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Lives at the Border: Abandonment and Survival at the frontier of Lampedusa

CORSO, ALESSANDRO (2019) Lives at the Border: Abandonment and Survival at the frontier of Lampedusa. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Lampedusa is primarily portrayed as a European border which has been subjected to intense surveillance and securitisation. On the other hand, it is also the stage for various humanitarian interventions. Apart from being a spectacularized frontier, this dissertation shows how life in Lampedusa unfolds, through stories of cooperation and mutuality between the migrants, locals and migration workers in the context of acute abandonment. By describing their tendency to struggle for a sense of wellbeing, the thesis argues against a simplistic notion of bare life, based on a reductive imagery of the migrant, and it provides the ethnographic and theoretical instruments to critically engage with philosophical reflections by means of anthropology. Based on an eleven-month period of ethnographic fieldwork in Lampedusa, the dissertation explores the triangulated intersection of lives that is at play among migration workers, locals, and migrants. It examines their daily encounters, and it gives an insight into the hardship of the locals’ lives, their feelings towards migrants and the role of profit. Lampedusa can be defined as being simultaneously a borderland space, state of emergency, and realm of the absurd, where its multiple subjects, albeit in various forms, struggle to attain a balance between what they ought to do and what they can and cannot do. In transient conditions of indifference and acceptance, uncertainty and endurance, migrants, migration workers, and locals negotiate a resolution to what at times appears to be an irresolvable existential conundrum. Hence, this thesis explores humanness vis-a-vis self-interest and mutual sharing in borderlands, at geographical, historical, legal, social, and ethical boundaries.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:PhD thesis, migration, ethics, borderlands, Lampedusa
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Dec 2019 12:23

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