Ilaria Giglioli

From Colonial Cosmopolitanism to Mediterraneanism. Shifting Socio-Spatial Borders between Italy and Tunisia

My research seeks to understand how the socio-spatial borders between Italy (Europe) and Tunisia (North Africa) were produced, challenged and reproduced over time, from their initial tracing through the colonial space of French Protectorate Tunis, to their current location through the Mediterranean sea. If Tunisians were one of the first groups of migrants to settle in Sicily in the 1970s, at the turn of the 20th Century many Sicilian labour migrants had emigrated south to French Protectorate Tunisia. Through a combination of ethnographic and archival research, interviews and oral histories, I seek to understand the ways in which current discourses and practices around Tunisian migration to Sicily re-articulate forms of differentiation between Italians and Tunisians at play in French Protectorate Tunisia. I claim that that current debates around migration should not be understood as new questions that emerged in the last decades of the 20thCentury, as Italy became a country of immigration, but are strongly connected to the progressive definition of the southern borders of Europe that was central to the constitution of Italianness.