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robertogreco : mediterranean   7

Italian writer Igiaba Scego rewrites the Black Mediterranean
"Igiaba Scego is one of the most prominent voices of a new cohort of Black writers in Italy. Scego was born in Rome in 1974 to parents from Somalia; her father served as a high-ranking official in the Somali government before the 1969 Siad Barre coup d’etat. A prolific novelist, journalist, social commentator, and activist, Scego has won numerous awards for her writings on African-Italian identities and the legacies of Italian colonialism. Her newest book, Adua, released in Italy by Giunti this September, represents a welcome intervention into the diversity of Black experiences in Italy. Indeed, Adua can be read as an exploration of what Jacqueline Nassy Brown has termed “diaspora’s counter/parts”–relations among the African diaspora that are based not solely on affinity and sameness, but also on differences and antagonism.

Adua is told through two voices and over three historical moments, which Scego describes as “Italian colonialism, Somalia in the 1970s, and our current moment, when the Mediterranean has been transformed into an open-air tomb for migrants.” Zoppe is a polyglot Somali, descended from a family of soothsayers, who works as an interpreter in the 1930s under Italian fascism. In many ways an embodiment of the tragic maxim “translator as traitor,” Zoppe is torn between his struggle for survival and his deep sense of ethical obligation toward family and nation. A survivor of brutal racist attacks while in Rome, Zoppe’s translation work also affords him a terrifying window into the impending and bloody Italian re-invasion of Ethiopia.

Adua, Zoppe’s daughter and the book’s namesake, was born in Somalia but left for Rome at the age of seventeen. She is known as a “Vecchia Lira” (Old Lira), the irreverent term used by younger immigrants to describe women of the Somali diaspora who arrived in Italy during the 1970s. Adua’s young husband is a recent Somali refugee who came to Italy via Lampedusa escaping civil war; she calls him “Titanic” in reference to the precarious boat on which he arrived, and the two share an ambiguous relationship that oscillates from the maternal to the hostile.

Young Adua dreamed of becoming a movie starlet like Marilyn Monroe–her romantic images of Italy were shaped by the films she watched as a child in a theater built by the fascists. Yet after decades in Italy, she only has one title to her name: a humiliating and degrading erotic movie exploiting Italian stereotypes of Black female sexuality. Adua’s own tragic tale is belied by her triumphal name, bestowed by her father to represent the first African anti-imperialist victory.

Adua is deeply and thoroughly researched, a process Scego describes in the “Historical Note” after the epilogue. It is also a captivating read: the novel is sweeping in its geographical and temporal scope, yet Scego nonetheless renders her complex protagonists richly and lovingly. Adua makes two critical contributions. First, she centers Italian colonial history (particularly Italian colonization and occupation in East Africa) and its reverberations in the present through the lens of lived experience–the layers of intimacy and violence that characterize imperial entanglement. Contrary to the rabid rhetoric of ethno-nationalism, xenophobia, and border securitization in Italy today (seen in the aggressive taunts launched against the likes of Mario Balotelli that “there are no Black Italians”), Scego’s book underscores that “Africans” are not foreign Others intruding into bounded Italian space; rather, these intertwined histories predate Italy’s “official” transformation into a country of immigration during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

And second, Scego dispels the notion that there is any sort of unitary Blackness in Italy. Her characters are colonial subjects and aspiring freedom fighters, migrants and refugees of multiple backgrounds and generations–in other words, Afro-Italians of many stripes and political valences. Scego has taken us beyond the all-too common invocation of subjects “trapped between two worlds,” instead portraying a range of experiences that–while still structured by racism, misogyny, and other axes of power–can do justice to the changing face of Italy today."
igiabascego  2015  italy  mediterranean  colonialism  race  africa  racism  misogyny  power  blackness 
may 2019 by robertogreco
A Flag for No Nations | booktwo.org
"This is the moment at which our ideas of technology as a series of waymarks on the universal march of human progress falter and fall apart. A single technology – the vacuum-deposition of metal vapour onto a thin film substrate – makes its consecutive and multiple appearances at times of stress and trial: at the dawn of the space age, in orbit and on other planets, at the scene of athletic feats of endurance, in defence and offence in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, on the beaches of the European archipelago. These are moments of hope as well as failure; moments when, properly utilised, technological progress enables us to achieve something which was beyond our capabilities before. And yet: we are still pulling bodies from the water wrapped in material which was meant to send us into space."



"Technologies are stories we tell ourselves – often unconsciously – about who we are and what we are capable of. By analysing their traces we may divine the progress they are capable of assisting, but they are not in and of themselves future-producing, magical, or separate from human agency. They are a guide and a hope. The reality of these technologies and the place of their deployment shows us plainly that another world is not only possible, but coming into being, should we choose to recognise and participate in it. Technology alone will not achieve such change, merely reflect back our failure to capitalise upon it. Its proper use is not as a bandage for the present, but as a banner for the future."
jamesbridle  techology  humanism  humanity  nasa  space  skylab  refugees  skylab2  1973  jackkinzler  josephkerwin  nationalmetallizing  jerryross  1988  hubbletelescope  spaceblankets  heatsheets  afghanistan  rubenpeter  2011  2013  2005  pakistan  lesbos  greece  lampedusa  2014  2015  2016  mediterranean  migration  chios  hope  flags  kimstanleyrobinson  technology 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Q&A: Tackling taboos in Morocco's art scene - Al Jazeera English
"Morocco's location on the Mediterranean Sea has made it a departure point for undocumented migrants in Africa hoping to cross to Europe.

These dangerous journeys have resulted in many migrants drowning and the Mediterranean earning the morbid nickname of "the sea cemetery", with a recent incident claiming 800 victims. Some who do not cross opt to settle instead in Morocco, where they have reportedly experienced abuse from the local population.

Moroccan-French photographer and video artist Leila Alaoui has attempted to tackle such issues through her art. At the Traces of the Future exhibit at the Marrakech Museum of Photography and Visual Arts, which runs until September, Alaoui's video installation Crossings showcases testimonies of sub-Saharan migrants against the backdrop of the Mediterranean. 

Al Jazeera spoke with Alaoui about Crossings, as well as her focus on migration throughout her larger body of work.



Al Jazeera: The testimonies of sub-Saharan migrants in Crossings could be perceived as a controversial topic within Morocco, because migrants are often targets of repression. Why did you decide to focus on sub-Saharan migrants? How did you research this project?

Alaoui: As a Moroccan, I felt very ashamed and felt some kind of responsibility to fight against the violent treatment of sub-Saharan migrants, who because of their "clandestine" status are deprived of basic human rights.

When I decided to work on this subject, I spent many months as a participant observer among migrant communities in very under-privileged neighbourhoods in Rabat and Tangier. I became involved with activists, journalists and humanitarian organisations working on the migration crisis in Morocco.

This experience nurtured the idea of an immersive audiovisual experience through which to share personal stories of migration and re-enact the disturbing sensations of the journey. I truly wanted to do a project that humanised and dignified the migrants.



"Al Jazeera: You've previously spoken up about art and self-censorship in Morocco. Could you elaborate on the prevalence of self-censorship? Do you think this artistic self-censorship is more ubiquitous in Morocco than in other parts of the Arab world?

Alaoui: We see Moroccan artists still suffering from censorship in the latest debate on Nabil Ayouch's film on prostitution, Much Loved.

However, when looking at contemporary artists in the Middle East and North Africa, there is very little engaged art emerging from Morocco.

Most of the artists whose work has a strong political message are usually from the Moroccan diaspora or living abroad, such as Mounir Fatmi or Mohamed El Baz.

I personally think artists should be engaging more on sociopolitical issues. In my opinion, art plays an important role in reflecting and questioning our societies.

Moreover, Moroccan society is going through a major transition. We are lost between modernity and traditions, freedom of expression and fear of the authority. We still don't know where to position ourselves and aren't ready to face our real selves.

We prefer to stay quiet, in denial and make sure the country keeps its positive image to stay in peace.

I believe the lack of engagement of artists is more a result of auto-censorship than censorship itself.

But we also have strong examples of artists living in Morocco whose work is very political, such as Mahi Binebine's work on the dark years of Moroccan political repression. This shows us that there is space for freedom of expression as long as we respect the values of the kingdom.

Al Jazeera: You say that in France, you're considered Moroccan, and in Morocco, you're considered French. How does this affect your work in both countries?

Alaoui: Although I feel at home in Morocco, I always felt like a foreigner in both countries.

I certainly believe that my hyphenated identity and my experience living abroad have deeply influenced my work and interest in cultural diversity, identity and migration.

My current project questions the contemporary reality of immigration in a post-colonial era and focuses on North African communities in France. Through this project, I try to understand the shared history of both countries, but it may also be a personal quest for own identity."



Al Jazeera: What are your future plans?

Alaoui: After living in New York, Marrakech and Beirut, I am now in France.

My current work explores the contemporary reality of post-colonial immigration through a visual art project mixing photography, video installations and archival documents.

Following weeks of research as a participant observer among different generations of North African immigrants and their children, I am building a body of work that reflects on individual memories, collective history and identity reconstruction.

My work uses a visual language that combines the narrative depth of documentary storytelling and the aesthetic sensibilities of visual art.

I will also be presenting my series The Moroccans in a solo show at the prestigious Maison Européennede la Photographie in Paris as part of the Arab Photography biennale in November.
via:javierarbona  morocco  leilaalaoui  2015  art  photography  migration  mediterranean  rabat  tangier  race  racism  repression  portraits  self-censorship  politics  society 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Refugee - Mare Nostrum on Vimeo
"Hearing about the EU's plan to ban operation Mare Nostrum, Ben Falk and John McCarthy travelled to Italy last year to try and meet some of the people making the crossing from North Africa. They wanted to get their stories, their true motivation for making such a perilous journey and try to gauge what effect the end of search and rescue operations might have.

They have recently finished this small documentary of the footage they came back with and interviews with some key people working in the field of migration. (WARNING: Contains graphic scenes) With the current tragic news of more drownings and EU policy makers meeting to discuss the situation we thought it important to get, in any way possible, their voices and stories into the discussion. So we're making this public today."

[via: ““Refugee - Mare Nostrum” by @asylumfilms. Why are people crossing the Med? Watch this film now: https://vimeo.com/125247024
https://twitter.com/jamesbridle/status/590159359797256192

See also: http://boingboing.net/2015/04/21/drowned-in-the-mediterranean.html ]
refugees  film  documentary  2-15  marenostrum  benfalk  johnmccarthy  africa  northafrica  europe  migration  policy  mediterranean  immigration 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Fences Where Spain And Africa Meet | KSMU Radio
"On a rocky beach in North Africa, a chain-link fence juts out into the Mediterranean Sea.

This is one of Africa's two land borders with Europe, at two Spanish cities on the African continent. Ceuta and Melilla are Spanish soil — and thus part of the European Union — separated from the rest of Europe by the Mediterranean, and separated from the rest of Africa by huge fences.

If someone manages to scale those fences, he lands in Europe. Tens of thousands of African and Arab migrants try to do that each year. Many have traveled hundreds of miles already, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, but also from conflict zones like Syria or Somalia. Their journeys are similar to those many Latino migrants make northward to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Thousands of people cross the Morocco-Ceuta border legally every day. Dozens more are believed to cross illegally — smuggled in the back of trucks, or hidden in secret compartments under cars or in their trunks. Others manage to scale a huge double fence, lined with anti-climbing mesh and patrolled by border guards.

Still others swim.

"Nine hours in the water — I was hungry!" says Mohamed Ba, 21, from Guinea Conakry in West Africa. "I didn't take my clothes or shoes. I was suffering."

Ba swam around the fence near the Tarajal crossing between Morocco and Spain. He spent his family's life savings on the trip north to Morocco. He'd planned to pay smugglers to hide him in the back of a truck, to cross into Spain. But he got robbed.

"I had 200 euros ($210) in my pocket. They pulled the money off me and they beat me. You see that?" he says, pointing out a long scar on his arm. "I begged them and pleaded, but they did not leave me alone."

Broke, Ba was determined to reach Europe. He refused to turn back. So he waited until nightfall, and jumped into the water and swam — around the chain-link border fence topped with barbed wire. At times, he had to hold his breath underwater, to avoid being seen by Spanish border guards.

Nine hours later, shivering, he emerged onshore in Spain the next morning. "It was cold, and I didn't have anything with me," he says.

A Red Cross team treated him for the early stages of hypothermia. This was back in September, when the Mediterranean is at its warmest. Ba is one of the lucky ones.

In February 2014, at least 15 Africans died trying to swim around the same fence, when border guards fired rubber bullets at them in the water. Sixteen Spanish troops have been indicted in that incident.

"That was a monumental mistake, but we work under so much pressure," says Juan Antonio Delgado, a Civil Guard spokesman. "You've got 500 desperate Africans face to face with 50 of us guards. It's very dramatic. They're absolutely determined to get across."

Thousands do, with the potential to overwhelm public services in Ceuta, a city of about 85,000. The local jobless rate tops 30 percent, without including migrants, all of whom are unemployed. Spain is asking for more EU help to secure its border and prevent migrants from entering.

Moroccans who reach Ceuta illegally are automatically deported, because of a bilateral treaty between Spain and their country. But many African countries have no such treaties. And many migrants try not to disclose their origin, so Spanish officials can't deport them.

Once a migrant enters Spain, he or she has two options: Claim political asylum, or be considered an "economic migrant" — Ba.

"I need a job because my people have nothing, and my father is dead," he says, explaining why he left his native Guinea. He says his dream is to someday work in Barcelona and send money home to his family. "I have only my mom and two younger sisters. I want to give them food and help them. ... They are all in Guinea."

One of the first people many migrants encounter is Germinal Castillo, a Red Cross worker who's part of a team of first responders dispatched to Ceuta's beaches and port, where scores of migrants turn up.

"They're often in a terrible, horrible state. Most often it's hypothermia," says Castillo, who treats an average of about 20 migrants a week in winter — and sometimes 10 times that in summer. "The problem is that they arrive without any documents. They kiss the ground, but then they have to wait months for visas and work permits."

"They're all looking for a better life," he says. "They're looking for what we already have."

While they wait for that paperwork, migrants are housed in local immigration and asylum centers — huge, prisonlike fortresses nestled in the hills of Ceuta and Melilla and across mainland Spain.

Many of the centers are filled beyond capacity, and human rights groups have complained of abuses. Migrants must adhere to curfews and mealtimes but can otherwise come and go freely despite big metal bars and razor wire around the centers.

I met Ba at one of these facilities, where West African men milled around outside, smoking and drinking beer. Ba has been awaiting the paperwork he needs to travel elsewhere in Europe.

Finally, after six months, the documents have come through.

"I was sleeping and the immigration people woke me in my bed to tell me, 'Today you have your pass — and tomorrow you can travel to the [Iberian] peninsula,' " he says, lifting a can of beer on his final night in Ceuta. "Because of that I'm very happy. I am laughing! I am eating good and sleeping good."

The next morning, he disappears into a crowd boarding a ferry for the Spanish mainland, chasing his dream to work in Barcelona."
borders  spain  españa  2015  africa  mediterranean  ceuta  melilla  europe  militarization  fences  morocco  immigration  migration 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Lost Crusaders' Tunnels Found Near Palace on Malta
"For centuries it's been said that the crusading Knights of Malta constructed an underground city on the Mediterranean island of Malta, sparking rumors of secret carriageways and military labyrinths."
malta  tunnels  archaeology  history  mediterranean 
april 2009 by robertogreco
African Immigration to Europe - The Big Picture - Boston.com
"Tens of thousands of Africans - men, women and children fleeing their homeland - attempt to make the perilous trip from their home countries to Europe every year, seeking refuge, asylum and economic opportunity. Some travel thousands of miles overland, being handed from smuggler to smuggler, ending up at one of many ports in northern Africa, to be packed into makeshift boats and make treacherous sea crossings to European soil, to places like Spain's Canary Islands and tiny Malta where they hope to either sneak in unnoticed, or, if intercepted, be allowed to stay. Many do not survive the journey. Levels of illegal immigration to the Canary Islands alone dropped to 13,424 last year, down from a peak of nearly 32,000 in 2006. Authorities in southern European nations are still struggling however, to patrol for, care for, to process and repatriate this continuing flow of immigrants."
malta  africa  immigration  photography  migration  borders  mediterranean  comments  spain  españa 
january 2009 by robertogreco

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