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This comparative volume examines the sustained contribution of migrants to Europe’s literatures, social cultures, and arts over centuries. Europe has never been a continent bounded by the seas that surround it. In premodern times, migrants imprinted the languages, arts, and literatures of the places where they settled. They contributed to these cultures and economies. Some were on the move in search of a better life; others were displaced by war, dispossessed, expelled; while still others were brought in servitude to European cities to work, enslaved. Today’s immigration flows in Europe are not exceptional but anchored in this longue durée process. Iberia/Maghreb, Sicily/Lampedusa, Calais are the three hotspots considered in this volume. These regions have been shaped and continue to be shaped by migrants; by their cultures; their Spanish, Arabic, Italian, and Somali; their French, English and Mandarin languages. They are also shaped by migrants’ struggles. The scholars and artists who wrote Migrants shaping Europe, past and present compose a new significant chapter in the cultural history of European migration by reflecting on the forces that have put people into motion since the premodern period and by examining the visual arts, literature, and multilingual social worlds fostered by migration. This historically expansive and multilingual approach to mobility and expressiveness makes a crucial contribution: migrants as a lifeblood of European cultures.
In 2008, Italian artist Mimmo Paladino’s Porta di Lampedusa, porta d’Europa was installed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, located closer to Tunisia than to Italy. Oriented toward Libya, a major migrant departure point and Italy’s former colony, the Porta was dedicated to migrants who died during recent cross-Mediterranean passage. It frames the Mediterranean as a geography in crisis. In 2016, in response to Italian and EU migrant non-assistance practices, Italian artist Arabella Pio staged an intervention, closing the Porta with re-creations of anonymous migrant headstones found in Lampedusa’s cemetery. Whereas Paladino’s work is a celebrated symbol of Italian accoglienza (hospitality), Pio’s intervention received little attention. Building upon recent scholarship on Lampedusa and Italy’s mobility regimes, the chapter considers Paladino’s Porta and Pio’s intervention and their reception within the context of renewed cross-Mediterranean migration, while considering legacies of Italian colonialism and contemporary debates on monumentality and migration in Italy. Using formal and social art historical analysis, with attention to Paladino’s practice and the works’ divergent framings of memorialization and Italian-African relations, these works are found to index shifting responses in Italy to contemporary migration. Despite divergent framings of memorialization and Italian-African relations, they share a distinctly postcolonial entropic monumentality: a condition of temporary memorialization characterized, in this case in Italy, by a subversion of coloniality that often undergirds Italian monuments as exertions of power. The conclusion addresses related contemporary artworks by Theo Eshetu and Jem Perucchini, which address Italy’s repatriation of the Stele of Axum to Ethiopia and situate the monument as “decolonial gateway.”
This chapter examines an Italian collection of refugee stories from 2018, Anche Superman era un rifugiato: Storie vere di coraggio per un mondo migliore (Superman Was a Refugee Too: True Stories of Courage for a Better World) to analyze key elements that Italian literature brings to discourses about migration literature, including questions about who is included in this category and the connections between texts and authors across time. Arguing for the importance of including untranslated works in debates about migration literature, the chapter puts Anche Superman era un rifugiato in conversation with two well-known collections, The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (2018) and The Penguin Book of Migration Literature: Departures, Arrivals, Generations, Returns (2019) in order to trace how Italy is positioned in these three migration literature anthologies. Italy decenters ideas of one-directional migratory movement, because its history, geography, and politics highlight the complexity of describing migratory movement and the issues with assuming all countries follow similar models in terms of migration and its representations. The chapter ends with a discussion on how Anche Superman era un rifugiato reveals the connections between colonialism, migration, racism, and antisemitism in Italian history and criticism.
This chapter considers exile as being fundamental to the origins of Italian poetry through the lens of the twelth-century Sicilian Arab poet Ibn Hamdîs and how his nostalgia for Sicily resonates with the global affinities forged in Dante’s Commedia. How might our ideas of Italian literature and identity shift by considering the Arab poets of Sicily as part of the Italian canon? In similar fashion, how might we orient our reading of Dante through the perspective of migration? Aspects such as self-identification with the cultural other, experiments in multilingual poetry, and expressions of global connectivity emerge to give voice to a poet attuned with the medieval realities of migration and one whose vision is by no means to be relegated solely to the world beyond.
Touted as the first testimonial written in Arabic (Morocco’s official language) about the experience of Moroccan migrant workers in Spain, Rachid Nini’s Diario de un ilegal (Diary of a Clandestine Migrant, 1999) speaks to the multilingual nature of contemporary Spain – and therefore, Spanish letters. This chapter analyzes how Nini interrogates presumptions about North African migratory flows precisely by directing an Arabic literary work to a Spanish audience. Tybinko argues that, while Diario de un ilegal has often been read in terms of migrant precarity, it similarly speaks to Spain’s own precarious position within the European Union and the country’s contentious relationship with its neighbors to the South. Drawing on Judith Butler’s definition of precarity, the author offers a vision of how works like Nini’s can therefore be read as an integral part of the Spanish canon. It is exemplary of the way narratives of migration fill a lacuna in the story of Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy, from European outlier to gatekeeper for the EU, from sending to receiving country, and from bust to boom (and back again).
This chapter, best read in conjunction with Chapters 2 and 3, seeks to trace the now established stereotype of the puritan and the emergent one of the projector through Ben Jonson’s plays. The aim is to emphasise the role of the theatre in propagating such stereotypes, in ways which were comic, i.e. designed to entertain, and thus to make a profit; but which also had a decidedly political edge, and potential social and cultural punch to them. The chapter establishes the roots of projecting, and thus of the stereotype of the projector, in certain structural tensions and contradictions in the late Elizabethan and early Stuart states. It then uses the ambiguous feelings of Ben Jonson towards his status as a creature of the court, a popular dramatist and a poet with a serious moral purpose to illustrate wider ambiguities in how stereotypes could be used both to strengthen the status quo, by deriding and marginalising perceived threats and abuses, and (in the right, or perhaps we should say wrong, circumstances) to actively delegitimate, and thus destabilise, the status quo. The concluding section reflects on how such literary interventions shaped subsequent political and economic processes running up to the Civil Wars.
This chapter focuses on Syria as a space where one of the region’s longest-running and most brutal civil conflicts has been subject to the penetration of external powers, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. In this chapter, the author asses the utility of different theoretical perspectives from international relations in explaining Iran’s comparative success vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia in Syria. The analysis shows that while structural factors clearly were important, the significance of domestic and ideational factors alongside them suggests that purely systemic answers are insufficient alone to explain the conflict’s outcome. The chapter concludes that a neoclassical realist interpretation offers the best explanation for Saudi Arabia’s inability to adapt to the changing external context and make the most of its advantages, due in part to the influence of domestic factors.
The coda looks back to the early modern case studies presented in this volume, and highlights key findings. By documenting practices of stereotyping and studying their repercussions, these case studies demonstrate both the surprising human agency over particular stereotypes, and simultaneously the disturbing resilience of stereotyping as a mode of human interaction across the early modern period. By inviting the renowned social psychologist Sandra Jovchelovitch to co-author, we explore implications of these findings for social psychology and sociology, and for civil societies in the twenty-first century.
Chapter 3 explores how competition in the religious domain impacts on the foreign policies of Iran and Saudi Arabia. In this chapter, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is unpacked from the perspective of claims to religious legitimacy, showing how both countries have historically relied on their own understandings of Islam to legitimise state authority, frame nationalist projects, and as a foreign policy tool. The chapter highlights how the struggle for religious competition between the two states goes beyond the Sunni–Shia schism, and translates into both geopolitical and domestic disorder. By using a comparative analysis the chapter traces the ways in which the dependence on Islam as a state tool has influenced both domestic and foreign policies in each country and, in turn, the wider Saudi–Iranian competition for regional authority.
This final chapter offers some reflections and conclusions as to how the rivalry between the two regional powers of Iran and Saudi Arabia is realised differently through time and space. Though competition and rivalry appear to predominate in the calculus of both states, shown starkly by how this has manifested in the cases explored in this volume, the authors seek to offer a less pessimistic outlook for the future of relations between the states. As key powers in a contested region, Iran and Saudi Arabia need to move towards greater accommodation and understanding of one another’s interests to secure the future peace and prosperity of the Middle East.