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Migrant Identities from the Mediterranean: A Southern Italian vista

Abstract

This article is based on “Communicating Migration,” a collective research project that is part of a wider program seeking to promote the economic and cultural revitalization of five townships in the Matese, a mountainous area northeast of Naples. The project has explored the phenomenon of migration in two of the localities involved, Gallo Matese and Letino, from a historical, geographical, and cultural point of view. Since the 1950s, these two villages have experienced substantial flows of emigration, leading to a subsequent crisis in the local, traditional economy and the abandonment of their town centers. The article traces the key concepts elaborated in the research, such as that of the archive, the relation between migration and memory, and the articulations of tradition and transformation generated by modernity and technology. The methodological background is drawn from an interdisciplinary formation, uniting anthropology, architecture, and philosophy, alongside artistic and literary expressions, all coming together in a critical cluster. The “southern question” and the centrality of emigration to the question is observed in some literary and dramatic texts, together with reference to Gramsci’s work on subalternity. As a site of emigration, and in more recent times also of immigration, the South of Italy, the south of the modern world, becomes part of a series of mobile landscapes interweaving with the Mediterranean. The shifting meanings of migration that make existing archival material problematic (Foucault, Bauman) become a pivotal part of my narration of migration in videos, music, guided and unguided interviews, territorial analyses, and digital interaction.

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