Sicily’s position in the Mediterranean and its ‘fluid’ island borders have long made it a cross-roads of different cultural influences and political interests. Historically known as a region of strong out-migration, more recently it has became a place where immigrants remain to work or to study and not only an “illicit door” to the European Union. In the 1960s and 70s the first non-European migrants arrived from the Maghreb to seek employment in the fishing and farming industries in the west of the island. More recently they mostly from Africa have been arriving in Sicily illegally, often traveling the sea in overcrowded pontoons. Today immigrant statistics stipulate that 103 different nationalities live on the island, spread across the nine Sicilian provinces. Public and media debates increasingly raise the question of an ‘immigrant problem’ and readily associate crime with ‘illegal immigrants’. Politicians frequently respond with emergency interventions that ignore both the complexity of the phenomenon and the voices of immigrants. In relation to political discourses we plan to make a difference between governmental, regional and local level. Our article is based on research conducted in Catania, one of the main towns in the island with a large number of immigrants living with local people in some areas of the city without a concentration of a specific ethnic group in one of them. We use both qualitative and quantitative methods and adopt a social psychological perspective to investigate perceptions of Catania’s multicultural reality by both immigrants and non-immigrants alike. We pay particular attention to: the condition of the second generation from the point of view of person who belong to it and their parents; prevalent media discourses on immigrants; policy proposals designed to improve immigrants’ quality of life and the relationships between people of different cultural backgrounds. Juxtaposing these perspectives allows us to comment on the discrepancy between policy and media discourses on the one hand and bottom-up concerns and visions of multiculturalism voiced by migrants on the other.

Immigrants and Natives: Ways of Constructing New Neighbourhoods in Catania, Sicily

LICCIARDELLO, Orazio;
2011

Abstract

Sicily’s position in the Mediterranean and its ‘fluid’ island borders have long made it a cross-roads of different cultural influences and political interests. Historically known as a region of strong out-migration, more recently it has became a place where immigrants remain to work or to study and not only an “illicit door” to the European Union. In the 1960s and 70s the first non-European migrants arrived from the Maghreb to seek employment in the fishing and farming industries in the west of the island. More recently they mostly from Africa have been arriving in Sicily illegally, often traveling the sea in overcrowded pontoons. Today immigrant statistics stipulate that 103 different nationalities live on the island, spread across the nine Sicilian provinces. Public and media debates increasingly raise the question of an ‘immigrant problem’ and readily associate crime with ‘illegal immigrants’. Politicians frequently respond with emergency interventions that ignore both the complexity of the phenomenon and the voices of immigrants. In relation to political discourses we plan to make a difference between governmental, regional and local level. Our article is based on research conducted in Catania, one of the main towns in the island with a large number of immigrants living with local people in some areas of the city without a concentration of a specific ethnic group in one of them. We use both qualitative and quantitative methods and adopt a social psychological perspective to investigate perceptions of Catania’s multicultural reality by both immigrants and non-immigrants alike. We pay particular attention to: the condition of the second generation from the point of view of person who belong to it and their parents; prevalent media discourses on immigrants; policy proposals designed to improve immigrants’ quality of life and the relationships between people of different cultural backgrounds. Juxtaposing these perspectives allows us to comment on the discrepancy between policy and media discourses on the one hand and bottom-up concerns and visions of multiculturalism voiced by migrants on the other.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/84372
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