Lampedusa, a small Italian island in the Pelagie archipelago, in Sicily. Just 10 km long and about 4 km wide, its geological characterization expresses, metaphorically, also a geo-political specificity. Strip of Africa in Italian “territory”, adrift in the Mediterranean, plastically represents all the contradictions and paradoxes of a symbolic imagery and a European political praxis. On October 3, 2013, when a fishing boat about 20 meters long, set sail from Misurata, in Libya, and loaded with migrants from different African countries, sinks about half a mile from the white beaches of Lampedusa, the island becomes the international symbol of a human tragedy that for decades has bloodied all the “frontiers” of the continent. It also becomes the symbol of a political crisis with a potentially devastating scope for the European unitary and transnational dream. This book builds on that terrible tragedy with the explicit intention of developing a broader reflection on immigration. Not so much with the aim of providing yet another socio-economic or statistical reading of the phenomenon, but rather to outline an in-depth cultural picture. In particular, the text provides a conceptual map that accounts for the discursive, symbolic and iconographic narratives that the subjects involved (groups, parties, media, institutions) produce and re-produce in the public debate and in political-social practice. Particular emphasis is given to the role played by the media in defining and amplifying a “dematerializing” and “emergency” interpretative frame at the same time as the immigration phenomenon, capable of generating dangerous and dramatic “self-fulfilling prophecies”.
Guido Nicolosi is associate professor in Sociology of cultural and communication processes at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Catania. Member of several national and international research groups, he received his doctorate in “Social Sciences” in the Netherlands, at the Department of Sociology and Development Anthropology (SADE) of Wageningen University. He has more than fifty scientific publications to his credit in Italian, English and French. He is currently an associate member of the Étude des Techniques, des Connaissances et des Pratiques (CETCOPRA) Center of the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and fellow at the Institut d’Études Avancées (IEA) in Nantes.