The Black Mediterranean: Migration and Revolution in the Global Millennium

A public lecture by Alessandra Di Maio, University of Palermo, English.

Monday, May 7, 2012
4:00 PM
236 Royce Hall

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This lecture focuses on the Mediterranean basin as a crossroads between Africa and Europe, mainly by way of Italy. In the past decades, the Mediterranean has been one of the world’s most crucial sites of international migration. People from the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa keep “burning” it relentlessly – only routes sometimes change, depending on new treaties and agreements among nation states. The metaphor of the “burning,” indicating the “crossing,” is used in colloquial speech by the North Africans who, from the early 1980s, have traversed it in mass, with the hope to find on its European shores work, democracy, and better life conditions for themselves and their families. The traversing does not always have a happy ending. Many are the men, women and children who lose their lives in the crossing; and many are those who are systematically discriminated upon arrival. A case in point is the route Libya-Italy. Lampedusa, Sicily’s and Italy’s southernmost point, has been sending back migrants upon arrival, even when they should have been acknowledged as refugees. The EU has watched without intervening. How migrant policies are going to change after the Arab revolution – specifically, in this case, after Qaddafi’s deposition – remains to be seen.
In tackling the issued presented, Alessandra Di Maio will refer to a number of critical texts – such as Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic, which inform her formula of the Black Mediterranean; works by Glissant, Braidotti, Dal Lago; juridical texts; and media clips and documentaries, in particular director Andrea Segre’s African trilogy (South of Lampedusa, 2006; Like A Man on Earth, 2008; Green Blood, 2011).

Alessandra Di Maio teaches at the University of Palermo, Italy. Her area of specialization includes black, postcolonial, diasporic, migratory, and gender studies, with a particular attention to the formation of transnational cultural identities. Among her publications are the volumes Tutuola at the University. The Italian Voice of a Yoruba Ancestor (2000), the collection An African Renaissance (2006), Wor(l)ds in Progress. A Study of Contemporary Migrant Writings (2008), and Dedica a Wole Soyinka (2012). She has translated into Italian several authors, among them Nuruddin Farah and Wole Soyinka. She is the Italian consultant for the 2012 Lagos Black Heritage Festival, dedicated to the relationship between Africa and Italy.

Sponsor(s): African Studies Center, Center for European and Russian Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Comparative Literature, English, UCLA Department of Italian