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Alessandro DAL LAGO

Date: 04/29/13 16:00:00

Dans le cadre de ses séminaires de recherche, le GERME a le plaisir de vous inviter à la conférence:

 "From Racism to Indifference"

The public discourse on Immigration in Italy, 2000-2012 

Le titre de cette conférence est basé sur l'ouvrage suivant:

DAL LAGO, A. (1999). “Non Persone. L'esclusione dei migranti in una società globale”, Milano: Feltrinelli

Traduction par Marie Orton (2005), IPOC: "Non-Persons. The Exclusion of Migrans in a Global Society


lundi 29 avril, à 18h00

Salle Henri Janne (15e)



In Italy, during the Nineties, the public discourse on migrants was marked by commonsensical racism. Even if political correctness precluded explicit reference to race, the social construction of migrants as virtual or actual dangers for the stability of Italy and the employment of Italians and so on was widespread all over the country. Northern League, in particular, was very active in labeling migrant as unfair competitors in the labor market. As to the “progressive” opinion, Rome center-left mayors (Veltroni, Rutelli and so on) were specialized in chasing Rom or other “illegal” settlers from the outskirts of the city.

            Over the recent years, the increasing economic crisis has changed somehow surprisingly the Italian attitudes towards the “problem” of migrations. After a period of panic – following the entry of Romania and other eastern European countries in the EU – the indifference took the place of hostility. Instead of menaces to the “sacred borders of the nation” (as Beppe Grillo called people from Romania some years ago) foreigners are rather seen as “humanitarian” items that Italy cannot manage without the EU help.

The “thingness” of migrants in the Italian public opinion was plainly revealed in 2011 during the Libyan war, when thousands of Africans and Asian escaping from Tripoli and Bengasi tried to reach the southern coasts of the country. They were put in the Cie (Centers of detention, identification and expulsion) and sent to Europe without recognition of their status of asylums seekers.

            According to me, the status of migrants as things exchangeable with European benefits or Libyan oil is far worse than the status of unreal menaces to the country. Indeed, as Hannah Arendt stated in the Origins of Totalitarianism, a criminal or even an enemy can be socially recognized, at least in a criminal trial or in the public discourse. A human being reduced to a thing or a good is only a candidate to disappearance from the space of humanity.