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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: Events


Strange Patients: Kinship, Care and Regeneration in Southern European Borderlands

Strange Patients: Kinship, Care and Regeneration in Southern European Borderlands
Speaker: Professor Vanessa Grotti # European University Institute
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Date and Time
17th Nov 2017 15:00 - 17th Nov 2017 17:00
Seminar Room 2, Chrystal MacMillan Building, George Square

This paper, co-authored with Marc Brightman, investigates the migration encounter on Europe’s periphery through the lens of kinship, reproduction and regeneration. Based on ethnographic data collected in rescue and hospitality structures in Southern Italy over the past year and on comparative material collected in other European borderlands in the Mediterranean and Overseas France, our analysis will explore symmetrically the making and unmaking of life on the migration trail, with a special focus on birth, youth and disappearance on the move. We are used to thinking of kinship as the foundation of personhood and community, but what happens to these when persons, often still minors themselves, are severed from their home communities, their families and bodies violently split apart and sent across continents? The Central Mediterranean Route criss-crosses Sub-Saharan Africa and converges in Niger and Libya to enter Italy and Europe. It has recently been named as the deadliest international migration route in the world by the International Organization for Migration. The main entry points into Europe are Sicily and Lampedusa, which are the places of initial reception, treatment and detention before transfer to the Italian mainland. Through the ethnography of reproductive care and of social integration initiatives for refugees and asylum seekers, and looking beyond images of suffering subjects and of neoliberal governance regimes, we examine how kinship and personhood are annihilated and remade in radical circumstances. After giving a brief overview of the current migration flows and dynamics in Italy and in the region as a whole, we will use data collected both at the rescue and reception stage to answer the following questions: what elements form the personhood of mothers and babies conceived on the migration trail? Can the work of regenerating traumatized youths contribute to the regeneration of abandoned and aging communities?

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