Archive for the ‘The Movement of Peoples’ Category

Migration, Italy, Europe

Posted on November 1, 2013 in The Movement of Peoples

Professor and Nanovic fellow Maurizio Albahari (Anthropology) drew attention again to the plight of migrants to Italy from North Africa with a piece published at CNN earlier in October. The Nanovic Institute had a conversation with him, as follows.

What happened off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3rd?

After several hours in distress, adrift off the coast of Lampedusa, somebody on the overcrowded migrant boat ignited blankets to generate smoke and call for help—it is plausible that in Libya smugglers had confiscated cell phones. People on board did not realize what was happening and panicked. The boat capsized. 366 young men, women, and children perished. 155 were eventually rescued by private boats and by the Italian armed forces. Most of the victims had fled the authoritarian country of Eritrea, where among other constraints young people face the obligation of indefinite military conscription and forced labor.

Is North African migration to Europe a temporary phenomenon, or is it part of some larger pattern?

Europe needs to understand that Egypt and Libya—countries which are hosting economic and forced migrants from the rest of Africa and the Middle East—are currently facing economic and political instability, sectarian and regional violence, and a surge in xenophobia. In these conditions, migration to Europe will continue, and North Africa will remain a region of origin and transit for maritime migrants.

Why is it illegal for migrants to get on planes and ferries and leave their countries? Don’t such laws, and the Bossi-Fini law of 2002 in Italy, contravene Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? If so, what pressure for reform, if any, can be brought to bear?

The vast majority of would-be economic immigrants from African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries cannot legally travel to Italy and to the EU without first securing a job contract while in their countries. Forced migrants, including Syrians, Somalis, and Eritreans, can apply for asylum only after physically arriving to European countries by unauthorized means.

What is the most important thing European organizations can do to help?

Bring policymakers to realize that smugglers are not the cause of migration. Thus, for displaced and forced migrants legal channels for asylum application and humanitarian protection need to be developed prior to those migrants enriching criminal smuggler networks and risking their lives in the Mediterranean. More broadly, the EU–if it is truly uncomfortable about the twenty thousand people who have perished while trying to reach its soil–needs to develop a more rational, coherent, and homogenous asylum, immigration, and family reunification policy.

The official memorial service for the victims was held in Agrigento, not Lampedusa, and excluded the 155 survivors. How do you interpret these choices?

The Italian Government has delivered a memorial service. This is unprecedented, as it honored non-citizens. But Enrico Letta, Italy’s Prime Minister, had promised official state funerals. In reality, victims had already been buried, in Agrigento and elsewhere in Sicily. The request of survivors to attend was not accommodated either, as they are still detained in Lampedusa. And many in the Eritrean community cannot understand why the Eritrean ambassador in Italy was invited, when it is precisely from the Eritrean Government that their brothers and sisters are massively escaping from. In practice, the people who should have been at the center of the memorial service, including Lampedusa’ s citizens and administrators, have understood the memorial as a mere ceremony, rather than a healing ritual, and as a parade for national politicians.

More recently, Prof. Albahari has addressed the place of outsiders in Europe in general.

Youth Unemployment in Europe Rises Again

Posted on October 31, 2013 in Patterns of Integration, Social and Political Geographies, The Movement of Peoples

Europe continues to struggle with youth unemployment, which reached a record high in September. An especially interesting response is the return of traditional agriculture:

In Portugal, a growing number of young people, including graduates, have been returning to the land to take up farming. The government is encouraging the trend and now offers six-month paid training agricultural courses for 6,000 people aged between 18 and 35. The number of applicants for such schemes rose to 8,000 in 2012 from just 1,000 in 2008. Some 35 percent had higher education. Greece offers subsidies to new farmers, and also provides state-owned land at a nominal price, or even rent-free, to under 35-year-olds who are prepared to cultivate it.

The road to serfdom, or the road to surfing the dome of another economic bubble? The Financial Times has more.

Nanovision in December

Posted on January 9, 2013 in Patterns of Integration, Religion & Secularization, Social and Political Geographies, The Movement of Peoples

Movement of Peoples

The first genome-wide perspective on the origin of Romani peoples has been published in Current Biology (Cell Press) by David Comas (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain) and Manfred Kayser (Erasmus University, Netherlands). Linguistic evidence has long placed the origins of the Roma in Rajasthan; genome data confirms this view and adds that intermarriage with non-Romani Europeans also contributes a great deal.

Gérard Dépardieu’s recent protest against tax rates in France reminds us that the free movement of people, and peoples, is often driven by economic incentives and disincentives. On the other end of the income spectrum, what are the movement patterns now in, for example, Spain, where unemployment is skyrocketing? More generally, youth unemployment is upwards of 40% at Europe’s edges, as this map based on Eurostat data shows.

Social & Political Geographies

Geography is one of those academic enterprises like English that has largely dissolved its disciplinary boundaries. It now encompasses not only the description of terra firma but of any phenomena (social, political, etc.) that can be mapped to it. With the advent of big data, maps have taken on new subjects, methods, and representational forms. One site that collects especially thought-provoking maps is Strange Maps by Frank Jacobs.

Patterns of Integration

One of the most obvious patterns of cultural solidarity in Europe is the sharing of food. Europe of course has long been known for its cuisine (France, Italy, Spain, etc.). One of the chefs best-known today for pushing the envelope is Ferran Adrià, from the famous (and now closed) restaurant, El Bulli. Adrià is leading the El Bulli Foundation, which aims in part to create a global database of gastronomy called BulliPedia. Like other cultural examples of modernism, Adrià’s approach to cuisine searches high and low and verges deliberately on the surreal to “make it new.” It’s interesting however that this global modernist cuisine is matched in status by its complement, the creatively locavore and primitivist cuisine of René Redzepi in Copenhagen, whose restaurant Noma is considered by the trade to be the best in the world.

Religion & Secularization

TEDx at the Vatican on April 19, 2013, will address religious freedom.

Other links of interest

eurozine, “Europe’s leading cultural magazines at your fingertips”

Council for European Studies (Columbia University)

France Expels Roma

Posted on September 13, 2012 in The Movement of Peoples

The French Socialist Government continues to dismantle camps and deport Roma from the outskirts of Paris. The first great jazz musician from Europe was Django Reinhardt (b. 1910), from the Sinti group of Roma. Reinhardt lived in the outskirts of Paris near Saint-Ouen.


Faith and Migration in Europe

Posted on March 9, 2012 in The Movement of Peoples

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just published a report on the religious affiliation of international migrants.  Pew’s research shows that there are vastly more Christian immigrants in Europe than Muslims (26 million, or 56% of the foreign-born population, versus 13 million). However, if one excludes internal migration within the European Union, the shares are much closer: 42% Christian to 39% Muslim, respectively.

Here’s the spotlight on Europe.