduction of available resources and correspondingly substantial staff cuts, their general statements about cultural variability are often xenophile, but are accompanied by a series of mechanisms of inferiorization of the Other that are implicit in the actions they undertake when it comes to specific cases and they resort to the language of cultural difference. This gap between the ideological and deontological dimension and the level of action in social work is a symptom of the social workers' bewilderment and of the loneliness they feel when they have to make delicate decisions within the general framework of a State whose policies are fed with this very ambivalence.

Xenophobia and Diversity: Organised Approaches in Municipalities in Germany

Author: Jutta Lauth Bacas (University of Malta) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

My paper will discuss the lower than average level of electoral success of the nationalist party AfD in cities in west Germany, where immigration is high since the 1960ies. My analysis will refer to citizens' engagement on the local level and to municipal institutions promoting cultural diversity.

Long abstract

Germany has a long-standing history of immigration since the 1960ies. In 2015/16, the country experienced an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers and crisis refugees. Since than, Germany not only saw a wave of local citizens' hospitality, but also the rise and electoral success of a new right-wing partly, the AfD ("Alternative for Germany") with a firth anti-immigration approach. In the national election of 2017, the nationalist AfD managed to secure 12.6% of the vote and to enter the German parliament as third largest party. Electoral analysis shows that AfD has its strongholds in the former communist east of the country.

Interestingly, AfD's electoral success was significantly lower than the national average in a number of large cities in western Germany with a population characterised by a high degree of cultural diversity. Why did voters in municipalities like Cologne, Frankfurt/Main, Münster, Offenbach, Nürnberg felt less attracted by the anti-migration, anti-Islam discourse of the AfD?

The aim of my presentation is to discuss this lower representation of the right-wing party AfD in a number of German cities, where labour immigration has been high since the 1960ies. Therefore, the following approaches to promote cultural diversity shall be investigated:

- Social movements and civil engagement on the municipal level (f.e., the citizens' initiative "Köln gegen Rechts" in Cologne)

- Municipal institutions supporting cultural diversity (f.e., the Office for Multicultural Affairs (AmkA) founded by the administration of Frankfurt/Main to encourage ethnic groups in Frankfurt in living together constructively).

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.