Journal Article — New Faces, Old Masks: Borders and Confinements between the Desert and the Mediterranean Sea — by Paola Zaccaria

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Abstract

This essay, which analyzes what is happening in “Fortress Europe” as a result of (postcolonial) migration, deals with the geography and politics of migration in the South of Italy, in Puglia and on Italy’s southernmost island, Lampedusa (“the Southern Gate to Fortress Europe,” Andrijasevic 2006) where people arriving on “despair boats” are confined in temporary holding centers, places reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps. Taking account of the fact that the primary regions of origin of these undocumented migrants have been identified by NGO (ARCI and Mèdecins sans Frontiéres) as the Middle East, Maghreb, Horn of Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, the essay examines Fanon’s theory on the specular distortion, violence, and rejection arising from the racist encounters between colonizers and colonized, as expressed in The Wretched of the Earth, to see if and how his thought can be useful in reading contemporary violent relations between ex-colonizers and post-colonial peoples. Adopting Fanon’s scheme–humanism, justice, cosmopolitanism, the constructivity of race–as guidelines for a discussion of contemporary migration, the essay questions the transplanting of hierarchization and apartheid practices into European nation-states faced with the perspective of a univers concentrationnaire. Then it tries to find ways to dismantle this perspective and offer an epistemologico-political alternative with the help of Fanon’s view that “total liberation concerns every aspect of personality”–re-read through a displaced female Algerian intellectual, Assia Djebar, who writes of decolonization as a definite break with the legacy of violence and mourning that Fanon was nevertheless imbued with. The self-exiled Algerian writer goes as far as stripping down the Algerian national language as an act of decolonization, beyond postcoloniality, in order to redefine freedom. Issues also discussed are: citizenship and denizens (Arendt, Agamben), the right to citizenship as a human right, cohabitation versus militarization, droit de citè (Balibar, Derrida), right to write as existence.

Recommended Citation

Zaccaria, Paola. 2007. “New Faces, Old Masks: Borders and Confinements between the Desert and the Mediterranean Sea.” Pp. 305-318 in Reflections on Fanon: The Violences of Colonialism and Racism, Inner and Global—Conversations with Frantz Fanon on the Meaning of Human Emancipation (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume V, Special Issue, 2007.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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