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Working with migrants’ memories in Italy: The Lampedusa dump

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The Archive of Migrant Memories aims at recording and diffusing migrant self-narratives in Italy so as to leave a visible trace of recently arrived migrants and their rising agency in Italian society. Retrieving oral and written records of migrants travelling to and landing on Italian soil intends to contrast, both physically and metaphorically, the hiding or cancellation mechanisms lying behind the collective unease surrounding immigration policies in today’s Italy. The recurrent dumping of migrant lives in the Mediterranean, particularly on its European southernmost gate at Lampedusa, symbolizes the careless disposal of irksome memories of migration within present-day Italian society. Here the remains of rotten boats derived from the repeated landings of irregular migrants on the Island and their human ‘waste’ – old shoes, clothes, cooking utensils, children’s toys, throw-away objects, but also water-stained documents, photos, holy books and individual writings such as letters, memoirs or diaries – lie to decompose as a vivid expression of what is not to be remembered in the nation’s past.
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Keywords: archive; displaced memories; dump; migrant voices; objects of affection; politics of memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Naples, L’Orientale

Publication date: October 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The course of cultures at both local and global levels is crucially affected by migratory movements. In turn, culture itself is turned migrant. This journal will advance the study of the plethora of cultural texts on migration produced by an increasing number of cultural practitioners across the globe who tackle questions of culture in the context of migration. They do this in a variety of ways and through a variety of media. To name but a few relevant aspects of this juncture of migration and culture, questions of dislocation, travel, borders, diasporic identities, transnational contacts and cultures, cultural memory, the transmission of identity across generations, questions of hybridity and cultural difference, the material and oral histories of migration and the role of new technologies in bridging cultures and fostering cultural cross-pollination will all be relevant. Methodologies of research will include both the study of 'texts' and fieldwork.
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