Decolonizing Ethnographies of Migration from the Southern Mediterranean

Convenors: Ilaria Giglioli (New College of Florida) & Wael Gharnaoui (Université Paris Diderot) — in collaboration with the Black Mediterranean Collective


Cross-Mediterranean migration is a widely researched theme by ethnographers in a variety of academic disciplines. While much of this work adopts critical approaches to questions of bordering, surveillance and migration control, the bulk of research circulating transnationally is produced from the perspective of the Global North. This perspective informs the positionality of researchers in the field, the main languages used in research, and the theoretical and conceptual paradigms deployed to interpret research results. In order to more fully understand mechanisms, processes and stakes of cross-Mediterranean migration, however, it is necessary to broaden the theoretical perspectives and the sites from which knowledge on migration is produced.

In this panel, we invite contributions that explicitly try to de-center the analysis of cross-Mediterranean migration from post- and de-colonial perspectives. We understand such perspectives in a broad sense, including studies conducted by researchers from the Southern Mediterranean, projects that explicitly seek to break with Eurocentric paradigms of analysis, and analyses that are strongly grounded in the Southern Mediterranean with an active engagement with languages spoken in this context, as well as papers that call into question the given socio-spatial unit of Europe. Thus, through this panel we seek to transcend material and epistemological power imbalances embedded in contemporary academic and activist paradigms.

We welcome contributions from scholars from different disciplines, including but not limited to geography, anthropology, sociology and psychology, and from diverse theoretical perspectives. Regardless of the disciplinary or theoretical background, we are looking for studies that fall into one of the following categories, or other analogous ones:

- Studies of migration carried out from the Southern Mediterranean and/or with people who have social proximity to migrants;

- Studies of migration that call into question Eurocentric paradigms of analysis, applied to themes as diverse as drivers of migration, processes of migration, questions of “radicalization”, notions of “integration”;

- Studies of migration that are aimed at creating cross-border solidarity initiatives and the safety and wellbeing of migrants in transit (i.e. activist ethnographies);

- Studies of migration that adopt a postcolonial and /or decolonial paradigm of analysis;

- Studies of migration that address questions about the (re-)production of concepts of citizenship, race and belonging in the European-African borderland;

- Studies of migration that reflect on moments of connection / rupture between Euro-African and Afro-European presences in the Mediterranean.

We envisage this panel contributing to a growing interest in rethinking the Mediterranean space, and questions of migration, from a postcolonial and decolonial perspective, particularly within the framework of the Black Mediterranean. We welcome contributions both in English and in French.

Open Questions

- How might studying Mediterranean migration from the Southern Mediterranean change common paradigms of analysis of migration?

- In what way does adopting non-Eurocentric paradigms of analysis allow us to reframe the stakes around migration?

- How can studies of migration contribute to creating cross-border solidarity initiatives?

- How can postcolonial and decolonial paradigms of analysis inform studies of Mediterranean migration?


Migration, Mediterranean, Eurocentrism, Postcolonial & Decolonial Theory, Activism, Global South.

Fields of Study

Migration studies, Postcolonial/decolonial studies, Geography, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology.


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